Oh Sugar, how we love you!

As humans we tend to crave three things….sugar, fat and salt! This is why we can become so addicted to processed foods because they are laden with these three ingredients.

The focus on today’s blog will be on sugar. Research has shown that sugar can be so addicting that it activates the same brain regions as cocaine…..yes, you heard me cocaine!! So when people say they are addicted to sugar and crave it, they are actually speaking the truth!

All sugar eventually breaks down into glucose and is used for energy. Glucose is essential for the body and is needed to sustain life.

One thing to note is that there are both natural and processed sugars that have different effects on your overall health.

Natural Sugars

Brooke Lark
  • Fructose is sugar that is naturally found in whole foods like fruits. Along with fructose, fruits have other important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and fiber that help to nourish our body. The fiber helps to slow down absorption, which helps to prevent a sudden spike in blood sugar levels.

Processed Sugars

Sharon McCutcheon
  • Sucrose also known as “table sugar” is the white powdery sugar that is added to food. It is made up of two molecules fructose and glucose. This type of sugar is founds in sweets, candy and sugary beverages. Added sugars have no nutritional value, so you are consuming extra calories with no benefit to your body. This form of sugar creates a quick spike in blood sugar producing temporary energy but it will also lead to a “crash” in energy levels.

The Health Effects:

Regardless of the source, too much sugar in any form can be bad for your health. Moderation is key!  Overconsumption of sugar can potentially lead to adverse health effects including but not limited to the following:

Insulin Resistance:

  • Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas that helps to regulate blood sugar. Insulin escorts sugar out the blood and into the cells of the body (muscle and liver cells). Prolonged or excessive sugar intake can lead to insulin resistance of cells. Once this occurs, the pancreas will increase its secretion of insulin thinking it will solve the problem but it doesn’t. Eventually, this resistance can increase the risk of developing Type II Diabetes.

Weight Gain:

  • As we continue to consume high amounts of sugar and the cells become resistant to insulin, the body needs to find somewhere else to store the energy we consume. As a result, it is deposited into fat cells and this leads to weight gain. This type of weight gain is dangerous because it tends to accumulate around the internal organs (visceral fat), which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and Type II Diabetes.


  • As stated before, sugary foods will spike your blood sugar causing your insulin levels to rise. Too much insulin in the blood can lead to the growth of pore clogging cells and increased secretion of oil which also clogs the pores, and can lead to acne.

Premature Aging:

  • Advanced Glycation End Products (AGES) are formed when sugars combine with proteins or fats in a process called glycation. As, AGES accumulate in the cells they can cause damage to collagen and elastin, which are proteins that help the skin maintain a youthful appearance. This can result in the skin losing firmness can lead to sagging.

How Much Sugar Should I Eat?

The American Heart Association recommends the following daily sugar limits:

  • Women: 6 Teaspoons or 25 grams
  • Men: 9 Teaspoons or 38 grams
  • Children: 3 to 6 teaspoons or 12-25 grams

I would like to stress that I am not saying you shouldn’t eat sugar at all, this is unrealistic and your body actually needs glucose to function properly. Most people tend to crave what they can’t have so remember that moderation is key!

Find Health in Every Day!

Dr. Lindsay

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