How excess sugar changes your body over time

excess sugar crashes body, drains energy

Last Updated September 13th, 2020

Are you consuming too much sugar?

Most of the processed foods contain added sugars that often exceeds our recommended daily calorie intake. Natural food products like fruits, grains, vegetables, dairy products, etc. are rich in carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals and sugar components which provide us energy and nutrition. Natural sugar is good for our health.

So, what is the ideal sugar intake? A recent study has shown that an average American adult consumes about 270 calories of sugar which roughly rounds up to 17 teaspoons of sugar per day. This is way above the recommended level of 200 calories of sugar, which can be very harmful to health.

Furthermore, sugar calories have no nutritional value, are difficult to digest, and can cause several health problems like:

  • Heart diseases
  • Obesity
  • Kidney problems
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Tooth decay
  • Liver diseases

Most of the processed foods we consume today like candies, beverages, sweets, etc. contain added sugars. They have no nutritional value and can cause harm to the body in the long run. To make things worse, sugars are also added in nutritional products like health drinks, over-the-counter medicines like cough syrups, corn syrups, etc. Even savory products like tomato sauce and other food items like bread and fresh juices contain added sugars.

How does excess sugar affect our health?

Anything in excess can cause harm to the body. Here are a few reasons explaining why too much sugar can be harmful to your health.

Obesity

Obesity has become a global issue now and the young generation is not devoid of the problem. Artificially sweetened beverages like fruit juices, soda, and cold drinks contain fructose.

Stopping obese woman from eating burger junk food

Fructose is a type of glucose that can increase the urge for hunger. Too much consumption of fructose can hinder the production of leptin, a hormone that signals the body to stop eating when full. This may lead to obesity.

Furthermore, a lot of sugary foods and beverages can lead to abdominal obesity or the accumulation of visceral fat along the region of your abdomen. This can be very harmful and is linked to many other diseases like diabetes and heart ailments.

Heart Diseases

Foods with high-sugar content can increase your triglycerides, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure which may lead to heart problems.

The high sugar can cause inflammation and clog the blood arteries and even cause atherosclerosis, a disease when plaque deposits in the arteries. It has been estimated that people who consume more sugar in their daily diet are more susceptible to heart diseases.

Mood Swings

You may have noticed that after consuming a handful of candies or chocolates, you may suddenly flare up with energy. This condition is called “sugar high” or “sugar rush” and happens when you have consumed too much sugar that has caused an instant increase in your blood sugar levels. The condition may last for a few minutes. After some time, as your sugar levels come down to normal, you may feel jittery, anxious, and feel an urge to consume more sugar. This condition is called a “sugar crash”.

Both situations are very harmful to your health and may cause mood swings and depression. Excessive sugar consumption releases a chemical called dopamine that makes you feel good and increases your craving for more sugar. Natural foods contain less sugar and hence less dopamine is released.

Tooth Decay

Sugar can destroy your tooth enamel and cause cavities. Sugar is the main culprit for tooth decay. The bad bacteria in your mouth eat the sugar and produce harmful acids that destroy the tooth enamel, the outer protective layer that secures your tooth.

If cavities are kept untreated, they can lead to pain and eventually removal of the tooth. Young children are more susceptible to tooth decays.

Skin Problems

Sugar can cause skin acne, inflammation, and even faster the process of skin aging. Processed foods have a high GI or glycemic index than natural foods. High GI-foods contain more sugar and increase the production of androgen, a steroid hormone. High androgen levels can spike up oil production and inflammation in the skin and cause acne.

Diets high in sugar can increase the production of AGEs or advanced glycation end products. AGEs are related to aging of the skin and may result in premature skin aging. High AGEs damages skin elasticity and the youthful glow of the skin.

Type-2 Diabetes

High blood sugar levels are one of the prime reasons for type 2 diabetes. High consumption of sugar-rich foods can resist the normal production of insulin and increase your blood sugar levels. This may lead to obesity and the development of type 2 diabetes.

The pancreas produces the insulin hormone. When you eat too much sugar, your pancreas starts producing more insulin to battle the excess sugar molecules. But the pancreas will eventually break down and your blood sugar levels will spike up and cause diabetes.  People who consume too much of sugary beverages and sweet products are at risk of diabetes.

Sexual Dysfunction

Too much sugar in your diet can cause erectile dysfunction and even infertility. Excessive sugar can clog the blood vessels and disrupt proper erection. Sugar in the blood is one of the main causes of male infertility.

Excess sugar can cause sexual dysfunction

Uncontrolled sugar intake can cause obesity and diabetes which can disrupt the release of testosterone hormone and cause infertility in men.

Cancer

Excessive consumption of sugar can cause cancer. Sugar-rich diets can cause obesity, inflammation of the body, insulin resistance, and high blood sugar levels. This may lead to the development of esophageal cancer or cancer of the intestine.

Fatty Liver

Sugary foods contain fructose that is broken down by the liver. When you consume fructose, it is transformed into energy and stored as glycogen in the liver. The liver can only break down and store a regulated amount of glycogen. The rest is converted into fat.

Too much consumption of sugar can lead to NAFLD or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition where excess fat builds up in the liver. Fatty liver can also cause NASH or non-alcoholic steatohepatitis or scarring of the liver. This may lead to cirrhosis of the liver.

Inflammation

Eating a lot of sweet foods can cause inflammation of the joints and cause severe pain.  This can also cause tooth infections or inflammation of the gums.

Adding too much sugar in your diet can cause inflammation of the body and may cause insulin resistance. This can be harmful to your health.

Kidney Failure

Too much sugar can cause kidney damage. The kidneys are responsible for filtering out excess sugar in the blood. The moment your blood sugar levels spike up, the kidneys will start filtering out the excess sugar in the urine.

If you are consuming regulated sugar or your kidneys are functioning properly, it won’t be a problem. But if you have diabetes, this excess sugar will eventually damage your kidney functioning and cause kidney disorders and even kidney failure.

Ideal Sugar Intake Per Day

The ideal sugar intake depends on a number of factors like whether you have diabetes, obese, or suffering from any other diseases.

Some people may consume more sugar than others without any side effects. The American Heart Association or AHA has laid down certain guidelines regarding the right amount of sugar one should consume per day.

The sugar intake per day per day for a normal healthy male should be 150 calories or 37.5 grams/9 teaspoons. For a female, it should be 100 calories or 25 grams/6 teaspoons.

Dieticians advise to cut down sugars to the minimum and to stick to natural sugars that can be found abundantly in fruits, grains, and vegetables. To avoid health problems, try to consumer sugar as less as possible.

For people who are overweight or diabetic, they should avoid sugar completely. Try to avoid soft drinks and processed foods as much as possible to limit your sugar intake.

How to cut down Sugar Intake?

Now that we know how too much sugar can harm our health, it’s time that we control our daily intake of sugar.

Cut Down on Sodas and sugar-filled Beverages

Though it may sound difficult at first, this is the easiest way to control your sugar intake. You will be surprised to know that energy drinks, fizzy drinks, sodas, and soft drinks comprise about 44% of the total sugar in the average American diet.

Excess sugar crash, exhausts body, drains energy

Replace these sugary beverages with home-made fresh juices, lime soda, herbal drinks and teas, sparkling water, and mint tea. They are nutritional and allows you to control the amount of sugar you add in your home-made drinks.

Avoid Table Sugar

Cutting down on the daily amount of sugar will help you lose weight as well as control other diseases. Use regulated amounts of table sugar, corn syrup, or honey while preparing food at home. You can also cut down the amount of sugar you add in tea, coffee, or drinks at home. This will help you wean off the extra amount of sugar you consume per day.

Avoid Desserts

Who doesn’t love a mouth-watering freshly baked raspberry cake or chocolate mousse cake? But they are loaded with sugars and do not have much nutritional value.

Desserts like ice-creams, smoothies, cakes, and pies contain high contents of sugar that are almost 18% of an average American diet. This can be really harmful to your health especially for diabetics.

If you really have a craving for sweet dishes, look for other alternatives like:

  • Fresh fruit salads with a dash of honey.
  • Baked fruits.
  • Strawberries and dates are really yummy.
  • Fresh home-made yogurt. You can add some strawberry juice to flavor it up.
  • Dark chocolate contains less sugar.

Avoid Sauces

Sauces like ketchup or barbecue sauce are heavy in sugar content. You can make your own home-made sauce with fresh ingredients and spices.

Use other alternatives like yellow mustard, vinegar, or pesto to bring flavor to your dishes. They are free from artificial sweeteners and hence have fewer calories. However, before buying them read the food labels to know about the added sugar content and calorie intakes.

Eat Fresh Fruits

Nothing can beat the taste of some freshly squeezed apple or orange juice. Try to eat more fresh fruits. They are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals and contain good sugar that gives energy.

You can also use canned fruits that come in water or fruit juice solutions. You can wash them before eating to remove the excess syrup. Avoid sugar in oatmeal or cereals. Instead add freshly cut strawberries, apples, banana, and ripe mango slices for taste. You can even add some dried fruits like apricots, raisins, and nuts.

Read the Food Labels

Remember to read the food labels properly before buying foods in the market. If you are obese or diabetic, you must be extra careful to not add any added sugar in your diet.

Almost all processed foods that are available in the market contain added sugars. Even savory foods like bread, canned vegetables, and dried fruits have sugar. So, before buying a product, go through the food labels and the ingredient list and you will get an idea of the percentage of sugar that has been added into the food.

Use Natural Sweeteners

Some people have a sweet tooth. They have a craving for sweet dishes. If you are one such person, try adding natural sweeteners in your diet.

Natural sweeteners like stevia, xylitol, and even honey can be used in moderation. They are low in calories and have the nutritional value that is good for your health.

Add More Proteins in your Diet

Proteins make you feel full, reduces your hunger, and your appetite. They are rich in fat that is difficult to digest and also add calories to your diet.

Add more whole foods like fish, meat, eggs and dried fruits to your daily diet. It will help you to curb your craving for sugar and also satisfy your appetite.

 

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