It is recommended that humans consume no more than 9.5 teaspoons of sugar per day. Currently, the average American adult consumes 22 teaspoons daily. The average American child consumes 32 teaspoons of sugar each day. – The American Heart Association
Sugar has become an increasingly ubiquitous ingredient in the average American diet. It’s added to practically anything and everything – coffee, doughnuts, tea, cereal, juice – and even bread, meat and ketchup. Why is this? Well, it makes things taste better, of course.
Sugar also happens to be incredibly unhealthy, and highly addictive. Some studies have reported that sugar can be up to eight times more addictive than cocaine, in fact. Before the industrialization of food processes, sugar was an extremely limited condiment. For thousands of years, human beings and their distant ancestors lived off of the land by hunting and harvesting animals and natural foods.
The industrial revolution and subsequent population expansion led to a demand for quicker, cheaper and more effective methods of delivering food to the masses. This led to food processing, which led to the proliferation of added ingredients – including sugar.
Fast-forward to today where sugar is everywhere. Adults and children alike crave sweets – soda, candy, ice cream, and so on. Despite the insistent warnings of public health officials, many people continue to ingest extraordinary amounts of sugar.
What have been the results?
Well, Americans are among the most obese people in the world, and are the most obese people in North America. Currently, 35 percent of Americans are overweight. 78 million adults and 13 million children deal with health repercussions from being overweight. It is estimated that the average American adult is 26 pounds heavier now than in the 1950’s.
Of course, sugar is not 100 percent at-fault for these rising obesity numbers…but it’s certainly played a significant role. In fact, it’s played such an immense role that many legislative bodies around the country have outlawed soda machines in public schools. In 2014, the mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg introduced an initiative to ban the sale of soda in quantities that exceed 16 ounces at fast food establishments.
Put simply, the human body isn’t designed to ingest a large amount of sugar. This relatively recent explosion in the amount of sugar consumption has created a health epidemic that affects millions of individuals.
Of course, myriad adverse health symptoms have proliferated along with sugar intake. While symptoms understandably vary from person to person, there are a number of common side effects from ingesting too much sugar. We’ll discuss a few of them in this article.
Here are 7 signs that your body is in “sugar shock”:
1. Spurts of weight gain
As we’ve discussed, sugar is a catalyst to weight gain. It increases blood sugar levels, which in turn primes our body to store more fat. Furthermore, sugar does little to nothing to create satiety, or feelings of fullness. The result is we consume more food and store more fat.
2. Constant cravings
Sugar is a complex carbohydrate – a type of food that not only stores fat, but causes sudden cravings. It is common for those that eat large amounts of sugar to indulge in their habit only to be hungry a short period of time later. Simply put, if one desires to feel full for a long period of time it is advisable to abstain from sugar.
3. Feeling lethargic
Similar to caffeine on a smaller scale, sugar can stimulate our nervous system. This stimulation is short-term and leads to a “crash” that indicative of sugar’s suppressive effect on our metabolic system. Known as “reactive hypoglycemia,” a glucose (sugar) crash creates sudden feelings of fatigue after consuming a large amount of complex carbs.
4. Liver problems
Similar to alcohol’s effect, sugar can wreak havoc on our liver function. Known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), excessive intake of sugar over a long duration of time can irreparably damage this vital organ. Interestingly, sugar metabolizes in the liver the same way that alcohol does. As such, this can lead to fatty liver, insulin resistance and abnormal fat levels in the blood.
5. Brain fog
This symptom can best be described as episodes of suboptimal brain function, or “foggy thinking.” There are times when our cognitive faculties are not performing at a level necessary to perform daily tasks. This could be due to a number of reasons, and sugar is one of them. Many sugar products undergo heavy processing which, when consumed, create overall feelings of lethargy and periods of “brain fog.”
Sugar stimulates the release of free radicals, which adversely interacts with proteins in the body. This interaction produces a chemical response that results in inflammation of the joints and other areas of the body. Diabetes is an accurate representation of this reaction, as the condition’s myriad symptoms include painful inflammation.
7. Other, unexplainable health issues
Granted, this last one is very broad. But the truth is that excessive intake of sugar is toxic. Anytime that a toxic substance is introduced into the complex entity that is the human body, countless health problems can surface. This is the result of sugar directly or indirectly producing systematic, harmful responses in the body.
Many people diagnosed with diabetes visit the doctor with no other complaint than feelings of tiredness. Sugar can be the root cause of anything from obesity to impaired vision, from headaches to insomnia. The only way to truly know for certain is to eliminate or severely restrict the amount of sugar that you ingest on a daily basis.
If nothing else, our bodies and minds will become much, much healthier as a result.