Have a crazy sweet tooth? Don’t we all. Having some sugar in your diet is fine, and even recommended. In fact, the American Heart Association says men can have a maximum of 150 calories of added sugar per day (which equals out to 37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons) and women should have 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons).
But most of us eat way more than that. The average American consumes 19.5 teaspoons (82 grams) every day, which translates into about 66 pounds of added sugar consumed each year, per person. Holy sugar!
It makes sense, considering how much sugar is added to food these days. Take the obvious sugary foods: a 12-ounce can of coca cola has 140 of its calories from sugar, and a normal sized Snickers bar contains 120 calories from sugar.
But sugar can hide in anything from tomato sauce to salad dressing and peanut butter as well, so it can really rack up even when you don’t realize it. And too much sugar can have some not-so-fun side effects on your health.
Here are some signs you might be consuming too much of the sweet stuff:
There’s lots of evidence that eating too much sugar can cause you to put on some pounds. One study in particular published in BMJ studied that people who ate less sugar lost an average of 1.8 pounds during the course of the study, while people who increased their sugar intake gained 1.7 pounds.
Glucose, which is a form of sugar, is your main source of energy. That’s why you might notice when you eat something sugary, you might get a burst of energy. The problem with this is, once that cycle ends, you might crash and you’re left feeling drained. Instead of eating sugar for energy, try healthy fats, such as nuts, avocados, or coconut.
Ever hear a parent tell a child they can’t have a lollipop because it’ll rot their teeth? There’s truth to this. While there are numerous studies done on this, like this study, published in the Journal of Dentistry: Researchers found that drinking just 1–2 sugar-sweetened beverages a day was linked to a 31 percent higher risk of cavities. On the same, but a more positive note, scaling back your sugar intake to less than 10 percent of your daily calories lowers your tooth decay risk, according to a study published in the Journal of Dental Research.
Consuming too much sugar can wreak havoc on your skin, according to research. The insulin boost that sugar can give you can cause an increase in your oil glands, which can cause anything from a few small pimples to a full-on breakout. Sugar is also an inflammatory so eating too much of it can cause early wrinkles and make it look as if you’re aging.
Bloat and digestion issues
If you’re eating a lot of sugar and then feeling kinda puffy or not able to digest food well, then you might have a fructose intolerance. Three out of four people with unexplained gastrointestinal symptoms (including bloating) had fructose intolerance in a University of Iowa study.
Ever hear someone say they have a sugar hangover? That’s a real thing! A UCLA study showed how eating too much fructose can slow the brain, which can cause that foggy feeling, and even affect your memory and learning. Additionally, the rise and drops in glucose can trigger headaches (similar to how it can cause energy highs and lows).
If you’re feeling particularly blue lately, you might be able to chalk that up to too much sugar. A long-term study found that sugar intake from sweet food and beverages was linked with depressive symptoms. Additionally, a study published in the Journal Public Health Nutrition found that eating processed pastries, such as muffins, doughnuts, and croissants (which are filled with added sugar) resulted in more depressive symptoms.
Muscle and joint painTipHero
We know that sugar can cause inflammation—and most forms of muscle and joint pain involve inflammation. It can also causes you to feel achy, stuff, or just plain out of sorts. So if you’re not working out, but are feeling pretty sore, sugar could be to blame.
Cravings for more
Sugar has addictive qualities—so it only makes sense that the more you eat, the more you want. But if you can tone it down each day for a few weeks, you’ll no longer crave it. Step it down slowly: For example, only add one sugar to your coffee instead of two, and then eventually none. The longer you can go without it, the more you won’t crave it anymore.
Do you have any of these symptoms? Did you know sugar could be so harmful? If you have any tips on how you curbed your sugar addiction, we’d love to hear them!