Sugar Hangover — How You Get One & How To Cure It

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rexusa_1184317fPhoto: Andrew Williams/REX USA.
Feeling that post-sugar high/low today? Maybe you hit the mini Milky Ways a little too hard, leaving you a bit burned out. While it's not as severe an actual hangover (you know, the kind where you went full-tilt on a few too many martinis), your body does actually react to sugar and, often, feels worse if you binge.

First, it's important to understand what happens when you eat too much of the sweet stuff. It enters your bloodstream in the form of glucose, triggering your pancreas to create excess insulin to deal with all that glucose. Because the kinds of sugar in candy — typically sucrose and fructose — are so easily converted into glucose (the form of energy you body prefers to use), your blood-sugar skyrockets. Your body is having a field day with all that sucrose — transforming it to glucose in a snap. But, once all that excess glucose is gone, your blood sugar drops precipitously, triggering the crash.

All this excess insulin can make you feel hungry. You might crave more sugary foods. But, the key to ending this cycle — and therefore your sugar hangover — is to resist this impulse! Try eating things that will be slowly broken down by your body — things like proteins. This will sate your hunger without beginning the crash anew.

After an intense bout of sugar consumption (i.e. the entire week leading up to Halloween) the levels of the bacterial and yeast colonies living in your body can be disrupted. Yeasts enjoy feeding off of simple sugars, so they flourish in ultra-sweet environments. For women, this can sometimes take the form of a yeast infection (though yeast can live in places other than the vagina). Taking a probiotic supplement or eating healthy, fermented foods (like yogurts, kefir, and sauerkraut) can help to restore bacterial and yeast harmony — and keep the unwanted bugs in check. FYI, you should also halt on eating tons of sugar or else the probiotics can't really help you.

If you've overdone it, drinking tons of water will also help your body recover. If you've eaten way too much sugar, your body will try to get rid of the excess glucose by filtering it through the kidneys and eliminating it as urine. At very high levels, sugar can cause dehydration. So, bottoms up! (By that we mean H20).

Sugar crashing and hangovers aren't reserved for the day after Halloween — high-sugar content foods are a staple of many people's diets. But, if you've been wondering what might be causing that headache, fatigue, or constant craving for more candies, you may have found your culprit.