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What You Need to Know About Sugar and Your Health (It’s Not Sweet)

By Dr. Molly Casey

Sugar and Your Health

Sugar is an interesting topic. The body and the brain need sugar. The type and amount matter though. Uncontrolled sugar consumption and consumption of certain types of sugar are more harmful than others. Sugar is found in more foods than you likely know. In fact, it’s found in nearly all prepared foods such as condiments, dressings, and packaged foods. It is a hidden ingredient that can have a significant negative effect on your health. Below are only five of the many effects that sugar can have on the processes in your body. It’s worth taking a look.

Affects the Brain

Every time you eat, a cascade of reactions occur within the body and brain. When you eat sugar, there is a reaction within the brain in which dopamine is triggered to be released into your bloodstream. Dopamine is a feel good neurotransmitter or hormone. When it is released in your body it is strongly associated with pleasure and reward. Thus, when you ingest sugar and dopamine is released into your system, in turn you end up wanting more; when you eat more sugar to satisfy that craving, more dopamine is released again and the cycle ensues. The increased sugar intake drives up the negative effects of sugar.

Insulin

Sugar intake causes the release of insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas and it controls glucose levels in the blood. When insulin is chronically high (as it is with those who ingest significant amounts of sugar), the body stops responding to the insulin the way it is intended. As a result, blood glucose levels rise and eventually more chronic conditions called metabolic syndrome and/or type 2 diabetes can ensue. Both of these conditions have negative effects on your health and quality of life.

Causes Inflammation

Inflammation is the body’s natural process of healing. Uncontrolled and unnaturally elicited inflammation is neither helpful nor health promoting. There are certain foods and chemicals that, when ingested, contribute to inflammation. When these foods or chemicals are ingested with consistency in uncontrolled quantity, low-grade inflammation and health problems can and often do result. Low-grade inflammation is linked to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and allergies. Sugar is one such chemical that can cause this.

Body Weight

Sugar is full of empty calories. This means it contains little or no nutritional value even though it’s providing calories. Aside from the sugar craving cycle of its own, your body will also want you (and need you) to meet its other nutritional needs. Research shows that those who have larger sugar intake and increased body weight are linked; also linked are inflammation and increased body weight. Sugar causes and feeds low-grade inflammation.

High sugar intake can lead to a whole host of negative health effects. It is common to note the extent of how this affects our body. Start looking to see where you can cut sugar from your diet and improve your health and life.

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