Sugar is like a bad relationship. You know you should break up, but you’re still crazy in love. And believe me, America is having a love affair with sugar. But with the average American consuming 20 teaspoons of sugar per day, that affair is looking a lot more like an addiction.
Although there’s a war on drugs, you don’t hear about a war on sugar. The lack of public awareness about the harmful effects of sugar is honestly what makes it so dangerous. With drugs and alcohol, you know the enemy. If you’re willing, you can ask for help.
But with sugar, it’s different. It sneaks up on you disguised in the form of comfort food and a mood lift. When most people think about the harmful effects of sugar, they simply think of maybe a few cavities or extra pounds. Most of us don’t realize just how bad the long-term effects of sugar are on the body.
Spoiler alert: they’re bad.
This relationship with sugar isn’t working out. So we’re here to motivate you with 7 reasons why you should break up with refined and high-fructose corn syrup.
1. Sugar makes you look years older
Sugar attaches to proteins that form molecules called advanced glycation end products. These harmful molecules then attack the protein fibers in elastin and collagen, which are responsible for firm skin. Besides making your face sag, the loss of elastin and collagen can decrease the antioxidant enzymes in your skin, increase the effects of sun damage, and add to your wrinkles.
2. Sugar fattens up your organs
Fat is not something that just accumulates under major muscle groups. It’s also something that fattens organs. The liver is an efficient-storage organ. Globules of fat that build up around the liver are a precursor for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Before 1980, this condition was rare. Today in our sugar-obsessed society, let’s just say it’s more common. A lot more common.
3. Sugar primes you for diabetes
Many scientific studies indicate that out-of-control sugar consumption is the reason why diabetes is on the rise. Statistically people who drink sugary beverages have up to an 83 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
4. Sugar tenses up blood vessels
High levels of blood sugar can cause changes that lead to a hardening of your blood vessels. When blood has a hard time travelling through the body, organs don’t get the oxygen and nutrients they need. Over time, this process takes a toll.
5. Sugar weakens your heart
Sugar doesn’t just play games with your heart, it’s actually really bad for it, too. That’s because sugar has been linked with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, and these two health conditions are the major cause of strokes and heart disease.
6. Sugar increases bad cholesterol
The liver responds to sugar overload by making more bad cholesterol According to a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, People who eat a high amount of sugar create a cholesterol imbalance in their body.
7. Sugar wrecks your mood
Sugar lies to you. It whispers, “you’ll feel better. Just a little bit.” But after that initial sugar rush passes, the brain has a harder time producing dopamine. In the long run you are more likely to become increasingly depressed.
Why is eliminating sugar so difficult?
If you’re reluctant to give up sugar, you’re not alone. That’s because it’s a borderline drug masquerading as a food. In many ways sugar is no different from caffeine, cigarettes, or hard drugs when it comes to addiction. Like other addictive substances, it starts off by spiking dopamine, which makes you feel really good (but then really awful later). And like other addictive substances, you slowly acquire a tolerance for sugar, meaning you need more and more of its sweet siren song to feel satisfied.
Ok, we’ve established the fact that sugar is awful for you but that it’s awfully hard to quit. So what’s the solution? When people become aware of how harmful processed sugar is for them, often the first thing they do is resist. But in the words of the Borg, resistance is futile. Quitting cold turkey may not be the fastest or more effective way to get all that unhealthy sugary sweetness out of your life.
So, how much sugar is ok?
The American Heart Association suggests that men consume no more than 150 calories (that’s about 9 teaspoons or 36 grams) per day. For women, the recommended amount drops to 6 teaspoon or 100 calories a day. That might sound like a lot (and it is), but consider this: this is about how much a 12 ounce soda contains.
The truth is, most of us consume much more sugar than this every single day.
Going sugar free. Or at least sugar-less.
Getting your sugar intake into a moderately healthy range means subtracting the added sugar in many of the foods you eat. Doing this effectively starts with becoming familiar with food labels. Why? Well, added sugar is tricky, and it can hide itself using a number of different alias including Dextrose, Fructose, Galactose, Maltodextrin, Ethyl Maltol.
For more tips on locating and rooting out the added sugars lurking around your kitchen, the Center for Disease Control has put together this handy resource to help.
The next step to breaking up with sugar means forming healthier relationships with sugar alternatives that can satisfy your sweet tooth. These substitutes include:
- Monk fruit sweetener
- Coconut sugar
- Maple syrup.
You might also consider xylitol – a sugar alcohol that’s extracted from corn or birch would and found in many fruits and vegetables. It has that sweet-sugary goodness but only contains 24 calories per gram. Use these alternatives in moderation, and even though they might not give you the immediate rush of that Snickers Bar, after just a short time, they’ll be just as satisfying.
No matter how you begin or the strategy you take from weaning your heart (and taste buds) off of sugar, our advice is to go slow. It can take from one to three weeks to cut down on your sugar consumption. Begin by cutting out a small amount of sugar every week and try replacing processed sugar in your diet with natural sugars like fresh fruit and honey. Your taste buds will gradually get used to lower amounts of sugar in your food, and eventually beverages and meals you thought needed sugar will appear sickeningly sweet.
Here’s the thing: sugar is not enhancing the quality of your life.
It’s doing just the opposite. While you may not be able to avoid it altogether, a significant reduction in your intake of sugar will result in a dramatic improvement in your appearance, energy, and mood. Breaking up with sugar might be hard. You may be tempted to reminisce about all the great times you had together, but in the long run moving on is going to lead to a healthier, longer life.
* The views expressed in this article are those of the author
s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of LifeVantage or any other agency, organization, employer or company
** LifeVantage’s Marketing team may from time to time publish blog articles reporting information and research from third-party sources. The views and opinions expressed by these third-party sources as reported in LifeVantage blog articles are those of the authors and experts quoted therein and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of LifeVantage.