Sugar. The "not-A-Treat" Sweet.
Ahhh, the holiday season is here!
And as we celebrate this festive season through indulgence and gluttony lol; knowing how all that excess sugar affects your body could make or break those health and fitness gains you worked so hard to achieve.
It’s simple. When we know better, we do better (hopefully).
So, what actually is happening to you when you consume added sugar?
You Brain on Sugar
Glucose is a simple sugar. Simply put, it fuels the cells in our body.
Your brain CANNOT function without it.
Our neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers in our brain, demand the most use of glucose supplied energy. When we lack adequate sugar it means that communication between our cells breaks down and cognitive function is impacted.
So, we do need sugar, right?
Of course. But, sugar from natural sources is very different than processed sugar - and even natural sugar needs to be moderated. Sugar found in nature comes with a protective coating of fiber and calcium that produces a shorter blood sugar response and aids in fullness. Processed sugar is stripped of that!
Diets high in sugar reduce the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF) which assists in the connections between nerve cells. These connections are a type of protein and without it growth, development, and communication between these nerve cells becomes impaired leading to a lack of adequate communication which leads to a decline in multiple neurological functions. BDNF has been linked to degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Your Body on Sugar
Ok, so this one is a no-brainer.
You already know that eating excess sugar (refined or natural) contributes to weight gain and obesity. It also leads to higher blood pressure, inflammation, diabetes and fatty liver disease which are all linked to an increase for heart attack and stroke.
When we consume sugar, most of it is broken down and absorbed in the small intestine. Specialized enzymes attack larger molecules and convert them into 3 simple sugars: glucose, galactose, and fructose.
The liver and muscles then store some of the glucose as glycogen which is a molecule that can be reversed into glucose when your body needs it. When glucose enters the bloodstream the blood glucose levels rise. The pancreas then releases insulin to help glucose get where it needs to go in your body.
But if you’re consuming heaping amounts of added sugar, your cells become resistant to insulin over time and is a risk factor for weight gain, obesity, systematic inflammation, type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions.
Your Life Expectancy on Sugar
So, can sugar really take years off your life?
JYESSS! Years can be shaved off your life from excess sugar. It is related to to the build out of uric acid. Uric acid (an end-product from the breakdown of purines) are important building blocks in our DNA but they are also prone to crystallise, giving rise to kidney stones and gout. Uric acid levels also tend to increase with age and can bring about the onset of metabolic diseases such as diabetes. It can shorten our life expectancy by several years.
And that, Funlifers is what sugar does to your body. So, hopefully this article will help you manage your sugar intake during the holidays and year round. As always, we're not saying cut it out - we're saying pursue balance!