What are the effects of eating too much sugar on the body?

Sugary foods get a bad rap: From sugary sodas to candies and desserts, we’ve all probably experienced the effects of eating too much sugar and tried to make positive changes to reduce our sugar intake. However, how much sugar is too much? What effects will it have on the body when too much sugar is taken in? We spoke to nutritionists to find out exactly how the body responds to excess sugar.

What is “too much” sugar?

The American Heart Association’s recommended daily sugar intake is 25 grams per day for women and 36 grams per day for men, or about 10 percent of daily calorie intake.

Eating too much sugar can have a variety of side effects in itself and may also be related to consuming too many total calories. Sugar is not an inherently satisfying food, like high-fiber foods like broccoli or high-protein foods like chicken breast. This means you can consume it easily and in large quantities at once.

Health problems caused by eating too much sugar

Consuming too much added sugar can have many negative health effects, share Wanna Jean, MPH, RD, CPT Healthy in one pot. “It can lead to weight gain, visceral fat accumulation and an increased risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death worldwide,” she added.

Other health conditions associated with too much sugar include:

  • obesity
  • inflammation
  • high triglycerides
  • diabetes
  • hypertension
  • heart disease
  • nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

However, eating sugar in moderation can help you satisfy your cravings, enjoy your favorite foods, and still stay healthy. Experts agree that avoiding sugar altogether may not be the most effective solution, but learning how to enjoy sugar as part of your lifestyle while taking your own health into consideration is a better option.

Let’s find out exactly what nutritionists have to say about excess sugar intake and how it affects your body.

1. Your blood sugar rises

Carbohydrates, including sugar, are quickly digested and released into our bloodstream. Sugar is one of the smallest carbohydrate molecules, so they quickly enter our bloodstream and cause blood sugar to rise. Over time, increased dietary sugar intake can cause blood sugar to rise, putting a person at risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.

RELATED: The 9 Worst Foods for High Blood Sugar

2. Your blood pressure will rise

Salt tends to get all the bad press here, but an increase in sugar in the diet has also been linked to increased blood pressure. This may be due to the quality of your diet, if you eat a lot of sugar, you may not be eating a lot of other healthy foods. This may also be due to elevated blood sugar directly affecting our blood pressure. When our blood sugar rises, so does our blood pressure.

3. You may experience mental health changes

Too much sugar intake can have negative effects on mood and mental health, Katie Drakeford, MA, RD, CSP, LD tell us. In addition to physical symptoms such as blood sugar fluctuations and elevated cortisol levels, which lead to an energy “crash” and then feeling irritable, tired, or even sad, there are also links to excess sugar and symptoms of depression. The Centers for Disease Control says sugary drinks, especially soda, may be linked to mental health challenges.

RELATED: 10 Foods That May Cause “Brain Fog”

4. You may notice weight gain and increased appetite

Excessive sugar intake, especially from sugary drinks, is associated with weight gain and an increased likelihood of obesity. This means drinking soda more frequently may lead to weight gain and affect your health over time. This makes sense because these beverage sources are “empty calories” that are easily consumed in excess and fail to keep us full.

5. You are at greater risk of heart disease

Sugar can cause micro-abrasions in the arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease. Over time, these tiny scratches can “trap” particles such as cholesterol, which can become stuck and build up. This process of plaque formation, also known as atherosclerosis, is a major risk factor for heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

6. Your liver will accumulate more fat

In a calorie surplus, sugar is digested over time and stored as body fat. Excess fat in the body is associated with increased deposits of fatty liver disease, also known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD is also linked to a range of health problems, increasing your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Related: Do You Have Belly Fat or Bloating?this is the difference

6. You may notice hormonal changes

Hormone-related conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can be affected by diet and lifestyle choices. In particular, there appears to be a strong link between insulin resistance and PCOS symptom management. As a PCOS nutritionist, Beth Berger, RDN, CDN Shares her work with women suffering from blood sugar issues and how excess sugar affects their hormones. “Moderate sugar intake can greatly improve the hormonal balance in our bodies,” she explains.

7. You may be at greater risk of certain cancers

Says, in perhaps one of the scariest statistics, excessive sugar intake may increase the risk of cancer Lisa Andrews, MD, RD, MD. A 2020 study showed that added sugars in desserts, dairy products and drinks may increase this risk, especially breast cancer risk.

Remember, dietary guidelines recommend keeping sugar intake to less than 10% of daily calories. This means you can enjoy your favorite foods in moderation, but you need to be careful about the options you choose.

RELATED: 7 Signs You’re Eating Too Much Sugar

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