Most people are familiar with the ways sugar can harm their health by increasing the risk of obesity, diabetes, tooth decay and heart disease. It affects behavior and cognition in children. But most of us aren’t familiar with yet another threat sugar poses to our health. It has damaging effect on our bones as well as it erodes cartilage – a tissue that keeps our bones strong. And most of us tend to brace ourselves when it comes to consuming sugar in our daily diet. But how much sugar is too much? And are we safe from bad sugar if we avoid sugary drinks and sweets?
1. Sugar causes calcium depletion
Calcium is a mineral vital to our bones as it helps keep their solid structure. Lack of calcium leads to osteoporosis, or “porous bones” condition. Excessive sugar consumption leads to fast calcium depletion from the body through urine, as studies show. Also, acidifying feature of sugar leads to the increase in calcium excretion, robbing our bones of their density.
In order for our bones to rebuild themselves and avoid the risk of osteoporosis, it is essential that we decrease processed sugar consumption and replace it with more natural options such as fructose from fruits.
2. Sugar increases cortisol levels
Cortisol is a hormone in our body that needs to be on optimal level in order for bodily functions to work properly. When cortisol levels increase, it affects our health in many ways. It leads to decreased immunity and abdominal fat, and can seriously harm our bone tissue.
Most of people are familiar with the role stress plays in increasing cortisol levels, but sugar is highly responsible too. In his study, Dr. Yudkin warned about the detrimental effect sugar has on our health, and showed how it increases cortisol levels in our body. Aside from keeping our stress levels in control, we should also eliminate processed sugar from our diet in order to have optimal level of cortisol and healthy bones.
3. Sugar robs our bones of magnesium
Magnesium is essential for proper bone density. It is important for people suffering from osteoporosis to increase their daily intake of the mineral in order to keep their bones strong. Processed sugar is also responsible for the decrease of magnesium as it requires 54 molecules of magnesium to process one molecule of sugar. As the study published in The Clinical Biochemist Reviews states, refined sugar may reduce magnesium content by almost 85%.
Even if you avoid eating food that contains a lot of sugar, you might be surprised with how much sugar there is in some types of food we wouldn’t normally expect to find sugar in, such as in many low-fat types of food, where sugar is used to replenish the fat to improve the taste, and many ready-made foods such as:
- soups and various types of sauces
- red apples (green apples are a better alternative since they contain less sugar)
- sports drinks, flavored yogurts, ketchup
It is important to read all the labels carefully to be aware of how much sugar you are actually consuming.
If you consume too much sugar, try to gradually reduce the intake of sugar to retrain your taste buds to forget the sweet taste. A healthy alternative for replacing sugar can be honey, yet it should be used it in moderation. Other alternatives are stevia, which is a natural sweetener that comes from a plant and has no calories, and molasses, which is a byproduct of sugar processing that comes in many varieties and has many beneficial effects to your health.