Written By Paisley Hansen / Reviewed By Ray Spotts
Unlike fresh fruits that contain antioxidants and fiber along with their natural sugar, added sugars do not have these beneficial partners. In fact, they don't offer any real benefits and are often associated with negative consequences.
Yet, many people continue to eat foods packed with added sugars every day. Before you reach for those cookies, consider these seven reasons you should monitor your added sugar intake even if you don't have diabetes.
1. Sugar Impacts Gut Health
Your gut bacteria are responsible for a host of functions within the body. A healthy microbiome helps keep inflammation and pain at bay; it also supports a stronger immune response.
However, many beneficial gut bacteria do not like high-sugar environments. That means that, while you may enjoy that sweet tea with lunch, it could lead to higher incidences of pain, inflammation and routine illnesses.
2. High-Sugar Diets Are Associated With Several Chronic Health Conditions
While a causal relationship has not been established in all situations, there is a lot of research into the link between high-sugar diets and several potentially serious health conditions. Many experts believe this is due, at least partially, to sugar's contribution to obesity.
However, even individuals considered thin should limit sugar intake since it has been directly associated with higher rates of conditions including:
- High blood pressure
- Elevated cholesterol levels
- Cancer (especially types affecting the digestive system)
3. You May Be At Risk of Developing Diabetes in the Future
Just because you don't have diabetes now does not mean you won't develop it down the road. Consuming lots of sugar can contribute to insulin resistance. Unfortunately, many people fail to see this connection.
Knowing how food affects your body can help you make educated decisions about what foods you should limit. Using a continuous glucose monitor is one way to see how the foods you eat impact your blood sugar levels.
4. Sugar May Negatively Affect Your Mood
It is commonly accepted that a healthy diet can help improve your mood, but few people realize that a poor diet can have the opposite effect. In fact, several studies showed that diets high in sugar are directly associated with an increased risk of depression.
This may be due to chronic inflammation and how the addictive qualities of sugar affect dopamine receptors in the brain.
5. Many High-Sugar Foods Are Also Highly Processed
In order to make highly processed foods more palatable, manufacturers often increase the amounts of sugar in them. In addition to tasting better, they also become addictive. Since it is still lacking in nutrients even though you ate, your body will crave more food (and sugar). This leads to a terrible cycle of overeating and can impact your relationship with food.
There are also other consequences. The American Heart Association has acknowledged the dangers of highly processed foods and added sugars in their recently released healthy eating guidelines. This underscores how potentially harmful these commonly consumed foods can be.
6. Too Much Sugar Is Linked to Early Signs of Aging
If taking better care of your physical health isn't a motivating factor for you, maybe preserving a youthful appearance will encourage you to skip that next sugary treat. That's right, excess sugar consumption can lead to premature skin aging.
7. It Contributes to Poor Dental Health
You probably remember this warning from childhood, and there are good reasons you heard it over and over again. When you eat foods that are high in sugar, it affects dental health. More specifically, it feeds bacteria in the mouth, creating an acidic environment that reduces tooth mineralization and results in more cavities. Yikes!
A diet high in added sugar is associated with increased rates of chronic disease, depression, cavities and wrinkles. It may also make you more likely to develop diabetes in the future. So, there are plenty of reasons to monitor your sugar intake, even if you aren't diabetic.
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Paisley Hansen is a freelance writer and expert in health, fitness, and growing young. When she isn’t writing she can usually be found reading a good book or hitting the gym. She loves hearing from readers so feel free to contact her through Facebook.