Sugar. It appears to be a deadly word of late. I think most of us have heard lately that sugar is dangerous, that it is a sweet poison…and I believe that it is, or at least the sugar that has crept into all our foods!
The bitter truth about sugar is that it is linked to many diseases. Researchers have linked sugar to obesity, type-2 diabetes, cancer, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, mental health issues and more.
At the time of writing this article – 2016 – the general consensus seems to be to eliminate sugar from our diet. The only problem is that sugar is in so many foods! If you walk down the grocery aisles and examine the food packages, you won’t find too many that don’t have sugar added.
What makes matters worse is that we have become so used to the taste that our body now craves it’s sugar fix. Yes, suffice to say many of us are addicted.
If you are able to eliminate sugar from your diet, it could save you from many health problems in the future. Here are some reasons why you should consider reducing or eliminating sugar from your diet.
Dangers of Sugar To Your Health
The first one is obvious. Sugar is linked to obesity. Sugar and obesity is very real and is caused because sugars are loaded with empty calories (energy) that your body stores for later. The problem is most people keep consuming these sugary calories so the ‘later days’ never come and eventually all that built-up energy is turned into fat.
Sugar is one food that doesn’t help anyone suffering from depression and studies have suggested that there is a link between a diet rich in sugar and depression. It’s important to remember that the foods you eat don’t just release their nutrients, sugars, and calories into fat stores. Your brain is also fed the foods you eat.
Consuming too much sugar has been shown to increase the risk of heart attack. Figures in the past have shown that people who consume 25% more sugar than a healthy individual increases their risk substantially.
More people are being diagnosed with high blood pressure daily and a poor diet is one of the biggest risk factors. The more sugar you eat, the more your bad cholesterol levels rise, which in turn can raise your blood sugar levels.
Aside from obesity, the next biggest health issue is type 2 diabetes. Researchers have made constant conclusions that there is a big link between sugar and diabetes. Diabetes occurs when your pancreas doesn’t create enough insulin, which is the hormone we rely on to turn sugar into fuel. I could discuss this problem all day, so please don’t become another victim to diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is one disease you can prevent!
- Fatty Liver Disease
Sugar is largely composed of two simple types of sugars, fructose and glucose. Fructose is very much the “evil twin” and heads immediately to your liver. Over time, too much sugar can cause a fatty liver, which if left untreated can lead to liver disease.
Although tests are still being carried out, research suggests that sugar could cause certain cancers. The reason behind this suggestion is that cancer cells feed off sugars. In certain tests the cancer cells can be seen feeding on sugars.
The one thing about sugar is that because sugar is so addictive, it just makes you want to eat more and more. Cutting it out from your diet will help stop the wanting of more over time. If you eliminate sugars you will help control hunger cravings!
Improve Your Health and Reduce Sugar In Your Diet
There are a whole variety of reasons why you might want to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet, as listed above! It can reduce the risk of many health problems.
Cutting sugar out of your diet can seem like a really daunting prospect. It tends to get worse once you start looking into your diet more closely, when you realize just how much sugar you eat!
- Firstly, it’s possible to replace many sugary things which you have to cut out of your diet with similar alternatives.
- Secondly, it’s worth remembering that you don’t necessarily have to cut out every sugary bit of food from your diet at once.
Here are a few simple suggestions for alternatives to eating your usual sugary foods. After those, we’ll take a look some ways to help overcome the initial challenge of changing your diet, and how to stick with it once you’ve started.
- Dried Fruit – There are many dried fruits available: apricots, mangos, prunes, raisins etc. Just make sure they are natural, rather than sweetened dried fruits.
Although fruits are sweet, they contain a different kind of sugar to than found in normal cakes and biscuits. Dried fruits are really sweet, which makes them great replacements for chocolate, biscuits and other sweet treats.
- Fresh Fruit – Fresh fruit isn’t usually as sweet as dried fruit, but it’s still very sweet and good for you.
Just don’t drink lots of fruit juice as too mcuh is not a good thing! It is still a natural sugar and too much will still cause weight gain.
- Fructose-Based Products – Most jams and sweets are sucrose-based. Sucrose is standard sugar – the kind you bake with and the kind you find in sweets and chocolates (along with other processed sugars which are also bad for you). Fructose is the type of sugar found in fruit. It’s actually sweeter than sucrose which means you need less of it to achieve the same effect.
Fortunately, it’s possible to find a range of fructose-based products in health-food stores and supermarkets. These use fruit sugars to make cakes, jams and other tasty treats that you might crave.
- Fructose – Not only is it possible to buy fructose-based products, but you can also buy fructose itself. You can use it in place of any other kind of sugar which you would normally use on a daily basis for cooking or sweetening your drinks etc.
While these alternatives will help you to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet, you might still find it hard to adjust at first.
Alternatives to Fruit Sugars
It’s also possible that you’d prefer not to have too much fruit sugar in your diet either, which means cutting out almost everything that tastes sweet. Here are a few hints on how you can deal with these issues:
- Savory Treats
If weight loss isn’t your primary goal, then it’s possible to eat savory treats that give a similar kind of satisfaction to sweet treats. Things like nuts and cheese are good for this. So is plain yogurt.
- Fill Up on The Healthy Foods At Meal Times
When we’re full we usually feel less like eating treats. A simple solution to reducing additional cravings is to eat larger portions of savory meals. Make extra salad, or vegetables. Just try to make sure you get your fill from the savory foods that you eat.
- Savory Drinks
A really good way to kill the desire for sweet things is to drink something savory that cleanses your taste buds. A good example of this is chamomile tea, which is very mild tasting and washes flavors out of your mouth. Drinking savory things like this helps quiet the urge for sweet taste sensations.
You can also try drinking ginger tea or licorice tea. A unique feature of licorice tea is that, despite containing no sugar, it leaves a sweet aftertaste at the back of your throat. This can help satisfy cravings for sweet flavors.
Keeping to a reduced sugar, or sugar-free, diet can be challenging, as it requires both willpower and motivation. Willpower is the hardest part of the equation: it can be very hard to resist strong urges. However, the more you resist, the better you get at controlling your desires. That means that over time, your willpower will improve.
You don’t have to drop all sugary foods at once. You can start by eliminating one or two particular foods – say ice cream or biscuits – and get used to not having them. After a while you can cut out another thing, and another. Take your time.
One more thing worth remembering is that your taste buds themselves can change.
- After a while of not eating chocolate, biscuits, ice cream and so on, you start to taste the sweetness in other things which are more savory.
- Even something as plain as bread actually has some sweetness, and this can become satisfying once your taste buds have adjusted.
Cutting sugar from your diet isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s really not the toughest thing in the world either. With the right attitude and knowledge, it’s not only possible but pretty easy to make this change. Just set your mind to it, and remember why you’re doing it in the first place. For your health and to reduce your risk of developing health problems!