If you’ve ever gone on a diet, sugar was most likely one of the main things you had to reduce in order to meet your weight loss goal. Sugar is basically just empty calories, so if you eat a lot of sugar you end up consuming more energy than you need while reaping no nutritional benefits. The end result is excess weight coupled with some degree of malnourishment. Your body won’t get the vitamins and minerals it needs when you subsist on a high-sugar diet, unless you add even more foods to meet those needs (and therefore, even more calories).
If the potential for weight loss isn’t enough to make you think about cutting your sugar consumption, consider this: Recent studies indicate excess sugar in the diet might be linked to an accelerated aging process.
To understand how this works, consider your body’s digestive reaction when you consume sugar. Sugar is converted to glucose, which supplies energy to your body’s cells. We do need some sugar, of course, in the form of complex carbohydrates. Simple carbs, on the other hand, like refined sugar and processed white flour, convert into glucose very quickly. This leads to excess glucose dumped into your bloodstream.
You probably already know that high levels of glucose (sometimes called “blood sugar”) are linked to the development of diabetes. Diabetes alone is a serious health risk, but it can also lead to other problems such as cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, and kidney damage. If you develop diabetes, you may also experience problems with your skin, bones, teeth, gums, and even your eyes. All of these complications can make you look and feel much older than you really are. Even some people without diabetes report that removing sugar from their diets helps to clear their skin.
Other research indicates a diet high in sugar may also play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s. High blood sugar levels appear to be linked to decreased activity in the hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible for memory and learning. Many Alzheimer’s patients have damage in this part of the brain.
If you’re worried about your sugar consumption, be sure to read food labels carefully. Look for words like “syrup” and anything that ends in “ose” (sucrose, lactose, and so on). Of course, the easiest way to avoid sugar is by eating outside the “box”. This means eating plenty of freshly prepared foods made from meats, fruits, vegetables, rice, and whole grains. Sugars hide pretty well in factory-made food but you’ll know every ingredient in food you cook for yourself.