Is sugar damaging your gut health?

We have all been so focused on our immune systems..

Making sure we are taking in enough Vitamin C, Vitamin D and even Zinc! We wash our hands fervently and wear masks everywhere we go. That’s why I’m bringing up the topic ‘is sugar damaging your gut health’. We are overly focused on our immune systems. However, one thing I know we all either forget about or conveniently sweep under the carpet is really taking note of what we are eating!

It is so much easier to skim through this part of our lifestyles, without taking a real look under a microscope!

How does the digestive system work then?

Let’s start there so I can start to paint a picture of how this all fits together. The food we eat is mostly digested and absorbed in the small intestine. From there, the rest makes its way to the large intestine where it is fermented (excreted). There are thousands of different types of bacteria in our gut (and elsewhere in our bodies for that matter) and these are vital for a healthy microbiome.

Scientists have been discovering the fact that this microbiome imprint, or rather all the bacterial cells in our gut. These are unique to each person, much like a fingerprint! They play a very important protective role, including creating cytokines. Cytokines are chemical messengers that influence other organs as an inflammation response. Also, important to note, some of these bacterial cells can also become damaging to our gut health.

Now the sugar point?

Is sugar really damaging our gut health? There is definitive proof that the type of food we eat and the bacteria that flourishes in our gut are linked. These bacteria need energy to flourish correct? And so, the fats, carbohydrates and proteins we eat serve as their fuel or foe. Sugars that are added to foods in manufacturing as opposed to natural sugars in fruit are called ‘free sugars’. Free sugars have been shown to help proliferate or feed the pro inflammatory bacterial cells in the gut.

This may spell disaster, as you might have guessed, as it impairs the immune response shown in rats. Scientists are split in deciding whether this is significant enough to cause alarm for human populations as well. In my opinion, I know it affects my immune system.

So it must certainly affect at the minimum, those of us more susceptible and more genetically inclined.

Artificial sweeteners have also been linked to creating a more unfavorable gut microbiome.

And also creating a more inflamed gut in turn! The choice is up to you which poison to pick. I have a tremendous sweet tooth, so a trick that is favourble? The gut microbiome flourishes off a certain carbohydrate- fibre. Creating your own sweet treats that are natural in nature. Such as sweet potato brownies sweetened with dates or smoothies sweetened with homemade apple sauce. It could not only feed your gut and its more beneficial bacterial cells, but it could in turn satisfy your sweet tooth. And keep your immune system in tact!

Phew a mouthful here, but, I would love to hear what you come up with to try and cope with this information! All recipes are welcome lol



is sugar damaging your gut health
Isilda Da Costa is a personal trainer and women’s fitness specialist who, if she isn’t at the gym training, is busy researching the most up to date information for growing those muscles. She has combined her love of everything healthy by being a health coach in her own health shop in Swaziland. Follow along on @izzy.healthandfitness

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