What Happens to Your Body When You Have Too Much Sugar
Cue the inflammation.
Everyone is guilty of overindulging from time to time, whether it be on fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies, leftover birthday cake, or holiday candy. But what happens to your body when you've had too much sugar, and is there anything you can do to reverse those effects? Ahead, Dr. Michael Hall explains everything you need to know about what goes on inside after you overdo it on the sweet stuff.
Highs and Lows
According to Dr. Hall, one of two things happens immediately after you have too much sugar: You'll feel overly excited or incredibly tired. It's the classic sugar rush, followed by an inevitable crash. Headaches, he says, are also common (we have sugar-induced inflammation to thank for that!). Long-term, the consequences of frequent sugar indulgence become more concerning and can include obesity and metabolic health issues. "Sucrose, fructose, and glucose are all sugars and all sugar acts to cause the pancreas to release insulin—which causes the beta cells that make it to burn up more quickly," Dr. Hall says of the internal process.
The Risk of Diabetes
Diabetes is one of the most well-known health concerns related to sugar consumption; only type 2 diabetes (as opposed to type 1) is believed to be partially caused by it (there are genetic components to this ailment, as well). "Overuse of sugar, especially refined sugar (and white sugar especially), causes an insulin spike in the blood and will over time harm the body as a whole," Dr. Hall explains. "Sugar is a big molecule and if it cannot enter the cell to be used as energy, it accumulates in the blood."
On the Outside
Excessive sugar consumption has deleterious internal effects, but there can also be exterior symptoms, such as dental issues (think cavities) and acne, notes Dr. Hall. Of course, too many sweets can also lead to weight gain, which can have deeper health implications down the road.
Prevention Through Moderation
Preventing all of the aforementioned symptoms—both internal and external—lies in moderation, says Dr. Hall. But for some, that's easier said than done. "Sugar is a drug," he says, adding that "almost all of American snacks and drinks contain a fair amount of it." But doing your best to remove it from your day-to-day diet is essential—especially now, "during the coronavirus health crisis," he notes. Sugar can actually hurt your immune system, so it's it's critical to limit it if you're attempting to boost yours. Additionally, Dr. Hall notes that lactose, a sugar found in milk, can cause extra secretions in your lungs—something he says we should all try to avoid right now.