Sugar is a compulsory element of everyone's daily diet. But have you ever measured the amount of sugar you consume on a daily basis? Dessert might be your favourite part of the meal but it increases your sugar intake tremendously. All the delicacies like cakes, cookies, chocolates, brownies, donuts and many more are all loaded with sugar. You might have heard the bad effects of consuming too much sugar. It puts you at an increased risk of diabetes, heart diseases and other chronic illnesses. There are some clear signs that your body gives when you are consuming too much sugar. These warning signs can be a red signal for you to reduce your sugar intake. Read on to know such signs which indicate that you are consuming too much sugar.
Eating too much sugar can harm your health in various ways
Signs you are consuming too much sugar
1. Poor skin health
Sugar can be the actual reason behind the skin conditions you are experiencing. Acne is the most common skin condition you might experience if you are consuming too much sugar. High sugar intake triggers secretion of androgen which results in acne. It also contributes to excess oil production and inflammation. So, do not blame your skin care routine and keep a check on your sugar consumption for healthy skin.
2. You are tired all the time
If you feel that you do not have enough energy to complete your day-to-day tasks then you can blame your sugar intake. An increased level of sugar in your diet can drop your energy levels. When you consume foods high in sugar your energy level goes up suddenly which is followed by a sudden drop of energy. Since most foods high in sugar are nutrition deficit, the energy level does not last for longer. You can experience difficulty in completing your workout session and other daily chores.
3. Constant high blood pressure
Not just salt, sugar can spike your blood pressure as well. Various studies have highlighted the effect of sugar on blood pressure. You must control your sugar intake to avoid hypertension. Hypertension is also a leading cause of cardiovascular diseases.
4. Weight gain
This is the most common side effect of consuming too much sugar. Your high sugar intake can make it difficult for you to fit into your jeans. A lot of people completely avoid sugar to lose weight. So check the amount of sugar you are consuming to avoid those extra pounds around your belly.
5. You are hungry all the time
Due to the lack of nutrients in sugary items, you may feel hungry all the time. Lack of fibre and other nutrients will make you eat more to satisfy your stomach. This also contributes to weight gain. You will also feel the need to consume more sugar at times.
6. Weight Gain
If you’re consuming a lot of extra calories through added sugars, increased hunger is one of the first signs. “[Sugar] is satisfying to the taste buds, but it doesn’t really satisfy or fill our stomachs,” Keri Stoner-Davis, RDN, who works at Lemond Nutrition in Plano, Texas.
Without protein, fiber, and healthy fats, which most processed snacks and sugary treats lack, the body burns through sugar quickly and ramps up hunger, which can lead to mindless and even compulsive snacking, Cording says.
If you’re feeling moody, irritable, or on edge, stress may not be the only reason — it could be a sign that you’re eating too much sugar.
A study published in January 2020 in the journal Medical Hypotheses suggests that eating added sugars can promote inflammation, worsen mood, and lead to symptoms of depression.
A high-sugar meal or snack without protein and fat quickly spikes your blood sugar, but as your body rushes to process all of it, your energy levels crash, making you feel sluggish and irritable, Cording says.
Also, when there’s low glucose in the bloodstream because your insulin levels have spiked after eating a lot of added sugar, levels of blood glucose in the brain decrease as well. “Our brains are absolutely critically dependent on having a normal level of blood sugar to fuel them,” Li says.
The important thing is to pay attention when you’re feeling off. For example, if you start to feel irritable an hour after you eat a snack or at the same time every day, excess sugar could be to blame. “If you notice that’s happening to you a lot, it’s a good opportunity to take a look at what you’re eating,” Cording says.
8. Foods Don’t Taste Sweet Enough
If you’ve noticed that foods don’t taste as sweet as they used to, or if you need to add sugar to foods to make them taste good (think: dusting your cereal with brown sugar), it could be that you’re getting too much sugar to begin with.
If you’re trying to make healthier choices, say by switching from flavored yogurt to plain yogurt, the difference will be more noticeable.
“You train your brain to expect a very high level of sweetness, and when you’re used to that, it can be harder to feel satisfied with foods that are less sweet because you’re primed to expect the high sweet levels,” Cording says.
If you’re replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners in your diet, you may also want to give it a second thought. “A lot of these sugar substitutes are so much sweeter than actual sugar so it tricks our brains into expecting this insanely high level of sweetness,” Cording says. This can increase sugar cravings overall.
9. Cravings for Sweets
If you’re craving sweets, you may be addicted to the feel-good effects that sugar has on your brain. Sugar targets the brain’s pleasure center (called the mesocorticolimbic pathway), triggering a rise in the so-called "happy hormone" dopamine, Cording says.
This pathway in the brain plays a significant role in the food choices we make, including affecting cravings for sugar.
Put simply, eating sugar increases dopamine, and the dopamine rise itself can increase cravings for sugar, leading to a vicious cycle, according to research.
The good news is that focusing on small meals and snacks comprised of real, whole foods, and eating regularly, can help those cravings improve, Stoner-Davis says.
10. Joint Pain
If you notice pain in your joints, it may not be age alone.
According to a survey published in December 2017 in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, among the 24 percent of respondents who had rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and said food affected their symptoms, soda and desserts were most commonly cited.
Research shows that regularly consuming sugar-sweetened soda is associated with an increased risk of RA in some women, including those with late-onset RA.
Consuming too much sugar can lead to systemic inflammation, which may lead to joint pain, Cording says. That said, there are several causes of joint pain, she adds, so improving your diet by cutting back on the sweet stuff may not be a magic bullet.
11. Sleep Issues
If you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep, you may want to take stock of what you’re eating.
According to a study of 300 university students published in August 2019 in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, poor sleep quality is significantly related to higher consumptions of added sugars.
Our sleep cycles and the quality of sleep are regulated by the light and the temperature of the room, as well as glycemic control. “For someone who is chronically consuming excessive amounts of added sugar, it can absolutely mess with their sleep cycle and sleep quality,” Cording says.
12. Digestive Issues
If you’re having stomach pain, cramping, or diarrhea, there may be many causes to blame, and your doctor can help you get to the bottom of your symptoms. Too much sugar, a known gut irritant, is one of the possible culprits, Cording says.
Plus, for those with underlying health conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis, or for those who have had stomach surgery, sugar can also exacerbate gastrointestinal symptoms, Stoner-Davis says.
If high-sugar foods are replacing fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which offer fiber, constipation can be a problem, too.
13. Brain Fog
Problems with mental clarity, focus and concentration, and memory could be a result of consuming too many added sugars.
Although glucose is the brain’s primary source of fuel, excess amounts can cause hyperglycemia, or high blood glucose levels, and have an inflammatory effect in the brain and a negative impact on cognitive function and mood, Cording says.
According to research, impairments with information-processing speed, working memory, and attention were found in people with type 2 diabetes who had hyperglycemia.
Research suggests the same is true for those without diabetes. A study that found high blood glucose has a negative impact on cognition, including decreases in delayed recall, learning ability, and memory consolidation.
The bacteria in our mouths like to feed on simple sugars, so if your dentist is finding more cavities, or if you’ve been diagnosed with gum disease, it could be that you’re eating too much added sugar, Stoner-Davis says.
15. Premature Ageing
Excessive sugar consumption can cause long-term damage to skin proteins, collagen and elastin, leading to premature wrinkles and ageing. Too much sugar could also contribute to an imbalance of the female menstrual hormones which could result in acne along the jaw line. Sugar is also the favourite food of less desirable gut bacteria and yeast, and consuming too much could lead to an imbalanced gut flora and inflammation in the body, typically seen in skin conditions such as eczema.
Although cutting back on added sugars is a good idea, if you’re going to consume a high-sugar food, swish water around your mouth afterward or eat it with foods like carrots or milk, which protect the teeth and provide a coating, Stoner-Davis says.
According to research, consuming milk and dairy products, apples, cranberries, tea, peanuts, and high-fiber foods may help prevent cavities, but more research is needed.
Less desirable bacteria and yeast produce gases when they ferment our undigested food in the colon. Bad bacteria particularly love eating sugars, whereas beneficial bifidobacteria, who love veggies, are not believed to produce any gas. An overproduction of gas can lead to pain after eating, uncomfortable bloating and flatulence.
How to reduce sugar consumption?
Not just in sweet treats, sugar is hidden in many other non-sugary items. Hence, you must try to control your direct sugar intake. Some ways to control sugar cravings may include:
- You should eat small meals at regular intervals to keep yourself full
- Add food rich in fibre to your diet
- Be careful about the different sources of sugar
- Swap unhealthy sugary items with healthier options
- Avoid processed food are they are loaded with sugar
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day