Eating too much added sugar can cause a lot of problems for your body. If you’re craving something sweet, try eating a piece of fruit or having unsweetened tea or coffee.
Sugar overload can lead to a lot of issues, including irritability, trouble sleeping and weight gain. Here’s what happens when you eat too much sugar and how to reduce your intake of it.
1. Too much sugar can lead to weight gain
Sugar is one of the most over-consumed foods in the world. Too much of it can lead to weight gain, which is a risk factor for heart disease and other health problems. But that is just the beginning of the effect too much sugar can have on your body.
While naturally occurring sugars (monosaccharides like fructose and disaccharides like sucrose) are part of a healthy diet, it is the added sugar that can be problematic. Added sugars include table sugar, corn syrup, honey, maple syrup and other refined sweeteners. These sugars are added to processed and packaged food products to make them more appealing, but they provide no nutritional value.
Removing these unhealthy added sugars from your diet can help you lose excess weight and improve your health. This can be done by switching to water, 100% juices and limiting soda, energy and sports drinks and flavored lattes. This will cut a significant amount of calories from your diet.
2. Sugar can lead to type 2 diabetes
Sugar can also increase your risk for heart disease, because excess amounts of sugar can lead to high blood pressure. A study found that people who consume 21% of their calories from added sugar have a 38% higher risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) than those who get less than 8% of their calories from added sugar.
When you eat too much sugar, your cells can’t absorb it, and your liver can’t break it down either, so the sugar gets stored as fat in your body, especially your belly. This can lead to fatty liver disease, which is also linked to diabetes and increased risk for heart disease.
Some people confuse “natural” sugars with healthy foods, but even natural sweeteners like honey and agave syrup have significant effects on the body when consumed in excess. The best way to avoid these health risks is to cut back on processed sugar and prioritize whole foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy that contain naturally occurring sugars that come packaged with other nutrients that can benefit your health.
3. Sugar can lead to heart disease
Sugar can have a negative impact on your heart when consumed in large amounts. This is because the excess calories are converted to triglycerides and can clog arteries leading to heart disease. A high sugar intake can also lead to elevated blood pressure, which is another risk factor for heart disease.
Sugar also overloads your liver, which can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Fatty liver disease can also cause your body to produce more fat cells, which in turn increases your risk for heart disease.
A diet that is low in added sugar is best for your heart. Eating whole foods like fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy products can help you decrease the amount of added sugar in your diet. Learn to read food labels and look for ingredients that your body treats as sugar like corn sweetener, maltose, high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, invert sugar, honey, molasses, and words ending in ose (dextrose, sucrose, lactose). This includes salad dressing, ketchup and commercial bread loaves.
4. Sugar can lead to tooth decay
You have likely heard it since you were a child: Sugar rots your teeth. It’s true that a diet high in sugar is associated with tooth decay, but the sugar itself doesn’t directly cause cavities. It’s the bacteria that inhabit your mouth, and the way they process sugar, that leads to tooth decay.
The bacteria in your mouth produce acids, which attack the enamel and dentine of your teeth – causing holes or cavities to form. These acids are produced in the plaque – a sticky film that continually forms on your teeth, and which saliva can’t remove.
The type of sugar matters too – sucrose, glucose and fructose are all the same calorie-wise, but how they affect the body differs. Sugar that occurs naturally in whole foods like fruits, vegetables and dairy products is less harmful than the processed sugar found in candy or soda. Drinking water with meals and avoiding sugar-sweetened drinks can help reduce your risk of developing cavities.