• Shruti GOCHHWAL

Sugar: The Addiction We Love But It Doesn’t Love Us Back

We live in a world where many popular food items contain added sugar and we love eating them too. Sugar is found naturally in various food items such as fruits, and is considered an important part of your overall diet. The problem exists with refined sugar that is added to various products.

A picture of waffles containing a large quantity of added sugar

Our excessive sugar intake has many negative impacts, Credits: Freepik


What is Refined Sugar?

Refined sugar is extracted from different plant sugars. It is a concentrated form of the Sugar addiction harmful effects that are found in nature. In India, refined sugar is primarily extracted from sugar canes.

Experts believe that because of the concentrated nature of refined sugar as compared to naturally occurring sugar, it is responsible for the negative effects.

Cakes on shelves

Caked have a very high sugar content, Credits: Public domain pictures


Some common food items which contain refined sugar are:

  1. Aerated beverages

  2. Peanut butter

  3. Cookies

  4. Cakes

  5. Sauces

  6. Yoghurt

  7. Pasta

  8. Canned Goods

  9. Processed Foods

These are common examples. There can be some specifically made items which do not contain sugar.

Does Sugar Cause Addiction?

Sugar seems to have addictive properties because it activates the rewards system of the brain which makes it seem that sugar is a reward.

Most experts believe that sugar addiction harmful effects is a very strong word and at the moment most people do not suffer from sugar addiction. They believe that some individuals are dependent on sugar and that is why it is difficult to quit.

However, some believe that it is as addictive as drugs. It requires more research to understand the true extent of the dependence of sugar. One thing we do know is that it is difficult to decrease it from our diet.

What are the Possible Negative Effects of Consuming Excessive Sugar?

The World Health Organization recommends that sugar intake should only account for 10% of your daily calorie intake. This comes out to be a maximum sugar intake of 50 gm per person.

The following are the negative effects that are associated with excessive consumption of sugar:

Weight Gain and Obesity

Let’s start with the obvious. Obesity is increasing at a rapid pace in the world. Many experts believe that a major cause for a rise in the cases of obesity is the consumption of sweetened beverages. These beverages contain very high amounts of sugars. Weight gain has been associated with many other diseases as well.

Empty Calories

Sugar has a very high-calorie content. Consumption of just sugary foods can often exceed your overall calorie intake. Calories are present in all food items and your required calorie intake should be completed by your overall diet rather than just sugar.

In addition to this, refined sugar has no nutritional value. Natural sugar is better for health as it has nutritional value in addition to the calories. Refined sugar only increases calorie intake.

Increases Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes has become a very big concern for the world. India is home to the second-largest diabetic population in the world and the number is expected to rise even further.

An increase in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes has been linked with excessive sugar intake. Sugar intake raises the blood sugar level rapidly. Long term use of refined sugars can make the body more resistant to insulin which can lead to type 2 diabetes.

There are studies which show that high sugar consumption is directly related to the risk of developing diabetes.

Acne and Skin Ageing

A person suffering from acne

Excessive sugar intake has been linked with acne, Credits: Pixabay


There is a fluctuation in the blood sugar and insulin levels whenever large amounts of high sugar items are consumed. This fluctuation can cause oil secretion and androgen release which are major factors in causing. A study showed that regular sugar consumption increases the chances of developing acne by 30%.

Excessive sugar consumption has been linked with faster skin ageing. A group of compounds which are called Advanced Glycation Proteins are responsible for the skin ageing process. They are formed after reacting with sugar in the body. The high sugar content can increase their quantity and lead to faster ageing.

Increased Risk of Heart Disease

Consumption of sugar has been linked with an increase in triglyceride content in the body which is a major risk factor for heart disease. The high sugar content can also lead to inflammation and obesity which are also risk factors.

High sugar content is also a contributing factor in high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.

Excessive sugar content has a significant negative impact on heart health.

Deteriorating Dental Health

A decayed tooth

Foods with a high sugar content lead to more acid release by bacteria which is harmful to the teeth, Credits: Wikimedia commons


Sugar increases the risk of dental problems. Most dental problems are caused by the presence of certain bacteria in the mouth. Excess sugar promotes bacteria growth which leads to demineralization of teeth as well as higher chances of developing cavities and other diseases.

Some experts believe that refined sugar has more negative effects but more research is needed on them. Suspected negative effects include depression, cognitive impairment and more.

What Can Be Done to Decrease Sugar Intake?

The only way to decrease the amount of sugar content you consume is to avoid eating it but it is easier said than done. You can use the following tips:

  1. Be Aware: Know the amount of sugar content in things you consume so that you know how to tackle it.

  2. Replace with Healthier Choices: Replace your current high sugar items with items that contain significantly less sugar. An example of this is to replace sugar-based sauces with other flavours.

  3. Decrease Quantity: Initially you should try and limit the quantity of refined sugar rather than eliminating it. This will help you in getting used to it.

  4. Calorie Free Items: There are various calorie-free items which can be used to replace sugar. A common example is replacing the sugar we put in tea by a calorie-free agent.

Takeaway

Excessive sugar intake can cause significant damage to the human body. It can lead to long term diseases as well. Decreasing sugar addiction harmful effects intake is not an easy process but it is certainly an important one. Try and decrease your sugar intake to decrease the risk of many diseases.

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