Are you regularly eating too much sugar? As another holiday season winds down and the New Year approaches, many people are thinking back over the past month and realizing just how many sugary treats they have actually consumed in that time. Although it is expected that sugar intake will increase during the month of December, many are feeling the pull of expanding waistlines as their weight increases due to overeating during the holidays.
But the holiday season is not the only time when the consumption of sugar is a problem. Nowadays, the average American eats an average of three pounds of sugar a week, and that average is growing quickly. According to the USDA, the US is currently the largest consumer of sugar and other sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup. The products that are consumed most often to account for this large amount of refined sugar intake are soft drinks, candy, cookies, cakes and pies.
Besides inspecting your diet for overconsumption of refined sugar, the body will send clear signs that the amount of sugar you are consuming is more than it can handle. Here are the top signs that you are eating too much sugar.
- Weight gain – this is the sign of eating too much sugar that people tend to focus on the most. Processed, refined sugar has no real nutritional value, so consuming it provides mainly empty calories. If you are consuming sugary soft drinks or foods daily, those calories can add up quickly, which leads to weight gain.
- Fatigue – Foods that contain high amounts of refined sugar, may give you a small energy boost as your blood sugar levels spike. But as the pancreas releases insulin to deal with the spike in blood sugar levels, your energy will then crash as blood sugar levels quickly come down. It then becomes a roller coaster affect as you find yourself reaching for another sugary food or beverage to boost energy levels again.
- Lowered immune system – do you find that you tend to pick up every cold or virus that is going around? Eating too much sugar compromises your immune system which makes it much more difficult for your body to fend off invading viruses and bacteria. Lowering your intake of processed sugar can actually go a long way towards helping you to strengthen your immune system and avoid cold and flu.
- Cravings for sugar – it is easy to fall into a pattern of experiencing intense sugar cravings when you are regularly consuming large amounts of refined sugar. Processed sugar affects amino acid production in the body. When you eat sugar, the brain releases tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin, the body’s natural antidepressant. So eating those sweet treats actually helps you to feel good in the short term. Unfortunately, that affect wears off and you ultimately ending up feeling worse once your blood sugar crashes. This is when your body begins to crave more sugar in order to help you to release more serotonin so that you can feel good again. This vicious cycle will continue until you are ready to make a change in how you eat.
- Depression and anxiety – extreme fluctuations in blood sugar levels have been known to contribute to anxiety and depression. Once you lose the boost that you get from the blood sugar spike, the resulting crash often leaves people feeling lethargic and depressed. A sudden blood sugar crash can also cause some people to become anxious and experience panic attacks.
- Diabetes – this is another sign that is well known, and yet more and more people are being diagnosed with diabetes or are finding out that they are pre-diabetic every day. If you experience frequent urination, excessive hunger or thirst, dry mouth, numbness or tingling of your hands or feet, infections that don’t want to heal, unexplained weight loss or gain or fatigue, you may be at risk for diabetes. If this is the case, it is important to follow up with the appropriate medical professionals.
- High blood pressure – most people associate high blood pressure with salt, not sugar. But a 2010 study that was done by the University of Colorado in Denver discovered a connection between high blood pressure and excessive sugar intake in 4500 adults. So watching your intake of refined sugar may help you to keep high blood pressure down.
- Dental problems – most people understand that eating a lot of processed sugar is not healthy for your teeth. Sugar wears away the teeth and is quick to cause cavities. So if you find yourself needing more trips to see the dentist, it may be time to cut down on the sweets.
- Gut problems – Sugar feeds the bad bacteria and disrupts the natural biome balance of good vs. bad bacteria. This in turn disrupts proper digestion and the absorption of essential nutrients. This can cause digestive upset, as well as creating long term nutrient deficiencies which can ultimately contribute to chronic illness.
It is good for everyone to eliminate or cut down on the amount of refined sugar they consume regularly. The detrimental affects to the health of the body far outweigh any positives. Eliminating sugar will help you to improve your health significantly and will insure that you can enjoy a better quality of life for years to come.