How Sugar Affects Your Body

How Sugar Affects Your Body

You don't need another article telling you that sugar causes diabetes or obesity, and you probably already have some inkling of its catastrophic health toll. Sugar, though, is addictive, and giving up an addiction is never easy. You can expect to experience withdrawal symptoms, moodiness, and may even find yourself thinking that you need sugar to feel “normal.”

The pain of sugar withdrawal wanes but the consequences of a diet saturated in sugar can last forever. If you need an extra incentive to kick sugar to the curb, here are five of its worth health effects.

1. Tooth decay and gum disease

It's no secret that sugar causes oral health problems. What you may not realize is that tooth decay is a risk factor for numerous other health issues. Gum infections can spread throughout your body, harming your immune system and even causing infections in your organs—including your brain and heart. This cocktail of dangerous bacteria is a known risk factor for cardiovascular health problems.

2. Organ damage

In addition to the perils of tooth-related heart problems, sugar damages almost every other organ of your body. Excessive sugar consumption can cause liver failure and fatty liver disease. Sugar's effects on your pancreas can cause diabetes, of course, but may also lead to other health problems, such as pancreatitis and pancreatic infections.

3. Cancer

Sugar consumption has been conclusively linked to some cancers, including breast cancer. Researchers aren't exactly sure what's behind this phenomenon. Some speculate that sugar feeds cancer cells, but that is true of almost every nutrient. Instead, it's more likely that weight gain due to excessive sugar consumption is the culprit. Obesity is a significant risk factor for cancer.

4. Hormone problems

Sugar throws your entire endocrine system into disarray, and this can spell disaster for your health. Most notably, sugar alters your body's ability to produce sex hormones. It can also change how your body metabolizes these hormones, leading to both under- and overproduction of these important chemical messengers. Hormonal problems correlate with unexplained infertility, mood and behavioral changes, excessive body hair, unexplained weight gain and weight loss, and recurrent pregnancy loss.

5. Mental health problems

Even if you're lucky enough not to notice physical health issues associated with your sugar consumption, the odds are good that your mental health will suffer—even if you don't know it. Sugar is addictive, so if you notice your mood radically swinging during the day, it could be sugar cravings. Other mental health effects include:

  • Increased vulnerability to depression and anxiety
  • Difficulty maintaining a healthy sleep schedule
  • Energy crashes throughout the day
  • Unexplained aggression, and other sudden bursts of emotion