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How Does Too Much Sugar Affect Your Body?

March 11, 2024

You may already know that consuming too much sugar is not good for you. However, you might still be overdoing it. Sugary beverages, candies, baked goods, and sweetened dairy products are the main sources of added sugar. Excessive sugar can have negative effects on your body in several ways.


Your Brain and Emotions

Eating sugar triggers the release of a chemical called dopamine in your brain, making you feel good. Over time, your brain starts to crave more and more sugar to achieve the same pleasure. This can lead to the "craving" sensation when you reach for ice cream after a meal, which can be difficult to resist.


Your Teeth

Sugary treats can contribute to tooth decay. Bacteria that cause cavities thrive on the residual sugar left in your mouth after indulging in sweets.


Your Joints

Consuming excessive amounts of sugary treats can exacerbate joint pain as they can cause inflammation in the body. Additionally, studies have shown that individuals who consume a high amount of sugar are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis.


Your Skin

Another side effect of the inflammation caused by excessive sugar consumption is that it may accelerate the aging process of your skin. Excess sugar attaches to proteins in your bloodstream, creating harmful molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These molecules function just as their name suggests: they contribute to skin aging.


Your Liver

Excessive added sugar often contains fructose or high-fructose corn syrup. Fructose is metabolized in the liver, and a high intake of it can be detrimental to the organ. When fructose is broken down in the liver, it gets converted into fat. This, in turn, leads to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is characterized by an accumulation of excess fat in the liver. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a form of fatty liver disease, inflammation, and "fat degeneration" that scars the liver, can develop from NAFLD, and many cases progress to liver cirrhosis, requiring a liver transplant.


Your Heart

When you consume too much sugar through food or beverages, the excess insulin in your bloodstream can affect your arteries throughout your body. It can cause inflammation and make the walls of your heart thicker and stiffer than normal, putting stress on your heart and damaging it over time. This can lead to heart diseases such as heart failure, heart attacks, and strokes. Research has also shown that consuming less sugar contributes to lower blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease. Furthermore, individuals who consume a high amount of added sugar (at least 25% of calorie intake from added sugar) are twice as likely to die from heart disease as those who consume less than 10% of their total calories from added sugar.


Your Pancreas

When you eat, your pancreas releases insulin. However, if you consume too much sugar, your body's response to insulin can become diminished, and your pancreas will start producing more insulin. Eventually, your overworked pancreas can fail, leading to elevated blood sugar levels and the development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.


Your Kidneys

If you have diabetes, excessive sugar can damage your kidneys. The kidneys play a crucial role in filtering the blood. Once blood sugar levels reach a certain threshold, the kidneys start releasing the excess sugar into the urine. If left uncontrolled, diabetes can impair the kidneys' ability to filter waste from the blood, leading to kidney failure.


Your Weight

Research has shown that individuals who consume sugary beverages tend to have higher body weights and a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. One study even found that people who consumed more added sugar in their diet gained 1.7 pounds in less than two months. Excessive sugar consumption can cause inflammation of fat cells, leading them to release chemicals that contribute to weight gain.