We all know that excess sugar contributes to a number of serious health problems…. BUT did you know that your sweet tooth can also make you weaker, older, less motivated and more tired?
Sugar lowers testosterone!
Yes, that’s right! Testosterone levels dramatically decrease almost immediately after sugar consumption due to the rapid release of insulin in the body. Men with chronically low testosterone can experience a number of issues including increased body fat, loss of muscle, poor sexual performance, osteoporosis, difficulty concentrating, memory loss and poor sleep. In women, continually low testosterone can lead to lethargy, loss of muscle mass and strength, loss of libido, low motivation and mood.
High sugar intake lowers testosterone even in young healthy males according to USA research from 2018 (1). As more sugary soda drinks the guys drank, as lower their testosterone ended dropping. Another study from 2013 (2) demonstrated that oral glucose ingestion by adult males led to an abrupt drop in levels of total and free testosterone.
Sugar weakens your immune system
White blood cells (our immune cells) need vitamin C to destroy harmful bacteria and neutralise free radicals. The problem is that sugar and vitamin C have a very similar chemical structure and compete for space in white blood cells. The more sugar you eat, the less vitamin C has access to your white blood cells, resulting in lowered ability to fight infections and viruses. For instance, drinking 1 litre of Coca Cola lowers your body’s ability to kill germs by 40% for up to 5 hours! If your diet is high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, you can forget about reaping any benefits from those additional vitamin C supplements!
Sugar increases inflammation
Although inflammation is part of the body’s natural healing process, a chronic-low grade inflammation can cause serious health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, allergies and an impaired ability to burn fat for fuel. Research shows that consuming just one can of sugary drink a day leads to an increase in inflammatory markers, insulin resistance and LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol that clogs up your arteries). For example, inflammatory markers spike 30 minutes after ingesting 2 slices of white bread and remain elevated for at least two hours. If you have white bread toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and pasta for dinner, you are likely to experience a constant level of inflammation for the whole day and are on your way to weight gain and potentially serious health issues further down the track.
Sugar prematurely ages your skin
Unfortunately, there’s no escaping fact that we’re all getting older! However, we can prevent premature wrinkling of our skin by simply cutting down on sugar intake. Glycation is a natural process in which the sugar in the bloodstream attaches to proteins to form harmful new molecules called ‘advanced glycation end products’ (AGE’s). The more sugar you eat, the more AGE’s you develop thus increasing the damage to the protein in your skin. The proteins in the skin that are the most vulnerable to damage are collagen and elastin, the two key elements in keeping our skin firm and elastic. If that wasn’t bad enough, a diet high in sugar also affects what type of collagen we have. In a nutshell, glycation transforms the most stable and long lasting collagen fibres to more fragile fibres making the skin looking and feeling much less supple. To make it even worse, AGEs deactivate the skin’s natural protection, making us more prone to sun damage – and no one wants that!
Sugar damages your liver
You don’t have to be an alcoholic to suffer from self-inflicted liver damage. Too much fructose in your diet will affect your liver in a similar way as alcohol. It causes a fatty build-up that can develop in to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and insulin resistance (which can lead to obesity, metabolic syndrome and many other diseases). This applies to excess fructose from sugars added to most processed foods and sugary treats. Eating 1-2 pieces of fruit a day is actually healthy due to the fibre, vitamin and mineral content.
- Caronia LM, Dwyer AA, Hayden D, Amati F, Pitteloud N, Hayes FJ. Abrupt decrease in serum testosterone levels after an oral glucose load in men: implications for screening for hypogonadism. Clin Endocrinol. 2013;78:29106.
- Chen, L., Xie, YM., Pei, JH. et al. Sugar-sweetened beverage intake and serum testosterone levels in adult males 20–39 years old in the United States. Reprod Biol Endocrinol 16, 61 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12958-018-0378-2