This isn't a pontification on abstinence from sugar.
Sugar isn't bad when it's an occasional snack.
A life without any ice cream is a life not lived.
But it's the "dose that makes the poison".
When sugar becomes a part of our daily diet, our health will slowly fall apart.
Sugar has some bad side effects:
- Harmful/Empty Calories
- Destroys Dental Health
- Harms the Liver (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease)
- Causes Insulin Resistance / Metabolic Disease
- Progress Type II Diabetes
- Increase Risk of Cancer
- Increase BMI / Body Fat
- Increase Inflammation (which can cause ALOT of health problems)
- Heart Disease
Not All Sugar Is Created Equal
It matters what kind of sugar you eat.
It has to do with chemistry.
Eating sugar in the form of fruit isn't bad at all because of all the good stuff that is ingested with it (fiber, water, chewing resistance, ect.). In fact, fruit helps improve satiety and helps with weight loss. So if you're ever craving sugar, eat some fruit. This is how a lot of people lose weight.
On the other hand, products with added sugar, specifically high fructose corn syrup are very unhealthy. In fact, unhealthy might be an understatement. They're downright harmful.
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
High fructose corn syrup is considered "alcohol without the buzz". It has just about all the negative effects of alcohol (ethanol) and none of the benefits.
For those who like the medical jargon:
",,,fructose is unlike glucose. In the hypercaloric glycogen-replete state, intermediary metabolites from fructose metabolism overwhelm hepatic mitochondrial capacity, which promotes de novo lipogenesis and leads to hepatic insulin resistance, which drives chronic metabolic disease. Fructose also promotes reactive oxygen species formation, which leads to cellular dysfunction and aging, and promotes changes in the brain's reward system, which drives excessive consumption. Thus, fructose can exert detrimental health effects beyond its calories and in ways that mimic those of ethanol, its metabolic cousin. "
In this context, would it be okay to have 2-3 cocktails throughout the day?
So why is it okay to have 2-3 sugar drinks a day?
Furthermore, fructose is not required for any of our biochemical reactions. It's literally useless. Unless you call destroying your liver useful.
It doesn't stop there though.
High sugar foods, especially HFCS, disrupts our brains. Hormones that make us feel full are not released. Instead, our reward center is activated, creating a positive association (beginning of addiction).
In other words, eating high sugar makes us less satiated and more hungry.
This is terrible for the human race, but great for the sugar business.
What to Do
It's always best to start altering our daily habits. Small waves change coastlines.
Like mentioned in the beginning of this article, the occasional sweets aren't bad.
But it's the things we do everyday that add up.
Putting sugar in our coffee, eating sugar packed cereal, having drinks with added sugar, etc. These daily habits add up over a lifetime. And usually end up making the last 10-20 years much worse than they should be.
So check the Nutrition Facts Label (how to properly read them). See how much sugar is in it. Then check to see if added sugar is on the ingredient list.
And if high fructose corn syrup is on the ingredient list, then pick another product.
Save the World
Sugar harms our society. It's toxic. It's addictive and prone to abuse. It deteriorates the health of the citizens. It stresses our healthcare system. It causes people to spend more on their health and prescription drugs, while corporations that use added sugars and HFCS make profits.
We're far from making HFCS illegal. Although we should, like we did with trans fats.
And we unfortunately many companies are choosing profits over their consumer's health.
One way to improve our nation's health is through education. However, articles like this are rarely shared or discussed. And our education system doesn't have an autonomous healthy lifestyle curriculum.
So one of the best ways to realistically alter behavior is through monetary means.
I think we should have a sugar tax. We should be taxing foods with added sugar. Especially foods with HFCS.
This would protect the uneducated and maybe convince food companies to use less sugar.
Or worst case scenario, it'll help pay for our future health care costs when we have heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension.
Also be aware that corporations are starting to label their ingredients differently to avoid using the term high fructose corn syrup. So if there is are multiple ingredients you can't pronounce, don't eat it.
Donate & Support Your Local Farmer
HFCS doesn't grow out of the ground.
We need our local farmers. It's how we can sustain healthy whole foods.
Find your local farmer and buy some food from them. It'll taste better and you'll be healthier.