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Sugar is like a bad relationship. You know you should break up, but you’re still crazy in love. And believe me, America is having a love affair with sugar. With the average American consuming 20 teaspoons of sugar per day, that affair is looking a lot more like an addiction.
Although there’s a war on drugs, you don’t hear about a war on sugar. The lack of public awareness about the harmful effects of sugar is honestly what makes it so dangerous. With drug and alcohol, you know the enemy. If you’re willing, you can ask for help.
But with sugar, it’s different. It sneaks up on you disguised in the form of comfort food and a mood lift. When most people think about the harmful effects of sugar, they simply think of it as a source of tooth cavities and a few extra pounds around the waist. In reality sugar has much more dire effects on the body.
The reason for a lack of disclosure about the harmful effects of sugar is not due to a lack of well-researched information. It’s commercial. Major food corporations are heavily invested in making products with excess sugar. Huge profits will be lost if the general public suddenly became aware of this secret public enemy.
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But maybe the following 7 reasons on why you should quit table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup will motivate you to break up a relationship that’s ruining your life.
1. Sugar makes you look years older
Sugar attaches to proteins that form molecules called advanced glycation end products. These harmful molecules then attack the protein fibers in elastin and collagen, which are responsible for firm skin. Besides making your face sag, the loss of elastin and collagen can decrease the antioxidant enzymes in your skin, increase the effects of sun damage, and add to your wrinkles.
2. Sugar fattens up your organs
Fat is not something that just accumulates under major muscle groups. It’s also something that fattens organs. The liver is an efficient-storage organ. Globules of fat that build up around the liver are a precursor for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Before 1980, this condition was rare. These days that’s no longer the case.
3. Sugar primes you for diabetes
Many scientific studies indicate that out-of-control sugar consumption is the reason why diabetes is on the rise. Statistically people who drink sugary beverages have up to an 83 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
4. Sugar tenses up blood vessels
High levels of blood sugar can cause changes that lead to a hardening of your blood vessels. This can make it difficult for blood to travel throughout the body which means your organs don’t get the oxygen and nutrients they need. Over time this can lead to complications.
5. Sugar weakens your heart
It may seem strange to link sugar with heart disease, but sugar affects the heart indirectly. Sugar has been linked with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, and these two health conditions are the major cause of strokes and heart disease.
6. Sugar increases bad cholesterol
According to a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, People who eat a high amount of sugar create a cholesterol imbalance in their body, decreasing good cholesterol and increasing bad cholesterol. The liver responds to sugar overload by increasing its production of bad cholesterol.
7. Sugar wrecks your mood
Yes, you reach for sugar to lift your mood and make you feel better. But after the sugar rush, your brain has a harder time producing dopamine, the feel-good hormone. In the long run you are more likely to become increasingly depressed.
Why Breaking Up is Hard to Do
Although sugar harms you in many ways, you may still be reluctant to give it up. This is because awareness is much weaker than addiction in motivating change. Sugar is no different from caffeine, cigarettes, or hard drugs when it comes to addiction. Sugar, like other addictive substances, first spikes up dopamine, which makes you feel good. It’s only later that you feel awful. Moreover, like other addictive substances, you acquire a tolerance for it. You need more and more to get the same high.
So what’s the solution? When people become aware of how harmful processed sugar is for them, often the first thing they do is resist. While resistance is normal, this situation is no different than an alcoholic who claims that they can stop drinking anytime. Unfortunately quitting cold turkey may not be the fastest or more effective way to get all that unhealthy sugary sweetness out of your life.
Our advice: go slow. It can take from one to three weeks to cut down on how much sugar you consume. When you immediately reduce sugar, foods taste terrible. So just cut out a small amount every week and try replacing processed sugar in your diet with natural sugars like fresh fruit and honey. Your taste buds will gradually get used to lower amounts of sugar in your food, and eventually beverages and meals you thought needed sugar will appear sickeningly sweet.
Here’s the thing: sugar is not enhancing the quality of your life. It’s doing just the opposite. While you may not be able to avoid it altogether, a significant reduction in your intake of sugar will result in a dramatic improvement in your appearance, energy, and mood. Eating less sugar in the long run may even lead to a longer and healthier life.