It’s pretty well known that eating too much sugar can lead to long term health problems such as Type-2 Diabetes, Cancer, and Heart Disease. However, consuming less processed sugar can improve a person’s health in several unexpected ways.
A couple months ago my cousin and I decided to try cutting sugar from our diets for a year. So far I haven’t been able to completely eat sugar free – I don’t think that will ever be realistic for me as sugar is in so much, and I enjoy the occasional treat far too much to ever give it up completely. However, in reducing my intake, I’ve noticed some differences in what I’m seeing and how I feel. Like many others, I constantly crave sugary foods and prefer flavours with a sweetened taste. Learning some of the science behind what I am experiencing has been helpful. One of the things I’ve learned is that sugar seems to be present in most on-the-shelf foods, often disguised under different names. Some of the names it’s marketed under include, but are not limited to: barley malt, buttered syrup, cane sugar, corn syrup, carob syrup, sorghum syrup, dextran, and fructose.
Overall, here are five ways I feel that I’ve benefited since eating less sugar:
1) Sleeping Better
Excessive sugar consumption can cause sleep disruption. Processed sugar causes spikes in blood glucose levels which cause quick spikes in energy, followed by quick crashes. When the body is continuously given excess amounts of glucose, it continually thinks it needs more. Since consuming less sugar, I’ve noticed nights of more restful and deeper sleeps.
2) Maintaining a Healthier Weight
To add onto the last point, when excess amounts of glucose are consumed, the body starts storing it as fat. In addition, excess sugar consumption causes resistance to leptin – the hormone responsible for sending signals to the brain that the body is full. Therefore, reducing means I’ve been eating foods that give me slower peaks of energy for longer periods of time. This regulates my blood-glucose levels, helping me feel satisfied between meals. Since consuming less sugar, I’ve benefited from reduced cravings and feeling satisfied by healthier foods.
3) Improved Digestive Health
Consuming less sugar improves the body’s ability to process foods. This has allowed my body to start digesting food properly and begin to work out hormone imbalances that have occurred in part due to excess levels of sugar. My digestive system is no longer dealing with an onslaught of energy spikes, making it easier to do what it does best. When I take care of my body, it takes care of me.
4) Healthier Skin
Excess sugar causes spikes in insulin, an inflammatory hormone. The more sugar consumed, the more the body develops insulin resistance and promotes inflammation. In addition, sugar causes oily secretions in the skin, which in turn can lead to acne. When your body is inflamed, it’s harder to heal – and this can set back healthy functions in almost all areas of the body. On the flip side, when your body isn’t dealing with spikes in insulin, it can take the time to work on healing – and that includes healthier skin!
5) Improved Energy Levels
Reducing the amount of sugar I’ve been consuming has definitely improved my energy. This is the one I’ve been grateful to notice most. My level of focus and concentration has increased quite a bit over the past few months. Instead of eating too much of something not healthy for me, I’m eating foods that provide me with the nutrients I need to function more productively. Being mindful in turn helps me to be able to focus on ignoring the cravings or pressures that may cause me to eat sugar – helping me to keep on track.
If constant sugar cravings are something you too struggle with and you’re finding that it doesn’t always feel good in terms of energy and overall health, I hope you might find some motivation here to research and make the best choices for you