What is the impact of sugar on your health?

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Most of us are naturally drawn to sweet foods. To maintain good health, a little sugar may be ok, but too much can be detrimental. Here are some of the potential side effects of consuming too much sugar in your daily diet:

  • Weight gain – Simply put, people tend to gain weight when they consume more calories than they burn off. Foods containing high amounts of sugar are typically calorie dense, so more work is needed to burn off these foods. If they’re not used up as energy, they’ll usually be stored as fat. Sugary foods also tend to be low in nutrients and don’t fill you up making it easy to over-consume.
  • More sugar, less nutrients – People who eat a lot of foods with high sugar content, may be doing so at the expense of more nutritious food choices and may therefore be depriving their bodies of important vitamins and minerals.
  • Low energy, poor concentration – Eating highly sweetened foods spike your blood sugar levels and can cause energy slumps and mood swings, and affect your ability to concentrate.1
  • Tooth decay – The bacteria in our mouths use sugar from the food we eat to produce acids that dissolve and damage the tooth surface.2
  • Heart function – A high intake of sugar is associated with changes in cholesterol and triglycerides, and a greater risk of developing heart problems.3
  • Inflammation – Eating too much sugar can fuel inflammation in the body.4 Uncontrolled inflammation is associated with many joint and skin conditions.
  • Skin aging – When you consume excess sugar it causes the formation of molecules known as AGEs (advanced glycation end products), which damage collagen and elastin,5 two proteins responsible for skin firmness and health.

To reduce your sugar intake and its impact on your health, choose foods that are as close to their natural state as possible and swap sugary treats for healthier snack options such as protein balls, vegetable sticks with hummus or fructose-free muesli bars. It’s important to also carefully read labels and nutrition panels. Generally speaking, anything under 5g of sugar per 100g is considered low.


References

  1. The Food Doctor, How to avoid the blood sugar rollercoaster, URL access: http://www.thefooddoctor.com/How-to-avoid-the-sugar-roller-coaster-Ahealth_fdw_bloodsugar/
  2. Australian Dental Association, Rethink sugary drink: tooth decay, URL access: http://www.rethinksugarydrink.org.au/facts/tooth-decay.html
  3. Howard B, et al. Sugar and cardiovascular disease. Circulation 2002;106:523-27
  4. Harvard health, What you eat can fuel or cool inflammation, February 2007, URL access: http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/What-you-eat-can-fuel-or-cool-inflammation-a-key-driver-of-heart-disease-diabetes-and-other-chronic-conditions.shtml
  5. Danby F, Nutrition and aging skin: sugar and glycation. Clinics in dermatology 2010; 28(4):409-411

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Published February 24, 2015
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