By Stefan Ianev, Head Of Educational Development, Clean Health Fitness Institute
Most people know excess sugar consumption is not healthy. After all this is only common sense. Almost anything in excess is not good for you. However, if you asked them why most would not be able to tell you.
Those who are more enlightened may say it’s because sugar raises insulin, which is considered our primary fat storage hormone. However, this is only half true and there are also several other reasons.
I want to share with you five reasons why sugar may be stopping from achieving results;
- Sugar is very easy to overeat
Recent studies have shown that if you match the portions sugar consumption does not lead to greater weight gain or have any adverse effect on blood glucose markers compared with wholefood low GI carbohydrate sources.
Indeed, the devil is in the dose. Excess caloric intake is much more strongly correlated with weight gain and inflammation than the type of food. However, consider how much easier it is to over consume sugar, which is very energy dense, and devoid of fibre verses say sweet potato and you can see why we have a problem.
Sugar is in almost everything and it is very easy to over consume. As a result, the calories stack up and that what really leads to weight gain.
- Sugar causes cravings
Not only is sugar itself very easy to overeat because it doesn’t fill you up, but it also makes you more prone to overeating other foods. This is because sugar enters the bloodstream very rapidly which spikes insulin levels and as results blood sugar levels crash shortly after.
This in turn makes you crave more sugar or other sweet foods. This is especially true for people with insulin resistance who don’t get the satiety signal from insulin. Studies those with insulin resistance tend to eat 50-80% more after a high GI verses low GI meal.
So it’s not the high GI foods themselves that make you gain weight as much as the fact that they cause you to overeat. As with above focus on consuming high fiber, low density, low GI wholefoods, which will maintain stable blood sugars and make you feel more satiated.
- Sugar increases insulin resistance
Excess sugar consumption does not directly cause insulin resistance, as many believe but rather indirectly due to accumulation of excess body fat.
This is because fat cells release inflammatory cytokines and insulin resistance is strongly linked to inflammation, which leads to impaired insulin signalling. Therefore, the fatter someone is the more inflamed and insulin resistant they tend to be.
Once the damage to the insulin receptors has been done it becomes much more important to manage insulin levels as well as energy intake through diet. This means reducing carbohydrates and especially sugar.
For those with normal insulin function it’s much more important to control caloric intake in order to prevent gaining body fat in the first place.
- Sugar feeds the bad gut bacteria
Our small intestine is made up of a delicate balance of gut bacteria, which is very important for many functions in the body such as digestion, our immune system, and neurotransmitter production.
Excess consumption of carbohydrates especially sugar which enters gut very quickly feeds the bad gut bacteria which can upset this delicate balance.
This can cause a host of problems such as increased inflammation, suppressed or hypersensitive immune system, and deficiency in certain neurotransmitters. In fact, many autoimmune diseases and cognitive disorders have been linked to poor gut health as a result of an imbalance of gut bacteria.
Limiting sugar intake as well as taking a probiotic supplement can help maintain or restore your gut bacteria balance.
- Sugar makes you acidic
Our body maintains a slightly alkaline PH balance of around 7.3. When you are overly acidic it depletes the body of its mineral reserves and it creates an unwanted environment where infections, bad bacteria, and yeast can spread.
High consumption of sugar makes the body more acidic and can predispose you to any of the following health problems;
- Yeast fungal overgrowth
- Low energy and chronic fatigue
- Free radical damage
- Premature ageing
- Joint pain
Limiting your intake of sugar as well as consuming alkaline foods can help offset many of these adverse health effects and make it easier to reach your body composition goals.