10 signs you're addicted to sugar - and how to kick the cravings

Publish Date
Monday, 12 June 2017, 12:01PM
Photo / Getty Images

Photo / Getty Images

Difficulty sleeping, constant breakouts and exhausted taste buds may all be clues that you are suffering from a sugar addiction.

Doctors, health gurus and nutritionists have long called for people to cut back on sugar intakes because it can cause weight gain, cavities and a host of other issues, the Daily Mail reports.

However, the sweet stuff lurks in seemingly guilt-free or savoury food, including salad dressings, bread and coffee drinks.

A majority of people who are dependent on sugar don't realise they are hooked on the sweet stuff until they learn the tell-tale signs.

Nutritionists have flagged the 10 clues that indicate a sugar addiction and provide tips on how to completely detox the body of it.


1. Bad skin

Constant flare ups of acne is a major flag that there is too much sugar in the diet, health expert Natalie Lamb said.

The British Lepicol Lighter nutritionist said excessive sugar consumption can contribute to an imbalance of the female menstrual hormones and could result in acne along the jaw.

The white stuff can also cause long-term damage to the skin proteins, collagen and elastin, leading to premature wrinkles and aging, Lamb said.

Breakouts are also caused by inflammation, which sugar promotes. A study by the University Hospital Zurich proved this in 2011.

The researchers found that by drinking one can of soda a day, inflammation levels went up by 87 per cent and increased by 105 percent after two cans of soda.

2. Taste buds are dulled to sweet foods

Nutritionist Lorraine Kearney said taste buds eventually adapt to the high levels of sugar the body is consuming, dulling the sensation over time.

Sugar tolerance will increase with every bite of a frosted doughnut so eventually a food will have to be extra sweet to even notice how sugary it is.

Kearney said: "Sugar is like a drug as that it keeps needing more and more sugar to reach the same level that it had at first.

"So something that seemed super sweet at first eventually tastes normal.'

3. Increase in cavities

Dentists and concerning parents always warn young children that sweets will rot teeth - but it's true.

Pearly whites are more at risk for cavities when there is a higher sugar intake.
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NICDR), bacteria in the mouth feeds on sugars which creates harmful acids.

These acids then destroy tooth enamel. Cavities are formed by the acids that create a bacterial infection which leaves a hole in the tooth.

It's important to brush after eating sweet meals to rid the mouth of leftover sugars.

4. Constantly craving sugar

Kearney, who is based in New Jersey, reiterated that the body reacts to sugar like a drug, constantly needing more to achieve the same sugar high.

She said: 'A lot of people eat blindly, consuming whatever sounds good or what is available because they are too focused on other things.

'We may not realize we are really craving sugar when we want a bagel. Foods don't have to be candy or pastries for them to have lots of sugars.

Lamb added: 'Sugary foods are sweet and addictive, giving us a quick 'fix' that tempts us back time and time again.

"Foods high in sugar have been shown to activate the reward pathway in the brain by releasing dopamine, similar to that of addictive drugs."

5. Low energy

Sugar saps energy from the body, commonly known as a sugar crash.

Lamb said: 'Glucose is essential for energy production throughout the body, however, it is important to keep blood sugar levels balanced as opposed to experiencing the peaks and lows that occur when we binge on sugary snacks.

"Following the consumption of sugar, the pancreas releases insulin to help transfer glucose to the cells, meaning we may experience a rush of energy.

"Once used up, we can experience a dip in energy as the body demands more sugar to start the cycle all over again. It is not hard to imagine that the higher the sugar peak, the more extreme the sugar dip that will follow!"

6. Unexplained bloating

A common type of sugar is fructose, which is found in apples and peaches, as well sweeteners such as high-fructose corn syrup.

Experts say the substance is responsible for flatulence and bloating because fructose isn't easily absorbed by the body.

Lamb said: "Less desirable bacteria and yeast produce gases when they ferment our undigested food in the colon.

"Bad bacteria particularly love eating sugars, whereas beneficial bifidobacteria, who love veggies, are not believed to produce any gas.

"An overproduction of gas can lead to pain after eating, uncomfortable bloating and embarrassing flatulence."

7. Low sex drive

Kearney said a person who has too much sugar will experience a dip in their sex drive.

She said high levels of sugar in the bloodstream helps shuts down a gene responsible for producing sex hormones, causing a drop in libido.

Men with too much sugar in the bloodstream may develop erectile dysfunction, according to a John Hopkins study in 2005.

The researchers found a type of sugar can interfere with 'the chain of events' needed get and keep an erection.

The study also found that 50 to 75 percent of men with diabetes had erectile dysfunction, which is three times higher than non-diabetic men.

8. Weakened immune system

Too much sugar weakens immune system cells that attack bacteria, according to WedMD.

So when the cells are slowed down by sodas and pastries, they have a harder time keeping the body healthy and attacking harmful germs.

Lamb said a large majority, or 70 percent, of the immune system is located in the digestive system and is supported by healthy guy bacteria.

She added: "A diet high in sugar, however, will feed the less desirable bacteria and yeast and consequently affect the how well the immune system functions."

9. Weight gain

Kearney said weight gain is one of the most obvious signs that a change in diet should be made.

The nutritionist said when the body has too much sugar, it's stored to be converted into energy later.

But if the sugar isn't used as energy it just becomes fat, hanging around in unwanted areas like the stomach.

Kearney said: "Some whole foods have high levels of natural sugar, like apples but don't have good levels of fiber to help break down waste.

"Processed foods don't have high levels of fiber and are loaded with sugar.

"This means that the sugar is turned into fat and there is nothing to rid the body of waste, which leads to weight gain."

10. Insomnia

Sleeping problems is another tip-off that it's time to cut back on sugar.

If sugar is eaten right before bedtime, it's harder to fall asleep because there will be the notorious sugar high. This will make it harder to fall asleep.

Lamb added: "Insomnia could mean you struggle to fall asleep or have a broken night's sleep.

"Our 'happy hormone', serotonin is largely produced in the gut and is essential for melatonin production - the 'relaxation' hormone - necessary to aid a good night's sleep."


Kearney said if a person sees most of these warning signs in their life, then it means it's time for a detox.

The nutritionist recommends a full 21-day sugar detox in order to completely clear out the body of the harmful sugars.

During this period this means cutting out processed foods and eating whole foods for nearly a month.

Kearney said the body can also benefit from a 14-day detox, but encourages clients to try the month of no added sugars.

She said: "In the 21-day detox you are increasing consumption of high fiber foods while maintaining blood sugar levels. There's no pasta, no rice, no sugar-heavy fruits."

The premise of the detox is simple - no added sugars or sweeteners.

This means avoiding fruits, alcohol, dairy, grains and starchy vegetables, such as corn peas, sweet potatoes and butternut squash.

Kearney said after the first few days, you can slowly start adding fruit into the diet but warns against bananas, limes and lemons.

Over the course of the 21 days, some foods not to eat include coconut water, beans, rice, quinoa and beets.

This article was first published on Daily Mail and is republished here with permission.