- It has been proven that excess sugar can negatively affect our health.
- Even though you may be slender and seemingly healthy, you may still be consuming too much sugar.
- Sugar can affect our quality of sleep, gut microbes and even our skin.
Even though we all agree that sugar tastes great, it's been getting a bad rap for a long time. While our bodies need sugar in the form of glucose to keep us energised, it is, however, best to consume the natural sugars found in fruit and dairy products, and the starch in wholegrain products and some vegetables.
Added sugars are found in the obvious culprits such as sweets, pastries, processed foods and sugary drinks, which can have negative effects on our health. While weight gain is a side-effect of too many sugary treats, there are other sneaky signs that you might be eating too much sugar.
1. Your skin is looking lacklustre
Too much sugar can damage the collagen and elastin in the skin that help to keep it supple and glowing, according to a study in the journal Clinics in Dermatology. This can lead to premature fine lines, wrinkles and other signs of ageing. Sugar may also cause an imbalance in the gut microbiome (the bacteria in our digestive system), which can trigger things like rosacea and acne along the jawline.
2. You are constantly feeling weak, hungry or tired
Although glucose is vital for the body to feel energised, an imbalance in your blood sugar levels can make your energy levels plummet as quickly as they rise. Not only might you find yourself feeling sleepy as soon as you've had your afternoon lunch, but also craving that late-afternoon sugary snack.
Every time we consume sugar, our pancreas releases insulin to help our bodies transfer the sugar into glucose. This initially gives us energy, but when we have too much sugar in our bloodstream, the subsequent insulin can cause our glucose levels to plummet, which makes us crave even more sugar - and so the cycle continues.
3. You are constantly feeling bloated
There are many factors that contribute to bloating, including irritable bowel syndrome, gluten intolerance, constipation or indigestion. But if you regularly experience bloating and discomfort, it may also be excess sugar. Sugar feeds the bad bacteria in our guts, which can lead to an overproduction of gas, hence the bloating.
4. You are struggling to shake that yeast infection
Researchers have found a significant link between yeast infections and high blood sugar, especially in diabetics. When there is an increase in sugar in the body, it creates the perfect opportunity for yeast to grow, especially in the vagina. The yeast, which is responsible for that uncomfortable itching and stinging, feeds off sugar.
5. You constantly struggle to sleep
If you love reaching for a sugary snack late at night, you might have trouble getting a decent night's sleep. Just like caffeine, sugar can be a stimulant. But it’s not only those evening snacks that can disrupt your sleep. The more sugar you eat during the day, the more likely you are it to wake up in the middle of the night, which makes you feel exhausted the next day, causing you to crave even more sugar to energise you.
But I can't stop eating sugar!
Quitting the sweet stuff is easier said than done, but you can start decreasing your sugar intake by making (even small) changes with these tips:
- Start small by limiting the amount of sugar in your daily coffee.
- Avoid flavoured waters and freshen your summer drinks by adding lemon, cucumber, mint or fresh berries - and giving sugary options the boot.
- Read labels to become aware of added sugars in sauces, salad dressings, tinned soups, cakes and biscuits. Select foods with a lower sugar content.
- Eat a healthy balanced diet that includes lots of fresh vegetables, fruit, lean proteins such as fish and legumes, wholegrain starches (with more than 6g of fibre per 100g) and healthy (unsaturated) plant oils.
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