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The Impact of Excess Sugar on Your Body

It’s common knowledge that consuming too much sugar isn’t healthy, yet most people still overdo it. The average American consumes about 270 calories of added sugars per day, which equates to approximately 17 teaspoons a day. This surpasses the recommended limits of about 12 teaspoons per day or 200 calories.

Main sources of added sugar include sugary drinks, candy, baked goods, and sweetened dairy. Even savory foods like breads, tomato sauce, and protein bars can contain sugar, making it easy to exceed the recommended limits. Added sugars may be difficult to identify on nutrition labels as they can be listed under various names such as corn syrup, agave nectar, palm sugar, cane juice, or sucrose, among others.

Regardless of what it’s called, sugar is sugar, and in excess, it can have a detrimental impact on your health in various ways. Here’s how sugar can affect your body:

Consuming sugar causes your brain to release the feel-good chemical dopamine, leading to cravings for sugary treats.

Whole foods like fruits and vegetables don’t have the same effect on the brain, so your brain starts to crave more sugar to achieve the same feeling of pleasure.

A quick burst of energy, known as a “sugar high,” occurs when consuming sugar and can cause blood sugar levels to rise rapidly. However, once the sugar is absorbed by the cells, blood sugar levels drop, leading to feelings of jitteriness and anxiety, commonly known as a “sugar crash.”

Studies have shown that a high sugar intake is linked to a greater risk of depression in adults. Accordingly, excessive sugar consumption can negatively affect mood and mental health beyond causing energy slumps.

Consuming too much sugar can lead to tooth decay as the bacteria causing cavities thrive on the lingering sugar in the mouth after consuming sweet foods.

Excessive sugar consumption has been shown to worsen joint pain due to the inflammation it causes in the body. Studies indicate that people who consume a lot of sugar are at an increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

Furthermore, inflammation caused by excessive sugar intake may contribute to accelerated skin aging. Sugar attaches to proteins in the bloodstream, creating harmful molecules called AGEs, which damage collagen and elastin in the skin, resulting in wrinkles and saggy skin.

High amounts of sugar typically contain fructose, which can lead to liver damage. It may result in conditions like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), further progressing to cirrhosis.

  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD): This is characterized by excess fat build-up in the liver.
  • Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH): This condition involves fatty liver, inflammation, and scarring of the liver, which can eventually lead to cirrhosis and require a liver transplant.

Excessive sugar intake can also have a negative impact on arteries, causing inflammation, thickening, stiffening, and stress on the heart. This can ultimately lead to heart conditions such as heart failure, heart attacks, and strokes. Research suggests that reducing sugar consumption can help lower blood pressure, a significant risk factor for heart disease.

Consuming excessive amounts of sugar can lead to insulin resistance, causing the pancreas to produce even more insulin. This overworked state can result in elevated blood sugar levels, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

For people with diabetes, excessive sugar intake can lead to kidney damage, negatively impacting their ability to filter waste from the blood, potentially leading to kidney failure.

It’s a well-known fact that higher sugar intake can lead to weight gain. Studies indicate that individuals who consume sugar-sweetened beverages tend to weigh more and have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who don’t. Additionally, excessive sugar can inflame fat cells and cause them to release chemicals that contribute to weight gain.

Sugar may negatively impact the functions needed for achieving and maintaining an erection, particularly for men. It affects the circulatory system, which requires normal blood flow to support erectile function.

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