Why is sugar bad for you? Learn about 6 harmful effects of sugar on the body and how it could damage your health
Sugars are carbohydrates, which your body breaks down into simple sugars such as glucose, fructose, or galactose and then uses it for energy.
While sugar can provide the body with energy, too much of it can cause or contribute to serious health problems.
6 harmful effects of sugar on the body
1. Heart disease
Consuming sugar has been linked to high blood pressure and inflammatory changes in the body. High-sugar diets may also increase triglyceride levels, which is a marker for cardiovascular disease, as well as cause atherosclerosis, a disease characterized by fatty, artery-clogging deposits.
Consuming too much added sugar increases the risk of weight gain. Sugary drinks such as sodas, juices, and sweet teas are rich in fructose, a type of simple sugar. Consuming fructose causes disturbances in the appetite and satiety centers in the brain, which can lead to increased hunger and binge eating behavior. Additionally, excessive fructose consumption may cause resistance to leptin, an important hormone that regulates hunger and signals the body to stop eating.
3. Type II diabetes
Obesity, which is often caused by consuming too much sugar, is considered the strongest risk factor for diabetes. Excess sugar consumption also drives resistance to insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance causes blood sugar levels to rise and increases the risk of diabetes.
A diet high in added sugar and processed foods may increase your risk of developing depression. Sugar is addictive, increasing the levels of opioids and dopamine inside the brain, a phenomenon commonly called “sugar rush.” Consuming a lot of processed foods, including sugary products, has been associated with a higher risk of depression and mood swings.
Wrinkles are a natural sign of aging. They appear eventually, regardless of health. However, poor food choices can worsen wrinkles and speed up the skin aging process. Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are compounds formed due to reactions between sugar and protein in the body and are suspected to play a key role in skin aging. Consuming a diet high in refined carbs and sugar leads to the production of AGEs, which may cause the skin to age prematurely.
Medically Reviewed on 8/3/2021
National Health Service. Sugar: The Facts. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/how-does-sugar-in-our-diet-affect-our-health/
Harvard Health Publishing. The Sweet Danger of Sugar. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/the-sweet-danger-of-sugar