It has become increasingly common knowledge in recent years that sugar wreaks havoc on our health, leading to such prevalent and serious ailments as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.
We are eating more sugar now than ever before, as almost all processed foods are laced with some form of the sweet poison. While once we believed fat to be the culprit for our expanding waistlines, that theory has been proven incorrect, and the obesity epidemic has only worsened since food manufacturers began replacing fat with sugar in all our favorite products.
Fortunately, the damage caused by sugar can be easily prevented and even reversed. While most diets tend to take months to show results, cutting back sugar consumption can show immediate, positive effects on overall health. In a new study targeted on children, researchers were able to see dramatic improvements in just 10 days.
Dr. Robert Lustig and his team of researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, were able to decrease triglyceride levels by 33 points on average, and the LDL (bad) cholesterol dropped 5 points and as well as the diastolic blood pressure. In only 10 days, all of the children who participated in the study drastically reduced their risk of type 2 diabetes.
While they only tested children, the overwhelmingly positive results suggest similar benefits for adults.
Good to Know
It is important to know that not all calories are created equally. 100 calories of sugar are not the same as 100 calories of spinach. Unfortunately, this is not what big-time food companies would like you to believe, as they spend millions of dollars on advertising their ‘low-calorie’ food products with the insane idea that this means they represent a healthy choice. In fact, we shouldn’t necessarily even be focusing on counting calories; we should be focusing on the ingredients in our food.
While sugar may be advertised as “fat-free,” this is a just a clever marketing ploy, because although sugar itself contains no fat, it becomes stored as fat within the system, especially if you are ingesting more than your liver can process at a time, which is very little.
For an average 2,000 calorie, a day diet the Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends that no more than 10% of the calories we consume come from added sugars, which is about 12 grams; to put this into perspective, one can of soda is about 85% of that. Truthfully, we do not need any added sugar in our diet, as it provides absolutely no nutritional value to the body.
The naturally occurring sugars in whole foods are the only ones we need. But as mentioned above, sugar is added to virtually all processed foods so it can be difficult to avoid; nevertheless, if you read ingredient labels diligently, it can be done. Added sugars come in many disguises, so look out for its various names, including glucose/fructose, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, sucrose, maltose, dextrose, beet, glucose solids, cane sugar, dehydrated cane juice, dextrin, and maltodextrin, among others. A great way to avoid sugar is to just quit buying processed packaged foods and opt for whole, fresh foods instead.
How to Quit and Detox From Sugar
You may or may not realize it, but sugar is actually highly addictive. Have you ever tried to go without it? Then you may realize the power it has over you. In fact, some studies have shown that is as addictive as hard drugs, and some are even saying that sugar actually is a drug! It triggers the same centers of your brain as drugs as cocaine or heroin do. Whether you are addicted or not, chances are you could do with less of it in your diet.
Related: One Month Sugar Detox
Great things that happen to your body when you quit sugar:
Get ready for younger-looking skin
The sugar in your diet affects the amount of sugar in your bloodstream—and studies suggest that high blood sugar levels set up a molecular domino effect called glycation. Say what? That’s just a fancy term for a process that can hinder the repair of your skin’s collagen, the protein that keeps it looking plump.
A diet full of treats can also lead to reduced elasticity and premature wrinkles. Thankfully, research suggests that slashing your sugar intake can help lessen sagging and other visible signs of aging.
Say bye-bye to belly fat
Everyone knows that a daily sugary-soda habit can pack on the pounds, especially in the tummy area. But what you may not realize is just how dangerous that is. Sugary fare spikes your blood sugar, triggering a flood of insulin through your body, which over time encourages fat to accumulate around your middle.
Known as visceral fat, these fat cells deep in the abdomen are the riskiest kind because they generate adipokines and adipose hormones—chemical troublemakers that travel to your organs and blood vessels, where they bring on inflammation that can contribute to conditions like heart disease and cancer. So, when you cut back on pop and desserts, you’ll start reducing belly fat and the dangerous conditions that come with it.
Drop pounds faster
Increased insulin levels don’t just add pounds to your stomach; they put fat cells all over your body into calorie-storage overdrive, says endocrinologist David Ludwig, MD, a professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and coauthor of Always Delicious. “I call insulin the Miracle-Gro for your fat cells. It’s just not the sort of miracle you want happening in your body.”
Replacing refined carbs and sugary foods in your diet with healthy fats helps keep your insulin stable, he says, so fewer calories get stored as fat. As a result, “hunger decreases, metabolism speeds up, and you can lose weight with less struggle.”
Stop worrying about diabetes
Since having fewer sweets helps you keep off excess pounds, you’ll also be more protected against type 2 diabetes. But eating less sugar also lowers your risk of the disease in another way: “A diet with lots of fast-digesting carbohydrates, like sugar, requires the pancreas to release lots of insulin, meal after meal, day after day,” explains Dr. Ludwig. “That excessive demand may overtax insulin-producing cells, causing them to malfunction, eventually leading to diabetes.”