Why Does Sugar Make Me Nauseous
Why Does Sugar Make Me Nauseous? You’re at a party with your friends and family when you see an old friend across the room. You decide it’s high time for a catch-up session, so you head over to grab a drink from the bar. But after just one, you start feeling nauseous. What happened? Did you eat something other than food? Was there something else besides alcohol on the menu? And what about all those sugary cocktails you had while you were out celebrating?
People who have eaten too much sugar, especially quickly, may develop symptoms similar to those described above, which are known by their medical term “sugar hangover.” If this is happening to you, don’t worry — you aren’t alone. In fact, many people experience these symptoms every now and then after eating large amounts of sugar. The good news is that they tend to be mild enough to pass without incident. However, if you’ve been experiencing them often or find yourself dealing with more severe cases, such as headaches, dizziness or even fainting, talk to your doctor.
So why does sugar make you feel ill? First off, let’s get into the details of how our bodies process sugars. When we consume carbohydrates — either naturally occurring like those found in fruits or vegetables or added sugars from things like soda (or even candy) — they break down into two components: simple sugars, also called monosaccharides, and complex sugars, also referred to as disaccharides. Simple sugars include fructose, lactose (found in milk), maltose (a form of malt sugar) and sucrose (the main sugar found in most types of sugar).
Complex sugars consist of two different sugars linked together. Glucose, galactose, mannose and rhamnose are four common examples of complex sugars.
Our bodies use sugars in three ways: energy production, storage and elimination. Our cells store glycogen, which is basically glucose wrapped up in a long chain molecule. This is used as both a source of fuel (during intense exercise), but also stores extra glucose that our body needs to keep running properly throughout the day. While our bodies generate enough energy using stored glycogen, any additional sugars consumed during the day are broken down further into glucose to provide our cells with the necessary fuel.
What happens when we eat sugars too fast, though? For starters, the breakdown of sugars doesn’t occur evenly among the various parts of the digestive system. Digestion begins in the mouth, where saliva breaks down sugars into smaller pieces. Then, digestion continues through the small intestine before moving onto the colon, where the final phase of breaking down sugars occurs. Once sugars reach the small intestine, they’re absorbed into the bloodstream. Since the small intestine has limited capacity to absorb all sugars at once, not every sugar gets processed at the same rate. As a result, some sugars reach the bloodstream faster than others, causing blood sugar levels to fluctuate rather rapidly.
This isn’t ideal, since fluctuations in blood sugar levels trigger release of stress hormones and increase heart rates. They also raise insulin levels, which can affect fat storage and contribute to weight gain. Additionally, rapid spikes in blood sugar can trigger cravings for sweets and other sweet treats, making it harder for us to avoid unhealthy foods altogether.
If you experience sugar hangovers regularly, try cutting back on your intake of sugars and starches. It might take a little longer to feel better, but you’ll eventually begin to crave healthier alternatives. If you need help staying away from sugar, experts recommend keeping a daily diary to record everything you eat and monitor your blood sugar levels. This will give you a clear picture of how much sugar you’re consuming each day and whether you should consider adjusting your diet.
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