Health

Scary things too much sugar does to your body

We do not really consider the amount of sugar we are consuming on a daily basis.

Our bodies do need a level of sugar intake, but this should come from natural sources such as fruits and vegetables. Refined sugars are the bad boys we need to keep an eye on.

Fitness and nutrition expert Phil Snowden of Virgin Active Singapore said: "Sugar breaks down in the body (and turns into a) glucose molecule. The pancreas is an organ that releases the hormone insulin, which picks up the glucose molecules and transports them around the body - first to the muscles until they are full and then to the liver - and then after both are full, they are stored as body fat."

So the more sugar you constantly consume, the more likely your muscles and liver will become full, which means body fat will start to burgeon. And many more issues will arise as a result, most of which are equally damaging, if not more.

Here are some of the well-known health complications that emerge when we regularly consume too much sugar for our bodies to handle.

OBESITY

This is an obvious outcome. Besides, sugar-sweetened beverages contain fructose, a simple sugar that increases hunger and the desire for food more than glucose, leading to a vicious circle of consuming even more sugar. An accumulation of body fat also raises the risk of heart disease.

DIABETES

Prolonged high sugar consumption drives resistance to insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. This can lead to a surge in blood sugar levels and increase one's risk of diabetes.

PANCREAS DYSFUNCTION

Too much sugar over a long period of time wears the pancreas thin, which means the organ does not function to its full capacity and cannot produce enough insulin.

STICKY BLOOD

Lots of sugar in the body thickens the blood, which affects blood flow. A healthy body needs a constant flow of blood to reach all the vital parts. Sticky blood increases blood pressure, and high blood pressure leads to health complications.

FATTY LIVER DISEASE

Constant bombardment of glucose means the liver cannot cope. Once the liver is overloaded, it leads to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition characterised by excessive fat build-up in the liver. As the liver helps your body digest food, store energy and remove poison, a malfunctioning or inflamed liver will result in many serious issues.

CANCER

There is some evidence that consuming large amounts of sugar is associated with an increased risk of certain cancers, such as oesophageal cancer. A diet high in sugar increases inflammation and may cause insulin resistance, which increases cancer risk.

DECREASED BONE DENSITY

Too much sugar takes minerals and calcium away from the bones, decreasing their density. This means one's bones are more likely to be prone to breakages. Older women who have undergone menopause are particularly at risk because the decrease in oestrogen leads to weaker bones.

SKIN DISORDERS AND TOOTH EROSION

Acne, rashes and various skin disorders come from consuming too much sugar, because your body will excrete the excess sugar through the skin.

Basically, sugary food quickly spikes blood sugar and insulin levels, causing increased androgen secretion, oil production and inflammation, all of which play a role in acne development. Too much sugar also damages your pearly whites, eroding the tooth enamel that can then lead to tooth decay.

ENERGY FLUCTUATIONS AND/ OR EMOTIONAL CHANGES

Elevated and then sudden decreases of blood sugar levels will have a direct impact on energy and mood.

You get an increased "high" after eating sugar, then once the body has used the sugar, you then have a corresponding "crash". These swings can be detrimental to mental health, and lead to an increased risk of depression. People who are keen on getting that energy "high" back, end up ingesting more and more sugar.

This article first appeared in Shape (www.shape.com.sg)

WELLNESS & BEAUTY