We’ve all experienced it, the way our brain suddenly kicks into high gear, turning on light bulbs and humming with energy after a handful of skittles or a frosted cookie. And then, just as we start to reach for our superhero capes, having those moments of buzzing elation stripped away, replaced by strings of yawns, fog-filled minds, and grumpy trips back to the office coffee pot.

The Negative Effects of Sugar

Sugar affects so much more than the taste of what we consume, contributing to how our bodies regulate our hormones and mood, especially as they relate to insulin.

Insulin is the hormone responsible for regulating the allocation of sugar within our bodies, helping either to turn it into usable energy or in storing it in our muscles, liver, and fat cells.

When we eat, our blood sugar rises, signaling the release of insulin into our bloodstream. Insulin then binds to cells’ receptors, enabling them to receive the glucose. These cells will, in turn, convert the sugar to energy or store it for later use.

Sounds like a good system, right? But what happens when we regularly eat foods that are naturally higher in sugar than others?

When we eat simple carbohydrates or foods high in sugar, greater amounts of insulin are released into the bloodstream. If this becomes a regular occurrence, it can lead to elevated levels of insulin. And unfortunately, there really can be too much of a good thing.

Too much insulin sends the wrong signals to the brain, relaying the message that you’re starved for sugar. Additionally, because hormones are interconnected, increased insulin often leads to imbalances in estrogen and testosterone as well, all of which have repercussions such as weight gain, fatigue, mood changes, and irregular menses.

Furthermore, once estrogen and testosterone are affected, progesterone, the hormone responsible for a restful night of sleep and general happiness, can decrease.

So, how do you protect yourself from consuming too much sugar?

Fortunately, simple lifestyle and consumption choices can help protect your body from excess sugar’s side effects. For example, simply switch out the simple carbs in your diet for more complex ones, like swapping white rice with brown or choosing sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes.

Additionally, adopt a gluten-free diet to better avoid processed foods, and focus on incorporating more natural fiber into your diet by doubling the veggies on your plate, or regularly hitting a 10gm of natural fiber a day goal.

These small changes will make a big difference, and keep sugar – and its bitter truth – from affecting your life.