Wrapping up our study of sugar

Published 2:01 pm Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Last week, we learned some of the healthful benefits we receive when we stop eating processed or added sugars. This week, let’s wrap up our series on sugars and learn a few more of those benefits.

Stopping the extra sugar cuts decreased diabetes risk. Eating large quantities of added sugars can directly or indirectly lead to type 2 diabetes. Directly, because high blood sugar levels are a large part of the diabetes equation. As increased blood sugar levels continue, the pancreas eventually is unable to keep up with needed insulin production, which could lead to type 2 diabetes. Consuming large amounts of simple sugar indirectly raises diabetes risk by contributing to weight gain and increased body fat-which presents risks of their own, including metabolic syndrome, a condition with symptoms that include high blood pressure, excess body fat around the waist, abnormal cholesterol levels, and high blood sugar levels. This cluster of conditions increases the risk of coronary disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. 

Want to find the fountain of youth? Forfeit the sugar. Consuming a diet high in sugars makes the skin wrinkle faster. The reason is that excess sugar attaches to the body’s structural proteins in a process called glycation. This undermines the role of collagen in the body. Collagen is the body’s primary building block and provides structure, strength, and support to all  muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues. Collagen’s specific role for the skin is to help fibroblasts form within the skin’s dermis (middle skin layer), which helps new cells grow. Without collagen’s effects, skin loses its plumpness, and elasticity, then wrinkles. 

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Free or simple sugars are the essential dietary factor in the development of tooth cariosity. Dental cavities occur when bacteria, present in the mouth metabolize sugars to produce acids that demineralize tooth enamel and dentine. Stopping the extra sugar consumption may also lead to better sleep. There is certainly a correlation between sugar intake and sleep quality. High blood sugar and elevated insulin levels associated with excess sugar intake, decrease magnesium absorption. The mineral magnesium aids the sleep process by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, the structure responsible for that calm, relaxed feeling. Also, when you stop indulging in sugar, hormones function better, including those responsible for healthful, restorative sleep.

Taking in too many simple or refined sugars may increase the risk of depression and even possible mood disorders. Overconsumption of sugar actually triggers an imbalance of certain brain chemicals. Another link between sugar and depression is systemic inflammation, meaning it affects the entire body. Excess sugars also deplete the body’s B vitamin stores, which affects the thyroid gland. This gland regulates body temperature, metabolism, and cellular growth. These factors, too, may impact one’s mindset. 

The average American eats 130 pounds of sugar every year. That equals about 3,550 pounds in an average lifetime. Dogs have a sweet tooth, but cats do not. Studies show that dogs still enjoy sweet food, while cats and other felines (civet cat, genet cats, and bearcats are not true cats) don’t have sweetness receptors in their brains. Researchers hypothesize that sweetness receptors are unnecessary for carnivorous animals, as well as for animals that tend not to chew their food at all, such as dolphins and sea lions.

Ever thought of sitting down to dine on 16 sugar cubes? Probably not, but that’s what is contained in just one 20-ounce bottle of soda.   

Sign-up continues for my free nutrition and fitness consultations. Just go to my email address to sign up. 

David Crocker is a nutritionist and master personal trainer. Questions? Email David at dwcrocker77@gmail.com or text to 864-494-6215