Do you know how much sugar you take in every day? Lots of products contain naturally-occurring sugar and these can form a healthy part of a balanced diet.
Extra sugars added to a whole range of foods – including “healthy” low-fat versions of products – are a different matter. The British health authorities suggest that added sugars should be just 5% of your daily calorie intake – that is around 30g. The American guidelines are around 10%.
The health benefits of cutting down on sugar are significant. Here is a brief rundown of why kicking the sugar habit can leave you feeling younger, slimmer and healthier
Your energy levels are likely to increase
When you eat or drink refined sugar it floods your system with a fast burst of energy. This means your body must scramble to ingest and control high levels of carbohydrates. This means that for around an hour you will feel energised but your sugar levels will soon crash. If you take your body off the sugar roller-coaster your mood and energy levels will be more consistent.
You are less likely to be obese
There are around 16 calories in a teaspoon of sugar. Some pre-packaged or sugar-heavy products can contain over a dozen teaspoons of refined sugar in a single portion. Avoiding these products will cut your risk of developing obesity and improve your diet overall.
Cutting out sugar will help rejuvenate your skin
High blood sugar levels can cause an effect known as glycation which can cause sagginess in the skin. Research also suggests that less sugar in your diet may reduce the tell-tale lines on the face that come as we age.
Your heart is likely to benefit
People who take in more than 20% of their daily calories a day from sugars are twice as likely to develop heart disease than those who took in just 5% less. Even at 17 to 21% this group has a 38% higher risk of cardiovascular problems than those who aimed for 8% of their daily calories from sugars.
You will be less likely to carry fat around your stomach
Fat deposits around the stomach can be some of the most difficult to get rid of and may not respond to regular toning exercise. A 2016 study of 1,000 participants showed sugar-sweetened drinks were connected to the build-up of this visceral fat around the internal organs. Nutritionists advise swapping these sweet beverages for water or milk.
You are less likely to develop diabetes
Scientists and nutritionists still debate the exact reasons we develop diabetes. New evidence is emerging that when people have access to a lot of sugar the rate of diabetes is much higher. This was still the case even when obesity rates (an established risk factor) were also considered.
Giving up sugar can be a struggle to begin with and will require you to actively reconsider the foods you eat, and how you eat them. However, the long-term outcomes show it may be hard work but it is work worth doing. The benefits will pay off long into the future.