Inside: Most of us are aware of the negative effects of sugar on kids. Here are 14 reasons why you don’t want your kids consuming large amounts of sugar. It will affect more than their health—it will affect their abilities to learn and think as well!
Negative Effects of Sugar
This blog is part of my “Tidbits of Wisdom for Parents” series. If you want to watch the video: Click here to watch.
I feel like a hypocrite writing about the dangers of sugar because, at this very moment, I’m heating up my oven preparing to bake some of my favorite chocolate chip cookies. So, while I’m munching away, I’ll attempt to convincingly tell you about the negative effects of sugar and how you need to watch your kids’ sugar intake.
I know the dangers of sugar—having taken 31 classes in nutrition and studied the chemical structure of sugar. It doesn’t matter that I use only organic sugar–it’s still processed sugar. And, processed sugar is dangerous to your health; your kids’ health and pretty much everyone’s health.
However—has knowing the negative effects of sugar stopped any of us from consuming those amazingly sweet crystals in one form or another? Not!
Negative Effects of Sugar: 4 Points to Consider
When you consider the following, you can see why sugar’s such a difficult addiction to kick:
- Sugar is 8x more addictive than cocaine.
- The average American consumes 50+ pounds of hidden sugar every year.
- Many manufacturers tell us that sugar is made from a “natural” source (sugar cane and sugar beet) so we think it’s okay. But, so is heroin and opium made from “natural” sources. And all of these “natural” things are processed into something dangerous to our health.
We may think we are abstaining from sugar, but the truth is, we have no idea how many things we eat that contain hidden sugars. It becomes more challenging to curb our kids’ sugar intake because just about everything we pick up at the grocery store from spaghetti sauce to plain yogurt—contains a certain amount of refined sugar.
#1: Different Kinds of Sugar
Here’s a breakdown of the different kinds of sugar and their sources:
- Fructose is fruit sugar and is found in fruit
- Maltose is malt sugar and is found in germinating grains. You will find it in malted milkshakes and malted candy.
- Lactose is milk sugar and is found in milk
- Dextrose is made synthetically from starch and is called “corn sugar.”
- Sucrose is refined sugar or table sugar made from sugar cane and sugar beet (and almost all sugar beets are genetically modified which makes the sugar even more dangerous).
Last is glucose. It’s a sugar found in fruits and vegetables and is usually present with other sugars. It is the key material found in the metabolism of all plants and animals. Most of what we eat gets converted to glucose in our bloodstream. Because glucose is always present in our bloodstream it is often referred to as blood sugar.
#2: Glucose vs. Sucrose
The sugar-pushing manufacturers have touted that since our food is changed to glucose in our bodies, then it’s alright to consume refined sugar (sucrose). Nothing could be further from the truth.
Glucose and sucrose have totally different chemical structures and both enter and affect the body in profoundly different ways. Glucose sustains our lives; sucrose slowly poisons us by degrees.
Have you met someone who is hypoglycemic or what is referred to as low blood sugar? Don’t let them fool you into thinking they hardly eat any refined sugar. They are actually sugar addicts—the large amounts of sugar they eat suppress glucose in their bodies. If they stopped bingeing on sugar their blood sugar or glucose would return to normal.
#3: How Sucrose or Table Sugar Enters Our Body
Sucrose is refined sugar—that white stuff we consume every day—and is not digested in the mouth or the stomach but passes directly and very quickly into the lower intestines and to the bloodstream. From there the negative effects of sugar begins creating havoc on every organ of our bodies.
#4: Genetically Modified Sugar: High Fructose Corn Sugar
Unfortunately, most sugar today is made from genetically modified sugar beets. They grow from seeds made in a lab and are not from actual heirloom sugar beet seeds. This “fake” sugar beet is processed to death with the result being: high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
It is a uber sugar and the worst kind of sugar you can consume (think sodas and candy bars). Because of how it is processed, the body does not recognize HFCS as sugar, but rather as a fat. The liver tells the body to store it–most likely on your hips!
Negative Effects of Sugar: 10 Reasons Kids Should NOT Eat Sugar
Here are some reasons why you do not want your kids eating large amounts of sugar. When talking about sugar, I’m referring to sucrose or refined sugar.
Some of these points are taken from Lick the Sugar Habit by Nancy Appleton, Ph.D. and Sugar Blues by William Duffy and from my many nutrition classes. Other items on the list are from a variety of medical journals and scientific publications. All address the metabolic consequences of sugar and how it can affect your child’s health.
#1: Suppresses Your Child’s Immune System
Sugar can suppress your child’s immune system and impair its defenses against infectious disease. This means that your child can be susceptible to all kinds of illnesses, colds, flu, etc.
We all want our kids to be healthy and well—so curb their sugar intake. Replace those sugary snacks with fruit such as blueberries (builds the brain), bananas (helps with stress), or raw honey on a slice of Ezekiel bread. Keep in mind that honey is sugar but it is real food and is loaded with important immune-building nutrients.
#2: Sugar Causes Hyperactivity in Kids and Lowers Their Concentration Levels
Sugar can cause a rapid rise of adrenaline in children which in turn will cause a child to experience hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and crankiness.
You want your kids to do well in school. Ask yourself: “What foods am I serving them for breakfast and what am I putting in their lunchboxes? As a parent do I know and understand the negative effects of sugar on my child?” Dump the sugary cereals for breakfast and fast food for lunch. Give your children an egg for breakfast—the choline increases brain power. Pack a banana in their lunch—they help kids concentrate and stay alert throughout the day because they are a potassium-packed fruit.
#3: Sugar Weakens Eyesight
If your kids are consuming a lot of sugar it will increase their blood sugar and cause the lens of the eye to swell which will change their ability to see. Once your child is off sugar or at least not consuming large amounts of sugar, their eyesight can return to normal.
If you want your child to have strong eyesight, eliminate the sugar and have them eat foods containing lutein and zeaxanthin such as broccoli, avocadoes, eggs, and carrots. Oils such as cod liver oil are fabulous for improving eyesight. And no, cod liver oil (lemon flavor) does not taste bad.
#4: Sugar Can Cause Stomachaches, Indigestion, and Acidic Digestive Tract
Do your kids get frequent stomachaches? Indigestion or stomach acid? Do they eat a lot of foods containing sugar such as sodas, candy or cookies?
Sugar can cause many problems with the gastrointestinal tract including an acidic digestive tract, indigestion, and mal-absorption which is not absorbing important vitamins and minerals. This can disrupt how your kids feel at school and their ability to learn, understand and absorb information.
If your child suffers from frequent stomachaches or indigestion, dump the sugary snacks from their diets and add these calming stomach foods to their diets: bananas, brown rice, sweet potatoes, yogurt or oatmeal.
#5: Sugar is Linked to Increased Asthma in Kids and Teens
It seems that the culprit behind an increase in asthma in kids and teens is linked to sugar intake, researchers have found. Sonja Kiertein, Ph.D., of the Nestle Research Center in Switzerland, found that a heavy diet of sugar causes the immune system of the airways to allergic inflammation. This inflammation can cause the narrowing of the airways and mucus production resulting in asthma symptoms, wheezing and shortness of breath.
It’s obvious–if you have a child who suffers from asthma, analyze his/her diet and see if she is consuming too much sugar. If so, eliminate as much as possible and exchange the sugary sweets for fruits such as blueberries, strawberries or kiwi.
#6: Sugar Can Cause Diabetes in Young People
When kids eat too much sugar it can cause a decrease in their insulin sensitivity causing abnormally high insulin levels and eventually diabetes. Research indicates that diabetes is on the rise in teenagers under the age of 20 in the United States. It is a horrible disease and can damage their blood vessels, kidneys, nerves and eyes. It is one of the most debilitating negative effects of sugar on young people.
Parents, do you drink sodas? Eat sugary snacks? Eat most of your meals at fast food places and restaurants? Or do you cook your meals at home with your kids and eat plenty of healthy grains, fruits, veggies, and water? Instead of sugary snacks do your kids see you choose healthy snacks such as nuts, plain yogurt or cheese? Show your kids the way to health and wellness. Be their guide and example!
#7: Sugar Can be Related to Food Allergies in Children
Many children and adults suffer from allergies caused by a host of things. However, a serious allergy mixed in with sugar-containing foods can be a serious problem and even lead to anaphylaxis which is a severe allergic reaction and can be fatal. Yes, kids can be allergic to sugar and have sugar allergies.
This type of situation is most likely a rare occurrence but is something to be aware of. If you have a child who is susceptible to allergies, make certain you are carefully watching his/her diet. Make it as sugar-free as possible.
#8: Sugar can contribute to eczema in children.
Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that can affect children under the age of two or older children. Doctors caution parents to watch their child’s intake of foods high in sugar such as processed foods and fast foods because foods high in sugar can trigger eczema flare-ups. Why? Because sugar causes insulin levels to spike which results in inflammation.
One note: my granddaughter broke out in eczema about a year old. Her parents had her on a healthy diet that included little sugar. My nutrition classes indicated that many children with eczema have it because of low vitamin A levels. I suggested to my son to give her 1 teaspoon of cod liver oil (lemon flavor) each day. Their pediatric dermatologist told them to give her 1 tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar each day. The combination did the trick–eczema free!
The point is–I’m not sure that every child that has eczema is overloading on sugar.
If your child suffers from eczema, eliminate as much sugar from their diets as possible. And if you can get your child to actually take 1 tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar–do that. However, I think it’s easier to give them 1 teaspoon of lemon flavor cod liver oil
#9: Sugar is the #1 Enemy of Your Child’s Bowel Movements
Another negative effect of sugar is diarrhea in children. Some sugars stimulate the gut which pulls out water and electrolytes and loosens bowel movements. Interestingly, the main kind of sugar that will do this is fructose—the sugar found in fruit. According to the gastroenterologist, Dr. Norton Greenberger of Harvard Medical School, “Seventy-five percent of people [or children] who ingest more than 40 to 80 grams of fructose per day will get diarrhea.”
However, artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol or xylitol can also be the diarrhea culprit in children.
Again, monitor how much sugar your child is consuming. And, even though fruit is wonderful and is filled with important vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, too much is also a problem.
Although fructose is safer than sucrose, both consumed in large amounts create problems in our bloodstream. Steve Jobs was a fruitarian and it is believed that his enormous consumption of fruits actually led to his pancreatic cancer.
Keep in mind what Shakespeare said, “moderation in all things…”
#10: Sugar can cause learning disabilities in teens
Research has found that teens who eat diets high in refined sugar and saturated fat can damage areas of their brains, specifically the hippocampus area, which is responsible for memory and learning. Refined sugar and junk food can damage this and other areas of the brain which leads to poor cognitive function.
Teenage rats that drank sugary beverages had difficulty remembering locations. Their spatial areas of the brain were negatively affected.
Teens do not usually listen to their parents—they listen to their peers. You can change that if you start early and build a strong relationship with them. By the time they are teens and if you have created a bond–they WILL listen to you. (I speak from experience). Let them know the dangers of drinking sugary sodas, candy or other sweets. Most importantly, help them understand that sugar will affect their ability to learn.
3 Ways to Curb the Sugar Bug
#1: Your children and teens need to see that a healthy diet is important to you and that you are willing to lead by example. Start early teaching your kids about foods that build the brain and foods that impair brain function. Begin with sugar—eliminate it as much as possible and substitute with healthy veggies, almonds or raisins.
#2: Take these 14 ideas and share them with your children and teens. Together, come up with a plan of how you can get rid of the excess sugar in your diet. Instead of drinking sodas every day, decide you will only drink ONE soda per week. Eliminate candy bars and sugary snacks in favor of healthy snacks such as cheese or nuts.
#3: Read my other blogs about healthy snacks, bananas, cucumbers, eggs, water, healthy fats, honey, veggies and substitute these foods when your children want something sweet. Get your children involved in my “Healthy Smart Kids in the Kitchen” series. All of the recipes are delicious, fun for kids to make and are healthy.
One food group that helps to curb sugar cravings are fermented foods. Check out this recipe for Refrigerator Pickles you and your kids can make together (and you can adjust the sugar in them)
As you rid your kids’ diets and your diets of sugar, you will see how everyone’s thinking and ability to learn will increase. You will also see a difference in everyone’s moods, emotions, energy, and outlook on life.
If you want to read more about the dangers of sugar–check out these books on Amazon. I get my cod liver oil from Amazon–it’s amazing!
How do you curb sugar intake in your house? Any great ideas that work? Would love to hear your ideas and suggestions–please comment in the section below.
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