Added Sugars - Impact on Health | Wellness

Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages during processing or preparation. These sugars do not naturally occur in the food or drink and are often used to enhance flavor. While sugars are a common part of the human diet and can provide a quick source of energy, excessive consumption of added sugars can have negative impacts on health and wellness.

History

The use of sugar as a sweetener dates back centuries, with sugar cane being one of the earliest sources of sweetening agents. In ancient times, sugar was considered a luxury item and was only available to the wealthy. However, with advancements in technology and mass production, sugar became more readily available and affordable to the general population.

In the 20th century, the consumption of added sugars skyrocketed with the rise of processed foods and sugary beverages. This increase in consumption has been linked to the growing rates of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases in many parts of the world. As a result, there has been a growing concern about the impact of added sugars on public health and wellness.

Impact on Health

Excessive consumption of added sugars has been linked to a variety of negative health effects. Some of the most common health issues associated with high sugar intake include:

  • Obesity: Sugary foods and drinks are high in calories but low in nutrients, which can contribute to weight gain and obesity. Consuming too many added sugars can lead to an increase in body fat, especially around the waist.

  • Type 2 Diabetes: A diet high in added sugars can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels can be compromised by excessive sugar intake, leading to insulin resistance and potentially diabetes.

  • Heart Disease: High sugar consumption has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Excessive sugar intake can raise blood pressure, increase inflammation, and contribute to the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

  • Cavities: Sugars in food and drinks can fuel the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth, leading to tooth decay and cavities. This is especially problematic in children who consume a lot of sugary snacks and beverages.

  • Mood and Energy: While sugar can provide a quick boost of energy, it can also cause energy levels to crash shortly afterward. This can lead to mood swings, irritability, and fatigue.

To maintain good health and wellness, it is important to be mindful of the amount of added sugars consumed on a daily basis. Reading food labels, opting for whole foods over processed ones, and choosing beverages with little to no added sugars are simple ways to reduce sugar intake and support overall health.