Excessive intake of sugar: What are the side effects of too much sugar?


What amount of sugar is healthy per day?

What amount of sugar is healthy per day?

An African American man and woman enjoy each other’s company in a contemporary loft as they share a meal of Chinese cuisine and a birthday cake. Sean Locke/Stocksy captured the image.

Sugar can be enjoyable and boosts energy. However, there is growing awareness among individuals about their dietary choices, such as monitoring their sugar intake to ensure it is not excessive.

Popular diets commonly believe that eliminating sugar and carbohydrates can bring various advantages. However, it should be noted that not all sugars are created equal. Certain foods naturally contain sugars, such as fructose in fruits and lactose in dairy products. Meanwhile, added sugars are either incorporated during the processing of foods or their preparation, such as honey in cereal.

Many individuals in the US consume an excess of 17 teaspoons of additional sugar every day, surpassing the recommended limit. Excessive added sugar has been associated with various health issues, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and dental problems. However, it is not necessary to eliminate sugar from your diet. Instead, it is crucial to be aware of your sugar intake and cautious of foods containing hidden sugars.

Recommended Daily Intake of Sugar

There are no specific guidelines for consuming natural sugars, but there are recommendations for added sugars.

Americans consume 13% of their daily caloric intake from added sugar, exceeding the recommended limit. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise adults to restrict their added sugar intake to no more than 10% of their total caloric intake. For example, if an individual consumes 2,000 calories per day, they should limit their added sugar intake to 12 teaspoons (50 grams) per day, according to the guidelines.

The American Heart Association (AHA) has more ambitious recommendations. They advise that adults restrict their intake of added sugars to a maximum of 6% of their daily calorie intake. This amounts to approximately 6–9 teaspoons, or 30 grams of sugar, for a 2,000-calorie diet.

The guidelines for children are reduced. As stated by the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants under 2 should avoid consuming extra sugars. For teenagers and children over the age of 2, the recommended daily intake of added sugars should not exceed 6 teaspoons (25 grams).4

Understanding the Nutrition Label

The nutrition label can be used to determine the amount of natural and added sugar in a food.

  • Total sugar: This figure encompasses both natural and added sugars.
  • Added sugars: This value may equal or exceed the total sugar. If it matches the total sugar, it indicates that all the sugar in the product has been added. Alternatively, a product may have 10 grams of total sugar, but only 1 gram is from added sugars.

Comparison of Natural and Added Sugars

Your body similarly metabolizes all types of sugar, except for a few cases. The carbohydrates found in natural sources such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains consist of a mix of starches, including complex carbs and fiber. On the other hand, table sugar and other sweeteners are considered simple carbohydrates.

Complex carbohydrates containing various sugars provide essential nutrients, such as fiber. This results in a slower digestion process, preventing sudden increases in blood sugar levels. Additionally, the body produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) to break down the fiber found in complex carbohydrates. These SCFAs can also improve gut health by being fermented in the colon and promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria.

Simply put, if you want to be conscious of your sugar intake, pay attention to the amount of added sugar in your diet.

The Negative Impact of Consuming Excessive Amounts of Sugar on One’s Health

Natural sugar is acceptable in moderation, but consuming too much sugar can result in excessive calorie intake, leading to weight gain.

Some of the health conditions that may be linked to obesity include hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, sleep apnea (a chronic breathing disorder in which breathing stops and restarts during sleep), osteoarthritis (a joint condition caused by the gradual breakdown of cartilage surrounding the bones), chronic pain, and cancer.

The following is a guide on how to make a delicious chocolate cake. To make a delicious chocolate cake, you will need the following ingredients and equipment:

Substances such as fructose, honey, maple syrup, agave, and others are included in added sugar.

Tooth Decay (Dental Caries)

As a child, adults may have cautioned you about the consequences of consuming candy, such as getting cavities. The consumption of sugars, particularly those that are added, is a major contributing factor in the development of dental caries, also referred to as tooth decay or cavities, for individuals of all ages.

Research has revealed a correlation between increased added sugar consumption and higher instances of dental caries. On the other hand, limiting added sugar intake to less than 10% of total calorie intake significantly decreases the likelihood of developing tooth decay and cavities.8

Foods that contain natural sugars, such as milk and fruit, may not have the same negative impact on dental health. This is likely due to other beneficial nutrients like fiber, water, calcium, and antioxidants. However, dried fruit can harm teeth as it tends to lodge between them.

Cardiovascular Disease

According to the American Heart Association, there is a stringent guideline for added sugar intake due to its association with increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, the correlation between added sugars and CVD risk is not as clear-cut as one may assume.

In recent years, multiple reviews and meta-analyses have been conducted to explore the correlation between added sugar consumption and the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). While certain reviews have reported a significant link between the two, especially regarding sugar-sweetened beverages, other studies have yielded varying results.

The discrepancies could be attributed to the fact that most of the research conducted was observational. In such studies, data is gathered from participants or historical records. This challenges establishing a cause-and-effect relationship, such as the one between added sugars and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, it is imperative to conduct more rigorous research to investigate this potential connection thoroughly.

Managing Diabetes

When it comes to type 2 diabetes, many people believe that it is linked to sugar and other carbohydrates. If you are already diagnosed with diabetes, it is important to monitor your sugar consumption to avoid sudden spikes in your blood glucose levels. However, the relationship between added sugars and the risk of developing diabetes is not clearly defined. Research on this matter has not yielded conclusive results.

Risk factors for developing diabetes, according to a health website, consist of genetics, leading a sedentary lifestyle, and being 45 years of age or older. Consumption of added sugar is not regarded as a primary risk factor.

According to the American Diabetes Association, sugary drinks are associated with type 2 diabetes; therefore, they suggest reducing the consumption of such beverages and opting for water whenever feasible. They also mention that the intake of added sugars, along with solid fats and excess calories, has been associated with type 2 diabetes. Hence, it is not solely the added sugars that contribute to the development of diabetes.

NAFLD: Understanding Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Excessive accumulation of fat in the liver is known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). It is a prevalent cause of liver disease in the United States. Research suggests that consuming high amounts of added fructose, commonly found in sugary drinks, may raise the likelihood of developing NAFLD.

The current research on NAFLD and sugar primarily centers on sugar-sweetened beverages. A recent study conducted in 2019 revealed a notable correlation between increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and the development of NAFLD.

Once again, it should be noted that these studies are primarily based on observations. While they indicate a connection between consuming added fructose and NAFLD, they do not provide conclusive evidence that fructose is the sole cause of NAFLD. Various other factors can contribute to the development of NAFLD, such as having type 2 diabetes or a genetic predisposition.19

High-Sugar Foods

Soft drinks, fruit drinks, coffee, tea, and sports drinks are the main sources of added sugars. Health experts say these beverages contribute approximately 50% of all added sugars.

Some foods, such as candy, desserts, and sweet snacks, are known for their high sugar content, but other unsuspecting foods also contain a significant amount of sugar. According to research, the most prevalent sources of added sugars in the American diet include.

  • Sandwiches
  • Cereals and bars for breakfast
  • Yogurt with added sugar
  • breakfast

Approximately 7% of the added sugar consumed by Americans comes from sandwiches. Sugar is frequently utilized to preserve bread or condiments. Other typical sources of added sugar in the diet include breakfast cereals, granola bars, and sweetened yogurt. For instance, a single serving of a popular vanilla Greek yogurt contains approximately 9 grams of added sugars.

Tips for Lowering Your Sugar Consumption

With many Americans consuming higher amounts of added sugars than recommended guidelines, it may be useful to consider strategies for monitoring sugar intake. Begin by identifying the high-sugar foods you regularly consume and then brainstorm ways to enjoy them while limiting added sugar, as suggested by Health.com’s article “9 Ways to Quit Sugar for Good.” Here are a few suggestions:

When ordering your regular coffee, you can request that less or no sweetener be added. Choosing drinks with lower amounts of sugar, such as water, unsweetened tea, milk, or low-sugar dairy-free alternatives, and sparkling water, is beneficial. Consuming a variety of foods high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats throughout the day is important to avoid constant cravings for high-sugar foods in the evening.

Instead of consuming processed snacks with high sugar content, choosing whole fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and hummus is better. When possible, prioritize purchasing products that do not contain added sugars, such as yogurts and nut or seed butter. Add some fruit, honey, or other sweeteners to unsweetened products if you prefer a sweet taste.

A Brief Overview

When considering one’s daily sugar consumption, it is important to distinguish between added sugars and natural sugars present in unprocessed foods such as fruits and milk. The natural sugars in complex carbohydrates contain high amounts of fiber and other valuable nutrients. On the other hand, various added sugars are rich in calories, and excessive consumption has been linked to certain health problems.

Restricting your daily sugar consumption to a maximum of 6–10% of your overall caloric intake is advised. Consider replacing the high-sugar foods and beverages you consume regularly with lower-sugar options.

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