Is sugar toxic? It is when you consider how much the average American swallows each year—a whopping 130 pounds of added sugars. That’s about 22 teaspoons a day, way over the max set by the American Heart Association in 2009. New science shows that this overload of sugar—often stemming from hard-to-detect hidden added sugars—is affecting your body in all sorts of strange ways.
Put simply, the human body isn’t designed to ingest a large amount of sugar. This relatively recent explosion in the amount of sugar consumption has created a health epidemic that affects millions of individuals.
Of course, myriad adverse health symptoms have proliferated along with sugar intake. While symptoms understandably vary from person to person, there are a number of common side effects from ingesting too much sugar. We’ll discuss a few of them in this article.
HERE ARE 7 SIGNS THAT YOUR BODY IS IN “SUGAR SHOCK”:
1. SPURTS OF WEIGHT GAIN
As we’ve discussed, sugar is a catalyst to weight gain. It increases blood sugar levels, which in turn primes our body to store more fat. Furthermore, sugar does little to nothing to create satiety, or feelings of fullness. The result is we consume more food and store more fat.
2. SUGAR HAMMERS YOUR HEART
You might expect sugar-curbing recommendations from the American Diabetes Association, thanks to sugar’s clear impact on the disease. But the reality is that heart disease and diabetes are intricately related: Heart disease and stroke are the number one causes of death among people with type 2 diabetes, accounting for 65% of those deaths.
Sugar Smart Tip: Don’t exceed the American Heart Association’s recommended sugar levels, which are 5 teaspoons for women (20 grams); 9 teaspoons for men (36 grams); and 3 teaspoons (12 grams) for children. For reference, a can of soda generally contains up to 12 grams of sugar; a single slice of whole wheat bread contains up to 2 teaspoons of added sugars.
3. FEELING LETHARGIC
Similar to caffeine on a smaller scale, sugar can stimulate our nervous system. This stimulation is short-term and leads to a “crash” that indicative of sugar’s suppressive effect on our metabolic system. Known as “reactive hypoglycemia,” a glucose (sugar) crash creates sudden feelings of fatigue after consuming a large amount of complex carbs.
4. IT LEADS TO TYPE 3 DIABETES
Brown University neuropathologist Suzanne de la Monte, MD, coined the term “type 3 diabetes” after her team was the first to discover the links between insulin resistance, high-fat diets, and Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, her work suggests Alzheimer’s is a metabolic disease, one in which the brain’s ability to use glucose and produce energy is damaged. To paraphrase, it’s like having diabetes in the brain.
Sugar Smart Tip: Know sugar’s many names. Check labels; ingredients that end in –ose are sugar, and so is anything with sugar or syrup after the name. Don’t overindulge in sugary, fatty foods—that seems to be what sets off Alzheimer’s-like symptoms in rat studies.
5. LIVER PROBLEMS
Similar to alcohol’s effect, sugar can wreak havoc on our liver function. Known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), excessive intake of sugar over a long duration of time can irreparably damage this vital organ. Interestingly, sugar metabolizes in the liver the same way that alcohol does. As such, this can lead to fatty liver, insulin resistance and abnormal fat levels in the blood.
6. SUGAR PROMOTES CHOLESTEROL CHAOS
There is an unsettling connection between sugar and cholesterol. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that, after excluding people with high cholesterol and/or diabetes and people who were highly overweight, those who ate the highest levels of added sugars experienced the biggest spike in bad cholesterol levels and dangerous triglyceride blood fats, and the lowest good (HDL) cholesterol levels. One theory? Sugar overload could spark your liver to churn out more bad cholesterol while also inhibiting your body’s ability to clear it out.
Sugar Smart Tip: Eat a protein-rich breakfast. Skipping breakfast makes you 4.5 times more likely to become obese. Eating breakfast also helps keep your blood sugar levels more favorable. An added perk? One study found that when overweight women chose protein-rich eggs over a bagel, they naturally ate about 160 fewer calories during the subsequent lunch.
7. OTHER, UNEXPLAINABLE HEALTH ISSUES
Granted, this last one is very broad. But the truth is that excessive intake of sugar is toxic. Anytime that a toxic substance is introduced into the complex entity that is the human body, countless health problems can surface. This is the result of sugar directly or indirectly producing systematic, harmful responses in the body.
Many people diagnosed with diabetes visit the doctor with no other complaint than feelings of tiredness. Sugar can be the root cause of anything from obesity to impaired vision, from headaches to insomnia. The only way to truly know for certain is to eliminate or severely restrict the amount of sugar that you ingest on a daily basis.
If nothing else, our bodies and minds will become much, much healthier as a result.