We’re approaching Halloween, and unhealthy treats will be readily available just about everywhere. As tempting as it is to indulge, sugar’s long-term effects might make you think twice. The average American consumes 130 pounds of added sugars each year. You read that right – people are consuming as much sugar as the weight of a Great Dane. If Americans were more aware of sugar’s negative effects, there would most likely be a decrease in avoidable health problems, such as diabetes. Unfortunately, sugar (and its charmingly-named alter ego, high fructose corn syrup) is an ingredient in more foods than you might think. So, should you take a few seconds to locate sugar content on your nutrition labels? We’re here to scare you into doing so. Don’t worry – it’s for your own good.
Sugar Makes You Lethargic
Some people eat sugary foods for the quick burst of energy it gives them. While it’s effective for a short period, that energy will only last for about 30 minutes. In less than an hour, sugar makes you feel even more tired than before. If you have a candy bar at lunchtime, the second half of the day might feel like a real challenge. What starts as a craving for sugar quickly turns into a craving for sleep. It’s a vicious cycle, because when you consistently consumer sugar around the same time each day, your body develops an addiction. Sugar triggers dopamine releases in the brain, which feels great, but the inevitable crash just isn’t worth it.
It Could Lead to Diabetes
Sugary treats hold a big secret: eating too much of them over time may lead to deadly diseases like type 2 diabetes. Excessive carbohydrates (like sugar) lead to weight gain, which significantly increases a person’s risk for the disease. Although it doesn’t necessarily matter where the carbohydrates come from, sugar is one of the fastest ways to exceed a healthy daily limit. The American Diabetes Association has specifically linked sugary beverages to type 2 diabetes, so pay careful attention to the ingredients in your fruit, sport, and energy drinks.
It Damages Your Blood Vessels
When you consume too much sugar; you restrict your blood vessels to the point where it’s difficult for blood to move through them. How can a single substance cause such a roadblock? Sugar raises insulin levels in the bloodstream, which causes surrounding muscles to grow faster than normal. Over time, this extra pressure stresses artery walls, and leads to high blood pressure. Even if you’re normally cool under pressure, this isn’t a kind you want to deal with. High blood pressure increases the chances of a heart attack or stroke, because your heart has to work harder to keep things circulating. These concerns are easily avoidable with healthier eating choices.
Sugar Destroys Your Skin
As sugar passes through your bloodstream, it clings to proteins and forms damaging molecules called advanced glycation end products, or AGEs. Needless to say, you don’t want these anywhere near you, let alone underneath your skin. AGEs damage other proteins in the skin. Two of the biggest victims of this renegade molecule are protein fibers in collagen and elastin, otherwise known as the things that keep your skin looking radiant and firm. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, we have a feeling nobody is going out of his or her way to have dry, wrinkly, or saggy skin. What’s more, AGEs deactivate important antioxidants that prevent skin damage. If you dislike sunburns, you should also dislike sugar binges.
Your health always comes first, but your pocketbook matters as well. If you’re unhealthy, you can expect that your health insurance and life insurance premiums will be higher. Sugar is one of the largest culprits of an unhealthy lifestyle, so cutting back on it is never a bad idea. At Quotacy, we always encourage healthy eating so you can live your life to the fullest. It might be hard to limit your sugar intake at first, but the way you will feel after will surely be worth it. Staying healthy is about more than just your weight. Check out our cold and flu survival guide to learn how to make it through pesky illnesses this winter.