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.

cookie jar with glasses of milk
Credit: Getty / A.Y. Photography

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.

Comments (1)

Martha Stewart Member
June 2, 2020
We humans need very little sugar to think of it, just enough to fuel our brains. The rest of our bodies get their energy mostly from processing fats. The amount of sugar we need daily can be satisfied by eating just fruits and vegetables, the rest is pure cravings. Eating few peaces of chocolate is ok just to feel good (ah, those endorphins!) But for the love of food not a whole chocolate brick and not everyday! Same goes for fatty foods like chips that are also loaded with sodium and cause fluid build up in the body. So as it was written, moderation is a way to go and the less the processed sugar you consume the easier will it be for you to lose some extra pounds. Cheers!