Sugar and Our Health

Sugar has become such a major part of our everyday lives that it is now almost impossible to avoid it. Unfortunately, sugar plays a very negative impact on our health. There are many different forms of sugars, including cane/white sugar, fructose, sucrose, etc. Sugar has been around since we started processing our foods. In fact, 100 years ago, one human would ingest about fifteen pounds of sugar per year. In today’s world, the average person consumes his or her body weight in sugar and other forms of sugars every single year. As sugar ingestion rates increase, so have the rates of obesity, type II diabetes, cancer, depression, and autoimmune diseases. 

Sugar has no real nutritional value. Also, sugar is just as addictive, if not more, than cocaine. We also consume it sugar due to lack of calories and lack of macronutrients. Therefore, we tend to eat more of it. As a result, sugar addiction can lead to overeating, belly fat, and diseases of the organs like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It can also increase your risk for heart failure by increasing unhealthy triglycerides in your body and circulatory system.  New research is showing that as the rise of sugar intake grows, a new disease known as Type 3 Diabetes is emerging. Type 3 diabetes is known as diabetes of the brain. This is due to the fact that when we eat a mass amount of sugar our body’s blood sugar levels go hay wire and our brain’s become insulin resistant. High blood sugar leads to high levels of inflammation throughout the body, including the brain. Chronic inflammation has been found to create plaques in the body and can also impair blood flow to the brain. Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the presence of certain plaques in the brain. Alzheimer’s is the most severe disease caused by chronic body inflammation. More frequently, people experience cognitive dysfunction, fogginess, depression, trouble with concentration, and memory problems. 

As the rates of diabetes and inflammatory-based chronic diseases rise, so does the search for alternatives to sugar. This is why companies have designed ‘artificial sweeteners’, many of which are found in processed foods and ‘diet foods.’ These artificial sweeteners are chemically made to mimic the taste of sugar, which makes people consume more of these products. These people also think that they are doing their body good by ingesting these items, but little do they know, the ingredients in these products can actually harm the human body, just like regular sugar. Some of these sweeteners include aspartame, Splenda and high fructose corn syrup. 

Aspartame is well known for its low-calorie nature but what people don’t realize is that it can cause other health problems like depression, memory loss, multiple sclerosis and vision problems. Aspartame is made up of three chemicals known as aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. Aspartic acid is an amino acid and when it is in its free form and when ingested, can increase aspartate and glutamate in the brain.  These are neurotransmitters that are normally found in the brain but when there is an excess of a neurotransmitter, certain neurons are killed by bringing too much calcium into the cells.  This will build free radicals, which eventually kill the cells in the brain. Phenylalanine is also an amino acid found in the brain but when consuming foods like aspartame that have too much phenylalanine, it can cause levels of serotonin in the brain to decrease, leading to emotional disorders such as depression and memory loss. Methanol is another component of Aspartame that is highly toxic.  Once consumed, methanol starts to break down and then causes metabolic acidosis. This toxicity due to methanol mimics multiple sclerosis, and even blindness because of the breakdown to formaldehyde near the eye. So although it is a low-calorie alternative to regular sugar, it is not a healthy alternative. 

 So where do we go from here? How do we try to become healthy or remain healthy in a world that makes it extremely difficult to avoid both sugar and artificial sugars? One of the best pieces of advice is to watch what you eat, how much you eat, and make sure you know where your food comes from. Trying to stay away from processed foods or food products that have a label is also very important. Eating a diet that consists of more whole foods (preferably organic) no added sugars, drinking half of your body weight in water, and getting exercise is some of the best things we can do to avoid becoming inflamed and addicted to sugar.

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