If you can’t start your day without sugar and you’re always in search for a sweet tooth fix, it might be a warning sign that you are addicted to sugar.
It’s recommended that men do not exceed 70g of sugar per day and for women not to exceed 50g per day, however, most people exceed this limit. (1)
Sugar can be highly addictive. It is classified as a drug, and research shows that the brain responds to sugar the same way it would cocaine. (2) The act of consuming sugar doesn’t necessarily mean adding white sugar to coffee or tea since sugar is present in almost everything: meats, breads, chips, even packaged “healthy” food.
Because of this, most people are not even aware that sugar addiction exists, yet they deal with the symptoms of their dependence every day. Are you one of those people?
5 Signs Your Body is Screaming for a Sugar Detox
The most common sign that your body needs a sugar detox? Cravings. Bad ones.
Most people have cravings, either for straight ‘energy-drink/candy-bar’ sugar, or other high-sugar food substitutes.
It’s typical for someone to have a sweet every now and again, however, if they are craving for sweets even when they are not hungry, then it could be a sign of a more serious condition.
Studies have shown that gradually consuming sugar over a long period of time will program the brain to become addicted to the natural opioids found in sugar. (3) Like other drug addictions, being addicted to sugar means signals are always being sent to the brain to trigger more sugar consumption. Excessive consumption of sugar can lead to a loss of self-control and spikes in blood sugar, so beware. Any form of addiction is not to be taken lightly. (4)
Food fixation, constant hunger, strong cravings for carbohydrates and sweets, are telltale signs of sugar addiction.
Having trouble sleeping at night, yet you also want to improve your sleep quality and quantity? You might want to consider a sugar detox.
Studies have shown that consuming sugar or other refined carbs has a negative effect on your sleep quality. (5) This is because once you consume these carbs and sugars, your production of melatonin is affected. Melatonin is one of the hormones responsible for regulating your circadian rhythm, which affects your sleep/wake cycle and helps you sleep better at night. (6)
Midnight snacking, especially sugars, causes a jump in blood sugar. Therefore, if you have trouble falling asleep, look into a sugar detox before resorting to medications.
If you are gaining weight or overweight, sugar might be the problem.
Sugar, next to genetics, is the second leading cause for unhealthy weight gain. When excessive amounts of sugar enter your body, they could put you over your daily recommended caloric intake for the day. Constant overfeeding leads to fat gain. (7) Sugars pack calories into your body, but not the necessary fibers or proteins which will help your body digest those calories. Long story short: the fat builds up over time.
Sugar contains fructose, and in response to excess fructose, the body raises its insulin levels, increasing your body’s tolerance to insulin. (8)
Food and sugar can affect the anxiety a person is already suffering from. While sugar doesn’t cause anxiety, it does make symptoms of anxiety worse, which can lead to anxiety attacks. Also, do you ever wonder how most people deal with anxiety? – more eating! (9)
The insulin in glucose (sugar) can harm your mental health. Research has tied heavy sugar consumption to increased risk of anxiety and depression. Sugar has an impact on the immune system which can block certain hormones your brain needs to stay positive and happy. (10)
Also, sugar in high amounts can cause difficulty thinking, fatigue from lack of sleep, and blurry vision, all of which can be interpreted as signs of anxiety. (11)
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is now very common, however, not everyone is aware of how it is caused, or that sugar is a one of its major causes.
High blood pressure occurs because of the presence of raised amounts in insulin (because of sugar) and leptin (found in sugar). As you increase your sugar intake, you also increase your blood pressure. (12)
If you are suffering from high blood pressure, but still eating sugary foods or drinking sugary beverages, you might need to discover a new method, a healthier method, of bringing your blood sugar down. It is advised for those who have high blood pressure to limit their fructose intake to 15g per day, but it is also recommended to go on a proper sugar detox until blood pressure returns to normal. (13)
These are only 5 common signals that your body is screaming for a sugar detox. Keep in mind that there can be many other signs you can watch out for in case you suspect that you’re overly dependent on sugar.
Breaking an addictive cycle, any addictive cycle, is the right choice. A sugar detox will help break the connection between the brain and its cravings, protecting the body from unhealthy habits. Detoxing doesn’t mean you are depriving yourself of the treats you used to enjoy. It means you’re discovering new safe foods or treats (foods with nutritional value) that will help you in gaining back control of your mind and your body.