Have you ever thought about what sugar is doing to your health?

Everyone likes the occasional sweet indulgence, but excess sugar can have an impact on your overall health. In addition to weight gain, you could experience tooth decay, an imbalance in your blood sugar levels, inflammation, and much more. With North Americans consuming around 22 teaspoons of sugar each day and even more by children, it’s more important than ever to get our sugar intake in check. Take a look at how sugar impacts your health and how to regain control.

The effect of sugar in your bloodstream

It’s important to understand what happens when sugar hits the bloodstream. First it’s going to release insulin which will promote fat storage. This is the hormone that is intended to keep your blood sugar balanced but the increased insulin will hinder hormone growth along with depressing your white blood cells, which both lead to a depressed immune system. You’ll be triggering weight gain, elevating your triglycerides which could lead to cardiovascular disease, and increasing your risk of heart disease, some forms of cancer, and diabetes from the triggered inflammation.

Health deficits that occur

In addition to putting your body at risk for these health issues, you’ll be depleting yourself of essential vitamins and minerals. It also increases the excretion of some of the important vitamins and minerals leading to hormone imbalances.  Too much sugar can lead to a depletion of calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, chromium and phosphorus. You’ll be likely to excrete calcium and magnesium when you urinate which sets you up for a higher chance of osteoporosis. It only takes two teaspoons of sugar to raise your calcium levels and decrease your phosphorus levels leading to an imbalance of all of your other essential minerals.

Understand that sugar is addictive

North Americans consume around their own body weight in sugar each year and part of the reason is that it’s highly addictive. Many generations ago Americans were only consuming around 5lbs per year, but today we regularly consume 12-ounce cans of soda, candy at the movie theater, and ice cream on hot summer days. Your soda alone will give you 10 teaspoons of sugar or 1/4 cup and that’s just one beverage in your day – not counting the sugars in desserts, dinner bread, condiments, and possible morning juice.

Since most white sugar isn’t naturally occurring, our bodies weren’t designed to handle refined sugar well. Sugar was mainly obtained through fruits that were also nutritious and seasonal. Today we add sugar to our fruits or include fruits in our sugar desserts. Any type of sugar consumption is likely to cause cravings for more since sugar is so addictive.

The reason sugar is so addictive is that it releases the chemical dopamine in the brain, the reward center of our brains, and our body gets addicted to this reward. When you activate that pleasure chemical, our bodies process it like it would alcohol or nicotine in which you are left craving more once it’s gone. In fact, sugar is likely changing your dopamine receptors where tolerance starts and it’s harder to quit. Think of sugar as a way of self-medicating, like an alcoholic would with alcohol or a smoker would with cigarettes, and notice that if you do try to stop that you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms.  A documentary available on Netflix – “Sugar-coated” – makes reference to the chemical and molecular makeup of sugar as being very similar to the dangerous and addictive drug, “crystal meth”.

While sugar has an impact on your overall health, you can make the decision to quit entirely or majorly decrease it. Get educated on sugar in food and wean yourself off so that you can avoid hormone imbalance, a bodily vitamin deficiency, and your risk of serious health conditions.