Chest pain after eating sugary foods

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Processed foods, especially added sugars, have a detrimental effect on our health in the long run. Regular intake of excessive added sugar can lead to several health issues, such as obesity, teeth problems, heart diseases, diabetes, heart palpitations, and many other conditions.

Let’s look at how the intake of sugary foods and drinks leads to short-term symptoms, like chest, stomach, or heart pain, sore throat, heartburn, and heart palpitations. We’ll review how one can prevent these problems.

What is considered sugary food or drink?

Sugar is a form of carbohydrate and is present naturally in almost all foods. Its nutritional value is the addition of energy to the body.

Several fruits and vegetables contain sugar naturally. There is nothing wrong with consuming these so-called naturally occurring sugars.

Sugary food

However, many soft drinks, cookies, cakes, sweets, chocolates, smoothies, etc. contain a high amount of added sugar. This is sugar that has been added to these foods to make them sweeter, and these are the sugary foods that we are referring to.

These types of sugars are called free sugars or added sugars. The sugars added to these foods include maltose, sucrose, glucose, fructose molasses, and inverted sugars.

Eating too much of such sugary foods can affect your heart and digestive system.

Why sugary foods and drinks are bad for your body?

Excessive consumption of added sugar will lead to an increase in calories in the body that may lead to obesity.

Becoming overweight will come with problems such as heart complications and type two diabetes. To reduce this risk, we should get calories and the right kind of sugar from foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain grains.

What Does Sugar Actually Do To Your Body?
A great video by the Univesity of California about how sugar effects your body. Duration: 4:02.

Foods and drinks with added sugars will cause tooth decay. Chocolates, cakes, fizzy drinks, and sweets should not be consumed because they contain added sugars that will cause teeth problems.

Substitute these with fruits and vegetables that contain natural sugar.

Fruit juices and smoothies can still contain a lot of sugar and no fiber. The sugar is released fast, and so there is a risk of having tooth decay and other symptoms.

Consume your fruits and vegetables in their raw state as the sugars are contained and cannot cause such issues.

Left side pain after eating sugar

The two main reasons for left side pain after sugar consumption are heart problems and pancreas issues.

Heart problems

Does Sugar Cause Heart Disease? -- The Doctors
Watch doctors talking about whether fat or sugar is causing heart problems. Duration: 4:00.

As discussed below, too much sugar can trigger heart pain after eating. The typical symptoms are:

  • left side chest pain
  • pain that radiates into the left arm, shoulder, neck, or jaw
  • shortness of breath
  • fatigue


People with chronic pancreatitis can also experience pain in the left side of their body after eating sugar. Even though pancreatitis is usually caused by long-term heavy alcohol consumption, since this gland helps to digest sugar, too much sugar can trigger symptoms when it is inflamed.

Other common symptoms are:

Right side pain after eating sugar

Common causes of sugar-related right side pain are gallbladder and liver problems.

Fatty liver

What is Fatty Liver Disease and how is it treated? | Ohio State Medical Center
A short video about fatty liver disease by the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. Duration: 2:23.

Sugar is a major risk factor for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. When eating too much sugar, the liver turns the excess sugar into fat (the video above explains how).

While a fatty liver often causes no problems, some people can experience symptoms.

Gallbladder issues

The inflammation of the gallbladder and gallstones are common triggers of right side pain after eating.

This study found that carbs increase the risk of biliary sludge and gallstones in pregnant women.

Another study says: “western diet, high in refined carbohydrates and fat (triglyceride) and low in fiber to induce the lithogenesis process”.

Since both the liver and gallbladder are on the right side of the body, they tend to trigger right side pain. Typical symptoms are:

  • right side abdominal pain
  • pain in the right shoulder, arm, neck
  • nausea, vomiting
  • feeling weak or tired
  • yellowish skin and whites of the eyes

Why does your heart hurt after eating sugar?

More sugar in the bloodstream will increase insulin in the blood. The extra insulin causes the arteries walls to grow abnormally, therefore, causing stress to the heart.

After some time, there is a high risk of heart pain, heart attacks, heart palpitations, and even strokes.

The typical symptom of heart problems is chest tightness around the center or left part of the chest (cardiac chest pain). Other possible symptoms are:

  • pain in the left arm, shoulder, neck
  • pain in the back, between the shoulder blades
  • dizziness
  • sweating
  • shortness of breath

We already know that one of the effects of too much added sugar in the body is tooth decay. But I bet you didn’t realize that tooth decay has been linked to heart problems now did you?

There is evidence linking the two and dentists, and doctors recommend regular dental checkups to catch the problem early. Remember you don’t have to be obese to have heart pains.

Check on your BMI to ensure that you are on the right healthy path.

Heart palpitations after eating sugar

Some people experience heart palpitations after consuming sugar. However, chances are it is not the sugar, but some other ingredient that makes your heart skip a beat.


The low blood sugar level is a possible cause of heart palpitations.

There are certain foods, e.g. those that contain caffeine, that can also cause heart palpitations. If coffee, chocolate, or any kind of alcohol causes irregular heartbeat, you might want to stay away from them.

Other risk factors are:

  • stress
  • pregnancy
  • exercise
  • certain drugs, like weight loss pills

Can sugary foods cause chest pain?

Non-cardiac chest pain after eating sugary foods or drinks is associated with indigestion. The sugar is indigested, and as a result, a lot of gas and acidic elements may force the contents of the stomach to move back up into the esophagus. This condition is called acid reflux.

Chest pain
Gas, bloating, and acid reflux are common causes of sugar triggered chest pain.

When stomach acids seep into the food pipe, they start to irritate the lining of the esophagus, which feels like a burning pain – called heartburn – in the middle of the chest. The pain gets worse if you lie down, as it gets easier for the acids to flow back.

Stomach pain after eating sugar

Sometimes when you consume too much sugar, not all of it will properly digest in the upper intestine.

As indigested sugar passes through the digestive system, it might ferment in the lower intestine releasing gases in the stomach. Gases will cause a lot of discomfort, especially if the gas is not passed.

Get Off Sugar

Stomach cramps may occur hours after consuming a lot of sugar. Too much sugar consumption will also result in uncomfortable heat in the body.

Sugar makes the body produce a lot of fluids, thus leaving you dehydrated. Stomach cramps may let you know that you may be suffering from heat exhaustion.

Abdominal pain caused by sugar might also be related to certain diseases of the digestive system:

Can sugar cause sore throat?

Sour throat after eating sugar is a possible, albeit not common, side effect. Not only sweets, cookies, chocolates, but milk, bananas, and many other foods can be the cause. Eating too much sugar can also make your throat hurt.

You should talk to your doctor if sugar causes you a sore throat. It is usually not a serious medical condition, but depending on your other symptoms, your doctor might recommend a food allergy test.

Sore throat

How to relieve a sore throat caused by sugar?

If a food allergy is causing you a sore throat, you have to avoid the foods you are allergic to.

If silent reflux is the culprit, drinking small sips of water or herbal tea might relieve the pain.

Sugar-free chewing gums might also help to wash back the digestive fluids into the stomach.

You might also try digestive enzyme capsules to see if they help. The VitaPost Digestive Enzymes tablets contain carbohydrate enzymes that should help your body to digest sugar.

Shortness of breath after eating sugar

Shortness of breath caused by eating sugar is never a good sign!

If you experience shortness of breath right after consuming small amounts of sugar, it might be an allergic reaction. Symptoms of food allergies are usually mild to moderate, like runny nose, itchy skin, or stomach cramps. However, sometimes they can be life-threatening, like anaphylaxis.

Shortness of breath after eating too much sugar indicates that your blood sugar level is very high. A possible cause might be ketoacidosis, which requires immediate medical help. Call your doctor right away if shortness of breath is accompanied by symptoms like:

  • feeling very thirsty
  • frequent urination
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • dizziness

Shortness of breath can be a symptom of a heart attack. Chest tightness, pain radiating into the neck, jaw, arms, or shoulders are typical other symptoms.

You should talk to your doctor if you are out of breath or find it hard to breathe after eating sugar!

Why reduce your sugar intake?

There are so many benefits and advantages that come from reducing and finally cutting off sugar from your diet.

  • For one, you reduce the possibility of being obese and aids in losing weight.
  • Reducing sugar intake will help reduce the chances of having type 2-diabetes.
  • When you reduce sugar intake, your energy levels will be high during the day.
  • You will notice your skin start to clear out and become healthier and youthful.
  • You will reduce indigestion and inflammation issues that bring about discomfort, chest pains, and stomach cramps.
  • Your heart will be more robust, and the risk of heart attacks and heart problems will significantly reduce.
  • You will be more hydrated as sugar dehydrates cells leaving you looking dull and tired.
Get Off Sugar

Reduce your sugar intake and increase your water consumption.

How can physical activity help?

Physical activity will help in weight loss and reduce the effects of obesity that may be caused by high sugar intake.

Cardiovascular diseases can be reduced or prevented by being active.

Physical exercise is an excellent way to reduce, manage, and even avoid type 2-diabetes that is brought about by the intake of added sugar.

Remember that your body does require sugar for it to be healthy. Make sure that the sugar you consume is the most robust form.

  • Stay away from foods that contain added sugars.
  • Read labels on food rappings you buy at the supermarket to make sure that you do not take more sugar than you are supposed to per day. The recommended amount of added sugars that men should be consuming a day is 150 calories per day, which is 37.5 grams. Women are advised to consume no more than 100 calories per day which is 25 grams.
  • It is highly advisable to cut off the added sugars completely and only consume the sugar that is naturally in fruits and vegetables but in the right state.
  • Remember the sugar in fruit juices, and smoothies might have the same effects on your body as added sugar.

Final thoughts

While our bodies need a certain amount of sugar, most people in the US consume way too much.

Limiting your sugar intake can make serious diseases like heart problems, or diabetes less likely to develop. In the short term, eating less sugar will help you to avoid chest or stomach pain after eating.

Try to eat raw fruits and vegetables to get the sugar your body needs, avoid foods that contain too much added sugar: chocolate, sweets, cookies, etc.

Frequently asked questions

Can high blood sugar cause chest pain?

Yes, high blood sugar can cause serious cardiovascular problems. It can also cause depression, kidney problems, etc.

Can I have diaphragm pain after eating sugar?

Eating sugar might trigger pain that feels like diaphragm pain. It is usually your chest or stomach that hurts.
Possible reasons are gallbladder problems, acid reflux, or hiatal hernia.

Why do I have back pain after eating sugar?

Eating related back pain is usually a referred pain, which means the problems is somewhere else in your body, not where you feel the pain.
Pain from stomach ulcers might cause lower back pain. Acid reflux, gallbladder, pancreas, and heart problems are more likely to cause mid or upper back pain.
Sugar might also cause chronic inflammation in your body and back pain might be a symptom of it.

Can low blood sugar cause chest pain?

Yes, chest pain is a possible symptom of low blood sugar levels. This study found that out of 54 cases of low blood sugar episodes (hypoglycemia) people experienced chest pain.
Symptoms of hypoglycemia can be mild (headache, feeling hungry), however, in very serious cases it can lead to coma or death.

What to do after eating too much sugar?

Eat foods that are slow to digest. Foods rich in protein and/or fiber can help to slow down digestion and protect you from high blood sugar spikes.
Probiotics like yogurt or buttermilk might also help. So as mild exercises, like walking or yoga.