How Sugar Affects The Body – While you may know to avoid excess sugar to prevent cavities and manage your weight, you may be wondering about its other harmful effects.
From joint pain, mood and gut issues, yeast infection and acne to the immune system, obesity, diabetes and heart disease risk, sugar affects the body. Even with all its unhealthy effects, Americans consume about 66 pounds of added sugar each year. (1) The sugar habit starts early. A 2018 study found that 99 percent of two-year-olds consume too much sugar. (2)
How Sugar Affects The Body
Some sugar results are immediate, others are cumulative. For example, your hormones, immunity and neurochemicals that affect mood are affected by sugar. Here are 6 ways sugar affects the body.
What Does Sugar Do To The Body?
When you eat a lot of sugar, your blood sugar rises. The hormone insulin helps maintain proper blood sugar levels. However, after a while, your body can become resistant to insulin signals. Enter insulin resistance which predicts type 2 diabetes. It is not limited to that. Fatty liver, heart disease and polycystic ovary syndrome are also possible when insulin resistance is at play.
Another hormone, cortisol, is affected by sugar intake. Consuming too much sugar can affect the adrenal glands, increase cortisol and increase the central nervous system. This increase in visceral fat may also contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. (3)
Sugar is a fattening food. Infection drives the immune system and chronic disease. Too much sugar in your blood creates free radicals. They damage your cells and can trigger an inflammatory immune response. What may start as an immune response can turn into a full-blown autoimmune disease.
If you choose foods that are high in refined sugar, you are not getting enough nutritious foods. Fatty, processed foods can even rob your body of nutrients from the healthy foods you eat. (4) Nutrients that may be affected by high-sugar foods include: vitamin D, chromium, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C.
You’re Sweet Enough Already!
Sugar affects your brain’s chemical messages. Sweets and refined sugar drinks can contribute to depression symptoms. (5) Wheat sugar increases dopamine levels. Finally, your body needs large amounts of sugar to get the same positive response. Eating sugar makes you crave more. Thus begins the vicious cycle.
By consuming too much sugar, dopamine levels decrease and symptoms of depression may occur. One study showed that consumption of commercial baked goods and fast food increased the rate of depression by 38 percent. (6)
A study of 49,000 women over the age of 8 found that consuming too much sugar and refined grains increased the risk of depression. (7) On the other hand, eating more fruits and vegetables rich in fiber reduces the risk. Also, a study of men over the age of 22 found that people who consumed more than 67 grams of sugar a day were 23 percent more likely to develop depression than those who consumed 40 grams and less. (8)
The health of the skin is a reflection of the overall health of the body. Sugar not only contributes to acne, it can also damage collagen, the protein that gives your skin its structure. When sugar binds to proteins in your blood, it forms molecules called glycation end products (AGEs). In fact, your skin may look a little older because AGEs cause wrinkles, as well as an increased risk of insulin resistance, diabetes, and heart disease. (9)
Your Brain On Sugar: What The Science Actually Says
One in four people in the United States has heart disease. Sugar puts stress on heart tissue and can lead to heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular disease. (10) Cutting out sugar can lower your risk of heart disease and blood pressure.
In a 15-year study, researchers found that the more sugar participants eat, the higher the risk of heart disease. Those who ate 25 percent of their daily calories from sugar were twice as likely to die from heart disease as those who ate 10 percent or less. (11)
Note, this is not an exhaustive list. Sugar can play a role in liver health, candida overgrowth, gut health, cognitive decline, and cancer. It increases triglyceride levels and weight gain. Excess sugar in the body turns into triglycerides and accumulates in fat cells.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams (6 teaspoons) of sugar a day for women and less than 38 grams (9 teaspoons) for men. (12)
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With about 9 teaspoons of sugar in a 12-ounce can of regular soda, you can see how easy it is to exceed the recommended limit.
For children, the amount depends on age, from 12-25 grams (3-6 teaspoons). However, this is the upper limit. It is important to remember that what your body needs to thrive may mean eating less sugar.
About 74 percent of packaged foods contain added sugar. (13) These added sugars—those not found naturally in whole foods but added in processing and preparation—can be found even in seemingly healthy options. Fruit juices, salad dressings, yogurt, applesauce, and peanut butter may contain added sugar.
However, some of the biggest culprits for the high amounts of sugar in the American diet are: soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks. These sugary drinks account for more than a third of the sugar we consume in the United States. (14)
Negative Effects Of Sugar On Kids And How To Avoid It
Of course, these common foods that are loaded with sugar are also a problem when they sometimes become more than just food: cookies, cakes, pies, pastries, ice cream, frozen yogurt, candy, and sugary cereals.
Your body and mind may adapt to high levels of added sugar and may even experience withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and irritability when consumption is reduced. However, this is not a reason to consume large amounts of sugar.
If you’re ready to take your health to the next level and avoid the dangers of added sugar, consider these strategies:
Learn more sugar words. Added sugars have different names such as: brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, sucrose and turbinado sugar. , just to name a few.
What Sugar Does To Your Body
Become a nutrition label sleuth. First, check the ingredients list. The higher the sugar on the list, the more sugar is added to the product. Next, look at the added sugar line on food packages to make sure you’re within the appropriate limit of no less than 10 percent of your total daily calories from sugar.
Our gut bugs affect appetite and can change our taste buds, hunger cues, and food preferences. Sauerkraut, kimchi and coconut water kefir are natural probiotic alternatives. Also eat prebiotic sources such as onions and leeks. Work with one of our doctors to correct colon growth.
Consider giving up added sugar for a while to reset your cravings and dopamine response. Allow yourself to struggle by recognizing the addictive properties of sugar. When the cravings hit, try herbal tea, water with fresh fruit, or even take a walk around to calm your mind.
A health coach can provide additional support and help you develop a personal game plan when cravings strike, and can help you follow sugar labels, such as office vending machines.
How Diabetes Affects Your Body [infographic]
Low-glycemic, high-fiber foods with protein and healthy fats can help stabilize blood sugar and increase satiety.
Low blood sugar can make you irritable and “hungry.” By focusing on foods and snacks that are rich in protein and fat, you can avoid blood sugar crashes. Consider fresh vegetables and guacamole, hard-boiled eggs, peanut butter or a few mixed nuts and seeds. Amino acids found in lean proteins such as turkey may support the mood symptoms of sugar withdrawal.
Incorporate daily self-care habits to reduce stress levels. When stress levels are high, cortisol rises and you may crave sweet, comfort food. Instead, turn to activities and practices that bring you joy and peace. Time in nature, a brisk jog, yoga, your favorite tunes or a relaxing facial or massage can help calm you down and you need to avoid sugary cravings. Mindfulness-based practices can also help beat stress.
Choose fruit when you want something sweet. When you cut down on sugar, you might be surprised how much sweeter things like fresh berries and even nuts can taste. Turn sweet fruit into a natural dessert at night. Giving your body time to adjust blood sugar levels can prevent you from overeating when attending parties and special events.
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Certain vitamins and minerals support healthy blood sugar levels. Stable blood sugar can mean less thirst. For example, magnesium found in greens, avocados and pumpkin seeds can improve insulin sensitivity. (16) It’s important to keep your plate full of anti-inflammatory, natural, unprocessed foods instead of packaged foods.
If you’re ready to reduce inflammation, reset your sugar cravings, and find new health and vitality, you may want to see if the SHAPE Reclaim program might be right for you. What happens to your body when you eat or drink too much sugar? Discover the effects of sugar consumption from head to toe how sugar affects your body’s metabolism. This colorful manuscript is illuminating
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