Dangers and Side Effects of Sugar

Throughout human history, sweets have always been eaten, but until recently, have come in more complex forms, such as molasses, honey, and other naturally occurring foods. In earlier times, these foods were hard to find, and usually came with beneficial byproducts-such as vitamins-since they were typically found in fruits or leaves. With the growth of industry and advances in food processing, it became possible to refine sugar and put it on every table…and also in many foods.

Because sugar was so hard to come by, evolution has taught us to get it wherever we can. As such, we are programmed to want it…and now we have it—everywhere. Unfortunately, with the increase in sugar production and distribution, also has come an increase in diseases and illnesses as a direct correlation.

Sugar’s effects are similar to those of many drugs, and can become an addiction. Many times the addiction starts in childhood, as we are offered candy as rewards, and so the mind begins to associate sweets with pleasure and other positive emotions at a very early age.

As it is metabolized, sugar bypasses many parts of the digestive process, and is absorbed directly into the bloodstream, raising the blood sugar level. It also produces a sharp rise in insulin, which is used by cells to absorb the sugar. Not only this, but sugar also causes the brain to release the chemical serotonin, boosting a person’s mood, and causing a mild feeling of happiness. As humans, we have been doubly reinforced to sugar; once by behavior-receiving it as a reward, and second, in the fact that it actually does produce some physical feelings of euphoria. Our bodies know that when they taste the sugar, the rush is coming.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, the average American eats approximately 43 teaspoons of sugar per day. That’s 140 pounds per year! That’s more than 10X more than is recommended. Is it at all surprising that such illnesses as diabetes, obesity, depression, panic attacks, and mood swings are rising? Is it any surprise that people are fatter than ever before? We set ourselves up for these problems by raising out blood sugar levels many times per day, only to have the bottom fall out and have to repeat the same process again. Just as quickly as the sugar high hits, it passes just as quickly, and we are left feeling tired and wanting another ‘fix.’ A catch-22 to this situation is that even though sugar produces a serotonin boost, too much sugar depletes this chemical, leading to depression. This bears out a vicious cycle in which the body begins wanting more sugar, more serotonin, all the while depleting the serotonin, making the cravings worse.

Many people on diets, or suffering from illnesses like diabetes, choose to use artificial sweeteners in place of sugar, but these also pose health risks. Aspartame, saccharin, and Splenda (sucralose), although approved by the FDA, still pose many dangers. In many places in the world-Japan the best example-a leaf is taking the place of sugar, in the form of stevia. It is a plant that has been in use in many parts of South America for centuries, and poses no health risks. Unfortunately, in the United States, stevia has been blocked from mass production by the sugar industry, and has yet to be accepted by the FDA. It has been approved for use as a food supplement, not as an additive, meaning that it can only be found in specialty stores. Perhaps, once more testing is done, stevia can be accepted as the norm-as it is in Japan, Brazil, and many other countries-and sugar will once again become the hard to find, delicious treat, to be enjoyed on special occasions.


22 Responses to “Dangers and Side Effects of Sugar”

  1. Breahn Hoskins on November 20th, 2007 4:04 pm

    I think sugar is causing my headaches-Any info?

  2. bdianed on March 25th, 2008 4:27 pm

    I was just checking out sugar because I have been off of it for sometime, yet at Christmas I eat some and had a migraine headache that day. Now at Easter time I nibbled on a few jeanbeans and sure enough a headache. So Iam wondering of sugar is causing them?

  3. Vivian on August 13th, 2008 11:34 am

    does sugar cause anxiety?

  4. Lana on November 9th, 2008 5:56 pm

    I too have sugar related head aches and mood swings. Also, I noticed when I eat sugar regularly or too much like on holidays or visiting friends, my hair stars to fall out, its a fact, I mentioned it to some people and they think I am crazy. But I even experimented on my self and know it’s a fact.
    So now I have for over a year try not to eat it and I feel great and my hair is fuller also I am getting thiner with out trying hard and I just had a baby 7months ago.

  5. lovethegeek on November 22nd, 2008 4:53 pm

    I have had really bad mood swings lately, ones that I usually get after caffeine, I knew if could only be from too much sugar in white chocolate, this just confirms it. thanks.

  6. udoh on December 19th, 2008 6:07 am

    what is the relationship between sugar consumption and infertility?

  7. BANK'COLE on January 1st, 2009 8:40 am

    Permit me to say that, high blood sugar level can result in low sperm count.Sugar in the blood,coat cell walls thereby reducing the intake of sugar into cell eg.Spermatozoon, leading to low metabolism in the cell.

  8. Charlie E. Brough on January 5th, 2009 3:07 am

    I want to know if it is advisable to give a small chile age 2 all the candy they want to eat. I say it can cause hipertension.

  9. alex maywald on February 26th, 2009 1:56 pm

    i just ate too much sugar to stay awake because i am constantly sleep deprived now i am sick to my stomach is this a side effect of sugar or of sleep deprivation

  10. margaret wardlow on March 19th, 2009 7:40 pm

    After I quit drinking I now crave sugar. My Doctor says the body cannot tell sugar from alcohol vs sugar from deserts, candies ect. Now I realize just how hooked I am!

  11. angela claire osullivan on April 4th, 2009 11:52 am

    I have come off chocolate for lent the first time in my 28 yrs living and do not now have sugar in my tea either, lent finishes next week and i can say will not eat sugar like i did. I had terrible mood swings, palpitations anxiety low self esteem unstable emotions and i have never felt better and more stable than i have in the last month. My skin has improved as well as i am being treated for adult acne. I really didnt think it was something as simple as stopping sugar that would make me feel better.

  12. Carol McKenzie on April 13th, 2009 10:06 am

    Is it possible that high sugar consumption could have anything to do with arthritis?

  13. rr on September 25th, 2009 1:23 pm

    not sure where the writer is getting the info from – but sugar causeing headaches etc – no – its not sugar its caffiene

  14. cr on September 29th, 2009 2:50 pm

    no you are wrong…..SUGAR definately causes headaches….

  15. Holly on October 27th, 2009 6:41 pm

    Hi, I’ve felt addicted to sugar since a very young age. My depression and anxiety started shortly after. In regards to what you said about sugar depleting seratonin and starting a cycle… how do you break that cycle??

  16. Sandra Mitchell on December 25th, 2009 6:20 pm

    For years I have had rapid heartbeat after eating a meal, with trembling of my voice when I talk, and feel like I can’t get enough breath. I spoke with my wonderful doctor about it when I went in for my yearly checkup, and she didn’t think it was anxiety (which I thought it was) as much as the sugar intake. I stopped my sugar intake (which I ate a lot of) and I can’t believe the difference. I feel so much better! She said a lot of women are affected by sugar in this way. Wow!!! I haven’t felt this good in a long time.

  17. jackie jensen on December 26th, 2009 2:38 pm

    its dec.26 and i ate so much sugar yesterday and my whole body hurts so bad all my joints to. I’m a mess. I have been hurting not like today but still everday is a chore for me to bend over to turn my neck to squeeze a rag out. could it be sugar related?

  18. Intressence on January 3rd, 2010 10:46 pm

    @ rr, its the sugar mayn. Stop it!

  19. Cocochannels@yahoo.com on July 24th, 2010 11:42 pm

    Hi. I have two pennies to offer:

    don’t forget the power of the mind in belief. Youbeliwve you can do it easily , and you can. You will.
    For fertility and sperm count for my husband he tried “maca”
    a herbal supplement very potent research it first.
    Second. Another herbal suppliment for mood swings called “St. John’s wort” again research it.
    Most of all research and know the power of your subconscious mind two good books here:
    power if your subconscious mind by Joseph murphy. &
    The Master key system by Charles Hannel. Be ready for some serious tuning :) and what ever you do do it kindly
    wish you all well.

  20. Kerchia on October 23rd, 2010 3:54 pm

    In my plenty sugar imtake can cause erectile dysfunction, so it advicable 2 take sugar a little and once in a while.

  21. bo'nana on September 10th, 2011 2:31 am

    “Lana on November 9th, 2008 5:56 pm wrote:
    …I noticed when I eat sugar regularly or too much like on holidays or visiting friends, my hair stars to fall out, its a fact, I mentioned it to some people and they think I am crazy. But I even experimented on my self and know it’s a fact.”

    …ME TOO! Lana i am soooo glad you made that post, i dont believe i am just imagining things but havent been able to find anything about this phenomenon:

    for the past year or possibly longer, every time i eat any amount of sugar, my scalp immediately begins to tickle and within days, or sometimes hours, lately even down to minutes, lots of hairs are starting to drop out complete with that little ball on the end.

    this also happens if i (oh horrors) miss washing my hair longer than every 2 days, by the 3rd day out pop lots of hairs again

    adding borax & baking soda to my sulfate-free shampoo (yup, sulfas do it to me too) stops the problem in its tracks- instant relief

    i havent heard of a DermDr yet who will acknowledge this crazy phenomenon, but now that ive found at least one other person who this happens to, i am feeling vindicated!

    bet there’s others out there with this problem too…

  22. kathy on February 7th, 2015 11:11 pm

    I drink pepsie before I go to bed.Iwake up with sweats and drink another pop.Could this be why I have sweate??

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