An Expert Tells You Why Sugar Is Bad For Your Health
Did you know that preference for sweet taste is an inherited trait? So, you know who to blame now.Interestingly, research supports the fact that preference for sweet taste evolved to actually attract us towards energy-producing foods important for growth and development. Likewise, aversion towards bitter taste evolved as a defence mechanism to protect us against toxins or poisonous foods often perceived as bitter.
However, in the current scenario, this biological predisposition is proving to be counterproductive as an affinity for sweet taste leads to increased intake of sweetened beverages, bakery products, and desserts.
The food industry is smart enough to play on this weakness of man-KIND. Sugar imparts sweetness, but the sweetness threshold developed due to the amount of sugar in processed foods is way beyond physiological standards. There is a well-planned conspiracy to make us addicted to higher concentrations of sugar such that natural foods like banana, dates, mangoes, and raisins do not satisfy our sweet cravings. In the modern world, this deep-rooted conspiracy starts with getting babies hooked to sweet-tasting formula milk!
Why is sugar bad for our health?
Here are the top 4 negative effects of sugar on our health:
- Impairs memory: Research has shown that sugar can compromise cognitive abilities such as learning and memory. High sugar diet damages communication between brain cells that fuel learning and memory formation.
- Increases anxiety: High sugar intake may not cause, but it can worsen anxiety symptoms and impair the body’s ability to cope with stress. Sugar can cause blurry vision, difficulty in thinking, and fatigue, all of which may be interpreted as signs of a panic attack, thereby increasing worry and fear.
- Addictive: Sugar causes the release of chemicals that imitate the action of addictive compounds such as cocaine. They stimulate the same reward centres in the brain leading to an addiction to sugar.
- Increases the risk of depression: Although we seek sugary foods when we are feeling low, sugar provides only a temporary high. Rather, sugar further suppresses the activity of hormone (BDNF) that is low in individuals with depression and schizophrenia. This aggravates the symptoms of depression and schizophrenia.
Natural sweeteners to the rescue
To beat sugar cravings, you can eat naturally sweet foods such as fruits, vegetables, and dried fruits. Sweet fruits like banana, mango, chikoo, custard apple, grapes, and dried fruits such as dates, raisins, apricots, figs, etc can be consumed by all, even by individuals with diabetes, to experience a wholesome dose of sweetness.
Fresh cold-pressed juices are also a great option to overcome sweet cravings without the guilt of putting on weight or raising blood sugars. In fact, 100% natural fruit and vegetable juices are prepared without using heat or excess pressure, they offer abundant micronutrients and enzymes along with a refreshing sweet taste. It’s indeed hard to believe these juices taste so sweet without the addition of sugar or artificial sweeteners.
The regular packaged juices contain loads of sugar and preservatives and are devoid of any natural goodness. Heat pasteurisation and stabilisation cause loss of the majority of the valuable nutrients which are then added as fortificants.
The big challenge
It’s not easy to avoid sugar because even if we shun processed foods, we need to fight against our own taste buds. Sugar is present in practically ALL PACKAGED FOODS; even in apparently non-sweet tasting foods such as bread, buns, nutri-crackers, breakfast cereals, savoury snacks, tastemakers, cheese spreads, and sauces. No matter how much we dodge it, it stares us in the face.
Sugar is comforting because it floods the brain with the feel-good chemical dopamine and that is why we seek the sweetness. But next time the sugar urge hits you, you can reach out for fresh fruits, unsweetened dried fruits, cold-pressed juices, and other natural sweeteners.
Dr Pooja R Singhania is Chief Nutritionist at NColdpressed. She is also a Health Council Member at Healthhunt.