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Science Shows These 5 Things Can Happen When You Cut Back on Sugar

Cut back on sugar

Sugar is in nearly everything we eat. It’s even in things that are not sweet, like bread. The average American consumes about 19 teaspoons of sugar (about 77 grams) per day. That’s a lot of the sweet stuff and it does nothing positive for health or well-being.

Then there’s the obesity epidemic. It’s a global issue, but many still think it’s just about weight. There is truth to that since a diet high in sugar often leads to weight gain. However, the sugar in most people’s diets can also lead to other health problems. For example, there’s growing evidence that sodas and sugar are responsible for ill-health and growing rates of chronic disease, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, too.

Fat used to get the blame for the collective expanding waistlines of Americans. However, research suggests that it’s not dietary fat that makes people sick, but the sweet white crystals we put in coffee and tea and rapidly digested “white” carbs” that are in so many processed foods and refined items. Plus, there are “good” fats and “bad” fats but there is no good sugar.

You don’t have to quit all the sweet stuff, but you should limit it in your diet and replace it with healthier whole foods. There’s an added perk too! The more you reduce sugar in your diet, the less you’ll crave its rather addictive form of sweetness. What kind of payoff can you expect if you do?

Here are some good things that happen when you reduce sugar in your diet.

You Will Likely Lose Weight

Sugar is in more than six out of ten processed items you pick up at the grocery store and the calories and sugar add up quickly, so cutting back means that you’ll automatically eat fewer calories without even trying. In turn, losing weight can lower the risk of health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, too. Sugar is empty calories too, so you don’t get nutrients that compensate for the calories.
Reduced Sugar Cravings

You may not have as many cravings for sugar when it’s out of your diet since sugar addiction isn’t purely psychological – the white crystals can actually create chemical changes in the brain’s reward center to make people crave sweets more and more. You get a surge of the reward hormone dopamine when you bite into sugar items. Once you get that surge, you want to feel “rewarded” again, so you eat more. After a while, sugar cravings set in when you don’t consume sugar and you suffer a form of withdrawal.

More Energy

If you cut back on sugar, you will have more energy to focus on other things in your life since the high-sugar diet is exhausting and leaves you feeling tired, lethargic, and with low motivation. Rapid swings in blood sugar in response to sugar and ultra-processed foods cause brief surges in energy followed by a rapid drop. With the drop in blood sugar, your mood drops, and your energy level crashes along with it. If you need sustainable energy, the best way to get it is to cut back on sugar and refined carbohydrates. The energy you get from simple sugars and refined carbohydrates are short-lived but have longer-term consequence son your health.

A Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

The carbs in sugary foods are quickly absorbed, and their high sugar content causes a sugar and blood sugar spike. Your pancreas then pumps out insulin quickly to get glucose into cells for energy. Over time, the process of constantly forcing your pancreas to create more insulin leads to insulin resistance, a condition where cells become less responsive to insulin and this can lead to type 2 diabetes. When you scale back on sugar, your pancreas gets a rest, and your metabolic health improves.

Reducing sugar means fewer empty calories and that can lead to weight loss. Research shows losing weight is the number one lifestyle change that lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes. In fact, losing as little as 7% of your body weight can have a substantial impact on blood sugar control.

A Lower Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Cutting back on sugar may lower your risk of cardiovascular disease too. A 15-year study found that individuals who consumed an extra 17% to 21% of sugar had a 38% higher risk of heart disease mortality compared with individuals who consumed under 8%.

How might reducing sugar lower your risk of heart disease? Research shows a diet high in sugar increases low-grade inflammation in the body, a phenomenon that damages blood vessels and increases the risk of heart disease. Plus, it can cause weight gain and a rise in blood sugar, liver fat, and blood pressure. Fat used to get the blame for causing cardiovascular disease. but sugar and refined carbs are on the hot seat now.

The Bottom Line

Sugar is in many food products, even ones that don’t taste sweet, so do your homework before buying a packaged product. Read the label to see how many added grams of sugar it contains before dropping it in your cart. Sugar is hiding in condiments, soups, salad dressings, and spaghetti sauce, sometimes in surprising amounts.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina surveyed the shelves of grocery stores to see how many products contained sugar. The results? Sixty percent of the products they looked at contained some form of added sugar. Buyer beware! Shop smart and you’ll have more sustainable energy, fewer sugar cravings, and will be on your way to better health.

References:

  • “The sweet danger of sugar – Harvard Health.” 05 Nov. 2019, https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/the-sweet-danger-of-sugar.
  • “How Does Too Much Sugar Affect Your Body?.” https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/features/how-sugar-affects-your-body.
  • “The sweet danger of sugar – Harvard Health.” 05 Nov. 2019, https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/the-sweet-danger-of-sugar.
  • “Sugar consumption, metabolic disease, and obesity: The ….” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26376619/.
  • “Sugar Industry Manipulated Research About Health Effects ….” 13 Sept. 2016, https://www.npr.org/2016/09/13/493801090/sugar-industry-manipulated-research-about-health-effects-study-finds.

 

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