Brown Sugar, how come you taste so good? I want a little sugar in my bowl. Pour some sugar on me.
Our love of the sweet stuff is nothing new, but our understanding of its detrimental health effects grows all the time. Sugar mirrors the effects of a drug, affecting the addiction and reward circuitry in your brain, and creating a variety of problems that go far beyond belly fat.
We’re not here to knock the quest for a slimmer waist and more defined abs (far from it), but that’s not the only reason to tame your sweet tooth for good. Here are 6 other negative effects of sugar that are backed by science.
#1 It Causes Chaos In Your Brain
A recent study at the University of California in Los Angeles found that consuming fructose, a sugar commonly found in the Western diet, alters hundreds of genes in your brain that are linked to series diseases. How serious? We’re talking diabetes, Alzheimer’s, ADHD, depression, Parkinson’s, cardiovascular disease, and more. An earlier study found that eating too much sugar can impair cognitive function and reduce proteins that are essential to memory and responsiveness.
#2 Your Swimmers Slow Down
Guzzle too many sodas and your swimmers will barely be treading water. Men who drink more sugar-sweetened beverages have lower sperm motility than guys who limit their intake. Research shows a surprisingly direct connection between increased sugar consumption and decreased semen quality, as evidenced by this study carried out at the University of Rochester during 2009-2010.
#3 It Sabotages Your Skin
Children may love to binge on sweets, but eating sugar won’t make you look younger. Over time, sugar consumption can make your skin dull and wrinkled by damaging collagen and elastin and making you more vulnerable to sun damage. It can also trigger unpleasant skin conditions like acne (no, it’s not a myth) and psoriasis.
#4 Your Immune System Suffers
So now you’re pudgy, pimply, and possibly infertile – and to make matters worse, sugar is also wreaking havoc on your immune system. Excess sugar can inhibit phagocytosis, the fancy name for the process by which viruses and bacteria are annihilated by your protective white blood cells. The more donuts you devour, the more your body’s ability to fight infection drops.
#5 It Crushes Your Self-Control
You don’t need science to tell you a lack of self-control is a side effect of sugar, but it helps to understand why. Over-consumption of sugar triggers the production of ghrelin, the hormone that signals to your body that it’s hungry. Put simply, more sugar causes more cravings for sugar. And that’s not all.
A sugar-heavy diet can also generate excessive reward signals in the brain (like, you guessed it, addictive drugs). It gets bad. When a 2007 study gave lab rats a choice between sweetened water and intravenous cocaine, a whooping 94% chose the sugar. Even increasing the cocaine dose couldn’t tear the addicted rodents away from their sugar fix. Now there’s an Intervention episode we’d like to see.