Why is excessive sugar so bad for you and what happens to the body?

Carbohydrates are very important to living beings. So, why is sugar so bad for you?

You need carbohydrates in your diet to provide energy to each cell, to supply your brain with glucose and to furnish fuel for muscles and organs.

All your DNA and RNA molecules have a sugar molecule in them. In fact, if you don’t eat enough carbohydrates, your body breaks down muscle tissue to make some. If you are constantly choosing the wrong foods and you eat way too much of the sweet stuff, the chemical chaos created in your body can get you to gain weight, get sick and become addicted.

Here are the basic steps of what happens when you eat carbs:

1. Your digestive system breaks down carbohydrates, starting in your mouth with saliva and chewing, and then from digestive enzymes in your small intestine, into smaller bits of carbohydrate known as monosaccharides.

2. Your liver absorbs the monosaccharides and, like a courier, sends them out to do various important jobs, like feeding the brain, making cells to do their thing, and filling up your muscles and organs with fuel.

3. After these jobs are finished, your body packages up and stores any leftover carbs as body fat.

The problem with sugar is that it’s not only high in calories but also virtually nutrient- and fibre-free. And as you will know from my many health videos, we need a diet rich in Fibre to keep our digestive systems happy!

When you eat a lot of sugar, without fiber, protein or fat, far too much sugar enters the bloodstream at one time. This creates a chemical emergency in your body, which responds to the assault by prompting the pancreas to release a large dose of insulin to control the sugar levels.

Diabetes is one of the biggest threats to modern human health. With a high sugar intake, low amounts of exercise and too many calories overall, which sadly describes a lot of the western world's eating habits right now, the body is forced to produce more and more insulin. This is a hormone that’s essential for preventing a dangerous build-up of sugar in your bloodstream but that, at high levels, can cause problems.

High insulin levels cause you to store fat and crave more food. This cycle continues over the years, and as you gain weight, your body becomes less and less sensitive to insulin, and it craves more and more sugar. The end result is obesity and insulin resistance, which lead to diabetes.

The most important source of fuel for your body is glucose, which enters the bloodstream after you eat. Glucose then travels throughout your bloodstream and is used by every cell in your body for energy.

The pancreas, an organ located behind your stomach, is in charge of releasing hormones that make your body either store or release calories. One of those hormones is insulin.

Insulin “unlocks” your cells to allow the sugar circulating in the blood to enter cells, where it can be turned into energy. After you eat a meal, your pancreas senses a rise in blood sugar levels and releases the insulin needed to move sugar from your blood into your cells. When you eat too many carbohydrates, your pancreas is forced to secrete a lot of insulin to manage the sugar. Insulin normally does a fabulous job of placing all that sugar to the right areas, including turning all that extra sugar into fat.

However, regularly having high insulin levels can cause serious problems such as:

  • Decreasing your ability to burn body fat for fuel.

  • Becoming less sensitive to all the extra insulin over time, that requires more and more of it to control blood sugar levels. This is called insulin resistance and it inevitably leads to type 2 diabetes.

  • Lowering blood sugar levels. Of course, that’s insulin’s job, but too much insulin lowers blood sugar levels too far. This results in a sugar crash and then causes more cravings. This is the reason a lot of people get caught in the cycle of weight gain, no energy and decreased health.

  • Plus, high insulin levels make you sleepy and sluggish.