My Name Is Sugar & I Am Bad For Your Health
Hi there! My name is Sugar. Most of you would have seen me in your kitchen, as a heap of shiny crystals in a jar. Almost all of you consume me on a daily basis, in the form of sweets, chocolates, candy, or along with tea and coffee. I am generally sweet by nature and kids love me.
I am writing this blog today to share a few of my secrets with you. While my nature and taste is very sweet, my effects on your health are not so. I am actually bad for your health. I shouldn’t be saying this to you, but I can’t see you suffering. Hence, I’ve decided to let you know the truth behind consuming me.
You all know how the digestive system in your body works. You eat food and the system breaks it down to generate energy. If you don’t eat, the body tries to burn existing fat to release energy. If you eat right, the body will keep breaking the food into energy at regular intervals (without affecting the fat) and this will lead to a good metabolism rate.
Now when I get into your body, I immediately enter your bloodstream. The pancreas produces insulin to break me down and I am converted to energy. The problem arises when there’s too much of me in your blood. The pancreas starts working overtime to produce more insulin. This ‘extra’ insulin helps break down the sugar you just ate, but it also ends up reducing the overall blood sugar. Since sugar levels drop in the body, you start craving for more sugar. So you eat more of me and the insulin spikes up and the sugar cravings continue.
Hence, the process of sugar consumption sucks you up in a never-ending cycle of more sugar, eventually leading to obesity, cardiac diseases, cancer and diabetes.
So if you regulate your sugar intake, you can balance your metabolism rate and have an energetic healthy body.
But, wait, I am not done yet. Regulating sugar intake is not as easy as it sounds. Do you even realize in how many different ways you consume me? Let me break it down for you.
- Refined sugar – Many people consume a highly processed and refined version of me on daily basis. The problem with refined sugar is that it provides empty calories or false nourishment. In simple terms, it means it provides you energy but no nutritional sustenance. It is an incomplete carbohydrate. There are no proteins, vitamins or minerals in refined sugar. Hence, to digest and detoxify this incomplete carbohydrate, body tissues are required to give up important vitamins and minerals. This leads to the weakening of your body cells and overall degradation of one’s health.
- Saccharin – Another cousin of mine who is extremely popular! Similar to refined sugar, it doesn’t contribute any nutrients to the body. In fact, certain research groups have discovered that rats who chewed down saccharin were more susceptible to cancer than who didn’t (Source).
- Aspartame – This one is used in almost 6,000 food items including cereals, sodas, gum, etc. This artificial sweetener is proven to cause health problems in humans like nausea and vomiting, sleep problems, abdominal and joint pains, depression, migraines, etc.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) – This is the most hideous and the most popular variant of mine! Extensively used in the food processing industry, it owes its popularity to the fact that it is the cheapest sweetener available. All the yogurts, breads, cereals, aerated drinks, breakfast bars that you eat contain HFCS. At times, this syrup contains toxic levels of mercury, which can seriously damage the brain. The composition of HFCS is fructose and glucose in a 55-45 ratio in an unbound form, as a result of which less time is required for digestion. Hence, the sugar is absorbed rapidly in the blood.
Now can you imagine regulating my intake? How will you do that? I am present in almost every food you eat. And the more you consume me, the more I am harmful. I can cause swelling of your liver and fatty acids are a result of me getting deposited as fat in different areas of your body. This fat can also get accumulated in vital organs, causing them to no longer function properly.
Apart from hypertension, cardiac diseases, obesity and many other health problems, I am also responsible for damaging your immune system. After AIDS, I am the most fatal reason for the weakening of the immune system.
Are you feeling paranoid after reading all this? I am sorry but my intention is not to make you feel pensive or worried. There is a way out. Here are a few suggestions I would like to share with you that can help you overcome this problem:
- Go Organic – Yes, go organic and say no to processed foods. Almost all processed foods contain some form of mine, either as a preservative or to add taste. If you can do away with them and go organic and natural, you will definitely see your health improve.
- Stick To a Limit – Set a limit (say 7 spoons per day) and stick to it. Within days, you will see a significant rise in your energy levels. You will feel less lethargic and more energetic.
- Say ‘No’ Gracefully – It is very difficult to avoid me during a festival or a celebration, especially in India. And if you have to attend a wedding, God bless you! But if you can learn to say ‘no’, nothing like it! Every time someone offers you a sweet, just shake your head sideways. If that doesn’t work, tell your host that you are allergic to me. Simple!
My consumption in India has grown from 5% to 13% of sugar produced globally in the last 50 years (Source). Kids are consuming me the most and, not surprisingly, research shows that our kids suffer from hyperactivity disorders due to this. Hence, it is time you change your diet and enhance your lifestyle.