Why are added sugars so bad for you? Most people have no trouble naming a few health risks associated with high added sugar intake - tooth decay, weight gain, obesity, high triglycerides, heart disease, fatty liver disease, inflammation, increased diabetes risk, and, of course, tooth decay.Did you know added sugars also pose a risk for bone health? It is safe to say high added sugar intake affects every body system and bones are no exception.
Replacing Nutrient-Dense Sources
Do you know how many vitamins and minerals sugar contains? Zip. Zilch. Zero. Sugar intake displaces intake of nutrients essential for bone health - calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, as well as phosphorus and zinc.
Another reason sugar isn't so "sweet" has to do with its effect on your body's homeostasis. Studies on diets high in refined sugar show that sugar consumption increases urinary calcium excretion. How? Sugar is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, rapidly increasing blood glucose levels. This creates a more acidic pH. To buffer any excess acidity and maintain a proper acid/base balance, the body may draw calcium from, you guessed it, the bones! Over time, this can weaken bone structure and integrity.
True, the main way our bodies get rid of excess acid is by breathing out carbon dioxide. However, the body does also leach calcium from the bones if needed.
High blood glucose levels are also linked with greater magnesium loss through the urine. Low magnesium levels can further increase bone disease risk since magnesium plays a major role in bone health.
No, we aren't talking about how old you are. We are talking about Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs). AGEs can form when proteins interact with sugar molecules. This can occur in any body tissue, including bones. In cases of high blood sugar, some sugar molecules can interact with the proteins found in bone. This damages the protein and it cannot perform its specific functions - such as bone mineralization.
AGEs also permanently alter the structure of collagen, thus weakening and damaging bone structure. This can lead to bone deterioration.
Take Steps to Avoid Sugar
Even after examining all these compelling reasons to avoid added sugars, it's easier said than done, right? Try to get your "sweet fix" with limited amounts of natural sugar substitutes, such as stevia or raw honey. Retrain your taste buds to appreciate the natural sweetness of various fresh fruits. It's easier to say no to sugar at the grocery store than it is when it's in your refrigerator, pantry, or freezer. Instead, keep nutritious snacks handy. Finally, maintain a steady blood sugar level throughout the day by including protein and healthy fats with every meal and snack to help reduce sugar cravings.
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