- 35 reasons to cut sugar from your diet if you want to live healthy
- 1. Sugar plays a role in mental disorders
- 2. Sugar causes blood sugar levels to swing
- 3. Sugar has been linked to acne
- 4. Sugar is linked to obesity
- 5. Sugar messes with triglycerides and cholesterol levels
- 6. Sugar and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD
- 7. Sugar Is Linked to High Blood Pressure
- 8. Sugar increases your risk of heart attack
- 9. Sugar is addictive
- 10. Sugar is linked to diabetes
- 11. Sugar could cause cancer
- 12. Sugar and dental health
- 13. Sugar can cause gum disease
- 14. Sugar makes you overeat
- 15. Sugar and Alzheimer’s disease
- 16. Sugar suppresses the immune system
- 17. Sugar causes significant mood and behavioral problems in children.
- 18. Sugar and autism
- 19. Sugar causes drowsiness
- 20. Sugar and acidity
- 21. Sugar can lead to mineral deficiencies
- 22. Sugar speeds up aging
- 23. Sugar and your skin
- 24. Sugar can aggravate psoriasis
- 25. Sugar causes metabolic syndrome
- 26. Sugar and bone health
- 27. Sugar can cause cataracts
- 28. Sugar increases stress
- 29. Sugar displaces important nutrients
- 30. Sugar affects your gut flora
- 31. Sugar causes oxidative stress and free radical production
- 32. Sugar can cause a drop in testosterone levels in men
- 33. Sugar causes kidney disease
- 34. Sugar can affect fertility
- 35. Sugar can cause men to lose their libido
- So, can you prevent all the 35 ways sugar can destroy your health when you cut sugar from your diet?
- How to cut sugar from your diet
- In closing
The consumption of sugar is a serious problem today, with growing research linking it to a number of health issues such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, mental health and much more. It makes sense to cut sugar from your diet if you want to live a healthy life.
Of course, this looks tricky because many of us have a sweet tooth, thanks to those supermarket shelves loaded with processed foods and hidden sugar. Oh! The sheer convenience! Eating all that sugar over the years has only resulted in our body craving for it now. Life!
Did you know that the average person consumes more than 126 grams of sugar daily? This is more than twice the recommended daily intake, which should not exceed 50 grams for people with normal weight, according to the WHO . With most of us battling excess weight, don’t ask!
Read How much exercise do you need every day to lose excess weight?
It is time to take a deep breath and look at how much sugar you are consuming in the course of any given day.
When you cut sugar from your diet, you save yourself from myriad health problems in the future.
Here are 35 solid reasons why you should consider dropping sugar altogether.
35 reasons to cut sugar from your diet if you want to live healthy
1. Sugar plays a role in mental disorders
The organ most sensitive to sugar in our bodies is the brain. Insulin spikes and sugar deplete nutrients and this can affect the brain, triggering disorders such as anxiety, depression and schizophrenia. Excess sugar consumption causes imbalances in certain brain chemicals. Many studies suggest a link between a diet rich in sugar and depression. The food we eat does not just release nutrients, sugar and calories into our belly and hips; it also sends them up to our brain.
People who already suffer from these mental health issues must be careful about their sugar intake and check their blood sugar levels regularly.
2. Sugar causes blood sugar levels to swing
When you experience blood sugar spikes and lows, it can cause mood swings, exhaustion, and headaches. You also develop cravings, leading to false hunger. Avoiding sugar means fewer cravings while being more emotionally balanced and having more energy.
3. Sugar has been linked to acne
You probably know that eating foods rich in refined carbs and consuming sugary drinks can aggravate acne. Foods with a high glycemic index, such as processed foods can spike your blood sugar faster than foods with a low GI. And a high GI diet also makes acne worse. Sugary foods, besides raising blood sugar and insulin levels, also increase androgen secretion, production of oil and inflammation, which in turn makes acne worse.
Studies show that teens who consumed added sugar frequently faced a 30% higher risk of developing acne.
Read about Glycemic Index and diabetes
4. Sugar is linked to obesity
Sugar brings empty calories that are stored in the body and eventually turn into fat, leading to obesity, sickness and malnourishment.
When we consume sugar and any type of carbohydrate, they get converted into glucose. The excess glucose gets converted into triglycerides in the liver and stored in fat cells. In addition, sugar sucks out the nutrients from our body. Weight gain and obesity are linked to a large list of health issues including weak bones, arthritis, cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
5. Sugar messes with triglycerides and cholesterol levels
The higher the sugar consumption, the higher the triglyceride and cholesterol levels. The extra calories from simple sugars and fats get converted into triglycerides, namely the fat that is in the blood stream. High triglyceride levels can cause blocks in the arteries. Excessive sugar also lowers HDL (good cholesterol) levels and raises LDL or bad cholesterol levels. Enough reason to cut sugar from your diet.
6. Sugar and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD
Sugar is of two simple types: fructose and glucose. You find fructose in sugar, fruit, agave and high fructose corn syrup. Fructose is metabolized in the liver and converted into fat. Eventually too much of it causes a fatty liver, which, if left untreated, can lead to liver disease. So, when you eat a whole fruit, you enjoy the fiber and feel satisfied. But when you drink fruit juice which has been stripped of the fiber, you just end up with the sugar overdose.
7. Sugar Is Linked to High Blood Pressure
The more sugar you consume, the higher your risk for high blood pressure. Mayo Clinic suggest that a poor diet is one of the biggest risk factors for this. Again, fructose sugar is the villain here. It elevates uric acid, raising blood pressure by inhibiting the nitric oxide in blood vessels. Nitric Oxide helps blood vessels remain elastic and when they are suppressed, it leads to elevated blood pressure.
8. Sugar increases your risk of heart attack
No matter what your weight, consuming excessive sugar just increases your risk of a heart attack. Sugar causes inflammation in the body, resulting in the production of more cholesterol to handle the problem. Higher cholesterol levels mean heart health issues. Enough reason to cut sugar from your diet.
9. Sugar is addictive
Although we don’t view sugar as a drug, it is no less than one. Its effects are like heroin and it is just as addictive as illegal drugs. Sugar hijacks the same neural pathways as heroin and cocaine and leaves people craving more and more. And so, sugar is just as easily abused like drugs.
10. Sugar is linked to diabetes
This we already know. When the pancreas do not create enough insulin, which is the hormone we need to convert sugar into fuel, it results in diabetes. And while diabetes cannot be cured, it is certainly preventable.
Sugary foods result in excess insulin production. Consistently high insulin levels due to high blood sugar levels creates insulin resistance, and the body is unable to respond properly to low insulin levels and more glucose gets stored as fat.
Insulin resistance leads to type 2 diabetes—which is completely preventable and can be controlled with diet.
11. Sugar could cause cancer
Research suggests that sugar could cause certain cancers. According to a Mayo Clinic article there is some evidence that consuming large amounts of sugar is associated with an increased risk of certain cancers, including esophageal cancer. Eating too much sugar can also lead to weight gain and increase the risk of obesity and diabetes, which may increase the risk of cancer. You can avoid this when you cut sugar from your diet.
12. Sugar and dental health
Sugar is not the only culprit for dental health problems but it definitely has a role in damaging your teeth. When it sits on the teeth, it causes tooth decay. It causes plaque buildup that, left untreated, can cause cavities. And expensive treatment.
13. Sugar can cause gum disease
Chronic infections such as those caused by dental problems can lead to heart disease. Excessive sugar puts you at risk for gum disease which can take a lot longer to heal if you have diabetes. Also, scientists are finding that gum disease may raise blood sugar levels in people with and without diabetes.
14. Sugar makes you overeat
Because sugar is so addictive, it just makes you want to eat more and more. Cutting it out from your diet will harmonize your appetite and you’ll no longer feel like a bottomless pit of starvation.
Many food products and beverages have added sugar, and this may increase a person’s appetite. Research suggests that consuming more sugar at breakfast can promote a stronger sensation of hunger. A high-fructose diet may cause the body to produce more ghrelin and affect activity in specific regions of the brain to make a person feel less full.
Research from 2017 also found that consuming a fructose supplement increased the rate of stomach emptying in study participants. Yet another reason to cut sugar from your diet.
15. Sugar and Alzheimer’s disease
Individuals with diabetes face double the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. While Diabetes doesn’t cause cancer, research is showing that the cause for both is the same—eating foods that change the way insulin acts on the body.
16. Sugar suppresses the immune system
Sugar suppresses your immune system by interfering with Vitamin C transportation.
Sugar reduces the ability of white blood cells to kill germs and makes it hard for the body to fight disease. Since bacteria and yeast feed on sugar, excess glucose in the body helps grow these organisms and causes infections.
Sugar neutralizes the impact of fatty acids in your system, making your cells more prone to infection.
17. Sugar causes significant mood and behavioral problems in children.
Sugar can cause hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty in concentrating, crankiness, and/or drowsiness, resulting in poor academic performance and issues over interacting with peers.
Eating excessive sugar makes children hyperactive. As refined sugars and carbohydrates enter the bloodstream, they cause rapid changes in blood sugar levels, making the child hyperactive.
18. Sugar and autism
Mitochondrial dysfunction is believed to be the major cause in autism, a kind of neurological disorder in children, resulting in poor social skills and certain cognitive impairments. Mitochondria are small factories that produce the energy our brains and body cells need to function. Mitochondrial dysfunction is caused by environmental toxins like mercury, lead and persistent organic pollutants, sugar and processed foods, a nutrient-depleted diet, and nutritional deficiencies.
19. Sugar causes drowsiness
Too much sugar causes drowsiness during the day, making you lethargic after a heavy meal loaded with carbohydrates and simple sugars. Naturally, this affects your concentration and productivity. Time to cut sugar from your diet.
20. Sugar and acidity
Sugar and refined foods that get converted to sugar in the body are highly acidic. When this happens, it opens the doorway to diseases such as osteoporosis, tooth decay, obesity, cancer, heartburn, arthritis, yeast infections and more.
Normally the body’s pH (acidity) level is around 7.3 to 7.4. Our body has a system to balance this when there is a deviation. It leeches calcium from the bones to neutralize the acidic pH, leading to osteoporosis and tooth decay. To trap the acidic waste products, fatty deposits are formed as the overloaded system cannot excrete, and this leads to obesity. The urine is overloaded with sugar and yeast infections occur, which, along with bacteria and fungus feed on the sugar.
21. Sugar can lead to mineral deficiencies
A high-sugar diet can lead to mineral deficiency. Chromium, copper, zinc and magnesium are all depleted when sugar metabolizes. Chromium is a trace mineral that helps regulate blood sugar in our body. While chromium is present in meats, seafood and plant foods, we often don’t get our daily quota thanks to refined starches. Other carbohydrates can also reduce the chromium content in foods, so a low-carb diet could be the best way to ensure you don’t face a mineral deficiency.
22. Sugar speeds up aging
Sugar can cause wrinkles and sagging in your skin. Once sugar enters the blood stream, it latches on to the proteins and this combination makes the skin lose its elasticity, leading to premature aging. (Source)
23. Sugar and your skin
Sugar promotes acne as it triggers the secretion of oil. Sugar also causes inflammation, thereby reducing our immunity and aggravating hormonal acne.
24. Sugar can aggravate psoriasis
As we know, a poor diet lowers our immunity. It causes bacterial overgrowth in the gut and inflammation, all which can aggravate psoriasis, eczema and other skin conditions.
25. Sugar causes metabolic syndrome
Metabolic syndrome (hypertension, obesity, dyslipidemia and insulin resistance) causes an inflammatory state which increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, PCOS, gallstones, fatty liver and sleep apnea. Why not cut sugar from your diet and avoid the risk of all these?
Read What is PCOS
26. Sugar and bone health
Sugar can cause osteoporosis. Carbonated sugary drinks increase calcium excretion, making the body lose calcium, resulting in weaker bones, especially in those at risk for osteoporosis. There is research linking sugar to bone loss.
27. Sugar can cause cataracts
High blood sugar, when not controlled, can weaken the cell membranes, causing oxidative damage to the lens. Uncontrolled blood sugar can also cause macular degeneration, affecting the small blood vessels. A high-sugar diet is low in natural antioxidants and vitamins which are necessary for a healthy retina.
28. Sugar increases stress
When we’re under stress, our bodies immediately kick into fight-or-flight mode, releasing large amounts of hormones. The same thing happens when our blood sugar levels are low. When we eat sweets, the stress hormones compensate for the crash by raising blood sugar levels. This results in anxiety, irritability and tremors. Lowering stress can be as easy as deciding to cut sugar from your diet.
29. Sugar displaces important nutrients
When you consume a lot of sugar, you intake of essential nutrients––especially vitamins A, C, B-12, and calcium reduces. This can be especially harmful for children and teens who need the most nutrients.
Sugar and refined foods do not contain fiber, which is necessary for good gut health. Fiber helps prevent some types of cancers including colon cancer, and reduces cholesterol and sugar levels in the body. One needs at least 35 grams of fiber from whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Sugary foods also lack in nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. So why not cut sugar from your diet?
30. Sugar affects your gut flora
When sugar affects our gut flora, it impacts our immunity, serotonin (happiness hormone), allergies, bowel function and metabolic function.
31. Sugar causes oxidative stress and free radical production
Oxidative stress can cause over 200 age-related diseases, so we need to keep it under control, besides inducing hypertension and peripheral vascular disease. Signs of oxidative stress manifest as age spots, liver spots or macular degeneration. This is why it is important to cut back on sugar and eat a diet rich in nutrients and antioxidants.
32. Sugar can cause a drop in testosterone levels in men
Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston have found that glucose ingestion was associated with a significant decrease in the male hormone testosterone. The study, published in the journal Clinical Endocrinology, shows that 75g of sugar intake causes a 25 per cent drop in testosterone levels for up to two hours after consumption. (Source)
A study found that sugar-sweetened beverage consumption is significantly associated with low serum testosterone in men 20–39 years old in the United States.
33. Sugar causes kidney disease
One of the complications of high blood sugar is kidney disease. When the blood sugar levels cross 180 mg/dl, the kidneys release excess sugar into the urine. As the blood sugar rises, more sugar spills into the urine. In normal kidneys this is not a problem, but for those with diabetes, too much sugar can damage the kidneys. Sugar damages the microvascular cells in the kidneys making it hard to control the excretion of harmful waste. Sugar also interferes with the control of blood pressure, salt, mineral, protein and fluid balance.
34. Sugar can affect fertility
There is a connection between diet and fertility.
A new study has found that the intake of one or more sugar-sweetened beverages per day — by either partner — is associated with a decreased chance of getting pregnant. Female soda consumption dropped fecundability (probability of pregnancy within a menstrual cycle) by 25%. When the male partner is the soda drinker, a 33% decrease in fecundability is common.
Beverages with added sugars, cause a spike in insulin levels. Insulin, the hormone that allows our bodies to convert sugar to energy, is similar to other ovarian hormones that work to mature the eggs. When insulin levels rise, it confuses the ovaries and may affect the growth and production of crucial hormones.
35. Sugar can cause men to lose their libido
In this article, Dr. Mark Hyman talks about how sugar can affect your sex life and what to do about it. Poor blood sugar control causes microvascular damage, nerve damage, hormone imbalances – all of which are known causes for erectile dysfunction (ED). And ED may be just an indication of a larger health issue.
So, can you prevent all the 35 ways sugar can destroy your health when you cut sugar from your diet?
Maybe or maybe not. But think of all the health issues you can prevent if you gave up sugar. Considering all the problems that sugar can cause, it is worthwhile trying to prevent as many as you can, right?
It ultimately boils down to exercising your choice. Continue consuming sugar, and you will raise your risk for all of the above. While our health is determined by various factors, one thing we do have control over is what we eat.
Learn how to identify added sugars in your diet. Read the labels, especially with packaged foods.
Now that we know what sugar can do and solid reasons to drop it from your diet, let’s look at how you can reduce your sugar intake.
How to cut sugar from your diet
Sure, small amounts of sugar occasionally can be unavoidable but it is important to be conscious about it. Usually, focusing on a diet that includes whole foods and unprocessed foods helps reduce your sugar intake.
Read What is the whole foods diet? 10 tips to help you switch to the whole food diet
Here are 15 easy tips to eat less sugar
- Opt for water or water infused with mint, lemon, cucumber rather than sodas, energy drinks, fruit juices and sweet teas.
- Switch to black coffee or use stevia to sweeten your brew instead of white sugar. Or enjoy herbal tea.
- Sweeten your yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit instead of sweetened yogurt loaded with sugar.
- Choose whole fruits rather than fruit smoothies sweetened with sugar. You’ll enjoy the added benefit of fiber and feel fuller.
- Instead of candy, make a trail mix of fruit, nuts and dark chocolate chips.
- Skip the sweet salad dressing; go for olive oil and vinegar.
- Pick marinades, nut butters, ketchup and sauces with no added sugars.
- If you buy cereal, choose cereals, granolas and granola bars that list less than 4 grams of sugar per serving.
- For breakfast, enjoy a bowl of rolled oats with nut butter and fresh fruit or an omelet with a fresh salad.
- If you enjoy peanut butter sandwiches, go for unsweetened peanut butter and a sliced banana. Skip the jelly.
- Go for unsweetened and natural nut butter instead of spreads like Nutella loaded with sugar.
- Avoid alcoholic drinks sweetened with soda, juice, honey, sugar or agave.
- Stick to the perimeter while shopping at your supermarket where you’ll find fresh whole ingredients.
- Preferably, cook at home. Make your own meals rather than buy processed foods that are loaded with sugar and salt. This will help cut back on sugar.
- Maintain a food diary to track how much sugar you are consuming and the source of that sugar.
Too much added sugar has far too many negative health effects – weight gain, obesity, an increased risk of diseases. Cut sugar from your diet to live a healthier life!