Sugar is one of the most commonly added and dangerous ingredients in the modern diet.
While it may send your taste buds into a frenzy of delight, there are many negative effects that excess sugar has on the body.
So, what does it do?
“From altering your mood to rotting your teeth and causing inflammation, there are several risks to consuming excess sugar,” says Dr Ryan Harvey of . These include:
- Changes in your brain.
“Sugar releases a surge of dopamine,” says Dr Harvey. This is a feel-good chemical which results in that mid-afternoon chocolate bar craving. It is also what makes sugar addictive and difficult to quit.
- Changes to your mood.
“Sugar raises your blood sugar levels quickly, offering a burst of energy,” explains Dr Harvey. “However, as our cells absorb sugar this burst of energy quickly dissipates, resulting in a jittery or anxious feeling.” Studies have also shown a strong correlation between depression and sugar intake in adults.
- Tooth decay.
Turns out your mum wasn’t kidding when she said that too much sugar will rot your teeth! “The bacteria which cause cavities thrive off sugar left in the mouth after eating,” says Dr Harvey.
Excess sugar consumption can cause chronic inflammation which can worsen joint pain.
- Liver damage.
“Consuming too much sugar can cause the liver to become resistant to insulin,” says Dr Harvey. Subsequently, this can lead to type 2 diabetes.
What are the benefits of going sugar-free?
While you don’t need to avoid the naturally occurring sugars (hello, whole fruits and vegetables!), limiting your daily intake and quitting refined sugar has a multitude of health benefits, including:
- Better sleep.
“Sugar triggers the release of cortisol, a hormone which interferes with sleep,” says Dr Harvey. Therefore, giving up sugar will help you stay more alert during the day and prepare you for a more solid sleep!
- Increased energy.
By the same token, ditching sugar will help boost your natural energy. “Withdrawing from sugar may take a few days but you should soon feel much more energised than usual,” says Dr Harvey.
- Clearer skin.
Say goodbye to adult acne! Quitting sugar can help clear your skin of pimples, wrinkles and help alleviate some skin conditions such as psoriasis. “Systemic inflammation is known to be a trigger for acne,” says Dr Harvey. “Ditching the sweet stuff can also help ease inflammation, improve your skin and reduce signs of ageing.”