As with anything in abundance, sugar can be harmful. While foods such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, and grains have natural sugar that your body digests, added sugars are where the issues begin.
Found in packaged foods and drinks, your body doesn’t need added sugars if it’s already getting a diet full of natural sugars. According to the American Heart Association, women should intake no more than six teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar per day and men no more than nine teaspoons (36 grams) per day.
Unfortunately, many Americans don’t abide by this, with as many as 22 teaspoons (88 grams) a day being consumed. Here are six more ways excessive consumption of sugar can harm your body.
1. Cavities. Sugar rots our teeth by feeding the bacteria present in our mouths. This leaves behind acid, which then wears away at tooth enamel. The most common creators of cavities are sugary drinks, dried fruits, candy (sour candy is one of the worst offenders), and chocolate. If you eat these, especially often, rinse your mouth with water afterward or drink a glass of milk to neutralize the acid.
2. Sleep deprivation. Excessive sugar consumption can lead to problems with blood glucose levels, causing energy spikes and crashes. During the day, you may struggle to try to stay awake at work or school. If you enjoy eating a bowl of ice cream or snacking on sugary treats at night, the sugar can keep you up and reduce the amount of time you’re in deep sleep.
3. Mood cycling. Studies have linked sugar consumption and mental health issues. A recent study showed that men who ate more than 66g of sugar a day, which is double what is recommended, were 23% more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety or depression as opposed to the men who ate 40g or less a day. Too much sugar can accelerate depression through inflammation in your brain, which is common for those with depression.
4. Gout. While this can come from eating too much red meat, organ meats, and lobster, fructose is also a factor. When the body breaks down fructose, it releases purines that cause uric acid to build up in the bloodstream, turning into hard crystals in the big toe, knees, and other joints.
5. Kidney stones. These are formed when chemicals in urine turn into solid crystals. While your body can get rid of most of them without pain, others can be more difficult to pass due to becoming stuck in your kidney or other areas of the body, blocking urine flow. Too much sugar increases your risk of kidney stones.
6. Aging. Telomere, which is a part of our DNA, caps the ends of chromosomes to protect them from damage. The longer the telomere, the better. Shortened telomere may be associated with age-related diseases like diabetes. One study conducted on people who drink 20 ounces of soda a day showed that those people have shortened telomere; this is similar to adding more than four years to the age of your cells.