The Not-So-Sweet Truth About Sugar

Everyone has heard it hundreds of times: sugar is bad for you. There are pages upon pages on the internet about the effects of sugar on the body, ways to cut sugar out of your diet, lists on lists of reasons not to eat sugar.

Well, here’s one more for the pile.

Americans, in particular, don’t realize how much sugar goes in their food. No matter how much someone may want to kick sugar to the curb, many products secretly contain high levels of the sweet stuff. Even so-called health foods can contain absurd amounts of sugar, like granola, juice, and trail mix.

Sugar consumption is closely related to heart disease. This fact was discovered in the 1950s, and soon after that, sugar companies went about forming the Sugar Research Foundation to prove scientists wrong.

One of the main reasons why Americans accept that any kind of fat is bad is a result of the sugar industry at work. In the 1960s and 70s, the SRF published numerous articles in well-known medical journals about heart disease, emphasizing fat as the primary culprit and downplaying sugar.

While excessive amounts of fat are detrimental to one’s health, it is not the menace that the public was led to believe it was. Healthy fats, such as those found in avocados and fish, are beneficial when eaten in moderation.

As people turned against fats of any kind, the negative attention came off of the sugar industry. And, despite the low-fat/no-fat craze, obesity in America grew to epidemic proportions. People accepted that too much sugar had harmful effects, but the public truly failed to understand how much sugar was apart of their diet.

Sugar affects every part of the body, from the brain to mood. Eating sugar releases large amounts of dopamine in the brain that makes it crave more once levels drop. When consumption of large amounts of sugar from non-organic sources (such as soda, candy, etc.) the brain quickly learns that apples and other natural sugar sources aren’t going to give the same dopamine rush.

As for mood, sugar absorbs into the bloodstream, and a cookie can cause a spike in blood sugar levels. When the spike drops, it brings the sugar crash many people are familiar with. This crash can lead to feelings of depression, especially in adults who consume large amounts of sugar.

Sugar has numerous physical effects on the body, too. It can exasperate inflammation in joints, even leading to arthritis for some. It leads to less skin elasticity, which causes the skin to age faster. Sugar affects organ function, and too much can lead the liver to become resistant to insulin.

It is imperative that Americans educate themselves about the effects of sugar. There is a reason why there is an innumerable amount of articles warning against sugar. The sugar industry does not care about the public’s health, only profits.

Understanding what a healthy amount of sugar is and reading the labels on food can be a pain, but it is worth it to feel better and live a healthier lifestyle.