WE all love a sweet treat from time-to-time.
Whether you prefer a chocolate bar or some ripe strawberries, sugar is something that is in most foods.
This makes it pretty hard to avoid, and while there is nothing wrong with having it in moderation, one expert has warned that your consumption could be having an adverse effect on your health.
Speaking to The Sun, nutritionist Jess Hillard said issues with sugar only arise when you're consuming the sweet stuff in excess.
The NHS states we should be having no more than 30g of free sugars a day, this works out at around seven cubes.
Free sugars are those we add to foods and drinks and are also found naturally in products like honey and syrups.
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A can of cola can have as much as nine cubes of sugar – more than the recommended daily limit for adults.
If you're having more than you should, Jess, who is the in-house expert at sports nutrition brand Warrior, said there are six warning signs that sugar might be harming you.
1. Increased appetite
If your appetite has increased and you never feel completely satiated, this may be a sign that you need to cut back on sugar, Jess said.
"Whilst a sugary snack here and there does no harm, if you’re consuming too much sugar you’re more likely to experience increased hunger levels and cravings.
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"This is because the body digests and absorbs sugar quickly, causing a spike in our blood sugar levels and leaving us only wanting more.
"Sugar also activates the production of hunger hormones and does the opposite to hunger-suppressing hormones, leaving you more likely to reach for something sweet."
2. Mood swings
Jess said that changes in mood might be another indication that you need to cut back on sugar.
"We’ve all heard of the ‘supposed’ sugar high that sweet treats can give us.
"However, in reality, sugar often causes our mood to fluctuate and dip.
"This is because of how sugar causes a brief spike in your blood sugar levels which is most likely followed by an immediate crash in blood sugar levels."
The expert explained that this can dramatically affect hormone levels which regulate mood and leave you feeling low and uninspired.
"It can also exacerbate anxiety symptoms as a drop in blood sugar levels can leave you feeling jittery and on edge," she added.
3. Change in energy levels
Another common sign that you’re consuming too much sugar is if you’re finding that you have less energy than usual, the nutritionist said.
"Despite getting 7-8 hours’ sleep a night, your energy levels will still dip if you’re not paying enough attention to your nutrition and are consuming too much sugar.
"It has been well documented that sugar causes fatigue as well as our energy levels to crash.
"Because sugar makes us feel tired, this can reduce our motivation to go about daily tasks and leave us feeling demotivated and unfulfilled," Jess added.
Sugar can significantly affect the state of our skin, Jess explained.
"If you’re experiencing breakouts or skin flare ups, this may be an indication that you need to cut back on the amount of sugar you’re consuming.
"Glucose, an ingredient found in many of our favourite sweet snacks, plays an important role in how our skin looks on the surface.
"In essence, eating foods with a lot of sugar raises your body's insulin levels, which can cause your skin to produce more oils."
She added that this can clog your pores and follicles and trigger breakouts and inflammation.
5. Dental issues
It’s a well known fact that consuming excessive amounts of sugar can cause tooth decay, discolouration and bad breath.
"If you’re experiencing any of the above, then this could be a sign that you’re consuming too much sugar.
"Sugar is converted by your teeth into acid, which erodes tooth enamel and can lead to cavities and even poor breath.
"In some cases, excessive sugar consumption can even cause gum disease and the discomfort associated with this," Jess said.
6. Gut problems
Eating too much sugar can have an adverse affect on your gut health, Jess said.
"You may experience some uncomfortable symptoms associated with poor gut health, such as cramps or stomach pain, and these can all act as indicators that your sugar intake is verging on the excessive side.
"Sugar can often irritate the gut and end up destroying the good bacteria usually found in the stomach.
"Processed foods are often the culprit, as people might ignore, or not even consider the sugar content of the food they are consuming."
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Jess explained that this is often because sugary foods are so addictive and tasty.
However, it's really important to be aware that processed ingredients and sugar can cause long term damage to our gut health and more time spent on the toilet, she said.
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