What are sugar side effects and benefits (if any) every ethical consumer must know? Here are sugar pros and cons and how buying it will impact your health, the environment, animals and laborers.
Food is something we consume every day and if you’re like me, you do all the research you can to make sure you don’t hurt yourself, the planet, animals or others when shopping. As an ethical consumer myself, I am giving you all the info I’ve found on sugar side effects and benefits.
You are going to learn all about sugar side effects. This will include sugar benefits for your health and potential risks, sugar water footprint and sugar carbon footprint, sugar sustainability, if sugar is vegan or impacts animals in other ways, and much more.
After learning if sugar is good or bad for you, the environment, animals and human rights, you will be prepared to make the best choices you can the next time you buy food.
This post is all about sugar benefits and side effects that every ethical consumer should know.
Must-Know Sugar Benefits And Side Effects
Energy: sugar is good for / helps boost energy | sugar side effects may include dementia, developing depression, energy crashes, feelings of hunger, impaired memory, mood swings, spikes in blood sugar
Longevity: sugar sugar side effects may include chronic diseases, chronic inflammation, developing gout, fatty liver disease, heart attack and stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, obesity, raise blood pressure, type 2 diabetes
Appearance: sugar sugar side effects may include acne, dental problems, skin aging, visceral fat (a kind of deep belly fat), weight gain, wrinkle formation
- Acidic 5.5 pH level (brown sugar) once digested
- Acidic 4.5 pH level (white sugar) once digested
- Gluten Free
- Not a common Food Allergen
- A Low-FODMAP Food (in small quantities)
Water footprint: low, it takes 197 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of sugar crops / 24 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of sugar crops
Carbon footprint: high, 3.93 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of refined cane sugar, a car driving equivalent of 9 miles or 14.5 kilometers
Destruction: high, sugar production is relatively destructive, loss of natural habitats, intensive use of water, heavy use of agro-chemicals, discharge and runoff of polluted effluent and air pollution, leading to degradation of wildlife, soil, air and water where sugar is produced and of downstream ecosystems, impacts relating to irrigation of sugar cane and pollution runoff are of particular concern”
Kills: none, sugar production does not require any animals to be killed
Harms: none, sugar production does not require any animals to be used
Indirectly kills or harms: various animals, if filtered using bone char, mainly for white sugar OR none, if sugar is labeled “unrefined” and “organic”, ecosystems and wildlife, if filtered using bone char, mainly for White Sugar OR none if sugar is labeled “unrefined” and “organic”
Sugar (labeled ‘unrefined’ and/or ‘organic’) is…
Sugar (labeled ‘white sugar’ or ‘refined’) is…
- Not Vegan
Health and safety: hazardous, working hours are strenuous, work shifts can be 12 hours per day, 7 days per week, field workers are exposed to chemicals, insecticides and/or fertilizers, must spend long hours in the heat and sun, they become dehydrated, such conditions can lead to illnesses like kidney deformation, skin cancer, sterility, machete accidents occur, truck accidents occur due to overloading, many communities do not have access to clean drinking water, water sources near sugar plants are contaminated with toxic chemicals and residue
Living conditions: poor, Central American sugar industry reports say child labor is prominent, as they are forced since their parents wages are so low
Wages: low, Central American sugar industry reports say women are often not paid minimum wage, monthly salaries do not cover basic needs, some subcontracted workers do not have contracts, social security benefits or job stability
Where does most sugar come from?
India is the world’s largest sugar producer followed by Brazil, the EU, Thailand and China.
The world’s top sugar exporting country is Mexico, followed by Australia, Brazil, Guatemala, South Africa, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Swaziland, Zambia and Philippines.
sugar is acidic. sugar side effects include not fitting into an alkaline diet.
Is sugar alkaline or acidic?
Sugar is acidic.
What is the pH level of sugar?
Sugar has a 5.5 pH level when brown sugar and a 4.5 pH level when white sugar, once digested.
When you eat food, it breaks down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.
Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List
sugar is gluten free.
Is sugar gluten free?
Yes, sugar is gluten free. Sugar does not contain gluten.
While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…
Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:
- recurring abdominal pain
- chronic diarrhea
- numbness in hands and feet
- chronic fatigue
- joint pain
- unexplained infertility
- low bone density (osteopenia or osteoporosis)
There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.
Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List
sugar is not a common food allergen.
Is sugar a common food allergen?
No, sugar is not a common food allergen. Some people may experience allergic reactions to sugar but it is relatively rare by comparison.
A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:
- crustacean shellfish
- tree nuts
These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.
Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.
Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.
Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List
sugar (in small quantities) is a low-fodmap food.
Is sugar FODMAP friendly?
Yes. Sugar (in small quantities) is a low-FODMAP food and fits into a low-FODMAP diet.
A low FODMAP diet may help those with bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
It’s all about knowing your body. Observe what works and what doesn’t. You body might even react negatively to a low-FODMAP food simply due to intolerance. Everyone is different! Be mindful and patient. Take time to get to know what’s best for your physical health and overall wellbeing.
See this High-FODMAP and Low-FODMAP List of Food
sugar has a low water footprint.
Does sugar have a high or low water footprint?
Sugar has a relatively low water footprint compared to other foods.
What is the water footprint of sugar?
It takes 197 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of sugar crops / 24 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of sugar crops.
Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource? Once it’s gone, it’s gone!
How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?
We need to be aware of “water footprints”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.
Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List
sugar has a high carbon footprint.
Does sugar have a high or low carbon footprint?
Sugar has a relatively low carbon footprint compared to other foods.
What is the carbon footprint of sugar?
It takes around 3.93 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of refined cane sugar, a car driving equivalent of 9 miles or 14.5 kilometers.
Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.
When calculating carbon emissions, some factors may include…
- farm equipment
- animal feed production
- hothouses (greenhouses)
- food processing
- package waste and more
But that’s not all!
It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:
- shopping locally reduces transportation emissions
- food without packaging reduces waste as well as the carbon footprint
- refrigerated and frozen foods increase carbon emissions
- seasonal foods reduce carbon emissions from hothouses (greenhouses)
- growing plant-based foods at home is the most environmentally sustainable method with zero carbon footprint
Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List
sugar is unsustainable. sugar side effects include environmental destruction.
Overall, is sugar eco friendly? Is sugar sustainable?
Sugar production is relatively unsustainable.
Sugar causes loss of natural habitats, intensive use of water, heavy use of agro-chemicals. Discharge and runoff of polluted effluent and air pollution lead to degradation of wildlife, soil, air and water where sugar is produced and of downstream ecosystems, impacts relating to irrigation of sugar cane and pollution runoff are of particular concern.
A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.
Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.
A 2010 United Nations report said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world the worst impacts of climate change.
Read more about ‘What Makes Food Sustainable Or Unsustainable?’
sugar is sometimes vegan and sometimes not!
Is sugar vegan?
Sugar may or may not be vegan. Sugar is processed using bone char, a technique that uses animal parts. Various animal must be killed to create bone char. If sugar is unrefined it is vegan, if it is refined it is likely not vegan. Be sure to read products packaging for specification.
Animals of factory farms and the livestock industry are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. They’re also injected with growth hormones to become fatter faster and live short lives, being slaughtered as soon as they finish growing and are killed prematurely, well before their natural lifespan.
Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.
Go vegan for animals!
It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.
Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non Vegan Foods List
sugar is a product with laborer issues. sugar side effects include human rights concerns.
Is sugar a product with labor concerns?
At this time there have been no major concerns with sugar production but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening!
It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation that may come with specific brands.
Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized.
Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death!
Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation.
Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards.
We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade.
Be sure to read up on this list of ‘Foods You Should Always Buy Fair Trade‘
This post was all about sugar side effects.
Sugars, granulated – FoodData Central
Sugar & Sweeteners – USDA ERS
International labor rights forum: New Reports on Labor Conditions in Sugar Industry in Central America
WWF: Sugar and the Environment – Encouraging Better Management Practices in Sugar Production and Processing
Sugar: World Markets and Trade – USDA Foreign Agricultural