Too much processed sugar is bad for your health. Unfortunately, in the United States added sugar makes up about 17% of the average person’s diet. It’s found in most of the processed foods and snacks sold today. Eating lots of processed sugar can cause you to become obese, develop Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, and suffer from many other chronic health issues. That’s because starchy or highly processed foods and sugar-sweetened beverages cause havoc all throughout your body. Sugar in fruit drinks can cause resistance to hunger regulating hormone leptin and may even cause acne.
Hidden Sugar in Food
It’s easy for people to consume too much processed sugar because they do not even know it is in many of the things they eat and drink daily and it can cause visceral deep belly fat, inflammation, high triglycerides, and high blood sugar. There are 52 grams of sugar in a 16-ounce soda. Sugary foods cause blood sugar and the body’s insulin level to spike. Studies show consuming too much sugar is associated with an increased risk of pleural, esophageal, endometrial, and intestinal cancer. The hidden sugar in processed food may even result in you becoming depressed because it causes inflammation and neurotransmitter dysregulation.
Consuming too much refined sugar can also accelerate the aging process of the cells and your skin. It causes your body to produce Advanced Glycation End-Products that can worsen wrinkles, damage the proteins collagen and elastin, make the skin sag and lose its firmness prematurely and rob you of your youthful appearance. Processed sugar can also accelerate the shortening of the telomeres that prevent chromosomes from deteriorating and cause your cells to rapidly age and malfunction. Simply drinking a 20-ounce sugar-sweetened soda each day can increase premature cellular aging by 4.6 years.
Drains Your Energy And Damages Your Body
Consuming food and drink with lots of processed sugar gives you a fleeting boost of energy followed by a rapid drop in blood sugar and energy. Plus, the excess sugar can cause you to develop fatty liver disease, kidney disease, Gout in several joints, tooth demineralization, impaired memory, accelerated cognitive decline, and an increased risk of developing dementia.
Ways To Reduce Sugar Intake
There are a number of very effective methods for reducing the amount of processed sugar you consume each day.
1. One simple way is to focus on eating a diet made up primarily of whole, unprocessed foods.
2. You can also replace juices, sodas, energy drinks, and sweetened teas with water or unsweetened seltzer.
3. Do not add milk or sugar to your coffee. Consider using Stevia or a zero-calorie, natural sweetener.
4. Buy plain yogurt and add fresh or frozen berries. Don’t buy flavored, sugar-loaded yogurt.
5. Eat whole fruits instead of consuming sugar-sweetened fruit smoothies.
6. Replace candy with snacks like dark chocolate or homemade trail mix made with fruit and nuts.
7. Use vinegar and olive oil on your salad instead of honey mustard and other sweet salad dressings.
8. Buy marinades, marinara sauce, nut butter, and ketchup with zero added sugars.
9. Choose cereals and granola bars that have less than 4 grams of sugar a serving.
10. Have rolled oats with fresh berries and nut butter and omelets that are made with fresh greens for breakfast instead of sugary cereal.
11. Put slices of fresh bananas instead of jelly on peanut butter sandwiches.
12. Avoid alcoholic beverages sweetened with soda, juice, honey or agave.
13. Prepare healthy meals at home instead of buying fast food and drinks with lots of added sugar.
14. Start reading food labels looking for hidden sugar aliases like high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, molasses, honey, and malt sugar.
15. Understand that fruit, milk and even plain yogurt has natural sugar.
16. Know manufacturers add sugar when processing and making many foods and beverages, even flavored yogurt.
17. Determine if your favorite food and drinks have lots of added sugar. if so, get new favorites.
18. Use as few highly processed foods as possible.
19. Challenge yourself to experiment with new recipes using whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and other whole foods.
20. Swap your candy dish for a fruit bowl.
21. Stop buying highly processed foods in boxes, bags, and cans. Some of them have four or five types of added sugar.
22. Make your own tomato sauce. Many store-bought tomato sauces have lots of sugar.
23. Choose whole, fresh fruit instead of fruit juice, dehydrated fruits, and other fruit products like fruit roll-ups. They are almost pure sugar with no fiber.
24. Buy berries, cherries, lemons, limes, and grapefruit instead of apples, bananas, and other sweet fruit. The first group has less fructose(fruit sugar).
25. Eat fresh fruit for dessert instead of cakes and pies.
26. Don’t keep ice cream and other sugar-filled treats in the house.
27. Switch from milk chocolate to dark chocolate. It has a lot less sugar.
28. Avoid mixed alcohol drinks. They have lots of sugar.
29. Instead of soda, drink water flavored with lime or lemon. If you want the fizz then try soda water with lime or lemon.
The recommendations related to sugar consumption don’t refer to foods with sugar that’s naturally occurring because they also contain vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, and other beneficial nutrients.
Unhealthy, Empty Calories
One reason sugar is bad for you is because it doesn’t contain any essential nutrients. Sugar has no healthy fats, protein, enzymes, or vitamins. It’s just empty calories your body quickly digests and that gives you a blood sugar spike. But sugar tastes good and is very addictive. The thought of getting rid of all excess processed sugar in your diet might be scary. Some find it easier to gradually wean themselves off sugar. They give up sodas and only eat dessert on weekends or special occasions. Once you know how detrimental processed white sugar is to your health, make a commitment to creating a plan to eliminate excess processed white sugar from your diet. You can always fall back on natural sweeteners with great flavors that boost energy, like Manuka Honey.