We often come across this advice: “Avoid sugar,” “Sugar is addictive,” Sugar is evil,” and then without trying to know if these are really true, we simply ignore these warnings, believing either that we don’t belong to the population that might get affected by sugar OR that having such a small amount of it won’t make much of a difference. However, ignorance, in this case, is not bliss.
So let me give you a few plausible reasons for giving the refined sugar a pass.
- Sugary foods lead to excessive calorie consumption
Small amounts of sugar provide a large amount of calories. When you eat the sugary treat until you are not hungry anymore, you will have easily had at least three quarters of your daily energy requirements coming from it. For a better perspective, let’s take an example of a cone of ice-cream and a standard bowl of oats. One Cornetto ice-cream provides up to 350kcals, while a standard bowl of cooked oats amounts to a meagre 150kcals. The bowl of oats is more likely to keep you full for longer than the ice-cream you had instead.
- Major contributor to Obesity
The above point about excess consumption leads us to its most lethal after-effect: obesity. Obesity is one of the most prevalent diseases in the world today. Obesity in itself further leads to other health problems like heart disease, joint pain, hypertension and depression, to name just a few.
- Direct cause of Diabetes
When sugar in any form is ingested, the pancreas secretes Insulin, which enables the sugar to get absorbed from the blood into the muscle tissues at a faster rate. In the case of refined sugar, the insulin levels in the blood spike rapidly and fall back to baseline within a short period of time. This constant rise and fall of insulin levels results in the development of resistance against the insulin activity in the muscle tissues , a condition that is also known as, Type-2 diabetes. Similarly, constant intake of refined sugar leads to other life threatening problems like blood pressure, heart diseases, and the worst of all, the Metabolic Syndrome (which is a combination of one or more diseases that eventually makes the individual susceptible to serious health risks like Diabetes, stroke, and CVD).
- Provides only Empty calories – no other nutritional benefits
When we get sugar from whole foods like vegetables and grains, they bring along with them a host of other vitamins and minerals which are essential for a healthy body. When we opt for highly processed foods, we miss out on these important nutrients thus moving towards developing an assortment of deficiencies. So it is always advisable to have the entirety of our diet to be made up of nutritious whole foods with minimal processing.
- Affects Learning and Memory
According to a study done by Department of Physiological Science, University of California, the excess intake of sugar can lead to a noticeable damage to the Hippocampus region of the brain. The Hippocampus is the part of the brain that is responsible for controlling memory and behavioral markers.
So does that mean I can’t eat an ice-cream or a doughnut ever again?Absolutely not! Once you fill at least 80% of your diet with nutritious whole foods, you can definitely have the last few hundred calories of your diet coming from your favourite dessert. Sugar in itself will not make you fat. However, it is easy to exceed your sugar intake as it is low on satiety. It’s this overconsumption of sugar that will bring the health problems along with it.
So, next time when you pass the dessert counter, don’t be deluded by the size of those mini tarts, bite-size pastries, and mousses. Choose your food wisely : fruits, vegetables, whole foods and the last few calories from the dessert if there’s room for it.
Don’t be blinded by your complacence, because being healthy begins with opening your eyes to the truth!
Author Credits – Nachiketh Shetty