As pumpkins start to line people’s porches and children get excited about finding a great costume, it can be easy to forget just how much sugar most people eat during the Halloween season. Although the holiday is great fun for everyone, all of that sugar can be hard on children’s little bodies—and the treats you have at home can be hard on yours. Here are just a few of the serious health effects of eating too much sugar, and why you should curb your sugar intake throughout the year.
Less Brain Power
If you feel a little loopy after lunch, it’s not just your imagination. Eating excessive amounts of sugar has been shown to cause reduced performance in the hippocampus, leading to brain fog. Since this portion of the brain is crucial for creating new memories, people who eat high levels of sugar may struggle with remembering key facts and dates, or carrying on a conversation without losing focus. Some researchers even suspect that high sugar levels cause problems with gradual cognitive decline as people age, which is why they are researching the link between sugar intake and degenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer’s Disease.
Although you may assume that sugar causes dental decay, the real root of the problem lies in the bacteria that those sugars fuel. The human mouth is filled with over 25 different varieties of oral bacteria that consume simple sugars. As these bacteria grow and multiply, they produce acids that can eat away at your dental enamel, causing cavities.
In addition to contributing to dental decay, candies, such as those frequently eaten at Halloween and throughout the holidays, can be exceptionally hard on dental work. Caramel and taffy can pull out dental fillings, and hard candies like peppermints and root beer barrels can cause painful dental fractures.
When you eat lots of sugar, your body responds by triggering the pancreas to release extra insulin. The role of insulin is to help the cells of your body to metabolize blood sugar, turning the things that you eat into energy. Unfortunately, when you consume too much sugar, your blood is flooded with insulin, which blocks another crucial hormone called leptin. Since leptin is responsible for triggering the “full” sensation you get when you are satisfied, excessive sugar consumption can lead to you eating more and more food.
Insulin Resistance and Diabetes
If your body is constantly subjected to exceptionally high insulin levels, your cells stop knowing how to respond to the sugar spikes, and your body can become insulin resistant. Insulin resistance is tied to other issues including high blood pressure, fatigue, brain fog, hunger, and extra weight around your stomach area. Over time, the body can become so insulin resistant that it stops knowing how to metabolize sugar altogether, causing full blown diabetes.
Limiting Your Sugar Intake
Fortunately, you can ward off the health problems tied to consuming too much sugar by doing what you can to curb your sugar intake. Start by cutting your sugar levels by avoiding things like sweets, cakes, and candies. If you decide to indulge, enjoy a single slice of cake or a few pieces of candy and then stop. To avoid health problems tied to excessive sugar, men should consume no more than 37.5 grams per day, and women should keep their sugar intake under 25 grams of sugar per day. Read the back of nutrition labels and avoid foods that would max out your sugar allowance in a single sitting. Remember that beverages, including seemingly healthy drinks such as milk, can be high in sugar. For example, a single cup of 2% milk has a staggering 12 grams of sugar.
Visit With Your Family Doctor and Dentist
To learn more about how sugar may have already affected your health, take the time to make an appointment with your family doctor and dentist. If you need to find a dentist in your area, search for “dentist near me” or consult Opt-In Dental Advantage. We maintain networks of great dentists who are committed to practicing according to our code of ethics, so that you can keep your family safe and happy in the dentist’s chair. Find a dentist near you today!