Sugar and You: Why's it so bad?
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Sugar and You: Why's it so bad?

The Dubai Municipality is now requiring restaurants and other food sellers in the Emirate to display the nutritional value of their offerings. One of the stated reasons for this is to make the population more aware of how much sugar they are eating. Why is sugar so bad though? Read on to find out more.



Oh sugar! That almost-magical white powder that we all love so much. Whether enjoying a lollipop after a doctor’s visit as a child, eating ice cream with our friends as teens, or buying a yummy pick-me-up in the form of an orange mocha frappuccino as an adult, odds are that we all indulge in sugar filled treats from time-to-time, if not every day. More and more, however, we see warnings about the health dangers associated with sugar.

In fact, the Dubai Municipality has deemed sugar to be such a scourge to the population that they are taking measures to try to curb excessive consumption of the sweet substance. As part of the Emirate’s Eat Right-Live Health initiative, restaurants in the territory will be required to display the nutritional value of all of their products, including the sugar content. Ever the pragmatists, the Dubai Municipality is planning on first rolling out the program among restaurants that purport to have healthy food options by the middle of 2016.

The municipality’s principle food and surveys officer, Jehaina Hassan Ali, spoke just a day after the release of a report from the UK that stated that hot and cold beverages alike from popular chain cafes can have up to 25 teaspoons per sugar in a single serving! Speaking on her organization’s role, she stated, “It is our role to educate the public and to push for transparency [from food and beverage businesses] to reveal the number of calories in their products.”

In light of this hot topic, we thought that this would be a great time to dig into the topic of sugar and its effects on your health.

 

Why we crave sugar

In recent years, an increasing number of sources have come to say that sugar in excess is bad for us. However, if that is true, then why do we crave it so much? Is our brain wired to make us hurt ourselves through gluttony? Not quite. In fact, evolutionarily the craving for sugar, salt, carbs, and other nutritional elements that can have negative effects on our bodies is there in order to keep us alive.

This is because thousands of years ago humans needed to horde as much sugar, salt, carbohydrates, and fat as they could for survival. As hunter-gatherers – before the advent of agriculture – human beings were constantly in search of the precious calories they would need to feed their families and stave off the wildlife they were constantly at odds with.

Unfortunately for us, evolution does not occur that quickly, and human technology has progressed far more quickly than our physiology. Thus, people living affluently in developed nations are now caught in a situation where they have access to a cheap and easy supply of sweet, unhealthy foods, and bodies that are designed to crave and horde calories. This is why we’ve seen an epidemic of obesity in the industrialized world.

 

Confection-based health concerns

Beyond an expanding waistline, there are a number of health issues that can be caused by excessive consumption of sugar:

  • Addiction: Sugar addiction can occur in people that eat a lot of sugar on a regular basis. The reason for this is that the brain actually releases opioids when sugar is eaten (which happens to be the same drug released in the brain by heroin and morphine).

  • High cholesterol and heart disease: Researchers have reported a link between sugar consumption and the amount of fats found in the blood. Not only do triglycerides and ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol rise, but the so-called ‘good’ cholesterol – known as HDL – levels in the blood fall. As many of us know, a high level of bad cholesterol in the blood becomes plaque that settles on artery walls. This can later lead to a heart attack or other types of cardiac diseases.

  • Dental problems: Not only do humans love sugar, but bacteria do too. When we eat a lot of sugar, we are also providing the bacteria in our mouths food that helps them thrive. If we’re not careful, eating too many sweets can allow bacteria to more quickly wear away at the enamel of our teeth.

  • Obesity: Simply put, unused sugar in the body quickly is turned into fat and stored. As this fat builds up over time, people can develop serious health problems just due to the fact that they are grossly overweight.

  • Diabetes: Oftentimes (but not always) the result of obesity, diabetes causes an imbalance of sugar in the blood. Sugar can cause the first step in diabetes – insulin resistance – which prevents a key hormone from allowing blood sugar into cells and telling the body to burn the sugar glucose instead of fat. This can lead to toxic levels of glucose in the blood stream. Complications of this condition include fainting, blindness, and even the amputation of limbs.

  • Liver damage: Too much of the sugar fructose can have a negative impact on your liver health, as it is the only organ that transports it. Bombarding the liver with fructose can put a strain on the liver, which can potentially cause damage.

Beyond these, sugar also has links to other diseases including high blood pressure, polycystic ovarian syndrome, dementia, kidney damage, lipid problems, and cancer.

So what can you do to stay healthy in the battle against excessive sugar consumption? Jehaina Hassan Ali had another comment on this subject, stating that people should watch out for heavily sweetened foods and drinks, “and replace them with fruits, fresh juices and water to lower the calorie content of overall daily diet.”

Monitoring sugar intake and finding healthy alternatives is sage advice to be sure, but when real health problems set in it may already be too late to focus on prevention. At these times what you will need is expert medical care, and in order to receive this without breaking the bank it is imperative to have a quality health insurance policy with adequate benefits. Is your current policy up to snuff for the treatment of sugar-related diseases such as heart disease or diabetes? To be sure about your current policy, or to obtain one with better coverage, contact the knowledgeable insurance experts at UAE Medical Insurance. Not only can they answer all of your questions, but they can also provide you with plan comparisons and free price quotes.Contact us today!

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