Weight Gain to Increased Risk of Behavioural Disorders: The Many Harmful Effects of Sugar
Sugars are carbohydrates that we obtain from our diet. Once inside our body, carbohydrates are broken down into simpler sugars such as glucose (main energy source) and fructose. Though we obtain sugars from fruits, vegetables and dairy products, extra sugar is added to processed foods like biscuits, pies, soft drinks and syrups; this is called added sugars.
While moderate intake of sugar is needed to maintain health and generate energy for everyday activities, excess intake can disrupt metabolism and lead to severe health issues, especially obesity.
Now, a study published in the journal Evolution and human behaviour indicates that excessive intake of fructose, a sugar present abundantly in fruits and honey and used as an artificial sweetener in the form of high fructose corn syrup, can increase your risk of aggressive behaviour, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and bipolar disorder.
Here are some more harmful effects of excess sugar intake that you should know:
1. It can lead to weight gain
Weight gain occurs when you take in more calories in a day than your body burns. If you overindulge in sugary foods, especially processed ones, you are increasing your calorie intake without adding to your nutrition. Additionally, liquid sugars suppress your appetite-control system as they are not as satisfying as solid food. This may lead to overeating and obesity.
2. It is bad for your heart
Experts say that excessive sugar intake is directly linked to increased risk of heart diseases. Sugar causes you to gain weight and increases inflammation in your body. It also raises your triglyceride levels and puts you at risk of high blood pressure and atherosclerosis, which ultimately affects your heart.
According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, people who take from 17% to 21% of their calories from added sugars are at an about 38% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases as compared to those who take only 8% of their calories from added sugars.
3. It can cause tooth decay
Excessive sugar consumption is one of the major causes of tooth decay. Sugar supports the growth of cavity-causing bacteria. When they metabolize sugar, these bacteria produce acid, which erodes the dental enamel over time. While sugars present in fruits and vegetables is not as bad, added or free sugar present in processed foods and fruits juices can put you at risk of tooth decay.
4. It may speed up ageing
It has been known that higher levels of sugar in your diet show up in the blood and skin and lead to increased production of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs).
Glycation is a process in which glucose and fructose molecules bind to collagen and elastin in the skin, proteins that are responsible for maintaining the structural integrity and elasticity of the skin. AGEs are naturally produced during metabolism but their increased levels are damaging to health. Apart from ageing, AGEs also put you at risk of inflammation, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
For more information, read our article on Signs you are eating too much sugar.
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