Why Is Refined Sugar Bad for You?
Refined sugar, commonly known as white sugar, is found in many foods, even those that you wouldn't expect. It is very common in most people's diets. So much so, that its harmful effects on health have been studied and researched by various institutions and specialists, who warn that excessive consumption is extremely bad for your health.
This empty food, which doesn't provide any sort of nutrient, isn't required by the body. In addition, excessive consumption can cause major health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and generate a proven addiction. Find out why refined sugar is bad for you and what the best options are to replace it.
What is refined sugar?
If your answer is 'a product that comes from nature', you are mistaken. The sugar found in the stem of the sugar cane has minerals, vitamins and nutrients which are absorbed by the body and used as energy. When sugar is refined to make it white, however, all these properties are lost and we are left with sucrose. It has a sweetening effect but doesn't provide anything else for the body, which is why it is not considered a food.
White sugar is therefore the product of a chemical process through which our body receives no benefits - just a simple energy boost which rises and falls quickly due to it being a simple carbohydrate. So, even the energy it provides us with is of a bad quality.
Refined sugar may also be found in some pre-pakced foods in supermarkets. This is why you should learn how to read labels for sugar properly.
What about brown or whole cane sugar?
This type of sugar is considered healthier, although moderate consumption is equally recommended. This is because brown sugar does not pass through the whole refining process, and can therefore provide our body with many of the properties of unprocessed sugar. It is a less chemical product than white sugar, which is why many recommend its use as a substitute, but not in excess.
Why is white sugar bad for health?
Refined sugar is like the bad guy from a film; we all criticize it and blame it for everything... But do you know why? You're about to discover that this ingredient is really more harmful than you think.
It contributes to obesity
This ingredient allows for lots of foods to be sweetened, in most cases being used excessively. It brings so many calories to the body that its excessive consumption is one of the main causes of world obesity. You find it in many unhealthy products such as fizzy drinks, chocolates, bottled juice, bakery products, cookies or sweets.
These foods are all lacking in nutritional value and high in fats. Besides this, your metabolism slows down for your body to absorb and process sugar, which contributes to weight gain and obesity.
It draws nutrients from your body
Since sugar is basically a chemical, your body is not designed to naturally digest it. As such, your metabolism needs to take calcium, minerals, vitamin B and other nutrients from the body in order to absorb sugar. This is why those who eat too much sugar might suffer from nutritional problems, osteoporosis or a vitamin B deficiency.
It excessively stimulates the nervous system
Sucrose gives our body energy, but it is empty energy which is unable to last throughout the day; rather, it rises and falls sharply. This has significant effects on your nervous system and character, causing nervousness, anxiety, aggression, hyperactivity and even depression when consumption is reduced.
It leads to pancreas damage and type 2 diabetes
Upon entering the body so quickly, the pancreas must produce a large amount of insulin to carry this energy to all cells. However, your cells don't require this much energy, so it ends up being stored in the body as fat, contributing to obesity. Other than stimulating obesity, this process can give rise to diabetes because the body stops adequately responding to insulin, and doesn't transport energy to the cells. As a consequence, the pancreas produces even more insulin to try to compensate, causing the sugar that remains unused by the cells to accumulate in the blood.
Consuming too much refined sugar is one of the main causes of type 2 diabetes and it can be easily prevented by limiting consumption.
It accelerates the ageing process
Consuming too much sugar causes our skin's collagen and elastin to transform, reducing their effectiveness. The main problem with this process is that collagen and elastin are responsible for keeping our skin firm, for proper regeneration and for keeping it smooth. If you reduce its presence you'll cause your skin to age prematurely.
This is why those who eat more sugar have less healthy-looking skin.
It weakens the immune system and affects various organs
Your defenses also don't work effectively when you consume large amounts of sucrose. And it that wasn't enough, the functioning of organs such as the heart, liver or kidneys are also affected when you consume large doses of this substance, which puts our overall well-being at risk.
It is addictive.
Many studies have shown that consuming sugar activates the same neurotransmitters in your brain as when you take cocaine. This happens because eating white sugar raises dopamine levels, which creates a reward effect similar to that of the drug. So this ingredient is addictive and difficult to stop eating, even causing withdrawal symptoms when you leave it for good.
Do you want to stop eating it but still don't feel very motivated? Consult our article How to give up sugar to kick the habit and start a healthier lifestyle!
How to replace sugar?
Of course it's possible to replace sugar! The first step you need to take is minimise the consumption of all these sugar-rich foods: jelly beans, sweets, cookies, chocolate, pastries, pies, cakes, soft drinks, canned juices, etc. This change will have a very healthy effect on your body, and you will notice a wide range of benefits.
But stopping eating refined sugar doesn't mean you need to give up a life with sweet foods. Instead, you can choose to moderate consumption of other higher-quality products which are more beneficial to your health, for example:
- Brown sugar or whole cane sugar are more natural and supply nutrients which aren't present in white sugar.
- Honey is perfect for sweetening certain drinks or dishes, but in moderation.
- Agave syrup is another natural option.
- Stevia is extracted from the plant of the same name, and has a sweetening capacity 300 times higher than normal sugar. So, with a minimal amount you'll be able to get what you want, whilst also providing nutrients and vitamins to the body. We explain how to do this in our article entitled how to replace sugar with stevia.
- Eat natural fruit which provide fructose, a natural sugar, which will energize you and help you satiate your desire for something sweet. Forget about tinned or frozen foods that don't have the same nutritional benefits.
- Always go for black chocolate with 70% cocoa or more, thus significantly reducing the amount of sugar normally present in milk chocolate.
Reduce the amount of refined sugar in your diet and say yes to a much healthier life.
This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.
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