Let’s make one thing clear here dear readers. Sugar isn’t inherently evil, okay? We’re not trash talking it either. We’re simply saying you don’t need sugar in your diet. Your body gets glucose from digesting the complex carbohydrates (grains and starches) you consume. Below are the reasons why sugar is not a necessity, except maybe as emotional support (just kidding):
1. Blame sugar (partially) for the obesity epidemic.
Before sugar was a mainstay in your diet, everything was fine. And by fine we mean that most people didn’t worry about their diet and weight problems. Fats had not yet been demonised and only a few members of your community broke the normal bathroom scales just by stepping on them. You probably think I’m blaming all of these on sugar don’t you? Partially, yes.
Sugar gained a lot of popularity during the 1920’s and 1930’s. It was the beginning of an era focused on worshipping sugar and sugar products. Then came World War II which pretty much overshadowed sugar because of food shortages. The post war era gave sugar another chance to insert itself into the limelight once again.
During the 1950’s, it was advertised as having fewer calories than fat or other kinds of food available at the time. Basically, the advertisements boiled down to this, one gram of sugar is equivalent to only four calories. Fat, on the other hand, has more than twice that (one gram of fat equals nine calories). It was then marketed as THE solution for dieters in order for them to decrease their total daily caloric intake. At the same time, fat was vilified which meant that fat was removed from foods and replaced with sugar. Amazing, right?
Not really. Not only did the weight problem NOT go away, it spread like wildfire in the succeeding years. After all these years, science has finally caught up with this and come out with a clear verdict. Sugar promotes the release of insulin from your pancreas (not new). Insulin activates glucose storage in the fat cells. So, in reality, whenever you include sugar in your diet, you say hello to weight gain and not to weight loss. To make matters worse, its very difficult to avoid sugar because its in nearly every packaged food on the supermarket shelf.
The below infographic gives you an idea of how much sugar consumption has increased in the developed world.
Recently WHO suggested that for further benefits to health, less than 5% of daily caloric intake (or about 6 teaspoons / day) should come from sugar. This suggestion came in response to the increasing rates of diabetes, obesity and heart disease worldwide. However as you can see we’re all having so much more sugar than that per day.
2. Sugar weakens your immune system.
Most of us know the value of an effective immune system. Sugar renders the white blood cells of your immune system incapable of accomplishing their functions, the most important of which is phagocytosis. You see, your white blood cells act like Mr. and Mrs. Pac-Man. They gobble up bacteria and debris (phagocytosis) in your body. They are among your first line of defenses against invading microorganisms. Without them functioning well, its like Mr. and Mrs. Pac-Man waving a white flag because they both have toothache. Bummer.
3. Sugar damages every cell in your body by increasing the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS).
ROS are actually by-products of NORMAL oxygen metabolism in your body. They serve as messengers (signal cells) and play a vital role in keeping the peace and balance among cells (homeostasis). However when large numbers of ROS are produced, they become a big problem without you noticing it. They make every part of every cell around them unstable and easily irritated. They are believed to accelerate aging, contribute to cancer development and prolong chronic inflammation.
4. Sugar provides a welcome mat to a whole book of diseases.
These include type II diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, fatty liver and others. Chronic inflammation is a common denominator in most of these diseases. High sugar consumption leads to chronic inflammation in the body.
5. Sugar makes you dependent on it.
Yes, calling all you sweet tooths out there. Chances are you don’t really have a sweet tooth. You were just fed a lot of sweets when growing up. Unconsciously, your body became hooked on it. There is even some evidence that sugar activates the same brain areas as cocaine does. If you don’t think sugar is addictive, try completely cutting it out of your diet. For most people this is much easier said than done!
6. Do you know what the hormone leptin does?
It gives your brain the signal that you are full and don’t need to eat anymore. Sugar dislikes leptin and is more than capable of suppressing its release from fat cells. Recent research indicates that sugar may make your body leptin resistant. The end result? Weight gain. This is because your brain doesn’t get the “I am full” signal so you just keep eating.
After reading all of these, I’ll end this article with a question. What do you think sugar is for then?