5 Reasons Why You Need to Reduce Your Sugar Consumption
BY SARAH CLARK
Who really is the ‘bad guy’?
Evidence is now emerging that the US sugar industry in the 1960’s, paid scientists to play down the relationship between sugar and cardiovascular disease. Saturated fat was instead labelled as the ‘bad guy’. These findings may start to make us question the validity of nutritional guidelines from the last 50 years – including many of today’s dietary recommendations that could have been largely shaped by the sugar industry.1
Sugars that are highly processed and then added to foods, such as fructose and high fructose corn syrup, are really just full of calories and offer minimal nutritional value. Naturally occurring sugars in fruits and vegetable are fine in moderation. Eating a whole apple versus a glass of apple juice, provides added dietary fibre that helps the body to break down the fructose.
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However, it’s the hidden sugars that we don’t even know we are consuming that we really need to be mindful of.
Empty calories and sugar
When it comes to good health and weight loss, cutting out sugar and the processed foods that contain high amounts, is a great step in achieving long term results. Quitting sugar and processed foods means you are drastically reducing the amount of empty calories and hidden nasties in your diet.
Ways reducing sugar can improve your health:
- Weight loss – most people find they will lose weight when reducing sugar. Eating whole foods and less processed foods means you will be avoiding the hidden sugars in foods and empty calories that can cause weight gain. You tend to eat more protein rich foods when on a sugar free diet, which makes you feel fuller for longer, reducing the need for sweet treats.
- Clearer complexion – Sugar causes a rise in blood sugar levels causing inflammation in the body resulting in break outs and acne. Sugar also increases the ageing process because of the way it changes the structure of proteins (eg. collagen and elastin) in the body. Many people report clearer complexion to be one of the first things they notice when reducing sugar in their diet.2
- Increased energy – A balance in blood sugar levels means more regular energy throughout the day. Sugar causes spikes in energy which then result in a ‘crash’. This feeling makes people more likely to crave sugar as their brains seek out the release of those ‘feel good’ hormones like dopamine & serotonin.
- Reduced anxiety – Sugar consumption causes our bodies to produce ‘feel-good’ hormones such as dopamine and serotonin. This stimulates the brain and triggers a reward system. Whilst this may be harmless in small amounts, Australians are eating too much sugar. According to neuroscientist Nicole Avena3, “Over-activating this reward system kick starts a series of unfortunate events – loss of control, craving, and increased tolerance to sugar,”
Constantly over-activating these serotonin pathways can deplete our limited supplies of these hormones which can also contribute to symptoms of anxiety & depression.4
- Improve Sleep – Unbalanced blood sugar levels are found to be one of the main causes of insomnia therefore avoiding sugar before bed means a reduction in blood sugar level spike before sleeping.5
If you are interested in reducing sugar in your diet, it is best to discuss any concerns or questions with your healthcare practitioner or GP.
- Kathryn Doyle – September 14, 2016 – Available from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/the-sugar-industry-paid-scientists-to-be-on-its-side-since-the-1960s_us_57d815d8e4b0aa4b722c7088
- Katherine Ripley – January 16, 2016 – Available from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/how-i-cured-my-cystic-acne-not-by-taking-a-pill-but-by-quitting-sugar_b_8908660
- Nicole Avena, (2014), How sugar affects the brain .[Online Video]. 7 January 2014. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEXBxijQREo . Accessed: 19 September 2016].
- Dr. Datis Kharrazian, 2013. Your Brain On Sugar – Why isn’t my brain working? Available at: http://brainhealthbook.com/brain-sugar/. [Accessed 19 September 2016].
- Dr Charli Sargent – 25/02/2009 – Available from: http://www.abc.net.au/health/talkinghealth/factbuster/stories/2009/02/25/2500960.htm