Nutrition experts agree that humans consume no more than nine and a half teaspoons of sugar per day. Currently, the average American adult consumes 22 teaspoons daily. The typical American child consumes whopping 32 teaspoons of sugar every day.
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. The common ingredient makes things taste better, so it’s an easy selling point.
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.
The History of Sugar
Before the industrialization of food processes, sugar was an extremely limited condiment. For thousands of years, human beings and their distant ancestors lived off 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 demand 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 crave sweets, including soda, candy, ice cream, and more. Despite the insistent warnings of public health officials, many people continue to ingest extraordinary amounts of sugar.
The Results of Consuming So Much Sugar
Americans are among the most obese people worldwide and are the most obese people in North America. Currently, at least 35 percent of Americans are overweight. Research shows that children are being affected by consuming so much sugar, too, with more kids than ever being overweight.
Of course, sugar is not 100 percent at-fault for these rising numbers, but it’s certainly played a significant role. It’s played such an immense role that many legislative bodies 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.
The human body isn’t designed to ingest a large amount of sugar. This relatively recent explosion in sugar consumption has created a health epidemic that affects millions of individuals.
Of course, myriad adverse health symptoms have increased along with sugar intake. While symptoms understandably vary from person to person, there are many common side effects of ingesting too much sugar.
Seven Signs That Your Body is in Sugar Shock
1. Spurts of Weight Gain
As we’ve discussed, sugar is a catalyst for weight gain. It increases blood sugar levels, which primes our body to store more fat. Furthermore, sugar does little to nothing to make you feel full. 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 time later. If you desire to feel full for a long 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 short-term stimulation leads to a “crash” that has a suppressive effect on our metabolic system. Also known as reactive hypoglycemia, a sugar or glucose crash creates sudden feelings of fatigue after consuming a large number of complex carbs.
4. Liver Problems
Similar to alcohol’s effect on our bodies, sugar can wreak havoc on our liver function. It is known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and excessive sugar intake over a long period can irreparably damage this vital organ.
Interestingly, sugar metabolizes in the liver the same way that alcohol does. The effect 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 lack of performance could be due to several reasons, and sugar is one of them. Many sugar products undergo heavy processing, creating overall feelings of lethargy and periods of “brain fog.”
Sugar stimulates the release of free radicals, which adversely interact 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 accurately represents this reaction because painful inflammation is a common symptom.
7. Other, Unexplainable Health Issues
Granted, this last one is broad, but the truth is that excessive sugar intake is toxic. Anytime a toxic substance is introduced into the human body, countless health problems can surface. These problems are due to 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 or headaches to insomnia. The only way to know for sure is to eliminate or restrict the amount of sugar you ingest daily.
If nothing else, our bodies and minds will become much, much healthier.
6 Natural Sweeteners to Replace Sugar
It can be hard to give up sugar, but there are many replacements to choose from. Using a sugar replacement can prevent sugar shock and other adverse health effects.
Honey is nutrient and mineral-rich, so it comes with many health benefits. This natural sweetener contains phenolic acids and flavonoids, guarding against inflammation. It also decreases your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Some ideas for using honey as a sweetener include:
- Drizzle it on fruit
- Use it as a glaze
- Add it to cereal or toast at breakfast
- Use it in coffee or tea as a sugar replacement
Stevia is extracted from leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant, and although it tastes different from sugar, it’s a great replacement. The compounds found in the leaves are sweeter than sugar, so don’t use as much as you usually would. It is low-calorie and loaded with nutrients. Stevia can regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels, too.
3. Monk Fruit Sweetener
This sweetener is extracted from monk fruit, making it all-natural, and it contains zero calories. It contains mogroside, making it sweeter than sugar, and it has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Monk fruit sweetener promotes healthy blood sugar.
4. Coconut Sugar
This natural sweetener comes from the sap of coconut palm. It contains many minerals, including iron, zinc, calcium, and potassium. The best thing about coconut sugar is that it has a lower glycemic index than sugar, making it a healthy substitute.
Xylitol is sugar alcohol extracted from corn or birch wood. Its sweetness is similar to sugar, making it an ideal substitute. It contains 2.4 calories per gram, nearly 40% less than sugar. However, xylitol doesn’t contain fructose, preventing the adverse health effects of sugar.
Xylitol doesn’t increase glucose or insulin levels and can promote bone and dental health. Additionally, it supports your digestive tract with a healthy gut microbiome. Xylitol is toxic to dogs, so keep that in mind if you have a pet.
6. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is made from the sap of maple trees and contains minerals including calcium, potassium, zinc, iron, and manganese. It also contains antioxidants and other health benefits.
However, syrup does contain sugar, but it is a better option. Don’t consume it in excess, or you’ll increase your sugar intake.
5 Steps to Recover from Sugar Shock
A sugar shock is also known as a sugar crash, and it occurs when your blood glucose is too low. The low blood glucose level happens after you consume too much sugar. It doesn’t feel good, can make you extremely tired, and cause an emotional roller coaster.
When this happens, you can return your blood sugar levels to normal levels quickly by following these steps:
1. Recognize the Issue
Before you can remedy the problem, you must realize what’s going on. When sugar floods your bloodstream, your body releases insulin and suppresses leptin. With leptin suppressed, your brain thinks you can consume more sweets, spiking dopamine and causing blood sugar levels to plummet.
Once you’ve recognized the issue, don’t beat yourself up. Stay positive, remember that you deserve a treat sometimes, and do what you can to reverse the sugar shock.
2. Consume Nutrients
Resist the temptation to consume more sugar and opt for something healthy instead. Consider a spoonful of peanut butter, a veggie-rich smoothie, or hummus with vegetables. Consuming healthy foods afterward can stabilize your blood sugar and make you feel better.
3. Get Moving
When you’re active after consuming sugar, it forces your muscles to use the blood sugar. You don’t have to do anything strenuous, but consider taking the stairs or a short walk.
4. Stay Hydrated
Excessive sugar intake can make you dehydrated and acidic. Drinking water can help, but adding sea salt or lemon to your beverage works better. It boosts the alkalizing effects, allowing you to regain a healthy blood sugar level.
You can also drink tea with lemon, as they are both diuretics. While you’ll have to take frequent bathroom breaks, you’re also forcing your kidneys to pump blood faster. It eliminates the sugar, allowing you to recover from sugar shock.
5. Take a Magnesium Supplement
Magnesium helps your body process sugar, making you feel better after a binge. Magnesium reverses the effects of sugar shock and improves mood, insomnia, and digestion.
Final Thoughts on Signs Your Body Is in Sugar Shock
Consuming excessive sugar can take a toll on your body. If you notice that you don’t feel well after finishing it, your body could be in sugar shock.
Sugar shock doesn’t make you feel good, but it also causes many health complications. Do what you can to reduce your sugar intake, and consider trying some of the sugar replacements. You’ll feel much better overall when you start living a healthier lifestyle.