It seems like everywhere you turn, there's some new diet advice.
In an effort to reduce inflammation, we've turned to plant-based diets, microbiome diets, gluten-free diets, high-protein diets, and everything in between.
And while all of those diets come with important benefits, sometimes the path to health can be a little bit more straightforward: cutting out one ingredient that causes more than its fair share of damage—sugar.
We all know that sugar is bad for us...but how bad is it really? What can it do to our bodies? And do we need to avoid even natural sugars?
Read on to find out everything you need to know about how sugar affects your health and what you can do to reduce it in your diet!
Is All Sugar Bad?
Sugar occurs naturally in many foods, including fruits, vegetables, and some grains. Not all sugar is inherently bad—in fact, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables offers many health benefits.
Refined sugar, on the other hand, comes from sugar cane. It's often found in processed foods that offer little to no nutritional value or essential vitamins or minerals.
High amounts of refined sugar can be found in sweets, sodas, and desserts, along with sauces, condiments, and processed fillers.
Because sugar is so common in many different foods, the average American gets too much sugar. According to the Harvard Health Institute, the average adult male gets 384 calories from added sugar every day.
Sugar in moderation is one thing. But when you start to consume too much, it can have devastating health effects in many ways.
- Sugar is Bad for Your Heart
Many studies have shown that excess sugar is a recipe for heart trouble. One large meta-analysis found that every extra daily portion of sugar increases the chance of coronary heart disease by 16%!
A diet high in sugar also increases your chance of dying from a heart-related illness by 38%.
Some studies have even shown that sugar impacts your blood pressure more than salt. It's linked to increased heart rate as well.
- Sugar Increases Your Risk of Diabetes
Along with heart health, increased sugar ups your odds of developing type 2 diabetes.
It's especially important to watch your sugar levels if you're already at high risk for diabetes due to genetics, sedentary lifestyle, or obesity.
When you have diabetes, your body's blood sugar levels are too high and difficult to manage. Unchecked blood sugar levels can cause vision problems, nerve damage, and impact your heart health.
- Sugar Can Harm Your Liver
While we tend to associate liver problems with alcohol consumption, sugar itself can play a part in liver disease as well.
Studies have shown that even moderate levels of sugar can cause liver damage and increase the odds of developing fatty liver disease.
One study showed that, even without increased calories, when participants consumed three sugary beverages per day, the fat production in their liver was two times higher than those who didn't consume sugary drinks.
Your liver controls your metabolism and plays a role in heart health as well, and developing liver disease can even lead to a heart attack.
- Sugar Affects Mental Health Too
It's not just your physical health that suffers from too much sugar, though. A global 2002 study indicated that higher sugar levels were linked to depression and anxiety.
Other studies have linked high sugar levels to cognitive damage and increased likelihood of Alzheimer's disease.
To make matters worse, sugar is addictive. It releases dopamine, a substance our brains crave. (Which is why you might want sugar when you're already feeling low.) That creates a vicious mental health cycle.
What Can We Do to Reduce Sugar Damage to Our Health?
It's clear that sugar is bad for us—increasing the risk of serious, life-threatening conditions and impacting our mental health.
But cutting it out is often easier said than done. Sugar is so prevalent that it's difficult to avoid.
One of the best ways to cut back on sugar quickly is to eliminate sugary drinks. Skip the creamer in your coffee, say no to sugar, and reduce the use of energy drinks or juices from concentrate.
Turning to healthy fats, whole grains, and sources of protein is another way to reduce sugar in your diet.
With some effort, you can scale back your sugar and set out on a healthier lifestyle.
But what about the damage that sugar has already done? Fortunately, antioxidants can help reduce that!
Sugar and Free Radicals
Many studies have shown that high levels of sugar increase free radical damage in the body. (Free radicals are unstable, reactive molecules in the body that attempt to bond with other molecules in search of stability.)
When too many free radicals are in the body, it can lead to oxidative stress—your body gets damaged from all the free radicals trying to bond and react within your body.
But antioxidants, specifically OPCs (powerful naturally occurring antioxidants that work together to strengthen each other's effects), can reduce that damage and reverse oxidative stress, countering the havoc wreaked by sugar and other harmful substances.
How to Increase Your OPCs to Battle Damage
OPCs are naturally occurring, meaning you can get them in your diet. Apples, berries, and nuts have high levels of OPCs.
However, for most people, getting enough OPCs, and getting a balance of them, isn't attainable through diet alone.
That's why finding a quality OPC supplement, like OPCXtra, is so important.
OPCXtra delivers high doses of six common OPCs (pine bark extract, green tea extract, grape seed extract, red wine extract, bilberry extract, and citrus bioflavonoids), along with other antioxidants. They work to magnify each other's effects and target oxidative stress in the body.
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The OPCXtra Difference
OPCXtra is isotonic, which means it's made for higher and faster absorption, so you can feel better, faster.
It also contains quality, naturally sourced OPCs.
We've seen hundreds of our happy customers experience a difference with OPCXtra, and we want to see that for you too!
Take advantage of our family's promise—a 365-day money-back guarantee, and try OPCXtra for yourself today!
Sources & Further Reading
- The sweet danger of sugar
- Just How Bad Is Sugar For You, Really?
- The Effects of Dietary Sugars on Cardiovascular Disease and Cardiovascular Disease–Related Mortality: Finding the Sweet Spot
- Study Suggests Sugar Is Worse For Blood Pressure Than Salt: Really?
- Does Eating too Much Sugar Cause Diabetes?
- Even modest consumption of added sugar may affect the liver
- Study Shows Glucose Consumption Increases Production of Destructive Free Radicals, Lowers Level of Key Antioxidant