How an excess of sugar harms the heart, liver, brain, skin and sexual health
In moderate amounts, sugar is important for the health of the whole organism. Millions of years ago, our ancestors diligently extracted fruits and honey: sugar not only provided them with energy, but also helped store fat for cold and hungry times. Those who did not eat enough sugar had neither the strength nor the physical ability to reproduce their kind.
As a result, the human brain developed an interesting survival mechanism: an almost insatiable desire for sweetness. Unfortunately, today it does more harm than good: many of us eat much more sugar than we need to survive. In addition to obesity and caries, this overeating has other consequences.
Here are just some of them …
In a study of 2013 published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, scientists found that a large amount of sugar, in particular glucose, leads to stressful work of the heart and a decrease in muscle function. If this happens too long, it eventually causes heart failure, according to scientists from the Cleveland Clinic.
The high content of fructose, another type of sugar commonly found in artificially sweetened foods, reduces the level of “good” cholesterol, the publication of Women’s Health reports. This can cause the production of triglycerides – fat, which is transferred from the liver to the arteries and increases the risk of developing a heart attack or stroke.
A study conducted in 2002 at the University of California, Los Angeles, showed that a sugar-rich diet affects neuronal and behavioral plasticity, which is responsible for a chemical substance called brain neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Suppressing BDNF reduces the ability to form new memories and store new data. Other studies track the association of low levels of this substance with depression and dementia.
Kidneys play an important role in blood filtration, and high blood sugar makes them work at the limit of possibilities and wear out. This can lead to the fact that waste will leak into the body. According to the American Diabetes Association, the decline in kidney function causes their numerous diseases, and without proper treatment – a complete failure. People with kidney failure need organ transplants or machine blood filtration with dialysis.
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Since a large amount of sugar in the diet can affect the flow of blood, it is associated with erectile dysfunction. In 2005, the authors of the study from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that sugar interrupts the production of the enzyme responsible for erection. A 2007 study showed that an excess of fructose and glucose in the body could disable the gene regulating testosterone and estrogen levels, two important sex hormones.
According to a 2002 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, elevated levels of sugar in processed foods increase inflammation, causing joint pain (arthritis). Those who suffer from chronic arthritis, it is better to eat as little as possible sweet.
Excessive consumption of sugar causes an explosion of inflammation throughout the body. This inflammation destroys collagen and elastin in the skin. As a result, the skin ages faster, becomes flabby and wrinkled. People who abuse sugar are more likely to develop insulin resistance, which can cause excessive hair growth and the formation of dark spots on the neck and in the folds of the skin.
Excess sugar in the body accumulates in the liver, provoking inflammation of this organ. Without treatment, the consequences can be the same as for alcoholism, cirrhosis (the formation of scar tissue in the liver). “The most common cause of liver cirrhosis is alcohol, and in addition, fatty liver disease due to poor nutrition,” explains cardiologist Asim Malhotra from London, a member of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges Obesity Group.