Cutting back or eliminating sugar from your diet can have an incredibly positive impact on your body and your overall health. Focusing on the benefits of cutting out sugar is the best way you can keep committed to your goal. So if cutting sugar is something that you are considering or if you need to be convinced; here are 7 reasons to reduce your sugar intake.
1. Better Digestion.
So you’ve just eaten a whole bar of chocolate? Let’s understand what happens as that sugar hits your stomach.
Your stomach is actually fine with sugar in small doses. It’s when you over consume sugar that problems start to arise. Most notably: inflammation. Sugar actually inflames the stomach and becomes very difficult to digest. This is because sugar cannot be broken down into nutrients, only glucose.
This inflammation leads to bloating, gas, and in bad cases diarrhoea. Furthermore, this inflammation inhibits the stomach doing its job properly and the digestion of other foods can be impacted.
2. Gut bacteria.
Your digestion system is a delicate balance of good and bad bacteria and the foods we eat have a direct impact on this balance. When you eat healthy low sugar pro biotic foods, the good bacteria thrive. When you eat sugary foods it feeds the bad bacteria and they thrive. Now the really interesting thing about this is that scientists are starting to uncover the gut brain connection, and how the health of your gut can actually impact your brain chemistry.
So the more sugar you eat, the more you’re feeding the ‘bad’ bacteria who can then multiply and colonise more of your gut. The more bad bacteria in your gut, the more they signal your brain to eat more sugar to feed them, the negative loop starts. This is one of the reasons why it's hard to get back on track after you have a period of bad eating.
Have you ever had a weekend where you over indulge and then come Monday you’re still craving more and struggle to get back to your normal eating?
This is not only due to the disruption of hormones caused by sugar and changes in your insulin sensitivity, scientists are now linking it to the change in bacteria within our gut. Fascinating stuff!
3. Stabilized Energy
After the stomach is done processing the sugar it can start to be used as energy. The thing is though; getting energy from sugar is like jumping out of a plane. It may be exhilarating for a while but sooner or later you’re going to hit the ground!
When you consume something sugary your blood sugar levels rise quickly which can give you a sudden surge of “hyper-active” energy. Unfortunately this energy comes at a cost and just as you experience a sudden surge, you also experience a sudden crash in energy after. This can leave you feeling hungrier, weak and worst of all: moody.
In contrast, whole foods have a high glycemic index. This means they release their energy slower into the body. By focusing on eating whole foods throughout you day, your energy levels will not
experience sudden fluctuations. And instead have a much smoother curve. Which leaves you overall feeling more vibrant and far more in control.
4. Healthier Heart
Now your body is off enjoying it’s sugar high … there is often a lot left over that doesn’t get used as energy. These leftovers are converted into fatty acids, that in turn become triglycerides. Triglycerides are a type of fat that circulates in your blood. And which organ pumps our blood?
High levels of triglycerides increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. If you are looking to reduce your risk of cardiovascular problems reducing your sugar intake should be your first step!
5. Improved (or stable) moods.
Now we are coming down off our sugar high from all that chocolate. Our blood sugar levels are crashing, and so is our mood. Your blood sugar impacts hormones in your body, and this interaction can worsen disorders like depression and anxiety.
Now it may be a stretch to say sugar directly causes these issues but it definitely can cause them to worsen. Diets high in sugar impact the bodies ability to properly cope with stress which means you are more likely to suffer from anxiety like symptoms.
Reducing your sugar intake not only helps improve energy levels, but can also help you resist stress and the triggers for depression and anxiety.
6. Better Skin
As our blood sugar spikes and the stomach becomes inflamed a lot of stress is placed on the body. This in itself can lead to reactions on the skin, including breakouts.
Further high blood sugar causes the body to pull water from skin cells. This leaves your skin dehydrated, dry and puffy.
To combat this besides cutting sugar, make sure you drink regularly throughout the day.
7. Healthier brain function
There have been many studies on how sugar impacts the brain. The stress sugar places on the body is no different for the brain. Where an increase in inflammation can interfere with brain-cell communication and make it harder to concentrate.
A study at UCLA concluded that a diet heavy in refined sugar can affect your ability to retain knowledge and memory. This is due to insulin resistance which, like inflammation, interferes with the ability for your brain cells to communicate.
Beside cutting sugar, it is important to consume optimal amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids.
How to reduce your sugar intake:
Eat fruit instead of drinking it: the flesh of the fruit is important, as it contains fibre. This fibre actually slows down the processing of the food meaning less energy is released all at once.
Swap soft drinks for water: nothing groundbreaking here. Soft drinks contain a lot of sugar; usually more than your daily allowance in a single can. Water by contrast contains no sugar. If its the bubbles you love and water just doesn’t cut it then try drinking Kombucha, a naturally carbonated probiotic drink with little to no sugar.
Try Stevia:instead of white sugar in coffee or tea try stevia. Just make sure it’s green and not the heavily processed white. Caution: A little goes a VERY long way so think 1/20 stevia to what you would have used for sugar.
Take note of your snacks: Processed foods usually always contain added sugar. This is because it makes them taste better and therefore more attractive to the average consumer. Check the labels of your favourite snacks and take note of the sugar content. As a loose rule, if it comes out of a packet, it’s likely to have added sugar.