**This article was first published on Health.com
We know sugar is not good for us, but how does it affect our bodies? Here are eight ways sugar impacts our systems:
- Your brain struggles.
According to Dr. Robert Lustig, MD, pediatric endocrinologist at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco, fructose (the naturally occurring sugar in fruit, which is also combined with glucose to make high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and table sugar) activates the brain’s reward center. Over time, a diet high in fructose (especially HFCS) can impede the ability to learn and remember [animal research suggests].
- Cravings increase.
By increasing the brain’s reward and appetite center, fructose can interfere with feelings of satiation, causing you to eat more than necessary.
- Your skin ages prematurely.
Eating too much sugar can stop the repair of collagen, leading to reduced elasticity and premature wrinkles. Instead of eating a cookie, try some fruit; experts agree, it’s beneficial to eat two to four servings of fruit each day.
- Excess sugar becomes fat.
The liver has the ability to metabolize sugar and use it for energy, but only to a certain extent. Dr. Lustig explains that left over fructose is converted into fat in the liver, which raises the risk of obesity, type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- Sugar damages our cells.
Fructose accelerates the oxidation process in our cells resulting in damaged proteins, tissues and organs. This puts us at risk for health conditions, including liver disease, kidney failure, and cataracts.
- You become addicted.
Eating sugar leads to the release of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that causes us to like something and crave more of it. The more sugar we eat, the more sugar we will need in order to receive the same “hit” of dopamine, due to the overstimulation of neurons and the decrease in receptor sites, explains Dr. Lustig.
- Sugar causes stress.
Sugar can lower cortisol levels in the short term, but overuse of sugar as a stress reliever will lead to a high risk of insulin resistance, causing dangerous stress to the body. Dr. Lustig advises exercise (a natural cortisol reducer) in place of binging on sweets.
- Get ready to take your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride.
Refined carbs such as white bread and pasta, can give you a boost of energy, but will cause you to crash later on. To stabilize your blood sugar and get off the roller coaster ride, eat protein-filled snacks between meals like hummus, nuts and yogurt.
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