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10 Things You Never Knew Sugar Was Doing To Your Body


So our friends at Get The Gloss have got a few extra things to teach us about sugar.

Thanks to some great coverage in the media, we now know a lot more about how bad this drug really is - but here are a few more shockers on what else it is doing to our bodies. Tell the average person that an excess of sugar can lead to tooth decay and weight-gain, and they’ll probably tell you that they already know that.

Mention consequences such as heart disease, wrinkles and rotten gums however, and they’re unlikely to be so sugar savvy. Whilst you might consider yourself to be following a reasonably healthy diet, the average person in Britain currently consumes a whopping 238 teaspoons of sugar each week - often without even knowing it.  

Indeed a large proportion of our deadly sugar intake is hidden within seemingly innocent snacks and foods such as soups, yoghurts and ready meals. With absolutely no nutritional value and being proven to be a major factor in causing obesity and diabetes both in the UK and worldwide, it’s never been more important for us to pay attention to the secret sugars that are sneaking their way into our daily diets - we’re sure that if you knew the extent sugar was really harming your body, you couldn’t look at a mars bar in the same way again.

It causes premature wrinkles: “Too much sugar consumption forms a process called glycation and end products called AGEs (yes it does what it says!), says expert Nutritionist Eve Kalinik. “This affects the structure and flexibility of proteins and the most vulnerable of these in the skin are collagen and elastin which are the ones needed for plump and firmness. This also leaves the skin much more susceptible to the effects of environmental damage too.”

It disrupts your hormones: “Sugar upsets your hormone levels, so watch out if you’ve discovered you have imbalances such as PCOS – (Polycistic Ovarian Syndrome), Endometriosis or heavy periods, says expert (and co-writer of the first two Honestly Healthy Books) Nutritionist Vicki Edgson. “While you might crave chocolate prior to your period for the magnesium it contains to relax cramping muscles, choose dark low-sugar chocolate which is more likely to help, without harming at the same time.”

It drains your energy: “Sugar deprives you of energy, rather than contributing to increased amounts. Athletes in particular, know this. Eating high sugar foods prior to a race or hurdles only slows you down. Susannah Taylor found this on her training towards her triathlon, and Sarah Vine can vouch for this when she experienced her various delvings into diets that don’t work.” Vicki recommends snacking on an apple, core and all if you’re looking for a little lift. “Plenty of fibre combined with the inherent glucose in a food is the best way to ‘get your fix’ – with the glucose being released more slowly and consistently.”

HH Tip: Try this Sticky Seed Flapjack recipe for a fantastic energy boost.

It's addictive: “Sugar is highly addictive since it affects satiety hormones (the ones that tell us we are full) and that’s why we continue to eat it”, says nutritionist Eve Kalinik. “It also stimulates dopamine in the brain, giving that pleasure effect, so with the two together it can be a pretty difficult habit to break!”

It ruins your gums: Not just a danger to your teeth, sugar also hugely contributes to the rotting of your gums. “This in turn then leads to gingivitis and causes your teeth to fall out”, says Vicki. She advises chewing parsley to naturally sweeten your breath and strengthen up the gums.

It affects the immune system: “Sugar feeds the yeasts in our guts”, says Eve. “Since 80% of the immune system resides in the gut, it’s important to maintain a healthy balance of the good bacteria so we can fight off viruses and bugs.”

It makes you sweat: “Sugar makes you sweat more profusely, and it isn’t a sweet odor either. As sugar is a toxin, the body will try to get rid of it anyway it can, and it won’t just be through the sweat glands in your armpits.” Nutritionist Vicki Edgson recommends using natural deodorant to stay protected and eating fresh fruit rather than dried.

It can lead to heart disease: “Sugar can be a significant contributor to heart disease since it increases triglycerides, VLDL cholesterol, insulin resistance and also leading to thickening of the arterial walls”, says Eve. All major risk factors.

It makes you break wind! The more you eat, ahem, the worse the stench, aside from being just feeling bloated and uncomfortable. “Sugar feeds the pathogenic bacteria in your gut, leading to cravings for more of the same”, says Vicki. “Don’t eat probiotic yoghurt, which simply has added sugars to ‘feed the good bacteria’ – it’s nonsense! Take a good quality probiotic supplement such as Optibac or Biokult, which provide you with multiple strains.

It dries out your skin: “Refined sugar (bleached, blanched, and anything ending in ‘ose’ such as fructose, galactose, sucrose) all cause dehydration to skin cells, resulting in that crepey, thin-looking skin that is anything but healthy”, says Vicki Edgson. “Sugars bind to to the essential fatty acids that make up the outer layer of our skin cells, preventing the nutrients getting in, and the toxins getting out. So, rather than spending fortunes on skincare remedies, why not cut back on your sugars, and treat yourself to a great facial every month – far better value.”

HH Tip: If you suffer from dry skin, try using coconut oil as a moisturiser. It is completely natural, smells amazing and helps the skin no end. Try this version from Lucy Bee Coconut.

We at Honestly Healthy are completely refined sugar free - we never use the white stuff in any of our recipes. We like to opt for the healthy alternative, of which there are many including date syrup, coconut palm sugar, brown rice syrup, yacon syrup and all sorts - check out more on this here The Many Alternatives To Refined Sugar Check out our Recipe Index for loads of healthy, alkaline and sugar free recipes! 

Originally written for the beauty and wellness website Get The Gloss.

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