Eating high amounts of sugar can have detrimental effects on the body. I know, shocking, isn’t it?!
Mainly, eating too much sugar will cause metabolic dysfunction. Metabolic dysfunction can cause weight gain, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
But, did you know that eating too much sugar can also affect your eyesight? Much like metabolic dysfunction, which takes a little while to take effect, sugar can leave your eyes prone to certain diseases. How this sugar will affect your eyesight depends on what kind of sugar was consumed and how much.
Curbing those sugar cravings isn’t easy. Today, we’ll talk about how high-sugar foods are harming your eyes and how you can satisfy your sweet tooth with healthy, eye-friendly alternatives.
The Truth About Sugar
No sugar is created equal. Just like good and bad fats, there is good and bad sugar. Knowing the difference, however, can be challenging. Health blogs tell us to cut back on sugar, but fruit has a ton of natural sugar, so is that good or bad for you?
America has a longstanding relationship with sugar, but the relationship seems to be a toxic one. Now more than ever, the food we buy is being made with more and more sugar; pre-made food, especially. Added sugar can be found in tomato sauces, cereal and even cans of tuna.
The sugar found in such products is not natural sugar, but a refined sugar processed from two different types of sugar sources (typically sugar beet and sugar cane). This is what we’ve come to know as white sugar. Love it or hate it, refined sugar is in way more food than you’d imagine and it’s making us all unhealthy.
But what about fruit sugar? Many come to the conclusion that if something is natural than it must be good for you, but even an over-consumption of natural fruit sugar can have unhealthy repercussions on the body. However, unlike refined sugar which has zero nutritional value, fruit at least provides healthy carbs, fiber and lots of vitamins and minerals.
The bottom line is that eating less sugar, refined or natural is better. Though fruit is natural, it can still cause your body to crash when too much sugar is being consumed all at once.
Sugar in the Body
When sugar is consumed, the body will do one of two things: either it will burn the sugar and use it for energy or it will take the sugar and store it as fat in the body. All those times you thought your weight gain was due to the fatty foods you ate, it was actually caused by the sugar and carbs in those foods.
When sugar is consumed, insulin is released by the body to regulate your blood sugar levels. However, when too much sugar is consumed at once and the insulin can’t balance it quick enough, the body suffers from a sugar crash. This will often leave us feeling sluggish and fatigued.
This goes for both natural and refined sugar. It’s important to watch your sugar consumption either way.
How It Affects the Eyes
Continued consumption of high-sugar foods like soda, candy, dessert and certain fruits like mangoes and pineapples can leave your eyes open and vulnerable to diseases. Sugar ultimately diminishes your immune system. When your body’s natural defences are down, it is easier for diseases to form.
Type 2 Diabetes and Diabetic Retinopathy
Though it has been proven to be a myth that type 1 diabetes is caused by an over-consumption of sugar, a link has been made between sugar intake and type 2 diabetes.
Someone with type 2 diabetes will have difficulty producing the amount of insulin needed to balance sugar in the body. They will have to inject themselves with the right amount of insulin to keep the body regulated. If blood sugar levels are not regulated, it can lead to diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the blood vessels in the eye begin to leak and new blood vessels begin to grow abnormally. This will star to cause spotting in your vision and can lead to severe vision impairment or blindness if not treated properly.
Those who consume lots of high-sugar food will increase their risk of developing macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is a disease often associated with old age, but when you are consistently eating too much sugar, you can speed up the macular degeneration and trigger the disease earlier.
Macular degeneration affects the macula, which is found at the center of the retina. As it begins to degenerate, your central vision will become poorer and poorer. It is the leading cause of blindness among older generations.
Cataracts are caused by a protein buildup on the lens of the eye. When this happens, gray spots will appear in the center of your pupil. This is also affect your central vision.
It is thought that high blood sugar will lead the eyes to swell and put too much pressure on the lens. When this happens, it will allow more protein to buildup and stick to the lens and speed up the formation of cataracts.
Glaucoma is a common disease among older people. The condition develops when the eye is unable to properly drain out any excess fluid. This will cause an increase in intraocular pressure, which will lead to impaired vision and sometimes eye pain.
High blood sugar can cause the blood vessels in the eye to become narrow. This will then lead to a buildup of fluid that cannot drain properly, causing glaucoma.
What to Eat Instead
There’s no need to fight those sugar cravings. They happen and they won’t go away until they’re satisfied. But, when they happen, you can make an effort to eat the right sugars. Instead of reaching for a cookie or candy bar the next time the cravings strike, grab a handful of fruit.
But don’t grab just any fruit. You’ll want a fruit that ranks low on the glycemic index. The glycemic index was created to rank the foods that cause spikes in blood sugar. The food is typically ranked out of 100, with 100 being the largest blood sugar spike.
Here are some fruit that are low on the glycemic index:
The next time you have a sugar craving, ask yourself if going for the candy bar is really worth the risk of harming your eye health and body.