How Refined Sugar Impacts Your Body

How Refined Sugar Impacts Your Body

Enjoying something sweet was a rare treat for earlier generations; today, though, it's often easier to find candy than fresh fruit, and all that sugar can impact your health. If you eat and drink too much sugar, you should know that you may be harming your body in unexpected ways.

1. Extra calories make obesity more likely

One teaspoon of sugar contains about nine calories. While nine calories may not sound like much, the problem becomes more obvious when you look at how much sugar is found in popular foods and drinks. Just one can of soda has over 10 teaspoons of sugar in it. That's more than 90 calories.

To burn 90 calories, you would need to:

  • Jog for 10 minutes
  • Walk for 20 minutes
  • Do aerobics for about 10 minutes

You put yourself on the track to obesity if you don't burn those extra calories, and when that happens, you're at a high risk for serious health problems like:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Gout
  • Sleep apnea

2. Fat builds in your liver

Doctors recently discovered that eating refined sugar could harm your liver as much as drinking alcohol. Like alcohol, sugar causes fat to build in your liver, and eventually it can cause your liver to swell or form scar tissue. If left untreated the fat deposits can even lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer.

3. Refined sugar puts you at risk of developing diabetes

When you eat or drink refined sugar, your pancreas releases insulin that helps your body store the calories for energy. Unfortunately, your body can only do this so many times before it becomes "insulin resistant," which means the insulin stops working well.

Insulin resistance is a step toward type II diabetes, a condition that often requires a strict diet and medication. You can't get rid of type II diabetes once you have it, which means you will probably have to treat it for the rest of your life.

Refined sugar can make you addicted

There's a chance you are addicted if you consume a lot of refined sugar every day. Having a doughnut or piece of cake now and then won't make you an addict, but having them (or any other sugary treats) daily could. In fact, sugar stimulates the same parts of your brain as do hard drugs like cocaine and heroin.

Just like any addictive substance, refined sugar puts you through a period of withdrawal if you don't have regular access. If you have headaches or feel jittery between meals, you may have a sugar addiction that makes it harder to eat healthy meals.

Eating sugar on occasion won't hurt you as long as you're healthy. Eating refined sugar every day, however, can harm your health. The next time you want something sweet to eat, reach for a piece of fruit, since your body processes the natural sugar in fruit differently than it processes refined sugar. Plus, fruit contains vitamins and antioxidants that are essential to a healthy diet.