Discover the hidden dangers of processed sugar

Nina Ross
Certified Naturopathic Doctor
November 13, 2023

We've all heard the phrase "too much of a good thing" and when it comes to sugar, this couldn't be more true. While sugar can bring a momentary burst of energy and happiness, the long-term effects of consuming too much sugar can be disastrous for your health.

Processed sugar, in particular, is a major contributor to a host of chronic health issues. It's cheap, it's addictive, and it's hiding in plain sight in many of our favorite foods. But what exactly happens to our bodies when we consume too much sugar, and how can we protect ourselves?

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the many ways that processed sugar wreaks havoc on our health, and what we can do to reduce our risk.

Sugar and Inflammation

One of the biggest ways that sugar wrecks your body is through its impact on inflammation.

When the body is constantly exposed to high levels of sugar, it can lead to chronic inflammation. This type of inflammation contributes to a wide range of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and even some types of cancer.

Sugar also causes inflammation by promoting the development of visceral fat, which is a type of fat that surrounds your organs. This type of fat can lead to inflammation and other health problems like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Other inflammatory compounds are also found in sugar. These include advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and uric acid, both of which can increase inflammation levels in the body and lead to diseases such as gout.

Sugar and Weight Gain

Obviously we all understand that eating sugar is a pretty terrible decision for anyone looking to lose unhealthy body weight, but let's get into the nitty gritty of why.

Firstly, when the body is flooded with sugar it has to stop everything it's doing and address this newfound load of carbohydrates.

So what it does is get to work on digesting the sugar and converting it into usable energy. Unfortunately, this process takes a lot of time and energy, which means that other processes in the body slow down or even stop completely.

During this time your body stops burning fat for energy and instead burns the carbohydrates for fuel. What this means is that if you're eating a lot of sugar your body will not be burning fat as it should, which is obviously bad news for anyone looking to lose weight.

Sugar and Hormonal Imbalance

Another way that sugar wrecks your body is through its impact on hormones. Consuming too much sugar can disrupt the delicate balance of hormones in the body, leading to a host of problems. For example, high levels of sugar can lead to insulin resistance, which can cause an overproduction of insulin. Over time, this can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes.

Sugar can also disrupt the balance of other hormones, such as:

Cortisol: sugar can contribute to inflammation by increasing levels of cortisol, a hormone that is released in response to stress. The body processes sugar as if it were a stressor, which can result in elevated levels of cortisol. This can cause an imbalance between energy production and consumption, which leads to weight gain or difficulty losing weight.

Progesterone: sugar can disrupt the balance of progesterone, a hormone that helps regulate crucial functions such as menstruation and fertility. When levels of this hormone are too low or too high, it can lead to problems such as irregular periods or infertility.

Just like any drug, excessive sugar consumption can lead to dangerous consequences. From fueling chronic diseases to altering mood and behavior, sugar is a silent killer infiltrating our lives

Sugar and Hormonal Hunger Signals

There are certain hormones that regulate our body's hunger and fullness signals - sugar does an especially nasty trick on these hormones.

Here's how:


sugar can cause blood sugar levels to spike, which triggers the release of insulin from the pancreas. This hormone converts glucose into energy for cells throughout your body. When there is an overproduction of insulin, however, it can cause cells to become resistant—which means they don’t respond properly when insulin is present.


sugar disrupts the balance of leptin, a hormone that plays an important role in regulating metabolism. Leptin is produced by fat cells to signal satiety, or fullness. As sugar intake increases and fat stores decrease due to weight loss, leptin levels drop. This literally means that the more sugar you eat, the more your body's fullness signals stop working!


sugar also disrupts ghrelin; which is produced by the stomach and small intestine to signal hunger. As sugar intake increases and fat stores decrease due to weight loss, ghrelin levels rise. This literally means that the more sugar you eat, the hungrier your body will feel!

So really think about this: sugar is so villainous that it tricks your body into ALWAYS being hungry and NEVER getting full at the same damn time.

That's exactly why when you go to eat just 3 cookies, the next thing you know the entire bag is gone and you're wondering why you just ate the entire thing.

The answer: because sugar tricks your body into feeling hungry all the time and you can never get enough!

Sugar and Mental Health

Many people are surprised to learn that sugar can also have a major impact on mental health. Studies have shown that consuming too much sugar can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and mood swings.

This is because sugar impacts the levels of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, in the brain and gut.


Sugar impacts levels of serotonin; a neurotransmitter that helps send signals between nerve cells. It is often called the “happy hormone” because it helps to regulate mood and feelings of happiness.

Did you know that there's more serotonin in your gut than in your brain? And that serotonin can actually be produced by eating a healthy diet and avoiding sugar? So it makes sense that when you eat too much sugar, you are potentially decreasing the amount of serotonin available for other important functions like mood regulation.

To put it another way: EATING SUGAR MAKES YOU SAD.


Eating too much sugar can make you anxious. We know that serotonin helps to regulate mood and feelings of happiness, so when your levels are low, it affects how you feel.

When you have low levels of serotonin, the brain thinks there’s a lack of something important in the body so it sends out signals to find more. These signals cause anxiety, which makes sense because anxiety is often linked with feeling like something is missing or wrong.

To put it another way: EATING SUGAR MAKES YOU WORRY.

Mood Swings:

Our mood is determined by the balance between the brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin. When levels of these chemicals are out of whack, it can cause mood swings.

Sugar leads to a spike in dopamine levels, which makes you feel excited and energized. But when that feeling wears off, your neurotransmitters go into overdrive trying to find more sugar so they can release more dopamine again. The result? A crash—and another craving for sugar!

These ups and downs are incredibly stressful on your body, making you feel anxious and irritable.


"Say goodbye to sugar's grip on your health and hello to a vibrant, empowered you! Let N.E.W. help you break free from its toxic hold and take control of your well-being."

by Dr. Nina
Naturopathic Physician at Natural Edge Wellness (N.E.W.)

Sugar and the Microbiome

Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria, known collectively as your microbiome. These bacteria play a critical role in your overall health, and consuming too much sugar can disrupt the delicate balance of the microbiome.

Your microbiome is incredibly sensitive to changes in your diet. When you eat foods high in sugar, the bacteria in your gut will flourish and grow.

This can lead to a host of health problems, including digestive issues, immune dysfunction, and even mental health problems.

Sugar and the Liver

Finally, it's important to note that consuming too much sugar can also have a major impact on the liver. The liver is responsible for processing and removing toxins from the body, and when it's bombarded with too much sugar, it can become overworked. Over time, this can lead to fatty liver disease, which is a major contributor to the development of heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems.


As you can see, the impact of sugar on your health is far-reaching and profound. From inflammation to hormonal imbalances, to mental health, to the microbiome and liver, consuming too much sugar can wreak havoc on your body. That's why it's so important to limit your intake of processed sugar, and focus on eating a diet that is rich in whole, nutrient-dense foods.

By taking control of your sugar intake, you'll be taking a critical step towards improving your overall health and well-being.

Nina Ross
Certified Naturopathic Doctor

What can Nina Ross Functional Medicine do for you?

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