How Sugar Damages Your Liver

Who knew the little crystals of sweetness could be so deadly? Did you know sugar can affect your liver adversely?

The rate at which people are getting tooth decay and crashing from that sugar high shouldn’t be our only worries! Puddings, cakes, doughnuts and sodas – they all have heaps of sugar and what’s worse is, sugar is so addictive that once you’re hooked one serving just won’t do. Like alcohol, there needs to be a limit. About 10 teaspoons a day should be the absolute maximum, but our sugar craze has gotten way out of hand by leaps and bounds. This is everyday’s story and not just on holidays or celebrations.

This unhealthy level of sugar consumption can destroy your internal organs, especially your liver.


What does the liver do?

The liver is the largest organ in the body. All the digested food in our blood goes through the liver from the digestive system where it is filtered to remove toxins. Then, this purified, nutrient-rich blood is transported to the different organs and systems of the body.

The liver produces bile for digesting fats and absorbing vitamins during digestion. It also turns carbohydrates into glucose to provide the body with energy; the excess amount is stored as glycogen in the liver. The moment the body’s blood sugar levels drop, this glycogen is transformed into glucose to bring the levels back.

So, since the liver stores sugar, holding onto surplus reserves is definitely bad. It causes damage of this organ and, subsequently, the rest of the body.

Liver Damage by Sugar

Sugars can be complex and simple in nature. The more complex, the slower the metabolizing rate; whereas simple sugars metabolize much quicker. Simple sugar is found in processed foods, like jams, cereals, corn syrup and cookies. As for the complex sugars, they are found in fruits, vegetables and wheat. They are also known to have a low glycemic index.

Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Once the food is processed, any unused sugar is saved by the liver as fat. If the rate of burning this fat does not catch up to the rate of glucose storage and conversion, this fat will build up in the liver. This, in turn, causes a disease known as Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, which may subsequently lead to diabetes, liver cirrhosis or even liver cancer. The symptoms of this disease are fatigue, nausea, weight loss, weakness, enlarged liver and pain in the abdomen where the liver is located. The disease is reversible when detected and treated in the early stages.


When the accumulation of fat goes beyond the liver’s capacity to stock it, it becomes swollen, promoting the formation of scar tissue or cirrhosis. This prevents the liver from functioning normally and optimally. Symptoms here are muscle wasting, fluid retention, jaundice, internal bleeding and liver failure.

Liver Cancer

Too much sugar consumption can lead to metabolic problems. These, in turn, cause inflammation, a likely cause for cancer to strike. Similarly, a large proportion of sugar in the blood stream means more insulin is produced. Scientists believe that high insulin levels can also lead to cancer.

Sugar is a poison that hides its deadly effects on the liver and body behind a sweet disguise. A regular sugar overdose destroys the body internally. The liver is not the only target.

Prevent Liver Damage by Sugar

Some people may put on weight; others may not. This is the immediate effect of high sugar consumption. However, the true symptoms of liver damage occur only after a number of years. The toll that sugar takes over your body doesn’t happen overnight, and sometimes recovering is out of the question. It’s like they say prevention is better than cure.

We know that sugar is bad for us, so we can curtail our sugar intake. But that does not mean you eat whatever you please. As mentioned earlier, simple sugars are absorbed faster than the complex sugars. So when you happen to be in the mood for something sweet, look for fruits not pastries and sweets.

Substitute soft drinks for freshly made juices and smoothies, with little to no sugar. Avoid juice concentrates at all costs. Add vegetables, wheat, oatmeal, and nut to your diet. The high-fibre content will slow down the sugar absorption process in the body. However, if you do already have diabetes, check with your doctor to see which fruits are best for you and how you too can battle liver damage resulting from sugar.