Sugar is more like a legal drug than you might think. It affects the addiction and reward pathways in the brain, and over time, having too much of it can affect your health and lead to illnesses like heart disease and diabetes, high cholesterol, and weight gain.
But the truth is that sugar does so much more damage than giving you pesky things like "a slight paunch" and "type 2 diabetes." "Technically, sugar is a sweet crystalline substance obtained from various plants," says Dr. Frank Lipman, author of the New York Times best-seller, The New Health Rules, and creator of the Be Well cleanse. "But my definition is that sugar is the devil."
The devil, huh? Strong words! Here are some of the other evils brought by those little white crystals.
Sugar screws up genes in your brain
Scientists recently found that diets high in fructose, a sugar especially common in the processed foods Americans hold dear (think high-fructose corn syrup) can alter genes in your brain. "Alter" is a generous term, though; eating too much sugar can damage these genes, which may lead to a whole host of diseases from depression to ADD to Parkinson's. So in order to keep yourself sharp, stay away from the sweet stuff.
It freaks out your hormones
When you have too much sugar, you end up having a sugar crash. And news flash: that puts a lot of stress on your hormones. Why? Not only is the hormone insulin responsible for dealing with the sugar you're eating, but "your adrenal glands need to kick in and release cortisol, a steroid-like substance, to help lift you back up," explains Dr. Lipman. "Over time, your adrenal glands exhaust themselves trying to regulate your fluctuating sugar levels."
It's bad for your sperm
That's right, fellas: sugar is no good for your swimmers. Guys who drink more sugar-sweetened beverages, like sodas, have lower sperm motility than those who limit their intake. It's a pretty direct relationship, too: as the drinks went up, the sperm motility went down. Translation: the less soda or sugary drinks, the healthier your sperm will be. That should be reason enough, right?