Understanding the Sweet Trap: How Sugar Affects Your Body and Mind

by Dr. Nick Zyrowski November 20, 2023

Change is in the air. We can all feel it. Along with the seasonal changes come all those marketing campaigns, too. In October, it’s Halloween. Then in November, you’ll likely see Christmas candy being put out on the shelves before the Thanksgiving holiday! Sugar is everywhere you look this time of year. Before you give in to the temptation, we want to give you some important facts about sugar to help you make better choices. Let’s dive into this sweet trap and how it affects you so you can make informed decisions that aren’t based on emotional triggers.

Added sugars

When we talk about eating too much sugar, we aren’t referring to complex carbohydrates that are found in nature. Now, some people may reduce natural sugar when trying to lose weight, or for other health reasons. What we are discussing in this article refers to added sugars that are all too often consumed in large amounts. (1)

Added sugars are the products big food companies use to increase flavors and extend shelf life. You can think of items like flavored yogurts, fruit drinks, cookies, pies, cakes, and soft drinks. That list is only a start. Added sugar can also be hidden in things like food condiments and breads. If you think this isn’t a problem for you, it might surprise you to know that adult men consume around 24 teaspoons of added sugar every day. (2)

What’s the big deal?

You may be munching on some Halloween candy right now, wondering why this is such a big deal. It’s only a few pieces of candy, right? The issue is that when you eat that sugar, you end up wanting more. Too much sugar simply hurts your body. For one, it causes addiction responses. Eating sugar feels similar to the high some people feel from using drugs. (3) Like with drugs, over time, more sugar is needed to satisfy the craving.

Too much sugar can cause high glucose in your bloodstream, which results in memory problems over time. It can also cause brain inflammation. If you’ve noticed you feel a bit foggy after eating way too much sugar, you may want to increase your omega-3 fatty acids to improve things.

Sugar increases your risk for type 2 diabetes. It’s also a cause of tooth decay, which increases those uncomfortable dental visits. Too much sugar ages you faster because it produces dangerous free radicals in your body. It dries your skin out and can damage your vision.

Some of the more serious effects of sugar are cancer and heart disease risk. When you eat too much sugar, it causes weight gain, which increases your chances of obesity and inflammation. (4) These affect the chances of you ending up with cancer or heart issues down the road.

A healthy diet can enhance your mental health, but eating a poor diet with added sugar can contribute to depression and anxiety. (5) One of the ways sugar does this is by causing sleep disturbance and fatigue. There appears to be a definite link between eating too much added sugar and having feelings of depression.

Finally, added sugar can disrupt your gut. Research shows that a microbiome imbalance can be associated with mental illness. A diet high in sugar is one of the fastest ways to cause a gut imbalance.

Reducing sugar intake

If thinking about cutting out sugar is bringing you down, we have some good news. There are some easy ways to decrease your sugar intake that won’t cause you too much anxiety and stress.

For one thing, try to eat natural sugar when possible. Instead of hitting the candy isles, look for whole foods that contain lots of healthy fiber. We’re referring to fruits like berries, plums, apples, and the like.

If you want a sweet treat, you can still have the occasional fun dessert by substituting sugar with a healthy alternative. Look for things like stevia, xylitol, or allulose. These won’t disrupt your gut or raise your blood sugar.

Another thing you can do is to increase your healthy fat intake. Healthy foods like avocado, olive oil, and butter can be satiating and provide nutrients that your body needs. Many people find when they increase their fat intake, they no longer crave sugary sweets like they did before.

Get plenty of sleep. A lack of sleep can cause sugar cravings, so one of the easiest ways to stop those cravings is to increase your sleep. If you’re having some trouble getting in those eight hours, try a natural supplement, like magnesium, that helps you relax and enhances restful sleep.

Limit your alcohol consumption. This time of year, many people are going to parties and celebrating with friends. Remember that some drinks are sweetened and contain lots of hidden sugars. Instead, opt for seltzer water with a twist of lime.

The sweet spot

If you’ve been indulging in a little too much sugar, lately, you aren’t alone. We know it can be hard to overcome bad habits, but once you get started, we promise it does get easier. Don't beat yourself up if you eat a treat now and then. The important thing to remember is that you want to eat the foods that nourish your body and keep you healthy for years to come.

We want you to be playing on the floor with your kids or your pets and feeling great, not fatigued and too out of shape to move freely. You deserve to feel good and be well. We can help you obtain the best health of your life and can walk with you on your health journey. Contact us today to see how natural health is the key to longevity and wellness.

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Dr. Nick Zyrowski
Dr. Nick Zyrowski

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