For many of us, sweet treats are a fatal attraction we can neither resist nor ignore. We just have to have those two spoonfuls of sugar in our tea or coffee. We have to accompany that tea or coffee with a giant cookie or a plate of cup cakes, or perhaps a Danish pastry. We are not happy unless we complete a meal with a sweet dessert of some description and often reach for a second helping when one is just not enough! And to keep our thirsts adequately quenched, we drink gallons of fizzy, sugary soda in place of boring, ordinary water.
But how much attention do we pay to the negative health aspects to consuming all that additional sugar in our diet each and every day? Do we ever bother to calculate how many additional calories we are loading on to our daily total?
Sugar and Weight Gain
We seem at a loss to understand why we are overweight and steadily gaining more inches around our waistlines. We blame it on not getting enough exercise, or on eating too many pizzas or hamburgers. Well, while those two excuses are actually pretty valid and do contribute to weight gain, they are not the biggest causes for many people. Too much sugar is.
We often visit fast food restaurants for a quick and filling lunch and it's pretty common to opt for one of the convenient "meals" that come with a hamburger, fries, a shake and a soda, all for a seemingly great value price. More often than not, we will go for the large size meal or even super-size if we're feeling in the mood for a blow-out meal.
While we are often aware that the burger and fries part of the meal loads on calories and unhealthy fats, we often tend to forget the worst offender is the soda. A 32oz regular cola commonly served in many fast food joints can load on an incredible 364 calories, while the super-size 44oz cola dumps 512 calories into your system and onto your waistline as fat!
Sugar and Health
If the prospect of all that additional extra weight from sugar consumption is beginning to bother you, you had better sit down for the next chapter in this tale of woe. Because the refined sugar that is found in so many of the things we eat and drink is responsible for a whole load more in the bad health department.
For starters, scientists have pretty well proved that excessive consumption of sucrose (refined sugar cane) and/or high fructose corn syrup (found in most soda and processed foods) is responsible for a number of ill health-related conditions such as heart disease, hypertension (with the risk of stroke), high cholesterol levels and insulin resistance potentially leading to the development of type 2 diabetes.
More research has uncovered even more sinister bad health links with sugar consumption. It is now known that the body processes sucrose and fructose in the liver and the result if its not immediately burned off through exercise is its conversion into visceral fat for storage around the body.
This type of fat is generally stored in the abdomen (hence its common name of "belly fat") and is stores around the major organs, including the heart. In small amounts, it is not considered much of a problem and even has minor benefits in protecting the organs from body contact shock, for instance if we accidentally walk into a door or some other solid object.
However, in greater volumes, visceral fat becomes a serious health threat. Apart from the obvious visual appearance of the extended belly, or pot belly as its sometimes called, the fat cells are known to secrete hormones that cause other healthy cells to become cancerous, while promoting the growth of existing cancerous tumors. Visceral fat is most problematical in cases of colon and breast cancers.
There are further health problems associated with excessive amounts of visceral fat, including an increase in inflammation of key areas in the body. Tests are still underway but it is also believed that there may even be a link to conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout; gastric problems; auto-immune system problem; and possibly the appearance of certain allergies.
Note: these links are theoretical at present pending publication of conclusive evidence.
Should I Stop eating Sugar?
This is a question that many overweight people routinely ask and the short answer is, "YES!" Understandably, for many people to have to completely cut our sugar from their lives would be impractical as well as downright difficult with so many food products containing sucrose of HFCS as a sweetener. Even savory foods contain sugars!
What you really ought to try and do is to cut down on all the obvious products containing sugar and do what you can to reduce your daily intake. For example, if you take sugar in your tea or coffee, stop. I personally did this many years ago and found I actually preferred the unsweetened taste of coffee and tea.
Another example is if you drink soda, stop drinking it and switch to plain water to quench your thirst. It may seem boring and flavorless but it is also calorie-less and a whole load healthier for you. It also costs a whole load less!
Avoid diet soda, if you were considering that alternative. This is because the artificial sweeteners added to diet or low calorie soda and other drinks are potentially more harmful than the refined sugars that they replace.
Finally, I should issue a stark warning to you:
Should you decide to drastically cut down your daily sugar consumption, you will suffer some weight loss over the ensuing weeks. This may result in you having to go and buy some smaller size, more fashionable clothes as your old ones may no longer fit you. It may also result in people commenting on the great improvement in your figure and may even make you more attractive to the opposite sex.
Do not panic... just enjoy it. OK!