How Too Much Sugar Negatively Affects The Body

Katrina Nillas
Katrina Nillas

Katrina Nillas is a Registered Nurse and Professional Writer. She has built a career creating educational materials for both patients and healthcare professionals.

Over the years, sugar has earned a bittersweet reputation. Yet, despite being linked to ruining a well-balanced diet, sugar is still essential for our survival. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires food manufacturers to list all ingredients, but not all added sugars are the same. According to the University of California in San Francisco, sugar can hide under 61 different food labels, deceiving people with little knowledge. 

Fortunately, this article will help you learn more about sugar and how more than the recommended amount can affect your body. Learning to manage your diet prior to the onset of disease is essential in avoiding the need for life saving treatments.

How vital is sugar to the body?

Sugar (glucose) is a carbohydrate that the body processes naturally. The body uses sugar for energy. Sugar supplies the brain, muscles, nervous system, and other organs the energy they need for survival. Essentially, sugar plays a vital role for the body’s organs to function correctly. 

The body has a natural feedback mechanism that releases insulin when high sugar levels are present in the blood stream. Insulin sequesters glucose in cells when the sugar levels are too high in the blood stream. 

To achieve homeostasis, the body’s insulin must be at healthy levels. On the other hand, too little insulin can also lead to developing diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes is a chronic and long-lasting disease.

When the sugar levels in the body are sufficient, any excess will be stored as glycogen in the livers and muscles. Once the glycogen is stored, it will only be used when existing sugar levels in the blood stream have been depleted. 

What are unhealthy sugars?

Unhealthy sugars contribute to weight gain and obesity. They are high in calories and are usually found in juices, sodas, and processed foods. Avoiding consumption of unhealthy sugars is the key to maintaining a healthier lifestyle. 

How much sugar is okay?

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends nine teaspoons (38 grams) of added sugar per day for men and six teaspoons (25 grams) for women. Anything that exceeds those amounts is already considered excessive for the average adult. For children, the average sugar intake varies depending on their age and caloric needs, but it is usually between 3-6 teaspoons (12-25 grams) per day.

10 Ways Sugar Negatively Affect Your Body 

Other than obesity, overconsumption of sugar also causes other dangers. Some of these dangers include: 

1. Sugar causes dental problems. 

Even when we were little children, we were warned that eating too many sweets could lead to cavities. This still stays true throughout our lifespan so limiting the consumption of these cavity-producing sweets is something we should control. 

Based on several studies, sugar has a direct connection to tooth decay. In fact, the consumption of too much sugar is the leading cause of tooth decay. Tooth decay happens because the molecules of sugar will combine with the mouth’s saliva and bacteria, and this combination leads to the presence of plaque. 

When the plaque stays on the teeth for too long, it has the power to dissolve the enamel and leave you with damaged teeth. Tooth decay does not only alter a person’s appearance; it also causes other problems, especially when untreated.

2. Sugar causes a spike in blood glucose levels.

If your glucose levels stay high for too long, the effects can be detrimental to your overall health. The body’s response to dangerous sugar levels include fatigue, headaches, mood swings, unusual thirst, and irresistible cravings that lead to false hunger and set the cycle of sugar addiction. 

Once you know how to control your sugar intake, you will slowly transition to maintaining a healthy weight and a happier life.

3. Sugar increases the risk of heart disease. 

High-sugar diets have been associated with an increase in many diseases, particularly those that involve the heart. Heart disease is the number one cause of death globally. Also, consuming too much sugar may lead to atherosclerosis (a disease characterized by fatty deposits that clog the arteries), inflammation, high triglycerides, and high blood pressure levels. These conditions are all associated with heart disease.

It would be best to avoid foods with added sugar and consume only those from natural sources. For example, one study concluded that those who consumed 17-21% of calories from added sugar had a 38% higher risk of mortality than those who consumed only 8% of calories from added sugar. 

4.  Sugar may increase the risk of diabetes.

Even though type 2 diabetes does not run in your genes, the chances of acquiring it are still possible, especially with today’s lifestyle and eating habits. 

For the past 30 years, the worldwide prevalence of diabetes has continued to rise. Prolonged and excessive sugar consumption increases the risk of insulin resistance, which causes blood sugar levels to rise and result in diabetes.

5. Sugar alters a person’s mood.

According to a study conducted in London, a diet rich in whole food can lower depression while a diet composed of processed and sweetened foods increases the risk. 

Sugar has the power to affect a person’s mood because it is addictive. The intense sweetness activates the brain’s reward center and develops irresistible cravings. However, many people are not aware of the power manifested by sugar in improving or worsening their mood. 

Also, it was revealed that regular consumption of added sugar could lead to anxiety episodes. As a result we must learn how to regulate our sugar consumption and think of the consequences we have to deal with in the long run.

6. Sugar accelerates the skin aging process. 

Some of us are obsessed with the idea of looking young, and if possible, slowing down the skin aging process. While several new methods for skin aging problems continue to be invented, most people fail to look at how a healthy diet can contribute to looking younger.

Poor food choices accelerate the skin aging process. More importantly, this habit worsens the appearance of wrinkles and damages the collagen. Overconsumption of sugar leads to the production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which are responsible for premature skin aging. AGEs lead to the damage of collagen and elastin in the body, and this damage causes the skin to sag and lose its firmness. 

7. Sugar drains the body’s energy.

Consuming too much sugar causes a spike in your body’s blood sugar and insulin levels. This event causes an energy boost in the body, followed by a sudden drop, and eventually, blood sugar swings

When the blood sugar levels are unstable, the body will experience fluctuations of energy levels. It would be best to pair carbohydrates with fat or protein to keep the body’s blood sugar levels stable.

8. Sugar causes a fatty liver. 

When you consume foods with high fructose, you should consider the likelihood of developing a fatty liver. Why? Because the liver is the organ that breaks down fructose. The liver takes care of the stored glycogen and converts it to energy. However, there is a limit to how much glycogen the liver will store. As a result, the body will convert the excess stored energy to fats, resulting in a fatty liver. 

9. Sugar increases the risk of developing gout.

Gout is an inflammatory condition characterized by painful joints. A high-sugar diet increases the risk of developing gout because it raises the body’s uric acid levels in the blood. If you are already diagnosed with gout, then your condition could worsen. Plus, high sugar levels also cause more inflammation in the body, which can be a leading cause of other serious diseases. 

10. Sugar takes the place of essential nutrients.

People who consume too much sugar have the lowest intakes of essential nutrients ( vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium). 

This can be dangerous, mainly because those who generally consume too much sugar are children and teenagers, the individuals who need the nutrients most. As a result, it would be best to choose healthier substitutes when craving sweets.

Signs of High Blood Sugar 

It is crucial to detect elevated blood sugar levels to prevent any risk of diseases that may come after. Be watchful of signs and symptoms of high blood sugar in your body. These may include:

  • Frequent Urination

  • Trouble concentrating 

  • A very dry mouth 

  • Blood sugar level more than 180mg/dL

  • Blurred Vision

  • Headaches

  • Fatigue

  • Nausea and Vomiting

  • Weight loss

If you experience three or more of these signs, it would be best for you to consult your physician. Awareness is the first step to treatment, and early detection plays a very significant role in managing your health. Also, you must control your blood sugar level before it results in irreversible damage. 

5 Ways to Reduce Sugar in the Body

Reducing sugar in your body may be difficult at first because sugar manifests some addictive properties that are challenging to resist. However, with solid discipline and healthy distractions, every step becomes attainable. It may take time for some, but as long as you never give up on trying, and with proper discipline you can receive the benefits of healthy eating.

Here is a list of the most effective ways to reduce your sugar intake:

1. Eat whole foods.

Whole foods are foods that have not undergone refinement or processing. The nutrients remain intact, and they are free of additives and other artificial substances. When you eat whole foods, you are getting rid of 90% of the average added sugars in an American diet. 

Changing your eating habits can be challenging. First, you have to remind yourself that your diet must benefit your lifestyle today and in the years to come. Examples of whole foods include fruits, legumes, vegetables, and whole grains. 

2. Keep yourself hydrated.

Hydration can help you feel full. One of the problems with a high sugar diet is being constantly hungry. As you move off of a high sugar diet, drinking lots of water will help you ignore the cravings.

3. Limit high-sugar foods in the house.

The sight of foods with high sugar content can be very tempting, especially when they are just one shelf away. For example, seeing a sweetened dessert sitting inside the fridge may be an irresistible offer to decline. 

With this being said, it would be best to avoid or limit these items in the house. This technique is fundamental, especially if you are too weak to say no to your cravings. Also, be careful in choosing foods that claim to be healthy but have too much sugar hidden in them.

4. Monitor your blood sugar level.

Awareness is always the first step particularly if you already have diabetes or other dietary related diseases.

Regular monitoring your blood sugar will direct you to the next steps in keeping a healthier lifestyle and habits. It would be best to keep a glucose meter at home for monitoring purposes if your glucose levels have already taken their toll.

5. Get enough sleep.

Sleep is essential for the body to maintain proper hormonal activity, and the lack of sleep may predisposes you to poor food choices. These poor food choices include those higher in sugar, salt, fat, and calories. Higher consumption of added sugar also predisposes you to suffer from insomnia. Getting enough sleep will help you regain control over your struggle in reducing sugar intake. 

Final Thoughts

Consuming foods rich in added sugar is associated with several chronic health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, gout, obesity, and cancer. While it is important to limit obvious foods containing sugar, it would also be best to look at hidden sugar in other foods. Being aware of what you feed your body is a step closer to following healthier eating habits. 

The dangers of too much sugar in your diet are preventable and controllable. Disease prevention should be the goal for individuals regardless of their age. With the right attitude and the determination to change, you can implement proper food management. Also, a range of lifestyle interventions will help you lower your sugar intake, especially when you feel like you are struggling.