How easy it is to eat and drink sugar! This amazing substance is so delicious some experts consider it to be as addictive as some street drugs (think cocaine, ecstasy etc)! Why is that?
Sugar gives us pleasure!
Consuming sugar stimulates dopamine (the feel good chemical) production in our brains and is a key part of its 'reward system'.
When you come to associate an activity with pleasure, just anticipation of it can increase dopamine levels in your brain. This could be when you're about to consume your favourite sugary beverage, have sex or almost anything else you enjoy. The result? You feel pleasure, satisfaction or motivation.
So it’s not just the sweet taste of sugar many of us love, it's the sense of pleasure we feel in our brains that also fuels our love of sugar! That's part of the reason why sugar consumption has tripled worldwide over the last 50 years.
The WHO recommends less than 5% of your calories per day come from free sugars. For the average person consuming approximately 2,000 calories per day that is 100 calories from sugar which equals about 6 teaspoons per day.
But according to the Australia Bureau of Statistics, the average Aussie consumes around 14 teaspoons of free sugars per day!
So how does eating too much sugar impact the body?
High sugar intake is linked to type 2 diabetes and weight gain. It's no secret sugar is a huge contributor to obesity and chronic illness in Australia and around the world. But there's a few other consequences of consuming too much sugar that I certainly wasn't aware of and you may not know about either:
Consuming sugar has a direct link to tooth decay. How?
After consuming foods/drinks that contain sugar, the molecules combine with the saliva and bacteria in your mouth. This leads to plaque build up your on teeth which can dissolve enamel which can lead to cavities - not good!
Overconsumption of sugar leads to increased levels of insulin to bring your blood sugar back to normal levels. This resulting increasing insulin may raise testosterone levels in women and decrease it in men.
- For men this means lower libido, higher chance of erectile dysfunction and more
- For women it can contribute to acne whilst impacting the usual processes of a woman's ovaries.
Impacts mental health
A 2018 Queensland University of Technology paper that reviewed 300 studies investigating the interaction between sugar consumption, stress and emotions found the following:
- High sugar diets have been linked to cognitive impairments and mental health disorders including anxiety and depression
- Leads to changes in neurobiological brain function which alters emotional states
Let’s make no mistake - sugar is an amazing part of life. As with everything, moderation is key!
Here's a few guidelines I try to use to keep my sugar intake but still enjoy my favourite treats!
- Minimise added sugar intake in foods I don't really love. For example I'd rather enjoy a Daniel's Donut once a week vs 5 mini chocolate bars during the week.
- Minimise sugary drink intake including fruit juices. Swap them for a low/no sugar alternative (your friends at Hits Different can help you there ;)
- Check labelling on all packaged foods. Many foods can be unsuspectingly high in added sugars.
Interested in learning more? Find out more here:
Sugar and hormones:
Sugar and stress
Dylan, Owner - Hits Different Drinks
Precision Nutrition L1 Certified
Check out our awesome low/no sugar alternatives: