Sugar is in almost all of our favourite foods. Many junk foods, fizzy drinks, processed and pre-packaged snacks contain sugar. Even natural foods such as fruits and vegetables will contain some form of sugar.
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Although sugar makes us feel happy and satisfy cravings and taste buds, it does leave long term side effects that can cause some serious problems in your health. If we can’t quit sugar completely, then we need to make a conscious effort to monitor our sugar levels or outright quit it.
A few benefits of quitting sugar include:
- Better weight management
- Decreased risk of heart disease
- Better oral health
- Natural and cleaner energy without the crashes
- Less chance of developing diabetes or other health complications
- No addiction or cravings to junk food
The Harmful Effects of Sugar
1. Unwanted weight gain
Sugary foods such as refined sugar, fizzy drinks, sweets, lollies, ice cream, and other sweet treats will cause you to gain weight. These foods are also loaded with fructose. Fructose is known to increase hunger and the desire for food.
On top of this, increased amounts of fructose may cause the body to reject leptin, an important hormone that regulates hunger and stops you from overeating. With that being said, sugar contains a lot of calories that you can easily be avoided just by making wiser choices.
2. Increased risk of heart disease
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death worldwide., With that being said, obesity is one of the main culprits for heart disease. Evidence has suggested that excess sugar can lead to obesity as well as inflammation and high triglyceride, increasing blood sugar levels to dangerous levels. Additionally, excessive sugar intake can also lead to clogged arteries due to fatty tissue.
3. Can mess with your energy levels
Eating sugary foods or sugar consumption in excess will spike insulin levels as well as your blood sugar. Though you may feel sudden bursts of energy, the crash after it will also be felt just as much. This is because sugar lacks the protein, fibre, and healthy fats to sustain your energy; therefore, you will feel a quick and major crash.
4. Can damage teeth
It’s a fact that eating too much sugar will cause cavities to develop in your teeth. This is when a hole develops in your teeth, making them weaker as well as allowing bacteria to begin rotting your teeth. The acidity of sugar is known to cause demineralization, causing it to become weaker as well as discolour overtime.
5. May Increase acne breakouts
Foods with a high glycemic index such as sugars and artificial sweeteners can raise your blood sugar and insulin levels, causing an increase in androgen secretion, oil production, and inflammation onto your skin causing random and sudden outbreaks of pimples.
6. Type 2 diabetes
Though many different reasons can cause type 2 diabetes, a bad diet and one that is high in sugar have been closely linked to its development. People who consume excess sugar have a stronger risk factor for diabetes. High sugar foods cause insulin resistance, leaving your body unable to regulate blood sugar levels and opens up the risk of diabetes.
How to Monitor Your Sugar Levels
Cutting out sugar from your diet can certainly do your body great wonders. However, you don’t need to cut it out entirely just to be healthy. Just being able to limit your intake and monitor the types of food you’re consuming is enough to make sure you can still get your intake while still being healthy and staying away from the harmful side effects of sugar.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the maximum amount of sugar for men is 37.5 grams and 25 grams for women. With that being said, here are some useful tips you can use to stay well below those numbers.
1. Read food packaging clearly
Always read and compare food labels between different products. Not only can you identify the amount of sugar in each, but you can also see which products contain certain nutrients you can avoid. Understanding food labels also help you make wiser choices when shopping.
2. Find reduced sugar alternatives
Try to find alternative ingredients to sugar when shopping. Artificial sweeteners that are zero calories can be a good option. Sugar-free products can also help you stay away from sugar. However, be careful you’re not relying on it too much as artificial sweeteners may contain ingredients that may be harmful.
3. Try to get natural sugars instead
If you need to eat something sweet, at least try to go for natural scourges. Vegetables and fruits are natural sources of sugar. Although they have a similar effect to refined sugar, at least you’ll be getting in the healthy nutrients from fruit and veggies.
4. Condition yourself to beat sugar cravings
Overtime your need for sugar will lessen when you significantly decrease sugar intake and stay consistent with it. Before you know it, you won’t be keen to get your usual dose of sugar.
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