4 Side Effects of a High-Sugar Diet on Your Digestive System

Sugar is delicious, we all love it! But too much added sugar can have harmful effects on the body. Added sugar is found in many products that most people wouldn’t expect – so it’s important to be aware of just how much we’re consuming.

Sugar is a necessary part of a human diet, as glucose is a major energy source for the brain and body, but there are many different types of sugars – naturally occurring sugars, which can be found in products such as fruits and vegetables, and added refined sugar, usually found in processed foods. It’s the latter that may negatively affect the body if consumed in excess. Read on for 4 Side Effects of a High-Sugar Diet on Your Digestive System!

1. Inflammation

Inflammation is a natural bodily process with healing properties that can fight off harmful organisms during injury or infection. However, consuming too much added sugar can cause too much inflammation due to increased production of free fatty acids into the liver, triggering inflammatory processes.

Chronic inflammation is linked to many health problems such as headaches, loss of energy, weight gain and frequent infections. It’s important to include anti-inflammatory foods in your diet such as tomatoes, leafy greens, and fruits. There are other natural ways to reduce inflammation too, like making sure you get enough sleep, and getting a decent amount (30 minutes) of mild to moderate cardiovascular exercise in daily.

2. Gut-Brain Axis – Brain Fog

The brain actually needs sugar to function as glucose is the brain’s main energy source, but when we eat simple types such as fructose, our blood glucose level rises quickly and drops just as fast. These sudden fluctuations in blood sugars can impair brain processes.

3. Bloating

Sugar is usually absorbed into the small intestine, but when too much of it is ingested, it can sneak into the large intestine where most of your good bacteria lives, which helps to break down the food you eat. The bacteria feeds off undigested sugar in a process called fermentation which can create a build-up of gas, causing bloating and discomfort.

If you find yourself prone to bloating, added sugar might be the culprit – luckily, there are lots of alternatives that can be incorporated into your diet such as coconut sugar instead of the white variety, and unsweetened versions of milk.

4. Constipation

Many products that are high in sugar, such as processed foods, are also low in fibre which can lead to digestive issues. Getting enough fibre is essential as it isn’t absorbed by the body, and instead adds bulk to your stool, promoting bowel movements.

High fibre foods include legumes, beans, oats and many more which can be included in your diet in various ways. The bad bacteria in your body also feeds off sugar, which can negatively impact your digestion, causing irregular bowel movements.

Of course, you don’t have to completely avoid added sugar, the American Heart Association suggests roughly 36 grams a day for men, and 25 grams per day for women. It’s important to be aware of your consumption if you want a happy and healthy digestive system. What are your favourite processed sweet substitute treats? Let us know in the comments below and join in the conversation on FacebookTwitter & Instagram!

Shayo Audrey

Shayo is currently a 2nd year Psychology student at Warwick University, who is hoping to pursue a Masters in Nutrition. She is very passionate about health, the food we eat, and the link between physical and mental health. Her aim is to work in the nutritional field, combining nutrition with Psychology, focusing on how diet can impact mood, and behaviour, as well as the human body.

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