It’s time you give up your “Sweet tooth”
We’ve heard that “carbs are the devil” and that we should cut down on sugar if we want to lose weight. But there are so many other reasons why sugar is bad for your health.
If you’re anything like us, you enjoy decadent chocolates and other sweet treats. They’re tempting and delicious and not to mention a great afternoon pick-me-up.
While this may sound great on occasion, the problem is that regularly eating too much sugar can harm your health.
It damages your teeth and can wreak havoc on your body, including making you “crash” in an energy-depleting way.
So let’s see if we can kick the habit sooner rather than later by examining just how bad the sweet stuff really is.
Why is sugar bad for your health?
1. Sugar can lead to heart disease
People who enjoy a large amount of added sugar in their diet daily are at risk of developing heart disease.
The American Heart Foundation suggests that women should eat no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar equal to an estimated 100 calories. Men, however, should not eat more than 9 teaspoons an estimate of 150 calories.
2. There is a link between sugar and acne
Excessive sugar can disrupt your body’s hormones, and even cause your body to produce higher levels of androgens. These hormones tend to increase the oiliness of the skin. This can lead to inflammation and acne breakouts.
Cutting back on sugar and drinking more water can help your body detox.
In fact, many people report that one of the greatest benefits they’ve experienced from cutting down on sugar (and dairy, but that’s another article entirely) is the dramatic effect it has on improving the overall condition of their skin.
3. Too much sugar is linked to cancer
Some research has found a link between sugar and certain cancers; however, the growth of cancerous cells is not as simple as “sugar fuelling its production.” Reducing the amount of sugar consumed can help reduce the risk of these cancers in some patients.
Because of its effect on hormones, sugar is said to be linked to breast cancer, colon cancer, oesophageal cancer and cancer of the small intestine.
We don’t say this to be dramatic and scare you, but if cutting down on sugar can reduce your chances of getting cancer then it’s one step you will forever be grateful for.
Most people know that once your body is unable to process sugar effectively, it leads to insulin resistance. Ongoing damage can lead to Type-2 diabetes.
If diabetes and insulin levels are left undiagnosed and untreated, this disease can progress, becoming worse with time and may even cause death.
Note: if you currently have insulin resistance, Type-1 or Type-2 diabetes or are on any blood sugar-regulating medication, please discuss with your doctor before drastically altering your diet in any way.
If you are taking medication to lower your blood sugar and then you suddenly cut out all refined sugar in your diet, it can come with some unpleasant side-effect.
So while we want to encourage you to eat as few processed foods as possible and cut down on sugar in general, please check in with your doctor before doing so!
This advice goes for healthy people, pregnant women and anyone who want to make a big change in their diet or exercise.
5. Sugar can lead to obesity
Sugar is bad for your health because it can lead to excessive weight gain. The Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa also recommends a diet low in added sugar because copious quantities can lead to obesity.
Obesity and Type-2 diabetes are often linked to each other. In fact, obese patients suffer a more significant chance of developing Type-2 diabetes because their bodies have become insulin resistant.
When the body resists insulin, it means that processing sugar in the bloodstream is much harder. With the disruption of your normal blood sugar-controlling hormones, the body will begin to store more fat because of a lack of insulin and the ability to process sugar.
This makes it easy to gain weight and challenging to lose weight after the fact.
6. More sugar can increase depression
Patients with a history of depression can become worse when their sugar intake is high.
Excess sugar in the diet may also cause depression in some patients without prior depression history. Processed foods constitute another bad dietary source because it often has more sugar than required for a nutritious diet.
Sugar is bad for your health and has been linked to depression because excess consumption disrupts the chemical reactions of the brain. These unbalanced chemical reactions of the brain are what lead to depression and anxiety in some patients.
Look out for these hidden sugar aliases
Sugar goes by many names, so read food labels and stay away from:
- Corn syrup
- Invert sugar
- Nectar (often in fruit juice)
- White granulated sugar
- Brown sugar
- High-fructose corn syrup
How to reduce your sugar intake
Now we know sugar is bad for your health, so the next thing you may want to try is to cut how much you consume a day. This may not be easy for people used to 4-5 teaspoons of sugar in their tea or coffee. It’s equally hard to reduce the sugar when you eat overly sweet cereal or have a slab of chocolate every day.
But as you can see from the list above, cutting sugar is worth it if it means promoting a long and healthy life.
Try the following tips to aid your sugar reduction efforts:
1. Start exercising
Exercise helps your body burn calories and reduces excess sugar.
If you hate going to the gym, why not try cycling or brisk walks?
You can also increase your overall activity levels without necessarily working out. See this blog here for more tips.
The outdoors does wonders to promote good health.
2. Eat less processed sugar
Processed sugar is found in nearly every food product so avoiding prepackaged food can automatically help you lower your sugar intake.
If you drink sugary soft drinks, try to cut that down too.
For more ways to cut down on sugar, read this blog.
3. Don’t binge on carbs
Sugar is bad for your health because it comes in all forms including carbohydrates that you think are healthier.
You can eat a moderate amount of whole food carbs (unless you’re doing the ketogenic diet) but say away from fast-digesting bread, pasta, rice and all processed sugar.
Upping your protein and healthy fat intake will help you feel more satisfied and less inclined to consume sugary foods.
Fewer carbs will also help you lose weight over the long run.
4. Drink more water
Since the body is mostly made up of water it’s important to stay optimally hydrated.
Drinking sufficient water every day will help to control blood sugar balances.
5. Control your portions
Sugar is bad for your health and it is better if you’re conscious about your portion intake.
Eating smaller portions can help to subconsciously eat less. A smaller serving plate can also help you manage portion sizes.
6. Wean yourself from table sugar in your beverages
When it comes to table sugar, it’s first in line as the bad guy of any diet. To help you control how much sugar you consume every day, start taking less sugar in your beverages. This won’t work overnight, but it is a start.
Slowly wean yourself off added sugar and think of healthy alternatives to curb your sweet cravings. You could eat an apple instead of a chocolate bar, for example.
7. Go for Low GI foods
Low Glycemic Index foods are essential for a healthy diet because they release sugar into the bloodstream at a steadier pace than high-GI foods. This helps keep your blood sugar levels stable.
You may have guessed that High-GI foods would be all your “white” carbs like pizza, pasta, bread, cookies, crisps and sweets. Stay away from these!
Opt for low GI foods such as meat, dairy, fish, lentils, barley, non-starchy vegetables and low-sugar fruit like berries.
8. Up your magnesium
Sometimes it’s hard to get all the nutrients and vitamins needed to be healthy. When looking to lower your sugar levels, it helps to have magnesium.
Some research suggests that people who have higher levels of magnesium were less prone to develop Type-2 diabetes as opposed to those with a magnesium deficit.
The takeaway on the fact that sugar is bad for your health
On your journey to a healthier you, start reducing sugar gradually. You may not get rid of your sweet tooth overnight but small changes will help toward your bigger goal.
Get your family on board and see if you can make a game out of eating healthier and cutting down on sugar.
Remember that the habits your children are growing up with will affect them for life, so now is the time to introduce them to a diet filled with natural, whole foods and an active lifestyle.
Have you managed to cut down on sugar? What benefits have you experienced?
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