Why is sugar bad for you? (Especially after menopause)

Chances are you know too much sugar is not good for you. Of course, it can contribute to weight gain because when your cells have gotten their fill of sugar, what is left is turned into fat.

Beyond that, there are many reasons why we want to limit sugar intake in our second half of life. We think that knowing these facts will give you the extra inspiration you need to start cutting back on sugar and readjusting your sweet tooth.

According to major health organizations and thousands of evidence based studies, excess sugar intake has a damaging effect on all parts of the body. 

Women should consume no more than 6 tsp or 24 g added sugar, which we feel is a bit liberal. For reference, just one Starbucks glazed donut contains 30g sugar.

To get all the information, watch the video below!


The average American eats 22 tsp of sugar per day! So if you are among the average, it is time to get to work!

Let’s start off with the obvious…

Reason 1: Excess sugar throws off blood sugar.

We have so many women coming to us with prediabetes and even diabetes. These individuals need help lowering their blood sugar, but even if your bloodwork doesn’t get flagged for sugar issues, it is vital to pay attention to blood sugar.

Here’s how it works – when you eat carbohydrates, your body breaks those carbs down into their simplest form, glucose. Your blood sugar rises and releases the hormone, insulin. Insulin helps your cells draw the glucose from your bloodstream and deliver it to your cells to use as fuel. Imagine a wave image going up and down, up and down. The rise of the wave is the presence of the sugar in your blood, or blood sugar, after you have eaten and the bottom part is after insulin comes in and removes it.

Here’s the catch – The height of the wave depends on the type of carb. If it is a whole food carb with fiber, like broccoli, an apple or a sweet potato, the rise will be much less than from a sugary donut or cookie. The key here is that processed carbs and sugar will cause the food to break down faster, causing a higher peak.

Keep in mind that when you eat lots of sugar, your body will overproduce insulin – and then TOO much sugar clears from the bloodstream (with the excess going into fat cells) . . . leaving you feeling tired, weak, craving.

This is what we know of as a sugar crash!! It leaves you craving more sugar to bring you back to normal, and at the same time, you’ve fed your fat cells. 

When this happens too often, it can lead to insulin resistance, where the cells stop recognizing insulin. And we’re more susceptible to insulin resistance in our second half of life as well which we discuss below.

We prioritize balancing blood sugar with all of our clients as it helps with moods, cravings and to avoid insulin resistance.

Reason 2: Inflammation.

Inflammation is related to SO many conditions, such as heart disease and prediabetes as well as arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohns or colitis. In addition, it becomes more prevalent as we age, so a client’s sugar/refined carb intake is the first thing we look at.

When insulin levels are high in the bloodstream, certain compounds are produced that trigger inflammation.

  • Most don’t realize that a high sugar intake can lead to a pro-inflammatory state that can  inflame joints and arteries. So not only does inflammation relate to heart disease, but think about pain in bones or rheumatoid arthritis. Eating too much sugar is like throwing hot coals on your joints. 
  • A high-sugar diet may preferentially feed inflammatory bacteria in the gut.
  • Eating too much processed sugar can cause the liver to produce toxic levels of fat, often seen with higher triglyceride levels and LDL levels.

Clients are so focused on their fat and cholesterol intake that they fail to realize how important it is to get the SUGAR out. This has the most impact also on triglyceride levels which is a major risk factor for heart disease.

Reason 3: Mineral Depletion.

Glucose, the final breakdown of carbs, is used to produce energy in our body. This breakdown requires a number of enzyme processes that depend on B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and other minerals. When we are eating a whole foods diet rich in vitamins and minerals, we use those nutrients in the food to help in the process. 

However, when we eat excess refined sugars that are lacking those nutrients, the body must collect vitamins and minerals from other parts of the body. In this connection, our bones serve as the primary “mineral bank”. 

Consuming sugar, in other words, is like making constant cash withdrawals, and unless we make sure to replace what we take out from our account, we risk going bankrupt.

When sugar further depletes our supply of valuable minerals, it can result in serious health consequences like osteoporosis and other mineral deficient symptoms such as leg cramps, muscle tightness or spasms, blood sugar imbalances, high blood pressure, and even things like mood disorders and depression.

Reason 4: Depresses Immune System.

The immune system is clearly going to be compromised by the lack of minerals, particularly zinc.  

In addition, studies have shown that sugar affects the ability of your white blood cells (WBC) to do their job. Your white blood cells are the cells of the immune system. They defend the body against disease and foreign matter.  

The take home message here is that sugar consumption is decreasing your ability to fight disease. We’ve seen research that one teaspoon of sugar depresses immune system function for five hours. It’s not surprising then that upper respiratory illnesses often follow and directly correspond to times of excessive sugar intake like after the holidays. Sugar does not only decrease our ability to fight bacteria but also viruses, cancer, and parasites. 

Reason 5: Affects Brain Chemicals.

Sugar qualifies as an addictive substances for two reasons:

  • Eating even a small amount creates a desire for more.
  • Suddenly quitting causes withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, cravings and fatigue.

Our brains become addicted to the natural opioids triggered by sugar consumption. Similar to classic drugs (cocaine, alcohol and nicotine), sugar can cause excessive reward signals in the brain.

So the good news is, it’s not your fault! Food companies want you to be addicted to their products and therefore spend tons of money researching ways to get you addicted. That’s where education comes into play and learning ways to limit sugar are key. Even more good news is that there are steps you can take to wean yourself off sugar. We see people tackle this issue all the time! 

Reason 6: HORMONES.

First off, don’t forget that insulin is a hormone, so that can also fall under this category. What is important here is that estrogen helps to optimize insulin. And what happens in and after menopause? Estrogen is reduced. So this will mess with our ability to regulate blood sugar. 

There is also some evidence that the drop in progesterone that occurs during this time has a role too on insulin’s ability to do its job. 

Since we cannot control the decline in our estrogen and progesterone, it becomes even more important that we are diligent about making sure our diet is low in added sugar, and we are feeding it quality nutrients. 

When it comes down to it…

“But I don’t eat that much sugar,” you might be saying to yourself. Most people we encounter have absolutely no idea how much sugar they actually consume. That’s because it’s hidden in so many seemingly healthy foods, such as granola bars, yogurts, salad dressings, coffee drinks, condiments, and cereals. And recall how we mentioned that anything more than 6 teaspoons puts you at risk for over consumption. That’s the amount found in less than one soda, a large glass of lemonade, or many low fat yogurts. So for a few days take stock on the amount you are taking in and go from there.

stephanie goodman and jane schwartz


Jane and Stephanie, creators of The Simply Nourished Solution™, are nutritionists who help women over 50 go from overweight, frustrated, and inflamed to lighter and healthier so they can be more active, feel good in their bodies, and live the second half of life with energy and confidence. Their 3-pronged approach, which can fit into any lifestyle, encompasses not only wholesome energizing foods but powerful habit and mindset shifts.


What’s blocking your weight loss success?

Quiz Banner

You can still lose weight after 50 - even if you’ve been trying your whole life! Find out what’s standing between you and the healthy weight, energy and freedom you’re looking for.

What to read next:


Stop Restricting More Than You Need To!


Lose weight without changing what you eat (5 actionable steps)!


3 common eating mistakes to watch out for

Supported weight loss for women over 50

If you’re struggling to nourish yourself after menopause, our Simply Nourished Solution™ Signature Weight Loss Program offers the tools, strategies and shifts you need to stop yo-yo dieting, permanently lose weight, and feel better than ever in your 50’s, 60’s and beyond.