4 signs you're consuming too much sugar without realizing it
- On average, Americans consume too much added
- A high-sugar diet can leave you feeling hungry, moody, and tired.
- Too much sugar can also irritate your skin and digestive system.
The US consumes more added sugar than any other country in the world. But in a country where sugar is added to many of our foods, it can be hard to track your intake.
Added sugar refers to the sugar you'd find in processed foods, not the naturally occurring sugar found in fruits. The former is associated with greater risks of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart and liver diseases.
The average American consumes about 17 teaspoons of added sugar per day, which is about 50% more than the World
To catch high sugar intake before your health deteriorates, you can look out for some subtle changes to your
You're gaining weight, but you're still hungry
Sugar might be satisfying to the taste buds, but it's not good fuel for the rest of the body.
According to a review published in the American Journal of Clinical
Yet the body burns through sugar quickly compared to protein, fiber, and healthy fats - and a sugary snack can leave you even hungrier than before. Consuming sugar floods your brain with the pleasure hormone dopamine, while disrupting your metabolism and interfering with the hormones that tell you when you're full.
That cycle can lead to compulsive snacking and insatiable hunger, which can be especially difficult if you find yourself craving a sugary snack at a certain time of day. People are predisposed to crave sugar (as well as salt and starch) in the evenings, when the body is slower to burn energy and operates at a higher sugar tolerance - and having a nighttime snacking habit is associated with a higher risk of being overweight or obese.
Consuming too much sugar can also leave you feeling moody or sluggish - especially if you're eating high-sugar, processed snacks.
A high-sugar meal without protein or fat will cause your blood sugar to spike, crashing your energy levels and making you feel tired and irritable. The crash after the spike is also associated with decreased levels of blood sugar in the brain, so you may feel a little foggy after too much sugar as well.
A study published in the journal Neurology found that high blood sugar has a negative impact on cognition, which could mean difficulties with learning and memory consolidation.
In the long term, eating a lot of added sugars may promote inflammation, worsen mood, and lead to symptoms of depression, according to another study published in the journal Medical Hypotheses.
Your skin is breaking out around your mouth and chin
High-sugar foods can be a trigger for acne, although there are many other dietary and non-dietary factors to consider.
A recent study in JAMA Dermatology found that a Western diet rich in sugary foods - as well as milk and fatty foods - was associated with
Eating lots of sugar can lead to insulin resistance, which in turn increases levels of hormones called androgens. High androgen levels can cause inflammatory hormonal acne to appear around the mouth and jawline.
Later in life, sugar may accelerate the skin aging process, according to a study in Nutrients - so look out for premature wrinkles too.
Your digestive system is acting up
Like acne, indigestion can occur for a multitude of reasons. Regardless of the root cause, experts say a high-sugar diet can't help.
Too much sugar can decrease the diversity of your gut microbiome within as little as a week, according to studies in rats and mice. Giving the animals a sugary solution similar to most soft drinks not only decreased the good bacteria in their guts, but also allowed harmful bacteria to thrive.
Consuming lots of sugar and soft drinks has been linked to high rates of inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis.
Vegetables and high-fiber foods, on the other hand, had a protective effect. But if you're eating foods with a lot of added sugar, it's likely that you're missing some other important nutrients for
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