How Sugar Affects Your Body
Sugar has its place in a healthy and complete diet, especially for active people. Also, many healthy foods contain sugar, such as fruits, vegetables, and grains.
However, too much added sugar negatively affects your health, so it is not a bad idea to monitor your sugar intake to get an idea of how much sugar you consume on a daily basis and reduce your intake if necessary.
Your body needs sugar to complete most of its functions, but too much sugar can have health consequences.
How sugar affects your heart
Previously, health experts thought that a high-fat diet was responsible for heart disease. While the types and amount of fat you eat can affect your risk for heart disease, new research also suggests that a high-sugar diet can affect your risk for heart disease, too.
According to a 15-year study that looked at the risk of heart disease in men, those who consumed more added sugar had a much higher risk of dying from heart disease than those who consumed less added sugar.
In addition, excessive sugar consumption is associated with many risk factors for heart disease, such as obesity, a high percentage of body fat, high blood pressure, and a sedentary life.
How sugar affects your brain
Research shows that excess sugar can damage your brain acutely and in the long term. In the short term, sugar intake can reduce your ability to concentrate, but in the long term, too much sugar can affect brain memory and learning processes9 and contribute to cognitive decline.
How sugar affects your mood
Sugar has been associated with depression, among other mental disorders.11 Consuming too much sugar, especially highly processed foods, can contribute to the development of depressive disorders, anxiety, stress, mood swings, and more.
How Sugar Affects Body Composition
Eating too much sugar can negatively affect body composition, the ratio of fat mass to lean body mass. Body composition is affected by a number of factors, such as total calorie intake and level of exercise, but sugar intake is an easy variable to manipulate if you are looking to improve your body fat percentage.
How to eat less sugar
If you want to cut back on your sugar intake, start by limiting your intake from obvious sources. This means limiting cakes, candy, ice cream, sugar-sweetened beverages (such as juices, sodas, sugary coffee drinks, energy drinks), and other similar foods.
To go one step further, start checking the labels on everyday foods like cookies, pretzels, cereals, granola, and other prepackaged products. Make healthy exchanges or cut back on packaged foods high in sugar.
Lastly, strive to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, protein, and healthy fats. If you focus on these food groups, you will have little room to add sugar.
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