Imagine the feeling when you sink your teeth into a sweet chocolate bar or savor a crunchy jolly rancher!
You have heard the adults around you warn you about too much sugar. But you think - "So what, it is just a small candy... it can’t possibly do much harm.”
One candy is fine, but things can quickly get out of hand if you are not careful, and the result may not be so sweet.
Did you know that candy was initially used as medicine? Ancient Egyptians and Greeks used honey-coated fruits, nuts, and flowers to treat digestive disorders. Even as late as the 18th century, sugar candy was prescribed to people with chest and digestive issues.
Originally, people thought that candy could actually provide good energy. Obviously, this was proven wrong. The “energy” we feel after consuming sugar is actually called a sugar rush. Sugar highs cause twitchiness, spasms, and make us hyper and jumpy. Sugar highs usually do not last very long and leave a person feeling drained afterward, which we call a sugar crash.
But candy companies aren’t looking out for us and would like us to believe that it only has health benefits. For instance, in the 1940s, the owner for the popular chocolate Milky Way advertised that each bar had at least one glass of milk in it which provided calcium for strong bones!
Oddly enough, candy doesn't even have real sugar in it. Real sugar comes from sugarcane and sugar beets. The sugar in candy is what you would call “processed” sugar, or simply, artificial sugars. Processed sugar, referred to scientifically as “sucrose”, does not only completely lack nutrients, but has added chemicals and raises blood sugar levels faster, resulting in energy/hunger swings.
Artificial sugars in candy (like sucrose and high fructose corn syrup) contain a whole bunch of "empty" calories with no essential nutrients.
The most obvious harm is to our teeth because candy provides easily digestible energy for the bad bacteria in our mouth. Sugar also sends a message to our brain and body that it is ok to ingest more. Not surprisingly, people who consume a lot of sugar are the most likely to become overweight. This applies to all age groups. It is especially strong in children, where each daily serving of sugar overloaded beverages is associated with a 60% increased risk of obesity.
Sugar can lead to serious issues such as diabetes and cancer. Your body uses a hormone called insulin to handle glucose, a sugar that is its main source of energy. In people with diabetes, their bodies either do not produce insulin or are not sensitive to it. This leads to high levels of blood glucose and this can affect organs. Finally, too much fructose gets deposited as unprocessed fat in the liver, and this leads to Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.
So, as you see too much of a good thing can be bad. Cut down on sugar and you just might find yourself doing better in school, feeling energetic and sleeping better! Just remember, “You are what you eat.”