Feeling sluggish today after binging on your kid's trick-or-treat haul? Did you answer the doorbell last night only to realize you had polished off the last fun-sized snack? You might be experiencing a sugar hangover. And it could last longer than you think.
Sure, too much sugar can have a thickening effect on your waistline, but too much sugar isn’t only a threat to your vanity – overloading on the sweet stuff can negatively affect nearly every part of your body.
According to the World Health Organization adults should limit their sugar intake to 5 percent or fewer of their daily calories. For adults with a healthy BMI, this works out to about six teaspoons, or 25 grams, of sugar per day. To put this in perspective, a can of soda contains about 10 teaspoons, or 40 grams of sugar – much more than the recommended daily limit.
The average American consumes about 156 pounds of sugar every year. Consuming this amount of sugar has a negative effect on nearly every part of your body, from your brain to your liver and skin.
Sugar is divided into two different types: glucose and fructose. While glucose is necessary for our bodies’ basic functions, we have no physiological need for fructose. In fact, fructose is only found in nature in low concentrations – like in fruit.
When fructose is manufactured in high concentrations, as it is in highly processed foods, the liver cannot properly store the excess fructose. Normally, the liver would use the fructose or turn it to glycogen and store it. However, if the liver’s glycogen stores are full, which is much more common, the liver stores the excess fructose as fat.
If the liver continues to store this excess fructose as fat, it could lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
We need blood sugar, or blood glucose, to survive. It provides energy for our muscles, organs, and brains. As glucose enters our bloodstreams, it is delivered to the cells of our bodies by insulin. Normal blood glucose levels fluctuate from between 70 to 140 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) depending on the time of day and our eating schedule.
When blood glucose and insulin levels rise too high, it has catastrophic affects on the brain. Studies reveal that ingesting large amounts of sugar can actually hinder the brain’s ability to store memories and to learn new things.
Though fat has long since been named a major culprit in the development of heart disease. However, new evidence shows that fructose may play a major role when it comes to declining heart health.
High sugar diets can raise triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels while increasing blood glucose levels and insulin levels by unhealthy amounts. At the same time, sugar increases fat in the abdomen, which is also linked to heart disease.
After you eat something sugary or carbohydrate-rich, your body breaks it down into glucose, which in-turn raises insulin levels. When insulin levels spike, like after you eat sweets or refined carbohydrates, it causes inflammation throughout your body.
This process of inflammation creates enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, which leads to sagging, wrinkly skin. As digested sugar attaches to collagen in a process called glycation, it can intensify conditions like acne and rosacea. Insulin resistance can also cause excess hair growth and dark patches to develop on the body.
One study, conducted by the Public Library of Science, discovered that for each additional 150 calories you consume each day from sugar, your risk of diabetes rises by about 1.1%
New research also has scientists questioning the relationship between high-sugar diets and cancer. Some tumors may be equipped with insulin receptors, which means they rely on glucose for survival, which leads some scientist believe that high insulin levels contribute to cancer.
While many people seek sugary snacks for an instant pick-me-up, a study published in Public Health Journal showed a link between depression and high sugar diets. For six years scientists recorded the habits of nearly 9,000 participants and determined that those who ate the most junk food were nearly 40 percent more likely to develop depression.
YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
Eating or drinking too much sugar curbs immune system cells that attack bacteria. This effect lasts for at least a few hours after downing a couple of sugary drinks
If you find it hard to steer clear of the sweets and maintain your diet, extra sugar may be to blame. In some studies, the addictive qualities of sugar have been likened to those of street drugs. Sugar triggers the release of chemicals in the brain’s pleasure centers, similar to the process that occurs when using cocaine. As with many drugs, those who over indulge in sugar develop an addiction and subsequent tolerance, meaning more sugar is required to achieve the same “fix.”
High levels of fructose also inhibit leptin production. Leptin is a hormone that when released, gives our brain the signal that it’s time to stop eating. If leptin levels are inadequate, you are far more likely to reach for another serving in order to feel satiated.
SUGAR HIDES IN PLAIN SIGHT
It’s not just sweets and sugary drinks you have to cut out of your diet to reduce your sugar. There’s hidden sugar in products you might have unknowingly labeled as healthy:
- Pasta sauce: 12 grams (3 teaspoons) per ½ cup
- Granola bars: 12 grams+ (3 teaspoons) per bar
- Ketchup: 4 grams (1 teaspoon) per tablespoon
- Instant oatmeal: 18 grams (4.5 teaspoons) per serving
- Flavored Greek yogurt: 12 grams (3 teaspoons) per serving
- White bread: 6 grams (1.5 teaspoons) for every two slices
Even if you previously thought a food was “healthy,” check the nutrition facts for the sugar content. Many foods labeled “light” or “low-calorie” often try to mask flavorless foods by adding sugar.
HOW TO CURB YOUR ADDICTION TO SUGAR
It takes about a month to completely break the sugar habit. Start eliminating sugar slowly from your diet. Mix your favorite high-sugar foods like flavored oatmeal with natural originals like classic rolled oats. When a craving arises, break the cycle by downing a full glass of water or taking a walk.
As you break the sugar habit, you’ll notice that the foods you used to love, will become sickeningly sweet.
Remember that excellent taste doesn’t always mean excess sugar. All NFP supplements are low in sugar, including NFP Complete Protein and NFP’s IC Red preworkout. As a result, you won’t waylay your diet your no-sugar diet or healthy eating plan by taking NFP’s sports supplements. In fact, NFP’s Shred XD and IC Red both contain ingredients that suppress your appetite.