Sugar. It’s everywhere. When you walk down a supermarket aisle, most of the foods you will see either contain natural or artificially added sugars. This can make sugar particularly hard to avoid.
Although sugar isn’t inherently bad (it’s a great source of energy), eating a diet that is very high in sugar comes at a cost. If you eat a lot of sugar, it can impact your health in a variety of ways and even increase the risk of contracting certain chronic illnesses.
Eating a lot of sugar can affect the health of your back. In fact, many of the patients visiting a chiropractor in Ealing have chronic back problems which have been worsened by their high sugar intake. We are tasked with helping these patients improve their health through a combination of chiropractic care and various lifestyle adjustments.
In this post, our Ealing chiropractor explains how eating sugar rich foods affects the body and also shares the top 5 reasons to reduce the amount of sugar you include in your diet.
What Sugar Does To Your Body
Sugar is a generic name for sweet-tasting, soluble, simple carbohydrates like sucrose, glucose and fructose.
All sugars have a simple molecular structure, which makes it easy for the body to convert sugar into energy. While this makes sugar a great option for obtaining a quick burst of energy, the human body is not well-equipped to handle large amounts of it.
Some of the changes that occur within your body when you consume sugar include:
- The Brain Receives A Jolt Of Pleasure
The taste of sugar causes the brain to release dopamine and opioids, which are natural pleasure chemicals. The brain releases these chemicals as a reward for eating such an energy-abundant food.
- The Small Intestine Breaks It Down
The small intestine is tasked with breaking down the sugar you eat into glucose. This is an easy task, as sugar is such a simple compound. The glucose is then released into the bloodstream, so it can travel to muscles and organs, where it is used for energy.
- The Pancreas Reacts
Beta cells located in the pancreas will monitor the level of glucose in your blood to ensure it doesn’t get too high or too low. It uses a hormone called insulin to control how the sugar in the bloodstream is stored and used. Insulin will also signal the body to stop burning off fat and use the glucose in the blood instead (which is one of the reasons why eating sugar makes it harder to lose weight).
- Excess Sugar Is Stored
When you eat a lot of sugar, it causes a rapid spike in your blood sugar levels. The pancreas uses insulin to tell the body to store any excess sugar as glycogen or as fat.
- Inflammation Levels Are Increased
Consuming large quantities of sugar can increase the level of inflammation in your body. Unfortunately, this can affect your arteries, which stresses the heart and increases the risk of heart disease. It can also worsen musculoskeletal conditions like arthritis (more on that below).
- Brain Function Is Changed
Researchers have discovered that eating sugar affects the brain in a variety of ways, worsening your memory, impacting your mood, triggering a strong reward response, hindering mental capacity and more.
- Skin Health Is Affected
The excess glucose in your bloodstream can attach itself to proteins and form “AGEs” molecules. Eventually, these molecules can cause permanent damage to the collagen and elastin in your skin, causing premature ageing.
- Kidneys Release Excess Sugar
When sugar levels become very high, the kidneys will begin to release sugar into your urine. Unfortunately, this interferes with your kidney’s ability to filter out waste.
Why You Should Monitor Your Sugar Intake
As you can see, sugar has a dramatic impact on your body. Unfortunately, it can also impact your health in the long term. Some of the most dangerous outcomes associated with eating too much sugar include:
#1 – Weight Gain
Foods high in sugar can pack a lot of calories into a small package. A single piece of chocolate cake has about the same amount of calories as 7 apples. Unfortunately, this makes it easy to overdo the amount of calories you are eating each day, leading to weight gain.
As you gain weight from eating sugar rich foods, more load is placed upon the joints and muscles. This increases the risk of common health issues which may necessitate a trip to our chiropractor in Ealing, like lower back pain, slipped discs and so on.
#2 – Higher Risk Of Heart Disease
Eating large amount of sugar increases the prevalence of several risk factors that are linked to heart disease, like inflammation, obesity,and high blood pressure.
Additionally, high sugar diets are linked to a condition called atherosclerosis. This condition occurs when fatty deposits accumulate in the arteries, blocking the passage of blood and forcing the heart to work harder.
#3 – Increased Inflammation
As mentioned earlier, sugar can worsen inflammation, which can be detrimental to the health of the cardiovascular system. The additional inflammation caused by a high sugar diet can also worsen common conditions like arthritis. This is why we often advise arthritic patients visiting our chiropractic clinic to be careful about their sugar intake.
#4 – Higher Risk Of Diabetes
Type II diabetes is a common condition amongst older patients who visit our chiropractic clinic in Ealing. It is a chronic disease that must be carefully managed through a combination of diet, exercise and medication. Researchers have found a clear link between Type 2 diabetes and diets high in sugar.
#5 – May Increase The Risk Of Certain Cancers
Diets high in sugar increase the risk of obesity and chronic inflammation, which are both risk factors for cancer. Several studies have confirmed that high sugar consumption is associated with oesophageal cancer, pleural cancer and cancer of the small intestine.