It’s no secret that the average American diet is pretty high in sugar. Health professionals have been urging the public to cut back on sweets for a while now, but new studies are suggesting that we live longer, healthier lives if we quit sugar completely.
From obesity to diabetes to fatty liver disease, a diet that’s high in sugar has been linked to a number of long-term health problems. But did you know that eating too much sugar can also cause kidney stones, impair brain function and lead to premature aging?
Here are 15 reasons why you might want to kick that sweet tooth once and for all:
1. Sugar is Literally Addictive
According to some relatively recent studies involving brain scans, sugar might as well be as addictive as cocaine. Its consumption stimulates parts of your brain that in turn release dopamine into your system. Dopamine makes you feel really good, and is the same thing that gets released into the body when someone does a drug like heroin.
2. It’s Friends with Cancer
Cancer risk goes way up when an individual’s diet is high in sugar. This will increase the likelihood of obesity and jack up the body’s insulin levels, both of which significantly increase your risk for cancer.
3. Sugar Breaks Your Heart
And not in an emotional way. A sugar-heavy diet often leads to a greatly increased risk for heart disease. Sugar elevates the amount of fat in your bloodstream and lowers the amount of the good cholesterol your body needs.
4. It’s Also Friends with Obesity
Sugar and getting fat basically go hand-in-hand. The reason why is incredibly simple: Sugars and artificial sweeteners are high in calories, but very low in nutrition. Sweets result in “empty calories” that your body just processes into fat.
5. Sugar Messes Up Your Liver
Ever heard of fatty liver disease? It’s what happens when you eat too much sugar. Your liver starts to process all of the sugar into fat, which can cause the disease that’s also been associated with serious health risks like type-2 diabetes.
6. Two Words: Kidney Stones
Ask anyone who’s ever had them: kidney stones are the absolute worse. They’re easy to avoid, for the most part, but sugary drinks like juices and sodas can increase the likelihood of developing them. In fact, drinking a sugary beverage every day increases your risk of kidney stones by up to 25%.
7. Sugar Will Screw Up Your Smile
What your childhood dentist always warned you about is true: sugar is really bad for your teeth. Did you ever wonder why, though? It’s because sugar mixes with bacteria that naturally hangs out in your mouth to form acids that really does a number on your pearly whites.
8. Sugar Slows Down Your Brain
Recent studies have also been showing that sudden increases in blood sugar can really mess with parts of your brain responsible for memory and cognitive function. While these studies were related to inability to control blood sugar levels, and not sugar intake in diet, it’s been established that excessive sugar intake can cause type 2 diabetes… which is the inability to control blood sugar levels.
9. It’s Empty Eating
As mentioned, sugar adds plenty to your diet in the way of calories, but not much in the way of vitamins, minerals, fibers, or anything even remotely nutritious. When you eat a lot of sugar, you’re really missing out on a lot of the nutrition that your body actually needs.
10. You Won’t Like Naturally Sweet Foods As Much
Believe it or not, artificial sweeteners and refined sugars can overload your taste buds if you eat too many your diet. When this happens, you basically develop a tolerance that makes it tough to appreciate naturally sweet foods like healthy fruits and berries.
11. Sugar May Cause Pimples
Nobody likes blemishes on your skin, but excessive sugar consumption might very well be linked to the production of hormones that increase oil selection and in turn stop up your pores, causing pimples.
12. It Can Give You Wrinkles
Sugar is also bad for your skin, where it breaks down collagen and elastin. These are the two specific compounds that help your skin stay young-looking, so this is another great reason to avoid sugar.
13. Nobody Likes Inflammation
Inflammation is your body’s response to either an injury or some type of unhealthy activity. Whether it’s smoking or eating too many refined sugars, activities that are hard on your body cause it to get inflamed more than it should, which isn’t good.
14. It Only Makes You More Hungry
Turns out eating sugar can just lead to a vicious cycle of overeating. Unlike other foods, sugar doesn’t suppress your appetite — in other words, those candy bars won’t satisfy your hunger, so may overeat without realizing it.
15. Sugar Shows Up Everywhere
There are over 25 different sweeteners commonly used in the food we eat. They’re all pretty bad for you and they often show up in some unexpected places. They include (but aren’t limited to) sorghum, cane sugar, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentratie, high-fructose corn syrup…it’s all the same, and it’s all bad for your health.
What Do You Think?
Do you have any tips for cutting sugar out of your diet? Or do you think a little sugar in moderation is still okay? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.