LET’S face it, sugar is one of those things we all love. Even the healthiest eaters can fall victim to that 3pm sugar craving. And though it does supply that quick pick-me-up you’re after, the long-term effects can be dangerous to your health. Naturopath Victoria O’Sullivan says sugar is a health damaging anti-nutrient with addictive properties,
which makes it difficult to consume in only small amounts. “In large amounts, sugar is known to trigger weight gain, destroy the health of our teeth and gums, cause energy slumps, affect our immune system and indirectly lead to diabetes, she says. O’Sullivan explains that sugar comes in different forms. There are slow energy releasing complex carbohydrates, which are the best source, and natural fruit sugars, that we should consume in small amounts. But there are also refined sugars that are added to many processed foods and which O’Sullivan recommends we avoid. “If you fall off the wagon, don’t despair, she says. “Guide your food choices with the 90-10 rule, where 90 per cent of the diet is focused on high-quality nutritionally dense foods and 10 per cent is reserved for treats. “This is important, because deprivation and fanatical food rules often lead to binge eating the very foods we are trying to avoid.”
Weight gain and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes
Sugar consumption stimulates the release of the fat-storing hormone, insulin. “Most body fat results from excessive amounts of sugar and starch a form of complex sugar in our diets that isn’t burned off as daily energy output,” O’Sullivan says.
Excess sugar consumption is also likely to lower good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) and increase the bad ([DL cholesterol), creating the ideal environment for plaque to build up on arterial walls. Clogged arteries not only increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, but also diabetes, heart attack and stroke.
Weakened immune function
A sugary intake is likely to suppress white blood cells which fight bacteria and viruses. This potentially weakens our protection against viruses.