The Scary Effects of Sugar

As a holistic nutritionist, I try to eat the healthiest, most nourishing diet possible. It isn’t always easy and it can get expensive, but it is really important to me. On an average day I eat at least 10 servings of anti-oxidant rich vegetables, high quality protein, healthy fats and an assortment of superfoods. I feel the best when I’m eating the food that I lovingly prepare for my body at home. My diet changes season to season as I experiment with the local ingredients and new cooking methods. Even though I love to eat nutritious food, I do have one weakness – sugar.

Yesterday was Chuseok, Korean Thanksgiving, and I was offered some Songpyeon (송편). I had such delicious memories of this traditional treat so I gave in and ate one piece (or six). As soon as I had the first one I knew I was in trouble.

Sugar is highly addictive and after just one taste I can feel the effects on my body. My brain gets a little foggy feeling and I instantly crave more. Did you know that sugar affects the same receptors on the brain as cocaine? That’s what makes it addictive. If you want to learn more about the effects of sugar on the brain, you can click here.

When I abstain from eating sugar, I feel great. My thinking is clearer and my energy more constant. After my first bite of a sugar food I develop a headache. It’s not the kind of headache that’s throbbing, just a dull ache that is annoying.

I want to share with you the 10 main reasons why I try my best to avoid sugar. I’m not just talking regular white granulated table sugar,other refined sugars and high fructose corn syrup.


1.Sugar lowers your immunity

one teaspoon of sugar will weaken the immune system for up to five hours (1)

2.  Sugar is addictive

Sugar is an addictive substance and can be compared to drug addiction (2)

3. Sugar depletes the body of energy

That initial sugar rush is followed by an energy crash, leaving you feeling even more drained that before that sugary snack

4. Sugar contributes to cancer

Sugar feeds cancer cells and has been connected with the development of cancer of the breast, ovaries, prostate, rectum, pancreas, biliary tract, lungs, gall bladder and stomach (4)

5. Sugar contributes to anxiety

Sugar can cause a rapid rise of adrenaline, hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and moodiness in children (5)

6. Sugar can cause heart disease

The consumption of sugar sweetened beverages is linked to heart disease (6)

7. Sugar is a key player in obesity

Sugar can create the urge to binge eat. Sugar, especially fructose found in high fructose corn syrup, does not stimulate the hormone leptin to be released. This hormone is what sends the satiation signal so without it, a person may feel the need to consume more food in order to reach that full, satisfying feeling (7)

8. Sugar can lead to Osteoporosis

Sugar interferes with calcium absorption and robs the bones of minerals. Sugar upsets the mineral relationship in the body (8)

9. Sugar promotes wrinkles and aging of the skin

Sugar causes a loss of tissue elasticity and function, causing the skin to age by changing the structure of collagen (9)

10. Sugar contributes to adrenal fatigue and burnout

Sugar can slow down that ability of the adrenal glands to function (10)

I know how difficult it can be to avoid sugar in Korea. There is sugar or a sugar-derivative in many processed foods. On the label, try to avoid these ingredients. I’ve listed them in the order of worst to best. And as a bonus, this is printable so you can keep a copy handy to take with you while you grocery shop.

I’m curious to hear from you. Do you also feel the same groggy feeling after eating sugar? Have you ever experienced a sugar headache?

(1)Sanchez, A., et al. 1973 “Role of Sugars in Human Neutrophilic Phagocytosis,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 26:1180-1184   HYPERLINK “” (accessed July 27, 2015)
(2) Colantuoni, C., et al. Evidence That Intermittent, Excessive Sugar Intake Causes Endogenous Opioid Dependence. Obes Res. Jun 2002 ;10(6):478-488. Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Society, Toronto, June 17, 2001  HYPERLINK “”
(4) Takahashi, E., Tohoku University School of Medicine, Wholistic Health Digest. October 1982:41:00
Quillin, Patrick, Cancer’s Sweet Tooth, Nutrition Science News. Ap 2000 Rothkopf, M.. Nutrition. July/Aug 1990;6(4).
Michaud, D. Dietary Sugar, Glycemic Load, and Pancreatic Cancer Risk in a Prospective Study. J Natl Cancer Inst. Sep 4, 2002 ;94(17):1293-300.
Moerman, C. J., et al. Dietary Sugar Intake in the Etiology of Biliary Tract Cancer. International Journal of Epidemiology. Ap 1993.2(2):207-214.
The Edell Health Letter. Sept 1991;7:1.
De Stefani, E.”Dietary Sugar and Lung Cancer: a Case control Study in Uruguay.” Nutrition and Cancer. 1998;31(2):132_7.
Cornee, J., et al. A Case-control Study of Gastric Cancer and Nutritional Factors in Marseille, France. European Journal of Epidemiology 11 (1995):55-65.
(5) Bradstock, M.K. et al. 1986. “Evaluation of reactions to food additives: the aspartame experience.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 43:464-469  HYPERLINK “” (accessed July 27, 2015)
(6) Null Gary. 2014. Sugar: Killing us Sweetly. Staggering Health Consequences of Sugar on Health of Americans. Global Research.  HYPERLINK “” (accessed June 18, 2015)
(7) de Koning et al. 2012 “Sweetened beverage consumption, incident coronary heart disease,  and biomarkers risk in men.” Journal of the American Heart Association.
HYPERLINK “” (accessed June 17, 2015)
(8) Kozlovsky, A., et al. Effects of Diets High in Simple Sugars on Urinary Chromium Losses. Metabolism. June 1986;35:515_518.
(9) Dyer, D. G., et al. Accumulation of Maillard Reaction Products in Skin Collagen in Diabetes and Aging. Journal of Clinical Investigation. 1993:93(6):421_22.
(10) Lechin, F., et al. Effects of an Oral Glucose Load on Plasma Neurotransmitters in Humans. Neurophychobiology. 1992;26(1-2):4-11.

One thought on “The Scary Effects of Sugar

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