Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and we know candy consumption is inevitable, but please, take it easy on the sugar.
Excessive sugar (real, natural or fake) in our diet is not the best idea when it comes to healthy living. Nonetheless, few of us are consuming sugar in recommended moderate amounts — and most of us are eating tons of it. In fact, worldwide, we are consuming about 500 extra calories per day from sugar. That’s just about what you would need to consume if you wanted to gain a pound per week. You may know that too much sugar isn’t healthy, but for some reason, you might perceive the risk of excess sugar consumption as being less than that of consuming too much trans fat, sodium or too many calories. If you really knew what it was doing to your body, though, you might just put sugar at the top of your “foods to avoid” list. Here are a few things that may surprise you about the sweet stuff.
Sugar Causes Weight Gain … Obviously
Foods rich in fiber, fat and protein all have been associated with increased fullness. Sugar will give you the calories, but not the feeling that you’ve had enough. That’s why you can have an entire king-size bag of candy at the movies and come out afterward ready to go to dinner.
Sugar Is Addictive
Most studies put sugar right up there with drugs and alcohol as far as addiction goes. Anyone who has tried to quit eating sugar would most likely agree with this finding. The more sugar you eat, the more sugar you crave.
Sugar Can Damage Your Heart
While it’s been widely noted that excess sugar can increase the overall risk of heart disease, a 2013 study in the Journal of the American Heart Association displayed strong evidence that sugar can actually affect the pumping mechanism of your heart and could increase the risk of heart failure.
Sugar Weakens Your Immune System
Because a diet laden with sugar creates body-wide biochemical stress and inflammation, it can overstress and thereby weaken the immune system in a variety of ways. Our defense forces get exhausted by the sugar.
Candida Loves Sugar
Yeast is a natural inhabitant of the gut. Healthy bacteria help keep yeast levels in check. But when antibiotics, illness or chronic stress kill off healthy bacteria, yeast can run rampant. Sugar compounds the problem by feeding yeast growth. Yeast overgrowth can cause problems ranging from yeast and fungal infections to rashes, thrush and leaky gut syndrome.
Sugar Hides in Many Everyday “Non-Sugar” Foods
Many healthy people strive to avoid the “normal” sugary culprits (candy, cookies, cake, etc.), but they are often surprised to discover that some of their favorite foods also contain lots of sugar. Examples include tomato sauce, salad dressings, tonic water, marinades, crackers and even bread. Depressing … we know!