Most of us feel slightly guilty every time we consume sugar. It increases fat but does too much sugar cause worms? Read on to find out.
What is sugar?
Sugar is a form of carbohydrate that has a sweet taste. It is produced and processed from sugar cane plants. Natural sugars occur in most foods that contain carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy products. These foods have other beneficial nutrients for your body, such as fiber, minerals, proteins, and antioxidants. Hence, including such wholesome foods in your diet is healthy. Your body digests whole foods slowly, thus providing a continuous supply of energy to your cells.
Added sugars are sugars that you add to food to enhance taste or increase shelf life. They are present in processed foods like tomato ketchup, jams, ready-to-eat cereals, baked foods such as cakes, cookies, bread, and sweetened dairy products like fruit yogurts and flavored milk. When you consume artificial sugar in excess, it can lead to a host of health problems that can have a lasting impact on the quality of your life
The recommended amount of sugar per day
The average American consumes about 17 teaspoons of sugar each day. The American Heart Association recommends 9 teaspoons(36g yielding 150 calories) of added sugar daily for men and 100 calories from added sugar for women. In 2015, the WHO advised 6 teaspoons a day or only 5% of daily calories from sugar.
Age-wise the following is the recommended amount of sugar per day:
4 to 6 years – 19g or 5 teaspoon
7 to 10 years – 24g or 6 teaspoons
11 years and above – 30g or 7 teaspoons
How does excess sugar affect health?
Added sugar has no nutritional value but can negatively impact overall health.
In the short term,
- Weight gain, fatigue, constant hunger, blurred vision, and acne.
Long term effects,
- Includes chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
- Excess sugar causes inflammation and narrowing of arteries leading to high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, or heart failure. It can also affect your liver, causing fatty liver disease, inflammation, and scarring, leading to cirrhosis and ultimately result in the need for a liver transplant.
- May affect your joints and cause painful inflammation. It increases your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
- It leads to sudden spikes in your blood sugar levels and does not offer slow and steady energy. Sugar can also lead to your pancreas’ improper functioning and ultimately result in the development of type 2 diabetes.
- Sugar causes the release of a feel-good chemical- dopamine in your brain. That is why you crave sugar as it gives you a pleasurable feeling. It increases mood disorders and can cause depression in adults.
- Sugar affects your teeth and can cause cavities to form when bacteria feed on the sugars in your mouth. When bacteria digest the sugars, they release acids, which erode tooth enamel and cause tooth decay.
- Excess sugar can damage collagen and elastin in your skin and accelerate aging.
- Diabetes can result in kidney failure, eye problems, and deterioration in nerve health.
- Excess sugar can result in weight gain as it affects the hormones which control weight, can lead to impotence in males, and may also cause bloating and gas if you suffer from digestive disorders like IBS.
- Negatively affects metabolism and increases insulin and fat storage in your body, may cause inflammation, oxidative stress, and obesity, which increase your risk of developing cancer.
Does too much sugar cause worms?
Sugar cannot cause worm infestation. Worm infestation happens when you ingest eggs of parasites from contaminated soil or water. Parasites use sugar as a source of energy, and it may fuel their growth.
Ways to limit intake of sugar
Avoid drinking soft drinks and sodas, and go for herbal teas, milk, and plain water to hydrate yourself. Eat smaller and fiber-rich meals at regular intervals to avoid sugar cravings. Read labels on all food items and look out for sugar additives or varied forms of sugar.
Alternatives to sugar
Plant-based sweeteners like Stevia obtained from a South American shrub, xylitol, and erythritol are sugar alcohols, monk fruit sweetener, yacon syrup, and natural sugars like maple syrup, molasses, coconut sugar extracted from coconut palm sap, and honey are all good alternatives to sugar. Doctors still advise that sugar taken in moderation might help with your health.
Sugars can therefore be part of our daily diet but only in limited quantities.