I was in school this morning to bring lunch for Cass and Drama Queen. They both need to stay back after school for extra curricular activities. At the canteen while waiting for Cass to have her recess, I had a shock when a Year 3 pint size girl put her plate of food on the table. On the plate was a piece of roti canai covered by a pile of WHITE SUGAR. At the first glance, I thought she only had white sugar on her plate but on taking a closer look, I saw the piece of roti underneath the sugar. Oh. my. Gawd 🙀 I whispered to Cass to have a look and she too gave me a “WHAT?” unbelievable look.
By the time I whipped out my phone to discreetly take a picture of the sugar laden roti canai, the girl had already whacked down half the piece of roti canai and white sugar. There was even MORE sugar on her plate when she first bought it. *shudders* 😨😨
The girl probably wasn’t informed by her parents that white sugar is bad for her. Or it could be she is so deprived of sugary food at home that she often takes sweet indulgences in school sans the chagrin of her parents. I found out that my girls bought junk food from the school canteen when they first started primary school, to taste the sweet freedom of buying food on their own 😐
Why is sugar bad for you?
1. It causes metabolic dysfunction. Eating too much sugar causes a barrage of symptoms known as classic metabolic syndrome. These include weight gain, abdominal obesity, decreased HDL and increased LDL, elevated blood sugar, elevated triglycerides and high blood pressure. It increases your uric acid levels.
2. Added Sugar Contains No Essential Nutrients and is Bad For Your Teeth
You’ve probably heard this a million times before… but it’s worth repeating. Added sugars (like sucrose and high fructose corn syrup) contain a whole bunch of calories with NO essential nutrients. For this reason, they are called “empty” calories.
3. Added Sugar is High in Fructose, Which Can Overload Your Liver
In order to understand what is so bad about sugar, then you need to understand what it is made of. Before sugar enters the bloodstream from the digestive tract, it is broken down into two simple sugars… glucose and fructose.
Glucose is found in every living cell on the planet. If we don’t get it from the diet, our bodies produce it. Fructose is different. Our bodies do not produce it in any significant amount and there is no physiological need for it. The thing with fructose is that it can only be metabolized by the liver in any significant amounts.
This is not a problem if we eat a little bit (such as from fruit) or we just finished an exercise session. In this case, the fructose will be turned into glycogen and stored in the liver until we need it.
However, if the liver is full of glycogen (much more common), eating a lot of fructose overloads the liver, forcing it to turn the fructose into fat. When repeatedly eating large amounts of sugar, this process can lead to fatty liver and all sorts of serious problems. Keep in mind that all of this does NOT apply to fruit. It is almost impossible to overeat fructose by eating fruit.
4. Overloading The Liver With Fructose Can Cause Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
When fructose get turned into fat in the liver, it is shipped out as VLDL cholesterol particles. However, not all of the fat gets out, some of it can lodge in the liver. This can lead to Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). Studies show that individuals with fatty liver consume up to 2-3 times as much fructose as the average person.
5. Sugar Can Cause Insulin Resistance, a Stepping Stone Towards Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes
Insulin is a very important hormone in the body. It allows glucose (blood sugar) to enter cells from the bloodstream and tells the cells to start burning glucose instead of fat. Having too much glucose in the blood is highly toxic and one of the reasons for complications of diabetes, like blindness and kidney damage.
6. Sugar Can Cause Cancer
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide and is characterized by uncontrolled growth and multiplication of cells. Insulin is one of the key hormones in regulating this sort of growth. For this reason, many scientists believe that having constantly elevated insulin levels (a consequence of sugar consumption) can contribute to cancer. In addition, the metabolic problems associated with sugar consumption are a known driver of inflammation, another potential cause of cancer. Multiple studies show that people who eat a lot of sugar are at a much higher risk of getting cancer.
7. Sugar Causes Massive Dopamine Release in The Brain, Thus Is Highly Addictive
Sugar can be addictive for a lot of people. Like abusive drugs, sugar causes a release of dopamine in the reward center of the brain.
8. Sugar is a Leading Contributor to Obesity in Both Children and Adults
The way sugar affects hormones and the brain is a recipe for fat gain disaster.
9. It Ain’t The Fat… It’s SUGAR That Raises Your Cholesterol and Gives You Heart Disease
For many decades, people have blamed saturated fat for heart disease… which is the #1 killer in the world. However, new studies are showing that saturated fat is harmless.
The evidence is mounting that sugar, NOT fat, may be one of the leading drivers of heart disease via the harmful effects of fructose on metabolism.
Studies show that large amounts of fructose can raise triglycerides, small, dense LDL and oxidized LDL, raise blood glucose and insulin levels and increase abdominal obesity… in as little as 10 weeks. These are all major risk factors for heart disease.
Bottom line: Since sugar is capable of causing so many health issues, go easy on sugar. There are many ways that you can cut down on the consumption of sugar. You can drink your coffee or tea sans the sugar. Bake your cakes and cookies with reduced sugar or use sugar alternative like black strap molasses or stevia. Forgo the sugar-coated doughnut for breakfast and replace it with a piece of fruit or a bowl of oats with nuts and seeds. I have not eaten sweets and candies for a long time and my girls rarely ask me to buy these sweet treats as they know that mummy’s answer is an outright NO.
Having said this, the focus should be on a healthful approach and not people rushing to one side or the other. Moderation is key, experts say. For example, the American Heart Association recommends that women limit themselves to about 6 teaspoons of sugar a day, or about 100 calories. Men should aim for about 9 teaspoons a day, or 150 calories.
For me, when I am hankering for something sweet, I always grab some nuts or a fruit 😊