9 Reasons to Reduce Sugar Intake [Sugar’s Effects on Body, Brain and Athletic Performance]

“No sugar added,” “Sugar-free,” “No artificial sweeteners,” are claims commonly found on packaged foods, and are constantly talked about. But, what makes sugar such a controversial ingredient when it comes to nutrition tables and food labels? More importantly, what are the effects sugar has on our bodies?

The truth is, not all sugars are created equal. While naturally occurring sugars aren’t as harmful as processed sugar, any kind of sugar in excess will severely affect your body and lifestyle.

These are nine reasons to reduce sugar intake and opt for healthier choices to curb sweet cravings:

  1. Sugar promotes weight gain. The most obvious, and fear-inducing, reason to reduce sugar intake is weight gain. Too much sugar translates into the accumulation of body fat.  Health Magazine explains that given the way sugar acts on the brain—activating the brain’s reward center—satiety may never occur. Sugar intake leads to more sugar craving. It becomes a vicious cycle that can only result in weight gain, obesity and other harmful side effects.
  2. Sugar can create memory impairment. Also related to brain function, another prejudicial effect sugar has on our brains is memory and learning skills impairment. According to Healthline, past research has shown that by slowing down brain functions, sugar  is partially responsible for impairing learning skills and memory.
  3. Sugar creates mood swings. Because sugar affects the brain in several negative ways, high sugar intake can be blamed—or partially blamed—for constant mood swings and increased levels of stress and depression. The well-known sugar crash causes feelings of anxiety, depression, fatigue, and stress. Given the fluctuation in blood sugar levels, our mood is constantly shifting and plummeting along with blood sugar levels.
  4. Sugar creates unstable energy levels. “Products that are loaded with sugar but lacking in protein, fiber or fat lead to a brief energy boost that’s quickly followed by a sharp drop in blood sugar,”(Healthline). For steady levels of energy throughout the day, avoid sugar-packed foods,  and substitute them for wholesome snacks, like a Powerful Smoothie.
  5. The immune system deteriorates with increased sugar intake. “Bacteria and yeast feed on sugar, so excess glucose in the body causes these organisms to build up and cause infections,” (Atkins).  
  6. Teeth also suffer. With an increase in sugar consumption, tooth decay is more probable to occur. Just as it happens with the immune system, bacteria in plaque form acids that can lead to cavities.
  7. Skin ages faster. With excessive amounts of sugar consumption the process to repair collagen in the skin is threatened, explains Health Magazine. “A steady diet of sugary treats can result in reduced elasticity and premature wrinkles,” further clarifies the source. A good way to prevent this undesirable process is to curb sweet cravings with fruits instead. But wrinkles aren’t our only concern. Acne prone skin might be another concern to deal with when eating too many sweets. As Health 24 puts it, too many sugary treats increases the production of oil in our skin; and we all know this means more break outs.
  8. Sugar threatens body cells and vital organ. Sugar is responsible for the acceleration of cells’ normal oxidation process. According to Health Magazine, “Proteins, tissues, and organs can become damaged, and our risk of health conditions including liver disease, kidney failure, and cataracts, rises.”
  9. Sugar is addictive. Yes, enjoying a sugary snack is pleasurable. But, there’s a reason why- research has proven that sugar can be as addictive as certain illicit drugs. Runners World explains, “eating sugar lights up our brain’s dopamine receptors (the same ones that trigger drug addiction), making us feel fantastic—and eager for another hit.” Now we know why sugar cravings are so hard to resist. It’s just a matter of will power.

A tip to avoid too much sugar is thoroughly reviewing ingredient lists and nutrition tables. SF Gate gives us a good rule of thumb: When perusing nutritional information on packaging, always keep in mind that where sugar is listed on the ingredients list determines whether a product is packed with sugar or not. If sugar is high on top, think of all of these nine reasons before purchasing that product.

It becomes clearer now why sugar is such a controversial ingredient. (For this reason, our Powerful Smoothies have no sugar added and only 12g of sugar per serving). However, this doesn’t mean that we should avoid sugar consumption altogether. Instead, what we need to do is reduce daily sugar intake and stay mindful of what we are eating.