You probably already know that eating excess sugar isn’t the most optimal way to improve your health, but do you know why you should really stop eating sugar?
Sugar is one of the most controversial ingredients in our food supply today; many people say to avoid it, while others say it’s harmless.
Most everyone agrees that white (refined) sugar is bad for human health, but when it comes to added sweeteners like maple syrup and honey, opinions differ greatly. If you’re confused about how much sugar you should be eating (if any), then take a look at the 10 reasons to stop eating sugar below.
As you’ll see, science makes a very strong case that sugar doesn’t belong in our diets and what’s best to eat instead to satisfy your sweet tooth the healthy way.
1. Risk for Heart Disease
Sugar intake dramatically increases your risk for heart disease because it puts a direct strain on your endothelial cells that line your artery walls. Sugar can also raise your blood pressure levels which damage blood flow.
In order to prevent heart disease and take care of your heart, it’s best to eat a diet full of leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and small amounts of nuts, seeds, and avocado.
Getting enough exercise is also important for taking care of your heart along with managing your stress levels and getting enough sleep.
2. Early Death
Heart disease can lead to early death without question, but what is interesting is that sugar consumption has been found to have a profound effect on individuals having an even higher risk for early death than others with heart disease.
Sugar also increases your risk for obesity which can lead to earlier death, not to mention it can lead to diabetes and high blood pressure. So for these reasons, scientists think that sugar consumption simply causes too many problems that increase a person’s overall risk of death from a variety of contributing factors.
3. Weight Gain
If you want to put on weight fast, eat sugary foods and high-fat foods. Sugar (and fat) are both high in calories, but the problem with sugar is that most no source of the sweet stuff is good for you, unlike fats which can come in healthy packages such as nuts and seeds.
All added sugars (even those that are healthier for you such as maple syrup) contain just as many calories as sugar and they aren’t nutritious enough to be a daily part of your diet. Although the American Heart Association allows for up to 100 calories a day from added sugars (about 6 tsp. worth), most people find that if they have a little sugar, they just want more.
In this case, abstinence from sugar is the best for your health. Added sugars are also easy to overeat just like sugar and they can tempt you into wanting more sweet foods in general.
Sugar contributes to weight gain by prompting you to overeat and it can mean consuming unhealthy foods that contain sugar (such as cookies and cakes which are high in other unhealthy nutrients). Some items like granola and “healthy” cereals can also be high in added sugars and should be avoided. Choose whole grain oats and wild rice, for example, instead.
If you’re not sure how to spot sugar on a label, here’s a list of over 50 names for sugar that you should avoid when you purchase processed foods. Turn each processed food product over and read the ingredient list so you can be sure you’re not consuming any added sugar.
Because of the negative way that sugar impacts your blood sugar levels, it can increase the risk for Type 2 diabetes. The more sugar you eat, the more insulin remains in your bloodstream.
Only so much insulin can be used by the body at a time before excess spills back into the bloodstream. This leads to insulin resistance and therefore, Type 2 diabetes.
If you have Type 1 diabetes (which is developed in childhood), then you’ll still want to avoid sugar as much as possible since eating sugar can increase your symptoms.
Diabetics should eat a diet rich in whole foods and avoid high-fat foods, especially oil and animal products. Optimal foods to prevent and treat diabetes include fruits, vegetables, whole grains in their intact form (not breads and processed cereals), and protein-rich legumes with small amounts of nuts and seeds.
Avoiding the negative impact of diabetes on your health will also help you directly prevent your risk for heart disease, early death, and weight gain.
5. Skin Breakouts
Sugar can steal your skin health and lead to breakouts nearly overnight. Because of the way that sugar causes a huge spike in your bloodstream, it increases the hormone insulin which can lead to acne. Anytime our hormones are out of balance, we are likely to see the results of that imbalance through our skin.
Our liver can also be burdened by too much sugar intake which can also trigger skin breakouts.
Reducing the sugar (and oil) in your diet can help you keep a healthy, beautiful glow so long as you’re eating a diet rich in vegetables. Here’s a list of some foods to eat in place of sugar that can improve your skin in no time!
Plain and simple, sugar can make you cranky and emotional! Sugar causes such a large influx of hormones in the body that it can lead to ups and downs all day long. Although you feel elated when you eat it, that’s because sugar acts like a drug in your system. It causes a huge amount of dopamine in the brain.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that we need in small amounts, but unlike the neurotransmitter serotonin that increases happiness, dopamine triggers addiction due to the way it floods the brain with endorphins all at once and then once it’s gone, you suffer a huge crash.
The perfect example of this is when you eat a candy bar and those first few minutes, you’re almost numb with joy. An hour later, you don’t feel so good and feel the need for something else sweet to eat to pick you back up.
In fact, you can even get downright moody and emotional once the sugar leaves your system. This phenomenon is caused by dopamine and sugar is one of the most dopamine-stoking foods you can eat aside from fast food.
One of the best benefits of quitting sugar is the way it affects your brain and reduces moodiness; give it a try and you won’t believe the difference it can make for your brain health.
Depression is one of the most misunderstood types of mental disease that exists. While it’s true that genetic factors can contribute to depression, it’s even truer that diet can have a tremendous impact on your mental state.
Sugar increases insulin and dopamine,(as mentioned above), and a fall in dopamine consistently throughout the day can impact the brain and lead to depression.
Healthy, whole foods are nature’s best medicine for depression along with staying active and getting enough sleep.
8. Poor Thyroid Health
Sugar also negatively impacts the thyroid gland because of the way it affects overall hormone function. Although the body has a natural desire to burn glucose for fuel first, sugar is not the source of fuel the body prefers to burn.
Sugar is a refined substance that the body doesn’t recognize the same way it does fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. When a processed foods like sugar is consumed, the body’s hormones react in a negative way, including the thyroid hormones necessary for optimal brain and metabolic health.
9. Candida Yeast Overgrowth
Candida albicans is a type of yeast that is found in all of our gastrointestinal tracts just like other types of bacteria. Unlike good types of bacteria, candida is a type of yeast that causes bad bacteria overgrowth if not kept in check.
Sugar impacts candida yeast overgrowth because candida feeds off primarily sugar as its main source of fuel. When sugar is eaten, candida can take over and lead to yeast infections, skin rashes, foggy brain, autoimmune disorder issues, and even overeating (binging) on more sugar.
Removing sugar from the diet is one of the most important things to do in order to prevent and treat candida yeast overgrowth and is completely doable when enough healthy, whole foods are eaten instead.
10. Food Addiction
Last but not least, sugar causes food addictions that undermine our health and happiness. Like a drug, sugar is an intense stimulant, but it’s not a nourishing food. In order to reduce the addictive nature of sugar, whole foods should be eaten instead.
These foods provide vitamins and minerals that combat addictive properties and send a sense of balance throughout the body unlike sugar (and caffeine or other drugs).
Other Health Problems Caused By Sugar Intake:
Sugar can also lead to dental problems, aging of the skin, nutrient loss, kidney problems, increased stress and anxiety, fatigue, joint pain, and a host of cognitive problems. The sooner you get sugar out of your diet, the better you’ll feel and look too.
If you’re looking to eliminate the sugar in your diet, here’s you can eat instead that will improve your health:
- All fresh fruits (3 – 5 fruits a day)
- All fresh vegetables and greens (at least 9 cups per day)
- Starchy tubers such as sweet potatoes and winter squash (2-3 a day)
- Whole grains (1-2 servings per day)
- Legumes which includes beans, peas, and lentils (1-2 servings per day)
- Nuts and seeds (1 ounce per day) such as raw almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, flax and chia seeds
Instead of adding sugar to your tea or foods, use natural foods like dates or raisins, or a no-sugar-added sweetener such as organic stevia which is not artificial. Optimally, eat whole foods in their natural state and rely on fresh fruits for your source of sweetness.
Drink plenty of water and eliminate artificially-sweetened drinks which can also increase your desire to eat sugar, despite being calorie-free. Also, remember that honey and maple syrup (along with all other sweeteners) still raise blood sugar levels and contribute the same amount of calories that sugar does.
For more tips on improving your health, be sure you check out these tips on how to choose the best diet for you.
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