The Health Effects of Too Much Sugar

The average American consumes approximately twenty-two teaspoons of sugar every day, amounting to nearly eighty pounds of sugar each year. The human body is not made to consume such excessive amounts of sugar and consuming too much sugar can actually cause adverse health effects. Sugar is found in many products and people may not even realize how much they are consuming. For this reason it is important to pay attention to the ingredients in your food and eat a healthy, balanced diet free of excess sugar.

Health Effects of Eating Too Much Sugar

Various studies have been done on the effects of consuming too much sugar. Dr. Robert Lustig, of the University of California, in particular has been a pioneer in sugar metabolism research. Dr. Lustig has concluded that the human body can safely metabolize six added teaspoons of sugar each day, though Americans are consuming more than three times that amount. More excess sugar is metabolized into fat, and can lead to chronic metabolic diseases. Some of the effects of eating too much sugar are listed below.

  • Metabolic Dysfunction – Consuming too much sugar causes a whole host of symptoms known as classic metabolic syndrome. These symptoms can include elevated blood sugar, weight gain, increased LDL and decreased HDL, high blood pressure, and elevated triglyceride levels.
  • Liver Damage – Eating too much sugar or fructose has been likened to the effects of consuming too much alcohol. All the excess sugar eating is transported to the liver, causing it to become overloaded and potentially leading to liver damage.
  • Weight Gain – Fructose can trick metabolism, causing people to eat more, and develop an insulin resistance. This can lead to weight gain and issues with insulin signaling.
  • Increased Uric Acid Levels – Consuming too much sugar can lead to increased levels of uric acid which can be a risk factor for kidney and heart disease. Safe uric acid levels are between three to five and a half milligrams per deciliter.
  • Tooth Decay – Eating excess amounts of sugar can lead to tooth decay as the bacteria that causes plaque actually uses sugar as a source of energy.

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

One of the most troubling effects of eating too much sugar is its ability to cause liver problems. Consuming excessive amounts of sugar can lead to a condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This is the same disease that people can get from excessive alcohol consumption. The liver metabolizes alcohol and sugar in the same way. Fructose can also react with proteins causing inflammation of the liver. In addition to causing potentially serious liver problems, too much sugar has been found to cause a whole host of health issues including obesity and chronic diseases. Research has shown that sugar can have an affect on cancer cells, and is also connected to Alzheimer’s disease. Other diseases linked to the consumption of too much sugar include type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and more.

Controlling Sugar Intake

In general, sugar is not bad in its natural form, as long as it is consumed in moderation. To cut down on the amount of sugar being ingested, you should avoid processed foods and beverages such as soda. Processed foods often contain added sugar, and refined carbohydrates can actually break down to sugar in the body. It is important to remember that even healthy foods such as fruit naturally contain fructose, so this should be kept in mind when planning a healthy diet free of excess sugar.

More Information on Sugar Consumption and Health

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