Posted on 11 January, 2016

What Does Sugar Do To Your Body?

By Jacob Andreae in Lifestyle What Does Sugar Do To Your Body?

[Photo credit: Stefano Mortellaro]

In the 1970’s, there was a fierce debate about whether sugar or fat was responsible for the growing problem with obesity and related lifestyle disorders. John Yudkin, a British professor, believed sugar was to blame; while Keys, an American nutritionist, believed fat was to blame. Eventually Keys won out, exonerating sugar and condemning fat. Sugar went on to dominate the world and fat was sent packing. Today, sugar can be found in almost everything.

More and more studies are now showing that fat is harmless; even saturated fat, and that sugar is the leading cause of heart disease, due to the harmful effects that fructose has on metabolism. 

I’ve long considered myself healthy. As an adult, my regular weight has always been 72kg. When I was running track, I knew I was at my fittest, and that I would run well, when I got down under 70kg. The lowest I ever got to was 69kg. About a decade later in 2014, I wanted to see what effect sugar had on my body. Maintaining my same exercise regime, which consisted mostly of chasing after my four little kids, I got down to 68kg. Not only did I drop to this weight quickly, but my body maintained it easily.

As soon as I started reintroducing sugar into my diet, my weight went back up to 72kg. My diet typically consists of vegetables, meat, chicken, fish, nuts and fruit. I don’t eat breads or pastas and I rarely eat packaged food, some of which is commonly considered healthy such as muesli bars. I started reintroducing sugar to see what would happen. I was shocked at how fast the changes occurred. My weight began to rise very quickly, my energy and motivation plummeted, and my mind went cloudy.

The movie, ‘That Sugar Film’, does a great job of showing just how many so-called healthy foods have sugar added to them, what harmful effects sugar does to your body, and how quickly these effects occur.

What Sugar Does to Your Body

  • Addiction.
    Sugar causes a release of dopamine in the brain, which is a neurotransmitter that makes you feel good. The more sugar you’re exposed to, the more you become accustomed to this feeling.
  • Rots your teeth.
    Sugar provides the substrate for bad bacteria to feed off in the mouth. It’s easily digestible for this bacteria.
  • Heart disease.
    More and more studies are now showing that fat is harmless; even saturated fat, and that sugar is the leading cause of heart disease, due to the harmful effects that fructose has on metabolism. 
  • Fatty liver.
    The liver is probably the organ most effected by sugar. When sugar enters the bloodstream, it’s broken down into glucose and fructose.

    Glucose is an important energy source that is found in every living cell.

    Fructose has been consumed very infrequently throughout history, when fruit was available and ripe. It’s now added to many foods and drinks because it gives that sweet taste.

    Fructose can only be metabolised by the liver when it enters the body in significant amounts. If the liver is flooded with fructose and it’s already full of glycogen (the storage form of glucose), the liver turns fructose into fat. 
  • Causes Insulin Resistance.
    Insulin acts like a key, allowing glucose to enter cells from the bloodstream. Too much glucose in the bloodstream is toxic. Sugar consumption, particularly in high amounts, leads to insulin resistance.
  • Type II Diabetes.
    Type II diabetes is characterised by high blood sugar (hyperglycaemia). It’s associated with insulin resistance because as insulin resistance increases, the pancreas produces more insulin. Eventually the pancreas can’t keep up and sugar levels in the blood skyrocket.
  • Promotes fat.
    Despite what the sugar industry would like people to believe, not all calories are equal. Sugar doesn’t have the same kind of effect on satiety as other foods. Sugar is filled with empty calories and lacks important vitamins and minerals. It’s pure energy with nothing else. In addition to being converted to fat, the lack of satiety can lead to overeating.
  • Cancer.
    There is growing evidence that sugar leads to a much higher risk of getting cancer. The metabolic problems associated with sugar consumption such as elevated insulin levels, fatty liver and high levels of fat, lead to certain types of cancers.

Not all calories are equal. Sugar is an empty calorie that is nothing more than energy. There is no protein, essential fats, vitamins and minerals. Sugar effects the body in many harmful ways and the evidence of it’s detrimental effects is growing.

What effects have you noticed from sugar?

About Jacob Andreae

About Jacob Andreae

I write and speak about Fitness, Nutrition and Mindset. 

Subscribe to updates and get my eBook, Lose 10KGS, absolutely free!

What Does Sugar Do To Your Body?A quick start guide to losing weight and staying on track. Learn the strategies I use to eat and move for optimal health. Includes worksheets to enhance your motivation, commitment and discipline, along with a sample eating plan and exercise program.