Sugar is omnipresent in our food culture. Just for fun, next time you go to the grocery store, pick any of the packaged food and look at the nutritional label. I bet that any food you’ll pick up actually contains sugar in one form or another. And while it’s not rocket science to understand that high sugary treats are not part of a healthy diet, most people don’t realize how much it can sabotage their health.
Why avoid sugar?
Sugar is a potent pro-inflammatory substance that has a significant effect on your body. Sugar stimulates a physiological chain reaction that provokes adrenaline and cortisol release, and thickens the blood. This means that eating sugary food can actually have the same effects on your body as stress does. Eating too much sugar could make you sick more often, as it might lower our immune system by interfering with white blood cells’ function.
Sugar is also one of the worst foods for your skin. It induces severe oxidative stress, which is linked to premature aging. Sugar also fuels cancer cells, promotes fat storage, and prevents amino acids to effectively reach muscle tissue. Over time, sugar intake can lead to insulin resistance, which is linked to type II diabetes, and plays a role in many other health conditions including nerve damage and cardiovascular diseases.
What’s The Deal with HFCS?
High fructose corn syrup, aka corn sugar, or glucose/fructose, is basically glucose syrup made from corn in which about half of the glucose is converted in fructose. While fructose might sound not so bad as it is the form of sugar contained in fruits, in HFCS, it appears to be the key element behind the many negative health effects that gives bad press to this sweetener.
HFCS can contribute to liver diseases, get your bad cholesterol levels higher and can lead to leptin resistance. Leptin is the hormone in charge of telling your body to stop eating. When your leptin doesn’t function properly, you continuously feel hungry, no matter how much you eat. HFCS can also be contaminated with lead, adding to your toxic burden.
What you must understand is that too much sugar, even from natural sources like agave nectar or dried fruits, can have a negative impact on your health. That being said, life should be fun and so should be your diet. If you kill all the pleasure of eating, chances are that you won’t be able to stick to your healthy diet for very long.
The key here is not to demonize all sugar forms, but rather to understand the health impact they can have on our body. Choosing natural sweeteners with beneficial nutrients in it like raw honey, maple syrup, dry fruits, or stevia are by far the best option to safely satisfy your sweet tooth once in a while.