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How Much Sugar Is Too Much: Sugar’s Effect On Your Body

by Tatiana Alcazar

November 20, 2019

How much sugar is too much
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Sugar is known as the ‘silent killer’ and for a good reason. Consuming too much  is proven to increase your risk of many fatal medical conditions.

But how much is too much? How can you cut down on sugar consumption?

We have rounded up a list of the most common diseases and conditions associated with excess sugar consumption, and how to reduce it.

You may think twice about satisfying your sweet tooth after reading this article! 

Firstly, What is Sugar?

Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that tastes sweet. It is easy for your body to break down and use as energy. There are several different types of sugar including lactose, glucose, fructose, and sucrose.

Some types are naturally occurring, like the sugar found in an apple or sweet potato. These are safe to consume in the correct amounts. 

However, added sugars, like those found in junk food and soda’s, are what causes health conditions like those listed below.

Excess Body Fat 

Obesity rates around the world are on the rise. This is thought to be caused by the added sugar in processed foods and drinks.

Many foods and beverage companies add fructose to their products. Researchers found that fructose increased hunger and food cravings, more so than glucose, the main sugar found in starchy foods.

Further, research has shown that people who consume sugary drinks are more likely to weigh more than people who don’t.

Consuming sugary drinks is also linked to retaining visceral fat. This is a fat that surrounds your vital organs like your heart, liver, kidneys and is associated with heart disease and diabetes.

Increased Risk of Heart Disease

Heart disease is the number one killer around the world, and yes, it has been linked with excess sugar consumption. 

Heart disease, caused by excess sugar, develops when fatty deposits block the blood vessels in your heart.

Lowers Your Energy 

Foods that have added sugar initially spike your blood sugar levels, giving you an energy boost. But once your body has processed that sugar, your blood sugar drops rapidly, leaving you with no energy.

These highs and lows in blood sugar are proven to affect the energy levels in humans. 

Increased Risk of Type II Diabetes 

Your body has to process the highs and lows described above. It does this by producing insulin. If you consume too much regularly, you can develop insulin resistance and insulin no longer does its job in your body.

Diabetes is a dangerous disease if left undiagnosed and can be fatal.  

Increased Risk of Depression 

The highs and lows of sugar consumption don’t stop at your blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels are directly related to mood levels. Ensure you consume a healthy, balanced diet, free from added sugar to keep your mood stable and mental health in check. 

Increased Risk of Cancer

As we have already discussed, excess sugar consumption is linked to obesity. Unfortunately, obesity increases the risk of cancer. 

Consuming processed foods also increases your cancer risk, especially cancers of the digestive tract (bowel cancer, stomach cancer, esophageal cancer, etc.).

Makes Acne Worse

High sugar consumption inflames acne. High blood sugar levels release androgen’s, increase oil production, and increase skin inflammation. These factors all contribute to acne.

A study conducted on rural populations vs. urban populations showed non-existent rates of acne amongst the rural community in comparison to those living in urban areas.

This was put down to diet, where the rural communities normally ate from their farm with minimally processed foods. On the other hand, the urban community regularly consumed sugary and processed foods. 

How Much Sugar is too Much? 

There is no simple answer to this question. It depends on your weight, underlying health conditions, and other factors.

As a general rule of thumb, men should not consume more than 37.5 grams of added sugars. Women should not consume more than 25 grams of added sugar per day.

It only takes 1 sugary drink to put you over the recommended limit for the day. While an occasional sugary drink is unlikely to cause a healthy person much harm, the less added sugar you consume, the better your health will be.

There is no requirement to consume any added sugars, your body just simply doesn’t need it. 

How to Reduce Your Sugar Intake

The easiest way to reduce your sugar intake is to cut out processed foods from your diet. Eat foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. If you need a sweet kick in your morning coffee, opt for no-cal sweetener instead.

Cut down your alcohol intake and opt for liquors with diet soda instead of sugary cider, for example. Be careful with sauces and condiments, they are often packed with added sugar!

Breakfast cereals are also full of sugar, and a bowl of whole oats is a healthier alternative.

If you prepare all your meals at home, you can control the ingredients and avoid sugars.

Eliminate Sugar from Your Diet Today

Now you know the answer to ‘how much sugar is too much?’. Remember that consuming a small amount of added sugar can lead to cravings for more sugary foods. The best thing to combat your cravings is to eliminate it from your diet altogether. 

Fill your body with whole grains, meats, fish, fruits and vegetables to manage hunger and improve your health.

We are here to help so for more advice on nutrition, check out the other articles on our blog.

Sources:

  1. Luo, Shan. "Differential effects of fructose versus glucose on brain and appetitive responses to food cues and decisions for food rewards." NCBI, 4 May, 2014https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4443321/
  2. VS, Malik. "Sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain in children and adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis." NCBI, 21 Aug. 2013, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23966427
  3. MC, Amato. "Body composition assessment for the definition of cardiometabolic risk." NCBI, 23 Apr. 2013, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23612318
  4. Pagidipati, Neha Jadeja. "Estimating Deaths From Cardiovascular Disease: A Review of Global Methodologies of Mortality Measurement." NCBI, 12 Feb. 2013, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3712514/
  5. O'Reilly, Gillian A. "Effects of high sugar and high fiber meals on physical activity behaviors in Latino and African American adolescents." NCBI, 10 Aug. 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4551584/
  6. Weatherspoon, Deborah Ph. D., R.N, CRNA. "How does diabetes affect mood and relationships?" MedicalNewsToday, 24 May 2019, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317458.php 
  7. De Pergola, Giovanni. "Obesity as a Major Risk Factor for Cancer." NCBI, 29 Aug. 2013, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3773450/
  8. Campbell, Christine E. "The blemishes of modern society?" NCBI, 20 Sept. 2016, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5046992/

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About the author 

Tatiana Alcazar  -  A software engineer, former IBMer, co-founder of Naravis Corporation and a mom, with a passion for finding the solution and root cause to everything that comes across, including health. It has been a long journey since founding Naravis and trying to find solutions to my leaky gut syndrome and pursue natural health. Throughout this journey I have learned an enormous amount of information (acquired knowledge) and I feel it's my duty to share my knowledge and my experience with you.

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