Yes, sugar is delicious and tempting and even comforting. But eating too much can lead to all kinds of problems.
Many Americans still eat up to five times the amount of sugar that’s recommended by the American Heart Association. This means women are eating up to 30 teaspoons of sugar per day, while men eat up to 45 teaspoons!
Of course, they’re probably not sitting down eating spoon after spoon of white sugar, but in today’s society, hidden sugar is lurking everywhere. In fact, it’s found in 75% of packaged foods purchased in the United States.
But when you read on and discover these seven things that happen when you moderate your sugar intake, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that it’s totally worth it.
Slow Down The Aging Process
In a process known as glycation, excess sugar attaches to the collagen in our skin and other parts of the body. This causes inflammation and reduces the effectiveness of both collagen and elastin, the proteins in our skin that help it stay youthful. When these don’t work so well, your skin no longer looks supple and youthful.
While glycation can’t be completely stopped, it can be slowed down. This problem is largely exacerbated by high blood sugar levels, which can result when you consistently eat to much sugar and are overweight.
You don’t have to take my word for it, a study of 600 men and women found that those with higher blood sugar levels consistently looked older than those with lower blood sugar.
Diabetics – whose blood sugar level had been raised over a long period of time – looked older than their peers who did not have diabetes.
You’ll Probably Lose Weight
Basically, too many sugary foods over an extended period of time can cause resistance to the hormone insulin, which can predispose you to fat gain. Once the body starts to get resistant to insulin, it can be a difficult process to reverse…so prevention is the best cure.
But insulin isn’t the only hormone that sugar affects. High amounts also interfere with the function of leptin. This particular hormone is responsible for controlling our appetite and telling our liver what to do with all the glucose stored there. When our body doesn’t read leptin’s signals, it leads to weight gain particularly around your middle, which is often a precursor to diabetes.
Learn to Control Your Sugar Cravings
Are you left craving something sweet just an hour or two after treating yourself to a muffin or candy bar?
When we eat these foods our bodies release serotonin and beta-endorphin, neurotransmitters that improve our mood, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem. Naturally our bodies crave that source of happiness again and again.
The good news is that when you gradually cut down on your sugar intake, it’s much easier to deal with these urges.
Sleep Like A Baby
By cutting down on sugar and refined carbs, especially before bed, you’ll avoid a rise in blood sugar levels that can cut into your sleep.
You’ll also avoid the inevitable drop that follows every rise. This drop causes the body to release hormones to regulate glucose levels, while also stimulating the brain, something which can easily cause you to wake. By avoiding this pattern of rising and falling sugar levels, you’ll have a much better sleep.
If you absolutely need a snack before bed, try some oatmeal or whole grain carbs. These should maintain blood sugar levels.
No More Energy Slumps
When you hit the 3 pm slump, do you reach for a can of soda or an extra sweet latte?
Instead of relying on sugar for energy, get more of your calories from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and other unprocessed foods. These foods provide more lasting energy, without the peaks and valleys of relying on sugar.
By replacing sugar and simple carbs with healthy fats and complex carbohydrates as your main sources of fuel, you can say goodbye to those energy highs and lows that are holding you back.
Feel As Good As You Look
You might think that a tub of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked will put you in a good mood, but actually the exact opposite might be true.
A British psychiatric researcher conducted an analysis of the relationship between diet and mental health and concluded that there is a strong link between high sugar consumption and the risk of depression and schizophrenia.
This isn’t the only study to link sugar with mental illness. A 2004 study found that a higher intake of refined sugar and dairy predicted a worse two-year outcome of schizophrenia.
It’s not that sugar causes these conditions, but a poor diet generally doesn’t help with any kind of health issue. The same appears to be true of mental illness.
If you want to cut back on sugar to see how it affects your mood, it can’t hurt.
Fill up on healthy fats, complex carbs, and protein as these are nutrient dense foods. Fruits, especially berries, are a great sweet treat and make a healthy replacement to sugar. Even simply adding a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg to snacks can give the illusion of sweetness without the sugar.