Sugar has a tricky way of turning it into our food, and if we are not careful, too much of it in any form can lead to various health problems. Too much sugar can not only affect our waist, but also negatively affect our blood sugar, energy, mood, intestinal health, and, even worse, can cause you to be more craving. According to the USDA, the average American consumes 90 pounds of sugar per year (this is 1.7 pounds per week and 3.9 ounces or 110 grams per day),
When we consume sugar excessively, as a result, our body cannot understand what to do in excess, and we will seek help from our muscles or liver. If you happen to have just trained and burned a lot of sugar from your muscles or liver as glycogen, your body will try to store the sugar you just consumed in your muscles or liver. When these two options simply cannot cope with excess sugar, overload can have serious consequences for our health:
Inflammation: The blood sugar content exceeding the necessary causes damage to the soft tissues in the body, which causes the production of cholesterol, the strengthening of the walls of arteries and the strengthening of the immune response. Tracking (and limiting) sugar can reduce the body’s internal load, so it can shift its regenerative energies to maintain the stability of other life stressors (or, better yet, to improve health or performance).
Fat Storage: The consumption of sugary foods with a high glycemic index stimulates the production of more insulin, which can lead to the accumulation of fat in the body, and not to its use. Tracking (and limiting) grams of sugar can keep your body in a state of burning fat rather than accumulating fat throughout the day.
Cardiovascular risk: Facts show that high sugar diets lead to inflammation, obesity, and high triglycerides, which are risk factors for heart disease. A study of more than 30,000 people found that people who consumed 17-21% of the calories from the added sugar had a 38% higher risk of dying from heart disease compared to those who consumed only 8% of the added calories sugars.
Diabetes: High sugar diets can lead to insulin resistance, a hormonal background that significantly increases the risk of type II diabetes.
Intestinal problems: Sugar can also irritate our bowel health in several ways. When too much sugar is present in the digestive tract, this can lead to an imbalance in the intestinal microbiome – as this can stimulate the growth of potentially harmful bacteria and limit the health of the beneficial flora. Changing the balance of germs in combination with the potential tissue inflammation observed in high-sugar diets is a recipe for suboptimal digestive health.
The signs you consume too much
Even in our daily lives, excessive sugar consumption can lead to devastating symptoms that can easily be overlooked or considered “normal” things that many of us just live with. If you experience any of the following, this may be a sign that you are consuming too much sugar:
Caffeine Craving: Most often, customers who depend on 2-3 cups of coffee, as a rule, are repeat offenders during the day with soda (diet or regular), cocktails in cafes and energy drinks. Your body is struggling with daytime sleep – this is not just a sign that you are tired. It may happen that your diet needs a break from sweets (especially hidden ones). When you consume sugar, it is quickly digested and quickly raises blood sugar before it drops. This energy disaster leaves your body in trouble and needs insta energy. Enter: caffeine (or crave more sugar). First, drink a glass or two of water first, as this will be your biggest energy boost. If you still need a piquant welcome, tea could be a great option without consequences later. Or you may need some fresh air!
Disturbed sleep: Did you know that your bedtime snack and / or nightcap may be to blame for your midnight trip to the bathroom? When we eat bedtime snacks (especially those that are not balanced with protein and / or healthy fats), our low blood sugar levels are felt at night, and our body’s reaction is to fix them. Therefore, although you may think your bladder has woken you up, you may have been rolled on a roller coaster. The best nightly snacks to help curb calls are berries and heavy cream, cheese and olives or vegetables with hummus or guacamole.
Skin problems: The way your skin reflects your internal health can be displayed in various ways: rash, itchy skin, eczema, psoriasis, urticaria, acne, etc. Instead of going to the next medicine at the beauty counter or at the healthcare aisle, visit your grocery store. The choice of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, antioxidants, and adequate water intake in addition to giving up sugar intake may just be your ticket to lighten your complexion.
Infinite Sweet Tooth: This may be typical: “I crave sweets ALL day!” Or maybe you recently noticed that your taste buds do not seem to work on all cylinders, and products that were once filled with aroma just taste like that yourself now. This over-exposure leads to increased cravings and the need for more sugar to make the taste “sweet”.
Poor immunity: Excessive sugar intake can actually suppress your immune system and therefore make you more susceptible to colds, bacteria, and viruses. As you know, an excess of sugar enhances inflammation in our body. The first reaction of our immune system is to “put out the fire” and cope with inflammation, rather than fight a cold.
Dull sense of taste: The standard American diet is so saturated with added sugars – sugars that are not found in nature (such as fruits, vegetables, and dairy products) – that our taste buds now require obscene amounts to even detect sweetness. Try this taste test. Eat some real dark chocolate (at least 80-85% cocoa or cocoa). If you can't stand the taste or find it bitter, you definitely have diluted taste buds.
Unexpected places where you will find sugar
If you do not eat anything in its natural form, sugar is most likely added to it. In fact, the USDA guidelines have opened up unprecedented amounts of sugar in their foods for food companies. From sweets and soda to soups, seasonings and cereals – sugar is added to most of the 40,000 food items in the average grocery store. When it comes to areas that we tend to overdo, there are a few major offenders to keep in mind:
Any drink that is not water: Although coffee can definitely be a major sugar disruptor due to flavors and creams, we cannot ignore other sugar-sweetened drinks, such as iced tea, fruit juices, or sports drinks. Although a new label may make you think that there are newer and healthier versions of these products, the flip side of the label can tell you the opposite. Another sneaky sugar culprit is a happy hour, because every glass of wine or a cocktail can quickly prompt you to daily recommendations. If you are going to drink, so be careful and try your best to pamper yourself.
Grab snacks: Whether it’s an office lounge, a store shelf, or, in some cases, a vending machine, many options for snacks may seem useful, but in fact they are filled with sugar. Using protein bars as an example, while some bars are healthier than others, many on the market pack about 30 grams of sugar. Dry-roasted nuts or seeds, low-sugar jerky, protein shakes, olives or cheese are great low-sugar and sugar-free options that you can use for fasting.
“Healthy” food alternative: When choosing foods such as almond milk or milk-based milk or peanut butter or highly processed peanut butter, remember that these types of products may contain sugar. For peanut milk, choose sugar-free options and be careful with peanut butter by checking the simple ingredient lists on the label without adding sugar. Also keep an eye out for packages of low-fat and low-calorie snacks – when you take fat from food, you almost always have to replace it with sugar to make it taste good.
What should we strive for
To maintain normal body functions, we need about 5 grams (or 1 teaspoon) of sugar dissolved in our blood. As a daily goal, try to consume less than 5% of your calories from sugar. This means that on a day with 2000 calories, sugar intake should be 25 grams (or 6 teaspoons).
Eat a high protein breakfast: What does a modified sugar diet look like? Start with a protein-rich meal that will have a positive effect on blood sugar, help reduce cravings and balance hormones of hunger and satiety.
Fat Snack: This is an excellent source of energy that does not affect the balance of sugar in the blood, and also satisfies hunger for several hours. Olives, avocados, cheese or nuts are great options.
Find the fiber that fills you: Pour in fiber from vegetables or other water-rich foods – they do a fantastic job of slowing the growth of blood sugar and increasing satiety.
Sprinkle with a little salt: Add a little salt to those unprocessed foods that you add – when we reduce our sugar intake, our body can lose some fluid and sodium, which makes us feel tired – spraying sea salt on steamed or fried fresh vegetables helps us restore hydration and energy!
Walk in the dark: Darken – chocolate excites the same receptors in the brain as sugar. Look for 80% cocoa or higher (if you prefer).
Giving Up Your Sugar Craving
It’s enough to sleep: Strive for at least 7-8 hours each night. Inadequate sleep can interfere with the normal regulation of blood sugar. This means that your body is even more inclined to add this sugar directly to your tummy.
Stay hydrated: Are you hydrated Many Americans are not, and by the time real thirst sets in, we can often mistake it for hunger and reach the nearest cupcake. Naturally, if we use sugar in an unintentional attempt to quench our physiological thirst, our “cravings” will not be satisfied.
If you are completely hungry, eat food: If your appetite is not satisfied with the snack, you may have to eat a full, balanced meal or perhaps work to make other meals more substantial so that you feel satisfied enough not to reach for sweets.
If you have questions about sugar intake or want to create a personalized plan that can help you reduce your sugar intake, contact our Life Time Registered Dietitian Team to get started.
– Anika Christos, nutritionist and lifelong director of weight loss, digital programming and events
This article is not intended to cure or prevent disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. The use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the reader’s choice and risk.