Need Help Kicking Sugar? Research Shows It Makes You Slower and Dumber

Sugar. You know it — the sweet, irresistible ingredient that makes the world’s unhealthiest foods impossible to resist. It’s extremely addicting — but you probably already knew that. What you might not know is what it’s actually doing to you, little by little, both mentally and physically.

Eating too much sugar slowly destroys your body and makes simple mental tasks much harder to complete than they should be. Here are a few facts that might finally help you make the commitment to cutting back.

Do you eat massive amounts of sugar? Apologize to your liver

illustration showing male liver anatomy

It’s not just alcohol that can destroy your liver. | iStock.com/sankalpmaya

Think alcohol is the only guilty pleasure slowly destroying your liver? In large amounts, added sugar can almost act as a toxin in a similar way. Over time, eating too much sugar can lead to diabetes and other chronic diseases — and it all often starts in your liver.

When there’s an abundance of sugar in your liver, your body turns it into fat. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease often develops when an fat collects in your liver, which can mess with your metabolism.

Don’t worry — you’re not the only one

Donuts and candy with sugar spread and written text in unhealthy nutrition

Americans love sugar. | iStock.com/OcusFocus

Collectively, Americans consume about 130 pounds of sugar per year. The average adult eats about 22 teaspoons of added sugar daily, even though the American Heart Association recommends eating no more than 9 teaspoons per day.

To stay under this limit, you’d have to significantly reduce your processed food intake. The good news is, your heart and brain will thank you.

Sugar also hurts your heart

Doctor drawing ecg heartbeat chart

You also aren’t doing your heart any favors. | iStock.com/BrianAJackson

All your favorite sweet stuff hurts your health in more ways than you might think. Your heart, like your liver, really suffers when you pump too much added sugar into your system. Though much of the blame falls on salt, it’s not the only nutrient making your blood pressure skyrocket.

Research has shown people who spend large amounts of calories on added sugars are more likely to develop heart disease. If that’s still not enough, consider sugar’s impact on your mental health.

It’s making you depressed and you don’t even know it

Teenager girl worried and sad outdoors

Sugar may be the cause of your sadness. | iStock.com/AntonioGuillem

A diet high in sugar might contribute to feelings of depression. Eating too much of it can interfere with the balance of chemicals in your brain, which is why it’s so dangerous for your mental well-being.

Your brain responds to sugar in a way that mimics its response to alcohol or drugs. It isn’t a drug itself, but it does trigger a psychological feel-good response that might cause you to crave sugar the next time you want to feel good. In the end, though, those good feelings don’t tend to last.

It might also put you into a ‘sugar coma’

headache during work at the office

Ever experience a sugar crash? We’re betting you have. | iStock.com/gpointstudio

Have you ever experienced something you can only describe as a “sugar crash”? You’re not imagining things. Too much sugar really can affect the way you process information, which is why that infamous post-dessert brain fog hits you so hard after dinner.

One study found that participants who ate sugar performed cognitive-dependent tasks poorly compared to those who didn’t. If you want to stay sharp, you really need to ease off your sugar habit. Seriously.

Why is this happening to you?

tv dinner on a tray

Your favorite TV dinner is full of added sugar. | hillwoman2/iStock/Getty Images

Your diet impacts the way you think and feel, the same way the way you think and feel often impacts what you eat. For this reason, it’s sometimes hard to figure out why tonight’s planned healthy dinner turned into a seemingly endless marathon of chocolate-covered pretzels and all the M&Ms.

For one thing, you might not even realize many of the foods you’re eating, like many frozen dinners, contain massive amounts of added sugar. And for another, you might find yourself bouncing between quitting all sugar and giving into your cravings after days of deprivation. Are you doing it wrong?

Do you have to quit sugar for good?

Donut holes

Kicking the store-bought sweets is always a good idea. | iStock.com

Many people assume that all carbs have the same effect on your body and mind as synthetic sugars do. Here’s one last piece of good news for you — not all carbs exist to make you miserable. You don’t have to say no to all sugary foods forever. You will benefit from eating less of its worst forms, though.

Take a break from store-bought sweets — it’s easier than you think. Surprisingly, the occasional slice of bread or bowl of pasta won’t wreck your health nearly as much.

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