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How Sugar is Killing us Silently

26-01-2017

Sugar isn’t thought of in the same way as things like alcohol, tobacco or heroin, but it is an addictive and harmful drug that can slowly kill a human being who eats too much of it over the course of their life…

Sugar didn’t start out as a killer of humans; it’s played an important role in human survival during periods in history when food has been scarce. It is found naturally in healthy foods like fruit and vegetables.

Over the past century, however, food manufacturers have been adding to their products something that the World Health Organization calls “free sugar”, which means sugar isn’t naturally bound up with other, helpful nutrients like fiber and is instantly absorbed into our digestive system.

All sugars which are added to our food are classed as free sugars, and it is precisely these kind of sugars that are causing illnesses, lack of fitness, and slow, premature death in hundreds of millions of human beings around the world who are consuming too much of them.

It should be understood that free sugars do sometimes occur naturally. Honey contains free sugar. Some fruit juices contain free sugar. Any nutritional substance that contains free sugar, whether it be something natural or processed junk food, should be consumed in moderation.

The problem with free sugars is that when found in junk foods they make it very easy for someone to fall into the trap of consuming an unhealthy excess of calories, because as they aren’t bound up with other substances, they can be consumed in very large quantities without your body telling you to stop.

For example, you might manage to eat five or six mince pies at Christmas, or have two slices of cake on your birthday, but you’d struggle to eat four or five apples in one hour because the fiber in the apples would make you feel full and your body would tell you to stop.

The World Health Organisation advises us to limit our free sugar consumption to less than 10% of our overall daily calories. This equates to about 12 tablespoons a day. They say the ideal restriction is about six tablespoons a day.

To put this into perspective, a can of fizzy drink contains about seven tablespoons of free sugar, and a medium sized chocolate bar contains about six tablespoons.

Sugar

These are some of the health problems that are more likely to develop over the course of a person’s life if they consistently consume too much free sugar:

Obesity

The levels of obesity in adult and child populations of the western world have become so high that experts are describing the situation with words like “epidemic” and “crisis”. You’ll have a very hard time becoming obese if you have a healthy, balanced diet, but it’s not hard to achieve for those who have a lot of free sugar in their diets.

Cancer

Health experts are gradually coming to a consensus that sugar contributes to cancer and increases the rate at which cancer cells grow in the bodies of sufferers.

Faster aging

Too much sugar increases the rate at which our bodies produce the aging hormones which cause us to get weaker and our health to deteriorate over time.

High blood pressure

A diet rich in sugar causes spikes to occur in our bodies’ insulin levels. This causes high blood pressure, a condition which can cause many other serious health problems in later life.

Reduction in fluids

Our bodies are comprised mostly of fluids. These fluids dry up the older we get. The more sugar we consume, the more this drying process accelerates. People who consistently eat a lot of sugar are usually starved of fluids, which is why they tend to get dehydrated a lot.

Food allergies

A common misconception is that food allergies are determined by genetics and if a person isn’t born allergic to a specific food it will never trouble them. A diet that is heavy in sugar can cause our bodies to develop new food allergies.

If you suspect that you have too much sugar in your diet, you should take action and reduce the amount of unhealthy food and drink you consume. You don’t have to completely deprive yourself of all the unhealthy things you enjoy, just restrict them to sensible amounts.

If you try to do this and find yourself struggling with sugar cravings, drink plenty of water.

Remember to also get regular exercise if you want to feel healthier or lose weight after cutting back on your sugar intake.

References & Citations

http://www.who.int/

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