8 Reasons why you should cut sugar from your diet

Susannah Hickling

We’re hearing more and more about how unhealthy sugar is. Still need convincing? Here are some surprising but sound reasons to kick the sticky stuff…

Sugar makes your gums bleed

We all know that sweet treats can cause cavities, but how many of us realise that a high-sugar diet can also lead to gum inflammation and increase our risk of gum disease? This was the finding of a 2014 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

 

Sugar harms your heart

Harvard University researchers studied thousands of American adults over 15 years and found that people who got a quarter or more of their daily calories from sugar were more likely to die from heart disease in that time than those whose diets contained less than ten per cent of added sugar a day. Sugar-sweetened drinks, fruit drinks and dairy desserts were among the worst culprits.

 

It’s as bad for your liver as booze

Fructose, a sugar that occurs naturally in fruit, is processed in the liver. This is leading to a rise in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which can cause liver failure and cirrhosis and may even necessitate a liver transplant. A sugar belly—think beer belly but caused by an excess of the sweet stuff—is a tell-tale sign of NAFLD.

 

Fructose could be worse than salt for your blood pressure

A high-fructose diet can send your blood pressure beyond the recommended upper limit of 120/80, according to a study in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology in 2010. And in a review of research in 2014 in the BMJ Open Heart, experts argued that it could be more damaging to heart health than salt.

 

Sugar can cause asthma

Scientists who analysed data from 146,990 American adults found that people who quaffed at least two sugar-sweetened drinks—such as fizzy drinks, juices and sports drinks—a day were more likely to have problems with their breathing.

 

It can make you feel down

Before you reach for a tub of ice-cream when you’re feeling a bit low, consider this: Columbia University Medical Centre researchers found that post-menopausal women who ate a diet high in added sugars and refined grains were more likely to succumb to depression. On the other hand, those who ate more dietary fibre, fruit and veg, and whole grains were at lower risk.

 

Cancer cells love sugar

Just as our bodies want sugar for energy, cancer cells thrive on it too. New research from the University of Texas at Dallas shows a strong association between sugar and squamous cell carcinoma, which accounts for a quarter of lung cancers. Other squamous cell cancers—head, neck, oesophageal and cervical—also absorb a lot of sugar.

 

Sugar might cause dementia

Researchers from the University of Bath recently found a molecular link between diets high in sugar and early Alzheimer’s. They discovered that glycation—a reaction in which glucose affects cells—damages an enzyme that’s involved in reducing abnormal protein build-up in the brain, which is a feature of this type of dementia.