Healthy Herd | Sugar, Sugar

Halloween season is officially over and we’ve all eaten a bit more candy than we’re proud of. However, don’t get comfortable thinking you’ll just get back on track eating well and you’re safe.

Oh no, we’ve just rounded the corner to holiday season. So for some incentive to stay away from the tasty treats and sweets yet to come, I’ll give you a quick rundown of what eating too much sugar on a regular basis does to your body.

Sugar that is not naturally part of a food and is added has no nutritional benefit at all; it’s just empty calories. When broken down by your body, it is absorbed as glucose and fructose. The fructose is metabolized in your liver, which can be overloaded if you’re consuming excess fructose from foods with added sugar.

The extra energy from the fructose is turned into fat in the liver. When this happens over and over again it can lead to a fatty liver, normally a disease associated with alcoholism, and one that causes many health problems.

Also, when you eat a meal you obtain glucose from it, which causes a rise in insulin levels. The insulin lets the glucose into the cells so they can be used for energy. Too much sugar causes too much glucose in the body and can lead to extra insulin. This can cause the cells to become insulin resistant, which can lead to type 2 diabetes, a whole other can of worms.

Lastly, fructose doesn’t have the satiety effects that glucose does. This basically means it doesn’t make us feel as full. This can be a problem because the foods that contain fructose are often high in calories. So if we eat something high in calories but don’t feel full, we will still eat more. These extra calories can add up leading to weight gain.

To add insult to injury, sugar is addictive. It releases dopamine in the brain, a neurotransmitter in the reward center. While I’m not saying sugar is the same as cocaine, it does operate on the same reward pathways in your brain.

These factors are a few good reminders to think about if you are drinking sugary beverages or consuming sweets on a regular basis. Staying mindful around the holiday season can help prevent gaining some pounds — don’t forget to enjoy yourself, but remember to enjoy everything in moderation.

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