Consumption of sugar is almost unavoidable. Sugars and sweeteners are added to many of the products that Americans purchase on a daily basis; this does not include sugar found naturally in products like fruit. The average American consumes up to 20 teaspoons of sugar per day, well exceeding the American Heart Association’s (AHA) recommended amount of 6 (women) to 9 (men) teaspoons. While we know that sugar in excess isn’t good for you, what are some of the major risks that come from consuming too much sugar?
Increased Risk of Heart Disease
Diets high in sugar have been linked to many diseases. In fact, heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S., is commonly connected to diets high in added sugars. Consuming too much added sugar could lead to high blood pressure and obesity, two major risk factors of developing heart disease. Reducing your intake of added sugars to the recommended amount, or less is an effective way of lowering your risk of developing heart disease and other chronic illnesses.
Unhealthy Weight Gain
As the rate of obesity increases, it’s important to look at the major contributing factors. Products with added sugars and sweeteners, such as sweets, sodas, and many juices, are often regular items in the average American’s diet. However, items such as these, with high levels of fructose and simple sugars, are the main contributors to unhealthy weight gain. Research shows that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages promotes excess weight gain in both children and adults. Additionally, excessive consumption of added sugars could potentially lead to a resistance to leptin, the hormone that helps regulate hunger and limits overeating.
Diabetes & Kidney Damage
A typical result of unhealthy weight gain and obesity is an increased risk of developing diabetes. Over the last 20 years, the prevalence of diabetes in the U.S. has increased substantially; today, the disease affects about 25 million people. Consuming sugar in excessive amounts over long periods of time can often result in a resistance to insulin, the hormone that regulates our blood sugar levels. Individuals dealing with insulin resistance have high blood sugar levels, and ultimately an increased risk of diabetes. Additionally, individuals with diabetes have to be well aware of their sugar intake; too much sugar for a person with diabetes can result in severe damage to your kidneys and potential kidney failure.
A healthy diet can contribute to a better mood and increase productivity. A diet high in processed foods and added sugars, on the other hand, does quite the opposite. Diets that are high in added sugars can be linked to an increased risk of developing depression. Most individuals are familiar with the term “sugar high”; this comes from the boost in energy you may experience after consuming a product with high sugar content, and can cause a fluctuation in blood sugar levels that can lead to severe mood swings.
Sugars and other processed foods are hard to avoid completely and consuming them in moderation can significantly lower your risks for potential illnesses and disease.