Sugar and the Human Body
Appropriate sugar intake for the human body is one of the most controversial topics in our society today. While no one disputes that too much sugar can have detrimental effects on the body, some do disagree on the specific limits and which types of sugar are most harmful. Many years of research have shown that a diet laden with sugar can cause lasting health problems. It is estimated that many Americans get at least 15 percent of their daily calories from sugar, which is a lot! When individuals reach for sugary baked goods or any other type of sugary treat, they are fueling their body with empty calories that hold little to no nutritional value, leaving their bodies starved for nutrients.
Vitamin deficiencies are widely abundant in modern societies throughout the world due to poor dietary choices. Many of the body’s functions rely on essential vitamins and minerals to operate at an optimal level. When those crucial ingredients are missing, these functions cannot operate in an efficient manner. Many avoidable health conditions have been attributed to a diet overly saturated with sugars which include:
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Chronic inflammation
- Heart disease
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver
- Metabolic syndromes
- High-blood pressure and cholesterol
- Dental decay and cavities
These are just a handful of ailments that have been directly linked to a high sugar intake. However, it stands to reason that if healthy whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins are being replaced with empty calories that do not provide adequate nutrition, the body’s immune system cannot function properly, leaving the body more vulnerable to other health conditions and diseases.
Maintaining Glycemic Levels
The Glycemic Index is a calculation for individual foods and products and how they will raise the body’s blood sugar levels. Foods that are higher in sugar and starches are typically lower in fiber, which means they will receive a higher number on the Index. This higher number is indicative of the level at which it will raise a person’s blood-sugar—thus creating a higher demand for insulin levels. Over a long period of time, the constant need for insulin production can be very taxing on the body’s endocrine system, which can cause an alteration in necessary insulin related operations. This can lead to weight gain, which is a cause of type 2 diabetes, or adult-onset diabetes.
While it is true that the human brain runs primarily on carbohydrates, many people are ingesting far too many in simplified forms. Carbohydrates are an essential source of fuel for the human body and its functions, but due to a robust variety of sugary foods that are so easily accessible, modern lifestyles often foster an unhealthy imbalance in nutritional needs. Combine this with a highly sedentary society and it becomes a recipe for dietary disaster. Recognizing this epidemic is the first step in making necessary adjustments. Healthy YOU Vending is working hard to bring awareness and aid by providing optimally tailored snack selections and drinks that have far less sugar than most products offered in vending machines.
A Change in Lifestyle
When making lifestyle changes it is also very helpful to adopt an accompanying mindset. Many people refer to nutritional alterations as “diets.” This can be harmful because it often indicates there is an ending date for these changes. A “lifestyle change” seems to be a more appropriate reference to the new, healthier adjustments being implemented. Individuals who modify their mindset generally have a more positive relationship with food and lasting physical results.
Positive Changes Come Gradually
When a person decides to make lifestyle changes, gradual adjustments are recommended. Someone who has been consistently ingesting a heavy diet of sugar can experience severe cravings and headaches if too much change happens all at once. Committing to eliminate one sugary habit at a time is best and should not have an overly-drastic side-effect on the body. A good example might be for someone who drinks several sodas each day to gradually decrease their daily intake over a period of several weeks. This allows the body to make adjustments as needed over time without experiencing the negative effects that often appear when quitting cold turkey.
Sugars can come in many different forms and are often hidden in plain sight. Education can really go a long way to avoid unnecessary sugar intake. Due to the negative press that sugar receives, many manufacturers are creating different names for sugar in the hopes they will get buried deep in the list of ingredients. Some alias names for sugar include:
- Beet sugar
- Agave syrup
- Invert sugar
- Evaporated cane juice
- Rice syrup
- Corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup
It is also worth noting that many labels will include ingredients that end with “ose” which are variations of sugar as well.
Some sugars are naturally found in foods such as fruit and milk but should also be limited if you’re trying to be mindful of sugar intake. Some examples include:
Part of the sugar controversy has been a long-standing argument that artificial sugars are better for the human body and do not produce the insulin response as does real sugar. Many studies have been conducted on both sides, resulting in positives and negatives for all involved. The debate on these sweeteners will continue as more conclusive studies are performed, but for now it is wise to be cautious and continually research these products as more information is provided over time. Artificial sweeteners can be found in many consumable products, but the majority can be spotted in sugar-free and low-fat items such as diet sodas, candies, ice creams and many weight-loss products. Some of these sweeteners are listed by their chemical names below:
Be in the Know
Understanding the negative effects that sugar can have on the human body can make the difference between good health and longevity or suffering debilitating conditions. Education can really go a long way when it comes to making informed decisions about health. Ultimately, a decision on sugar intake has to be made somewhere and it might as well be made by you voluntarily—otherwise the consequences of your lifestyle will make it for you.
Healthy YOU Vending operators have access to a wide-variety of healthy, low-sugar products for use in their vending machines that can be easily customized to their customer preferences.