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The bittersweet dilemma

Effects of a sugary lifestyle on the body

Dr.  Raja Selvarajan, Consultant Diabetologist, Apollo Sugar, Bangalore

“Sugar” a substance which can make even the hard core nutrition freak falter for a moment!  An instant mood booster, sugary foods are a guilty pleasure for all souls with a sweet tooth. From the first bite sugar sends a message to the brain, activating its reward system. This reward system activates a series of electrical and chemical path systems across several different regions of the brain and a dose of processed sugar floods the brain with feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine and serotonin, making the system call out for more every time one feels depressed or bored. Addiction to sugary junk foods is a far more common phenomenon than people imagine it is, and the culprit behind this is the pleasure-reward system of the body. Regardless of how good a sugar high makes one feel, the consequences of eating too much processed sugar are serious.

Dr.  Raja Selvarajan, Consultant Diabetologist, Apollo Sugar, Bangalore outlines the following ways processed sugar can wreak havoc on your body. 

  1. Empty calories: Sugar provides us with calories but with no nutritive value. Hence aptly called “empty calories”. This sugar is immediately absorbed from the body and only increases the blood sugar levels without providing any nutrition.
  2. Tooth decay: Refined sugar consumption is the number one cause of tooth decay. The sugary foods that remain in the oral cavity are a feast for the bacteria that live inside the mouth. As these bacteria feed on the sugars, acids are created that slowly begin to destroy the tooth enamel and aid in the formation of cavities
  3. Obesity: The body will only utilize the amount of food that it consumes for its energy requirement. The excess food and the empty calories consumed by the body in the form of sugar will get converted into glycogen and fatty acids which are stored. When this becomes excess it leads to obesity. Obesity is risk factor the development of Diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases.
  4. Effect on the liver: The only organ capable of processing fructose in the body, the liver has to work overtime to process the massive quantities of sugar that are fed to it. This eventually leads to a buildup of fat around the liver, causing fatty liver and Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.
  5. Effects on the skin: It has been published in the Journal of clinical and Aesthetic dermatology that foods with a high glycemic index, such as sugar are rapidly absorbed, leading to higher serum glucose levels and corresponding elevated levels of insulin. Insulin and insulin like growth factor have been shown to increase sebum production and stimulate adrenal androgen synthesis, all of which play a role in the formation of acne.

One must note that not all sugars are bad and the sugar found in fruits and vegetables is perfectly healthy for the body. A silent killer, processed or refined sugar has made its way into more foods than we realize. Carbonated beverages, packaged fruit juices, and sweet treats such as doughnuts, cakes, chocolates, gulab jamuns and jalebis are all examples of food favorites that are full of processed sugar. By becoming more mindful of the ingredients that go into making one’s favorite dishes, one ought to make healthier choices to enjoy a long and fulfilling life. Let’s try to reduce the processed sugar for a sweet life!

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