When a foreign material such as a microbe, plant pollen or a chemical, invades the body, our immune system becomes activated. This often triggers a process called inflammation. This is a part of the body’s natural healing process. Chronic inflammation can cause several chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, cancer and others.
Sugar and chronic diseases
Similarly, added sugar has the same effect on the body. Consuming too much of it as well as refined carbohydrates leads to elevated inflammation, as well as increased insulin resistance, LDL cholesterol, inflammatory of markers, and weight gain.
To reduce inflammation and the risk of chronic diseases, diet has a noticeable effect on the physical and emotional health. So, the cure comes from the grocery store not the pharmacy.
Sugar and immunity
Sugar consumption affects the body’s ability to fight viruses and other infections. Studies have shown that high sugar intakes suppress the immune system. It puts the white blood cells into temporary coma. At this stage, the body’s defense mechanism is not working properly, increasing the risk of getting sick. Bacteria and viruses can propagate much more because your system is down when you consume a lot of sugar.
Sugar and body weight
Moreover, added sugar is extra and empty calories. They harm the body and increase the fat deposits adding to the body weight. Moreover, how fast the sugar gets absorbed has a big impact. The body spends more time digesting an apple because of the fiber content. So the natural sugar absorbs more slowly. However, the added sugar in soda arrives all at once in the system like a sugar bomb. This leads to faster weight gain.
Here is what you can do:
- Reduce the consumption of processed foods. They are high in added sugars and refined carbohydrates. This includes fried foods, sugary drinks, cereals, and other processed foods.
- Include whole foods and anti-inflammatory foods. This includes fresh fruits and vegetables, raw nuts, fatty fish, olive oil and coffee which is rich in anti-inflammatory compounds.
- Exercise regularly and manage the stress levels
How much Sugar can I consume?
It takes 75g of sugar to weaken the immune system. Once the white blood cells are affected, the immune system is lowered for 5 hours, which is enough time to damage your body.
According to the World Health Organization, you should not get more than 10 % of your daily calories from added sugar. This is approximately 6 teaspoons of sugar which includes the sugar you add to your coffee and tea and other forms of hidden sugars in the products you consume.
You should be aware that there are a lot of hidden added sugars in many foods. It is not only present in sweet items. Products like granola, cereals, protein bars, pasta sauces, canned foods, nut butters, fruit juices, sports drinks and other products can have a lot of added sugar in them. For example, a can of soft drinks has approximately 8 teaspoons, and one cup of frosted cereal has about 3 teaspoons.
A healthy diet and lifestyle are very beneficial not only for reducing the risk of chronic diseases, but also for improving mood and overall quality of life. So check the ingredient list for added sugar next time you go to the grocery store, and beware of the added sugar you consume. Lastly, if you like sweets a lot, try to shift to naturally occurring sugars in fruits, and if you consume foods with added sugar, do it in moderation. Gradually you will reduce the amount and be able to stop all kinds of added sugar.