Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Sugar: How Much Is Too Much?

I know it is advisable to limit sugar intake, but I've never heard a guideline of what a reasonable amount per day would be. Can you provide some guidance?

Answer (Published 5/15/2002)

Updated 4/01/2005

Your own response to sugar is the best test of how much you can handle. In some people, sugar triggers mood swings - it brings on a rush of energy followed later by a "crash" into lethargy and depression. Others don't get the rush; they just feel logy and sleepy after consuming sugar. And, of course, some people don't notice any physical or mental effects at all.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Healthy Eating - Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Nutrition - Want to change your diet? The Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging online guide is your anti-inflammatory diet headquarters. Start your free trial and get access to an exclusive version of Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid, hundreds of recipes, eating guides, and more.

In general, sugar is bad for the teeth (because it contributes to cavities). More specifically, diets high in sugar may predispose some people, especially women, to yeast infections, may aggravate some kinds of arthritis and asthma and may raise triglyceride levels. In people genetically programmed to develop insulin resistance, high-sugar diets may drive obesity and high blood pressure and increase risks of developing type 2 diabetes. Although conventional medical studies haven't shown that sugar causes hyperactivity in children, many parents are convinced that sugar does have that effect and that limiting sugar intake improves kids' behavior and attention. Recent research also indicates that sugar, rather than saturated fat, is the real culprit in America's high rates of cardiovascular disease.

I recommend cutting down or eliminating sugar if you experience mood swings, fluctuating energy levels, suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, are overweight or obese, have a family history of heart disease, or have frequent vaginal yeast infections. You may notice an improvement in your moods, a lessening of your arthritis symptoms and the frequency of yeast infections when you reduce or eliminate the sugar in your diet.

Even if you have no particular health or mood problem related to your sugar intake, realize that sugar's negative impact on health can slowly, insidiously accumulate over the years, and virtually all Americans consume too much. The best way to satisfy a sweet tooth is via foods in which the sugar is part of a whole food, such as in fresh or dried fruit, because the sugars are bound in a matrix of fiber that slows digestion and limits blood sugar spikes. No one needs foods made with copious amounts of added sugar.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here