Exactly How Sugar Damages Each Body Part


(Illustration by Jeong Suh, Bryan Christie Design)

On Your Skin
The problem: Jowls and wrinkles may be the result of eating too many processed foods. As sugar digests, it bonds to collagen and impairs the molecule’s function (a process called glycation). High-fructose corn syrup causes about 10 times more glycation than glucose, the sugar found in starches.
The solution: Rebuild collagen by eating lysine, which is found in fish, lean meats, and low-fat dairy. Or get a really great wrinkle cream.

On Your Waistline
The problem: Fructose, which is often added to processed foods (even ostensibly healthy ones like whole-grain bread), causes energy to drop at the cellular level. “This leads to a reduced metabolic rate and increased fat storage,” says Richard J. Johnson, M.D., author ofThe Sugar Fix. “It’s why bears eat thousands of berries before they hibernate: to store fat.”
The solution: Starting this year, nutrition labels have to say how much sugar is added versus what occurs organically. Take a look.

On Your Brain
The problem: When sugar hits your stomach, the activity level of orexin (a neurotransmitter that triggers wakefulness) plummets, spiraling your brain into a fog for up to three hours.
The solution: Food coma isn’t inevitable: According to recent research in the journal Neuron, you can counteract it with a serving of protein. Less practical: Give yourself a 180-minute buffer before trying to be productive.

On Your Mood
The problem: Researchers at California State University found that people who ate approximately two dozen grams of sugar in a sitting (the average amount in a candy bar) had a quick energy spurt but an hour later reported less energy and a more stressful mood than beforehand.
The solution: Channel that rage. University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban is known to take down two Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies (a total of 28 grams of sugar) for breakfast every morning. He’s obligated to scream a lot. And he makes nearly $7 million a year.

On Your Pancreas
The problem: Your daily Coke, Gatorade, or fresh-pressed juice ups your risk of developing diabetes by 26 percent, say Harvard researchers.
The solution: Experts think that because sugary drinks are new (evolutionarily speaking), the brain isn’t designed to register their calories, meaning you won’t feel full and will likely overeat later. Drink high-electrolyte, unsweetened beverages like coconut or maple waterand stay away from the -ades.

On Your Heart
The problem: People who get 25 percent or more of their calories from added sugar have a 275 percent higher chance of death from heart disease than those who get 10 percent or less.
The solution: There isn’t one—except, well, cutting back on sugar. Step away from the juice and eat a real (protein- and fat-rich) meal.

By Arianne Cohen

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