Reap the Benefits of Cutting Out Sugar: 6 Key Impacts

In modern times, sugar consumption has reached alarming rates, and it is beyond debate that the excessive intake of foods with added sugar imposes a risk on our health. Diseases like obesity, dental caries, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer have been linked to a high-sugar diet. So, it is no secret that limiting added sugar can provide a lot of health benefits.

But do you know what really happens to your body when you stop eating sugar?

What happens when you stop eating sugar: 6 benefits

Sugar is one of the main types of carbohydrates (carbs) that can be found in many foods. Naturally occurring sugar can be found in fruits, vegetables, and milk. However, it is added sugar that may be a reason for concern.

Added sugar can be found in foods like pastries, candies, soft drinks, and many other highly processed convenience foods and beverages. Even though carbs are important because they provide energy for the body, added sugar lacks beneficial nutrients that may be provided by consuming complex carbs.

Therefore, here are the six biggest health benefits of cutting out added sugar from your life:

1. May lead to weight loss

A person needs an average of 2,000–2,500 calories per day to maintain their weight or 1,500–2,000 calories per day to lose 1 pound in one week. Just one teaspoon of sugar contains approximately 20 calories, and most foods with added sugar have a lot more than just one teaspoon of sugar per serving.

So, taking all these factors into consideration, reducing the intake of foods high in added sugar can greatly impact your daily calorie intake, helping you lose weight.

2. Improves heart health

Quitting sugar not only aids in weight management but may also improve your cardiovascular health, especially as a result of weight loss, which has been shown to improve certain parameters important for optimal cardiovascular function.

Several studies have linked high added sugar consumption to heart disease and an increased risk of death by cardiovascular diseases.

Hence, the American Heart Association has recommended that the maximum amount of calories from added sugar should be up to 100 calories a day for women (around 6 teaspoons) and up to 150 calories a day for men (around 9 teaspoons).

3. Enhances oral health

Sugar has been linked to the development of caries and gum disease. When you eat or drink a sugary food or beverage, the bacteria in your mouth starts producing acids that can eventually erode the surface of your teeth, leading to cavities.

So, if you want to improve your oral health, you need to limit added sugar, maintain good dental hygiene habits, and visit your dentist on a regular basis.

4. Reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes

When you consume sugar and other carbohydrates, your pancreas gets a signal to produce and release a hormone called insulin into the bloodstream so the sugar can enter your body's cells to be used as energy.

However, in people with type 2 diabetes, either the pancreas is unable to make enough insulin, or the cells in the body are unable to use the insulin properly; therefore, the levels of sugar in the blood (glucose) stay too high.

The leading risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include being overweight and having unhealthy lifestyle habits. Therefore, cutting out added sugar, having a balanced diet, and exercising are the best ways to prevent the onset of this disease.

5. May improve insulin sensitivity

As previously stated, insulin is a hormone made and released by the pancreas in response to spikes in blood glucose levels, which may be caused by eating sugary foods. However, before the onset of type 2 diabetes, some people can develop insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance happens when the body's cells don’t respond well to insulin, and the sugar can’t get inside the cells. The pancreas starts making more insulin so the blood sugar levels can stay at a normal range. If this persists, a person can develop type 2 diabetes.

In any case, the recommendation is the same since cutting back on your added sugar intake, having a balanced diet, and exercising can help regulate your blood sugar levels, thus improving insulin sensitivity in your body’s cells.

6. May improve skin health

An excessive intake of sugar and other compounds formed during food processing such as advanced glycation end products have been hypothesized to play a role in accelerated skin aging, which is made evident by the apparition of premature wrinkles and fine lines.

Furthermore, constantly elevated blood sugar levels and the potential subsequent development of insulin resistance may be the root cause of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which might cause skin problems like acne and hypertrichosis (excessive hair growth).

So, cutting back on your added sugar intake may be one of the lifestyle factors playing a role in improving your skin health and appearance.

Health risks of excessive sugar consumption

In recent years, numerous studies have connected excessive sugar consumption to a wide range of health issues, a trend that appears to be growing alongside the global increase in sugar intake.

Reducing added sugar consumption is not only crucial for preventing dental cavities but also for addressing broader health issues. Excessive sugar intake is strongly linked to weight gain, which in turn can contribute to various health complications. These health concerns encompass a spectrum of issues that are directly associated with consuming high levels of added sugars.

  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease (including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, etc.)
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Some types of cancer
  • Gout (a form of arthritis)
  • Depression

Furthermore, a high-sugar diet may also be associated with kidney stones, chronic (long-term) inflammation, and some autoimmune diseases (diseases where the immune system mistakenly attacks itself).

How to start cutting out sugar?

Cutting back on your added sugar intake may seem a difficult task, but it is not impossible. The first thing you need to do is learn how to read the labels of the packaged foods you consume. If you are not a very active individual, limit products that indicate they have “added sugars,” including sucrose, saccharose, dextrose, glucose, maltose, fructose, molasses, honey, and syrups.

Then, you can start cutting out the sugar you usually add to your foods and beverages while preparing meals at home.

For instance, if you usually add two teaspoons of sugar to your morning coffee, reduce it to just one teaspoon and keep weaning it down progressively.

  • Swap your daily regular soft beverage at lunch for a sugar-free option.
  • Instead of adding sugar to your oatmeal, cereal, or yogurt, try adding fresh or dried fruits like bananas, peaches, strawberries, or raisins.

Final word

Remember to go slowly if you want to reap the benefits of cutting out sugar. You need time to adjust your palate and body to new changes in your diet, and if you try to cut out all sugar at once, you are more likely to relapse due to increased cravings.

Although quitting sugar may be hard at first, the health benefits you can get from it in the long term greatly surpass the initial struggles you may face. It is never too late to start living your best life, so go for it!

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