While we all love the occasional doughnut or cookie, a diet made up predominantly of processed foods and added sugars can quickly become a convenient habit. Unfortunately, this seemingly harmless habit can have quite a few unsavory consequences.
An excess of sweetened foods and beverages can lead to weight gain, an increased risk of heart disease, and difficulty maintaining stable blood sugar, among other dangerous conditions.
Foods That Are High in Added Sugars
While sugars are naturally found in many foods, there are also added sugars that food manufacturers include to products to improve flavor or extend shelf life. While these added sugars are ok in small amounts, they can quickly add up if a person is not paying attention to what they are consuming.
The most common culprits when it comes to added sugar include:
- Sweets- Cookies, candy, and cake
- Dairy- Ice cream, milkshakes, and yogurt
- Drinks- Soda, fruit juice and sports drinks
- Condiments- Ketchup, barbeque sauce, and honey mustard
- Grains- Many common breakfast cereals and refined white bread
The Negative Impact of Sugars
Consuming too much added sugar can have a number of negative effects on the body, including:
- Weight Gain/Obesity- One of the most direct impacts of consuming too much sugar is its connection to weight gain since it is essentially “empty calories” or calories that do not properly nourish the body. Being overweight or obese can lead to an alarming number of lethal health issues like heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.
- Type 2 Diabetes- Consuming large amounts of sugar can increase a person’s risk of developing diabetes by contributing to weight gain and increased body fat. Further, prolonged high-sugar intake may impact a body’s insulin production (a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates blood sugar levels).
- Chronic Diseases- Added sugars can also contribute to developing cancer, heart disease, and even depression.
- Acne/Skin Issues- Eating sugary foods can cause a spike in blood sugar and insulin levels which lead to increased androgen (hormone) secretion, oil production, and inflammation. All of these can contribute to acne and the breaking down of collagen, which can lead to premature aging.
Healthier Alternatives to Added Sugar
Instead of refined and added sugars, try to consume whole foods that contain natural sugars such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, and whole grains.
Plan out your meals ahead of time and shopping the perimeter of the grocery store focusing on fresh, whole foods. Making your own healthy meals at home instead of buying pre-packaged food or going out to eat can limit the amount of refined and added sugars you are consuming.
Finally, instead of cutting out sugar all together, which can ultimately lead to cravings and overeating, start to make small, calculated swaps in your diet. Replace candy with a homemade trail mix including dried fruit, nuts, and a few dark chocolate chips for example.
Use olive oil and vinegar in place of processed salad dressing that has added sugar and preservatives. Before you know it, you’ve implemented a healthy and balanced diet. Contact us office today to schedule a free consultation.