The thing to remember is that it is not always about "all" or "none." Moderation is key for most things, but admittedly harder to stick to around the holidays. We've got Thanksgiving under our belts with the winter holidays coming underway, and a whole new set of sweets to look forward to. Most (if not all) of us give in to our holiday sweet tooth, but for those of you who have a sweet tooth, and indulge it, all year round, there are some things you should know about what too much sugar does to the human body, particularly too much processed sugar.
Is It Really THAT Bad for Your Health?
For starters, sugar is addictive and really is not good for your teeth. For those of you who partake of sugary drinks, how are your teeth doing? Excessive sugar will eat away at the enamel protecting your teeth. You can get cavities, and ultimately, infections. Infections in the mouth find their way down into your digestive system, negatively affecting the whole body system. But that's just for starters...
Too Much Sugar Increases the Chance of Disease
While it affects many different aspects of the functioning of the human body, the liver is probably the most important. Your liver has a critical job in the human body, and you don't want to stress it out. Unfortunately, that's what excessive consumption of sugar does. Again, I'm not talking about minimal or even moderate amounts of sugar. Damage occurs with the habitual consumption of a lot of sugar. Basically, the kind of damage that too much alcohol can cause the liver, can also be caused by too much sugar. In fact, it can cause fatty liver disease (non-alcoholic).
Excessive amounts of sugar can increase uric acid levels, which in turn increase your risk of heart and kidney disease. Your kidneys process the blood in the human body, pulling out waste and extra fluid, preventing the build of said waste and extra fluid in the body. They will even regulate your blood pressure, among other things. That is, as long as they are working properly (so drink enough water, folks).
Excessive sugar increases the likelihood of insulin resistance and encourages weight gain by confounding our body's appetite system, making us feel hungry when we are not. The weight gain aside, the disruption to the release of insulin increases the chance of diabetes. Unfortunately, that's not all. Excessive amounts of sugar (NOTE: "excessive") can also create an optimal environment for the proliferation of cancer cells, which thrive in sugary environments. Sugar promotes the growth of cancer cells and cell division.
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So, What Can I Eat?
Once again, sugar in moderation is not likely to send you down the path of disease. You tread a dangerous path when you partake of sugar in excess. Don't beat yourself up for having that slice of birthday cake at your friend's party, or that pie on Thanksgiving, but be aware of your habits. If you crave something sweet once in awhile, opt for fruit. The sugar that occurs in fresh fruit is natural and balanced by fiber and other nutrients, but enjoy in moderation. You can cut down on refined carbohydrates (think pancakes) also.
Balance is Key
A balanced diet serves to not only keep your organs and other body systems running smoothly, but also to keep your qi and yin/yang forces in balance. Remember that an excess in one aspect creates a deficiency in the other, potentially stressing our body system to the point of discomfort or illness.