Part 3: Sugar in Your Blood
Written By: Irene Castillo, MPH, RDN
Hey, Sugarbugs! We’ve been talking a lot about sugary drinks. And it got us wondering, what happens to all this sugar when it enters your body? We did some research and this is what we discovered. First, added sugars cause an increase in blood glucose or blood sugar. This causes your pancreas to produce insulin, a hormone that helps turn sugar into energy so you can do all the wild, fun things you like to do. Like dance! Or jump around, or do your homework. Your choice. Either way, a busy Sugarbug like you needs energy.
The hormone insulin goes on to signal to your cells that it’s time to open up and let glucose in. Your cells use the glucose for energy. What happens if you don’t need the energy? Say you’re taking a break from your dance routine. In this case, your muscle or liver cells can store the glucose for later. This happens quickly. The human body is pretty remarkable and efficient!
The problem is when you overload your body with added sugars, the extra insulin causes a crash to deal with the sugar spike. This makes your blood sugar drop. When your blood sugar drops below normal, it can cause fatigue and irritability. Ever felt that crash after you eat something sweet? Now you know why! And if this happens a lot, your body can build resistance to insulin which causes higher than normal blood sugar levels, which can lead to so many more health problems like weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney diseases, non-alcoholic liver disease, and tooth decay or caries. This is why it’s important to eat balanced meals and keep healthy snacks on hand throughout the day.
We hope you learned a few things about sugary drinks and your amazing body! Until next time, stay well, Sugarbugs!
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Get the facts: added sugars and consumption. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/data-statistics/added-sugars.html
2. U.S. Department of Agriculture, US Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020. Available at DietaryGuidelines.gov.
3. American Heart Association. (2019). Understanding ingredients on food labels. Retrieved from: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/understanding-ingredients-on-food-labels
4. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. (2020). USDA Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies and USDA Food Patterns Equivalents Database 2017-2018. Retrieved from: https://www.ars.usda.gov/northeast-area/beltsville-md-bhnrc/beltsville-human-nutrition-research-center/food-surveys-research-group/
5. National Institutes of Health. (2010). NIH study shows how insulin stimulates fat cells to take in glucose. Retrieved from: https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-study-shows-how-insulin-stimulates-fat-cells-take-glucose
6. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2018). Insulin resistance and prediabetes. Retrieved from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes/prediabetes-insulin-resistance#insulinresistance
7. Malik, V., Popkin, B., Bray, G., Desprs. J.P., Hu, F. (2010). Sugar-sweetened beverages, obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular disease risk. Circulation.121(11):1356-1364.
8. Malik, V.S., Hu, F.B. (2015). Fructose and cardiometabolic health: what the evidence from sugar-sweetened beverages tells us. J Am Coll Cardiol. 66(14):1615-1624.
9. Bomback, A., Derebail, V., Shoham, D., et al. (2010) Sugar-sweetened soda consumption, hyperuricemia, and kidney disease. Kidney International. 77(7):609-616.
10. Bernabe, E., Vehkalahti, M.M., Sheiham, A., Aromaa, A., Suominen, A.L. (2014) Sugar-sweetened beverages and dental caries in adults: a 4-year prospective study. J Dent. 42(8):952-958.