We’ve entered the holiday season which is sugar’s prime time of year. Bags of candy, tables full of pies, Christmas cookies, and more take the stage during this season. What is the impact of sugar on your every day life? Is it really that big of a deal to enjoy some extra indulgences during the holidays?
We are going to lay out some of the impacts too much sugar can have on your everyday life and let you decide if it’s that big of a deal to overindulge this holiday season.
Long-Term Impacts of Sugar
Enjoying a piece of chocolate from your child’s Halloween bucket or a slice of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving isn’t going to lead to long-term damage. But let’s face it, how often do we use that kind of restraint? What is more often the case is snagging several pieces of candy or a third slice of pie. The next thing you know, you’re well into the new year with a nasty habit and a throbbing sweet tooth.
If this continues, what is the impact of sugar long term?
- Low energy: With regular sugar highs followed by cashes, energy is drained. Such low energy hinders a healthy exercise routine as well as productivity.
- Additional cravings: Low energy can cause your body to crave a quick fix, usually leading to more sugar to boost energy. Also, the hormone, leptin, lets you know when you are full. Sugar can suppress or resist that important hormone.
- Brain fog: Those same rollercoaster sugar levels impact the ability to concentrate, causing the feeling of fog in the brain.
- Difficulty sleeping: A sugar high can lead to a restless night, which then leads to a tired day. And what do we tend to reach for when we’re struggling to stay awake during the day? Caffeine and sugar. It’s a vicious cycle.
- Tooth decay: Each time you eat something sugary, your mouth turns it into acid which eats away at your teeth. Eventually, you’ll be dealing with cavities and decay.
- Acne and wrinkles: Sugar increases oil production and certain hormones, leading to acne. Meanwhile, sugar in your bloodstream attaches to proteins and produces harmful free radicals. The more sugar you eat, the more free radicals that damage the proteins around them and speed up the aging look of your skin.
- Type 2 Diabetes: While sugar isn’t considered a direct culprit of type 2 diabetes, it plays a major role. Excessive sugar consumption over time leads to obesity and insulin resistance which are the main risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes.
- Heart disease: Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. Eating too much sugar is linked to heart disease.
Immediate Impacts of Sugar
No one has any intention of continuing the overindulgence of sugar after the holiday season. The number one New Year’s resolution every single year is related to getting healthy. If we’re being honest, we already know that long-term impacts of sugar are pretty intense. But what happens if you just eat that one piece of pie?
- Temporary pleasure: Sugary treats don’t just make you happy because they taste good. Your taste buds actually release a hormone (dopamine) that makes you feel good. Unfortunately, it is temporary and will be followed by a sugar crash. The pull to experience that feel-good response to sugar will be harder and harder to resist.
- Temporary high: In the same way, you will find that you have more energy and heightened awareness for a while after indulging in some sweets. This is all temporary and actually leads to feeling worse later on.
- Increased appetite: The higher your blood sugar spikes, the farther it has to fall. And the result is not only fatigue but also hunger. You’ll find yourself snacking even after a full meal.
- Raised blood pressure: Sugar converts to glucose quickly, which is what gives you that feeling of energy and awareness. But this stems from an increase in blood pressure and a faster heart rate. This quick increase is not healthy for the heart.
- Bad habits: With all the dopamine and blood sugar spikes, falling into a sugary habit is very easy to do. And once that cycle starts turning, it’s incredibly difficult to stop it.
So, what say you? Is overindulging on sugary treats this holiday season that big of a deal?