Sugar is sweet, but consuming too much of it is terrible for anyone’s health. Many foods have natural sugars, and many veggies and some fruits can be eaten on the keto diet, but it’s the added sugars that should raise concern. Sugar that isn’t natural should not be a part of a keto diet, a high fat, low carb diet. The Body Reboot book discusses why sugar is so harmful to a body and why a keto diet can combat obesity and unhealthy diet habits. By eating fewer carbs there will be less glucose in your food, but that doesn’t mean the number of carbs you eat can be sugar. The bottom line is a body shouldn’t have added sugar because over time it can lead to many health concerns from diabetes to liver disease.
Another effect of having too much sugar in your diet is that your body has a hard time understanding when its full. Business Insider says the result of having a lot of sugar in one setting is you think you need to eat more and more. In other words, sugar can be very addicting, and that’s why it’s best to either eliminate it or have it sparingly. A study called Fructose-induced leptin resistance on Psysiology.org in Nov 2008, mentioned on Business Insider supported the same findings.
The hormone leptin tells your body when you've had enough to eat. In people who develop leptin resistance, this “I'm full” signal is never received, presenting a major obstacle for weight control.
A few studies raise the possibility that leptin resistance may be a side effect of obesity, not a contributing cause. But research in rats suggests that over-consumption of fructose — as in high-fructose corn syrup, which is common in soda — can directly lead to higher-than-normal levels of leptin and reduce your body's sensitivity to the hormone. (Removing fructose from the rats' diets generally reversed those effects.)
Health adds to Business Insider’s insights on how eating sugar can result in feeling hungry all the time. Specifically, they discuss how consuming sugar can lead to the release of dopamine:
Eating sugar leads to the release of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that makes us like something and want more of it. “As dopamine receptor neurons get overstimulated, the number of receptors to bind to decreases, so you'll need a bigger hit of dopamine to get the same rush,” explains Dr. Lustig.
A Risk for Pre-Diabetes
Having sugar day in and day out can also lead to pre-diabetes if you’re not careful. It’s vital to avoid blood sugar spikes which can eventually cause diabetes, and Insider explains more below:
“When you eat anything with glucose in it or basic carb building blocks, your body will release insulin because that's what helps your body process glucose into energy,” Haythe said. “The problem is when people have too much sugar at once, there's a large release of insulin and you can develop hypoglycemia or insulin resistance.”
With insulin resistance, your body cannot properly absorb the glucose fast enough, which causes the glucose to build up in your bloodstream and liver. This, coupled with the right genetic and environmental factors, can lead to pre-diabetes, and eventually diabetes.
“By changing to a diet of proteins, healthy fats and carbohydrate foods that are high in fiber, you can avoid blood sugar spikes and the insulin responses that result in obesity and pre-diabetes,” nutritionist Colette Heimowitz told INSIDER.
In addition to diabetes, consuming too much sugar can also lead to liver disease. It’s interesting to learn from Insider that’s similar to potentially getting diabetes from sugar, eating too much sugar can also lead to liver disease. Yes, liver disease is caused by too much alcohol consumption, but it can also happen from sugar.
We usually associate liver failure with alcohol abuse, but research suggests that sugar can do almost as much harm to our liver as alcohol.
When we eat too much sugar, it becomes too much for our bloodstream and liver (where glucose is absorbed and sugar levels are stabilized) to handle.
Chronic malabsorption of sugar can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which is basically the abuse and scarring of the liver as it continually tries to heal itself.
NASH is known as a silent disease because symptoms don't start appearing until it's almost too late. NASH is associated with poor eating habits and obesity.
One of the most noticeable side effects of overeating sugar is gaining a lot of weight. Harvard Health mentions how this works and why it’s imperative to reduce sugar intake, especially if you’re thinking of going on the keto diet.
Obesity is one of the most-cited risks of excess sugar consumption. Just one can of soda each day could lead to 15 pounds of weight gain in a single year, and each can of soda increases the odds of becoming obese, a JAMA study noted.
While it's possible that drinking soda is harmful — above and beyond other sugary foods — the relationship is complex: If people who drink soda don't consume more calories overall, that might not hold true. But too many “empty” calories often leads to over-consumption in general.
Sugar might directly raise the risk of obesity, but the association could be tied to diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or habits (e.g. diet and exercise) associated with high-sugar diets.
“The complexity of our food supply and of dietary intake behavior, and how diet relates to other behaviors, makes the acquisition of clear and consistent scientific data on … obesity risk especially elusive,” concluded one review.
Impact on Your Heart
Harvard Health reveals that because eating too much sugar can both raise blood pressure and cause inflammation, both which can lead to heart disease. They also mention a study published in 2014 in JAMA Internal Medicine, which they discuss below:
In a study published in 2014 in JAMA Internal Medicine, Dr. Hu and his colleagues found an association between a high-sugar diet and a greater risk of dying from heart disease. Over the course of the 15-year study, people who got 17% to 21% of their calories from added sugar had a 38% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared with those who consumed 8% of their calories as added sugar.
“Basically, the higher the intake of added sugar, the higher the risk for heart disease,” says Dr. Hu.
How sugar actually affects heart health is not completely understood, but it appears to have several indirect connections. For instance, high amounts of sugar overload the liver. “Your liver metabolizes sugar the same way as alcohol, and converts dietary carbohydrates to fat,” says Dr. Hu. Over time, this can lead to a greater accumulation of fat, which may turn into fatty liver disease, a contributor to diabetes, which raises your risk for heart disease.
Consuming too much added sugar can raise blood pressure and increase chronic inflammation, both of which are pathological pathways to heart disease. Excess consumption of sugar, especially in sugary beverages, also contributes to weight gain by tricking your body into turning off its appetite-control system because liquid calories are not as satisfying as calories from solid foods. This is why it is easier for people to add more calories to their regular diet when consuming sugary beverages.
The Conversation outlines how sugar can lead to dementia, and they also mention a 2016 New Zealand study. The study reveals just how much sugar affects a brain and what the consequences may be of eating too much sugar.
Dementia is an umbrella term for brain disorders that cause memory loss, confusion and personality change. It’s the greatest cause of disability among older Australians and the third-biggest killer. Alzheimer’s disease is one type of dementia.
The research does not show that sugar causes dementia. But there is emerging research that suggests high-sugar diets may increase the risk of developing the disease. What we can say is that there is a link between high-sugar diets and dementia, but we don’t have evidence to show that one causes the other.
A 2016 New Zealand study of post mortems on human brains assessed seven different regions of the brain. The researchers found that the areas of greatest damage had significantly elevated levels of glucose (sugar). Healthy cells don’t usually have elevated levels of glucose.
This was also found in a separate analysis of post-mortem brain and blood samples from Baltimore in 2017.
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Discover how to activate your body's “Reboot Switch” that flips on a fat burning inferno so you can finally get healthy and achieve your weight loss goals!