Lately, I have been pondering about the effects on refined and processed sugars in our bodies and I also made an experiment with consuming more sugars and then cutting them 100% out of my diet.
The results of this experiment are unbelievable to me, yet I found them to be true. The question that I asked after the experiment is if sugar makes me tired or what the reason for my exhaustion was. And I came to the conclusion that sugar is the reason for that.
I had been eating sugar-free for around 35 days. Now, I cannot say if there was not one gram of refined sugars in the ingredients of my food, but I prepared the food at home and knew what was in it. That was just before the Christmas season.
It was during the holidays and the 2 weeks before the holidays that I decided that I would not to be 100% true to my diet, but that I would cheat a little. And so I did. I was invited to many parties and I had some sweets during this time. Although I tried to eat healthy as much as possible during the day at home, I ate sweets here and there and drank juices here and there as well.
The last week before Christmas I started to feel tired and exhausted as I had never before in my entire life. I woke late, I went to bed earlier than usual and I even took naps. Never in my life have I been a nap-person, but I just could not get through the days without it. And especially the holidays, I was as exhausted as I had never been. I dragged myself through the day and kept wondering what was wrong with me.
At first, I thought it could be the toll that weight loss was taking on my body. But during one of these days, it dawned on me. Could it be that the effects of sugar are so drastic that when you haven’t been taking it for some time that your body just cannot cope with it? Could it be that food would be defined to that level the way I feel? I had known for a long time that “you are what you eat”, but at that level?
The experiment was not a planned one! I had just decided that I would just be watching my calorie intake and also the foods I ate, and it was OK if I would not lose weight, but I did not want to gain weight during these weeks. And that is exactly what happened. I managed to get through the season without gaining nor losing weight, which was great, but how I felt was awful. However, I did not eat nearly half the sweets that I would have before.
Let’s take a closer look at what happens to our bodies when we eat sugar and see if we find a relationship between fatigue and refined sugars.
What happens in your body when eating sweets?
In order to be able to know the effects of sugar on our bodies, we need to understand what goes on in our bodies when we consume sugars, no matter in what form or what kind of sugar.
So here is a list of what goes on:
1. Sugar goes into your bloodstream. The first thing that happens in your body when you have eaten sugar in whatever form is that it enters your bloodstream. If you cook sugar with anything, you know that it will get thick and slimy (jams for example). That is exactly what happens in your bloodstream, your blood is getting thicker and therefore it requires it to work harder. That could very well be the energy boost that sugar gives you. Because your body is under stress, you feel that you are sped up, when there is really a problem in your body.
2. Now Your Pancreas Is Under Pressure.
As your blood sugar levels are rising to a peak, the pancreas is under pressure to quickly produce insulin (a hormone to get the blood sugar levels down). So the pancreas is pouring insulin into the bloodstream in order to thin our blood and get the levels right again. But since the pancreas is so pressured, it sends in too much insulin, which makes the blood sugars crash. That means that after some time, the level is too low, which makes you go into a state of hypoglycemia (too little blood sugar).
3. The Body Needs To Replenish Your Sugar Levels. Your body is on a roller coaster ride by now. It battles to get down, and then there is a battle to go up again. Now that your sugar levels are too low, your body needs to produce more insulin to get your body back up to balanced levels of blood sugar. The hormones will take the sugar from wherever there is sugar left to replenish the bloodstream and the affected ones are the liver, the kidneys.
How High Is Our Sugar Intake?
The above-described things that happen in our body when we eat sugars likely do not describe the process completely since there are many things that happen to our body when we eat sugars. Consider that our body is relentlessly on this crazy ride, because how much sugar do we consume daily? We are not fully aware of how sugar is in our foods. Look at processed foods, what are the ingredients? It is needless to say that these ups and downs have many effects on our body.
Researchers believe that the American diet contains around 1/2 cup of sugar every day. Processed foods are full of corn syrup in all kinds of sugars. Juices are sweetened and are often the first ingredient on the list of ingredients on the nutrition label. Not only in juices but going through our pantry and looking at processed and canned foods, the nutrition labels show us that sugar is the single most used but dangerous food.
I had been eating natural yogurt for some time and thought I was eating good stuff because it says natural. One day, I looked to the label just to see what was in there. I was shocked that the second ingredient on the list was sugar. I have not bought one single yogurt after that (and that was months ago). Why not? When I give my body this stuff, it has to work so hard to get the balance back.
For me, naturally occurring sugars in fruits are acceptable, even though your body goes through the same process, but the quantities are way smaller than in refined sugars. This is actually among the reasons why I eat more vegetables than fruit, in rates of 2 vs 3. I eat 2 portions of fruit every day compared to 3 portions of vegetables.
Since sugar makes our bodies go into a vicious cycle of ups and downs, I recommend that you cut down on sugars.
It is easy to understand why first thing in the morning after a platter of delicious and sugar loaded hotcakes, your energy levels stay up for around 2 hours. You feel as if you have had a healthy breakfast, but then suddenly you go drop down on energy and you get the feeling that if you do not eat instantly, you will faint.
Have you ever had that? I have experienced it many times. Research shows that this sugar high is a more sedative that makes you feel energized than what you really do. Therefore, sugar is sometimes compared to an alcohol “hangover”, because of the same effects.
Your body just cannot control and balance what happens in your body when you eat refined sugars and it has some negative effects on your body and health.
It is believed that feeling exhausted frequently after consuming sugar could mean that you are prone to diabetes or other health-related issues. In my case, I am pretty sure that this would not be the case as this was unusual.
So what do I do with it now?
After feeling tired and sluggish for many days, I recommitted to my diet right the day after Christmas holidays ended and went back to free from refined sugars. It did not take 3 days to recover my energy levels. I have been back to feeling energized throughout the days, have had regular sleeping cycles and feel good again. Proof enough that sugar was among the primary causes of my tiredness.
After that, I am more than willing to stick to my plan and get more positive results with it.
And now I would like to hear from you. Did this resound with you? Have you been exhausted too and believed that it was due to your high intake of refined sugars? Please leave your comment and let us discuss this topic further.
Have a wonderful day,