As bad as it can be for our bodies, sugar makes food taste better, and it’s in practically everything. Read the label on your loaf of bread or jar of pasta sauce, and you’ll probably find some form of it as an ingredient.
Overloading on sugar on a daily basis can affect your health adversely, and we’re not just talking about diabetes. The American Heart Association’s recommendations for sugar intake is 9 teaspoons (36 grams) for men and 6 teaspoons (25 grams) for women. Most people eat at least three times those amounts.
Naturally-occurring sugars found in fruit and/or milk aren’t necessarily what’s putting people in the danger zone, but the amount of added sugars in sweets, drinks, cereals, and other items you eat are not doing you much good.
That morning muffin? It can probably compete with a slice of cake or an ice cream cone in terms of sugar load, explaining why you feel the way you do before lunch— and after.
Your yogurt and granola bar aren’t exempt from being a candy bar’s cousin either. But there are ways to tell if you’re consuming too much.
Below are some of the signs your body gives you when you’re eating way past “enough” sugar.
Having trouble with focus, concentration, and remembering things? Refined sugars cause fluctuations in your blood sugar levels, resulting in brain fog and/or mental confusion. If you drop the extra sugar, you’ll notice a change in your cognitive function.
Sugar hangovers are real. A spike in your blood sugar levels can cause blood vessels in the brain to constrict, leading to headaches.
Excess sugar in the gut feeds yeast and bad bacteria. That fermented food and gut imbalance leads to bloating, constipation, IBS symptoms, and flatulence.
Experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression isn’t uncommon as your system constantly crashes and jumpstarts from sugar intake. That’s in addition to feeling just plain old cranky— in between your feelings of sunshiny bliss.
Your blood sugar levels are directly linked to your energy levels, so a diet that’s high in sugar and empty calories will inevitably lead to quick energy bursts and longer-lasting burnouts. You’ll feel tired and sluggish often unless you cut down on sugars and eat more protein and whole foods.
Too much sugar in your personal food pyramid can be behind more pimples and other skin ailments. Watch out for the sweet stuff as well as foods with a high glycemic index. Sugar can trigger acne through increased sebum production and by interfering with your hormones.
Like a drug, sugar can constantly make you crave more and more foods to keep the “high” going. It plays a role in releasing dopamine and if you feel like eating again soon after a meal or snack, your addiction is probably kicking in.
It tastes good going down but once the crash happens, you don’t feel full and are hungry again. Many times, you want something sweet to curb the craving.
Here are some of the ways sugar is disguised on labels:
- Brown sugar
- Corn syrup
- Invert sugar
- High fructose corn syrup
- Cane juice
It’s not always baked goods or your typical sweets that are the culprits, so be sure to read labels on your other staples like sauces, rice, and processed foods.
Are you a bit of a sugar junkie? Were you aware that sugar could be behind some of your physical struggles? Have you ever tried weaning off of it?