Deciding to Cut Back on Your Added Sugar Intake
Cutting back on your added sugar intake is no easy task. After all, it can hide in many different foods and beverages—even the so-called “healthy” ones. Although sugar isn’t considered to be a healthy food, a little sweetness is okay.
Recommended Limits for Added Sugar Intake
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends limiting added sugars to less than 10% of your daily calories. Meanwhile, the American Heart Association suggests no more than 6 teaspoons (100 calories) of added sugar for women and 9 teaspoons (150 calories) for men. As a daily average, adults are consuming nearly 17 teaspoons.
The Impact of Added Sugars on Your Body
It’s important to note that these recommendations don’t include naturally occurring sugars found in whole foods, such as fruit or milk. Your body spends more time digesting whole foods and processing their sugars.
With added sugars, your body absorbs them more quickly or can’t process them fast enough. These sugars are used to sweeten food and beverages during processing and preparation. Think soda, juice, or sweetener in your morning cup of coffee.
The Dangers of Excessive Sugar Consumption
Too much sugar, whether it’s added or natural, can harm your health. In particular, too much added sugar can place you at a greater risk for heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, obesity, and other health conditions.
Benefits of Cutting Out Sugar
Reducing the amount of added sugar you consume can lead to weight reduction and more. Here are seven possible benefits of cutting out sugar.
Seven Possible Benefits of Cutting Out Sugar
1. Helps Regulate Your Blood Sugar
In order for your body to process blood sugar, your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin. Think of insulin as a key: it allows the sugar to enter your cells. But when lots of sugar enters your bloodstream at once, the pancreas releases lots of insulin to try and keep up. If this happens often enough, you can develop insulin resistance: when your cells gradually stop responding to insulin, and sugar builds up in the bloodstream.
Eventually, insulin resistance can lead to prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Several studies have found that people who frequently consume sugar-sweetened beverages have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Reducing your added sugar intake, exercising, and following a healthful diet can improve insulin sensitivity. When your cells are more sensitive to insulin, they require less insulin to absorb blood sugar. This can help regulate your blood sugar levels and decrease your risk for diabetes.
2. Supports Weight Loss
One of the significant benefits of cutting out sugar is weight reduction. Added sugars are high in calories but low in nutrients, making it easy to consume excess calories without feeling satisfied. By reducing your added sugar intake, you can lower your overall calorie intake and create a calorie deficit, which is essential for weight loss.
3. Enhances Heart Health
Added sugars are indirectly and directly linked to heart disease. Diets with more than 20% of total calories from added sugars are associated with high levels of triglycerides, a type of blood fat that increases the risk of heart disease. A study examining daily added sugar consumption and heart disease risk in over 11,000 people found that those consuming 25% or more of their daily calories from sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease compared to those consuming less than 10% of calories from added sugar. Even if you are already at a healthy weight, reducing your added sugar intake can help maintain healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, thus decreasing the risk of heart disease.
4. Boosts Energy Levels
While sugar may provide a quick energy boost, it often leads to crashes and fatigue. Consuming foods high in added sugars causes a spike in blood sugar levels, followed by a rapid drop, leaving you feeling tired and drained. By cutting back on sugar, you can maintain more stable energy levels throughout the day, avoiding the highs and lows associated with sugar consumption.
5. Improves Dental Health
Excessive sugar consumption can lead to dental cavities and gum disease. Bacteria in your mouth break down sugar to produce acid, gradually damaging your tooth enamel and causing cavities. Too much bacteria can also result in infected or inflamed gums. Reducing added sugar in your diet to less than 10% of your total calories each day can reduce your risk of developing cavities, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Practicing good oral hygiene by daily flossing, brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and visiting a dentist at least once a year is essential regardless of your sugar intake.
6. Enhances Skin Health
Reducing sugar intake may also improve skin health. Excess sugar leads to increased insulin and insulin-like hormones, which can trigger skin-related changes such as increased production of androgen hormones (like testosterone) and sebum (oily substance)—both of which can contribute to acne. Cutting back on added sugar might also slow down skin aging. As you reach early adulthood, the collagen and elastic proteins in your skin naturally age, resulting in wrinkles, sagging, and creases. Sugar, along with grilled, fried, or roasted foods, may contain substances that react with the collagen and elastic fibers in your skin. While reducing added sugar cannot reverse wrinkles, it can slow down the skin aging process. Certain herbs and spices like cloves, ginger, garlic, and oregano may also help slow the appearance of wrinkles.
7. Supports Mental Clarity and Mood
The impact of sugar on mental health and mood should not be overlooked. Consuming excess sugar has been associated with increased anxiety, depression, and mood swings. By reducing your sugar intake, you can experience improved mental clarity, stable moods, and better overall emotional well-being.
Diet can affect brain function and mood. Eating healthy diets that emphasize fish, whole grains, nuts, and fresh fruits and vegetables (e.g., Mediterranean diet) is associated with a lower risk of depressive symptoms. Several studies suggest that sugary beverages are linked to a higher risk of depressive symptoms and depression
8. Reduces the Risk of Liver Disease
Consuming excessive amounts of added sugar is linked to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). When the liver breaks down fructose, a type of added sugar, excess fructose—especially from sweetened beverages—is converted into fat. Eventually, the accumulation of too much fat in the liver can lead to NAFLD. However, reducing your added sugar intake can help decrease your risk for liver disease.
А Quick Rеviеw
Reducing your sugar intake can have several health benefits, including supporting a healthy weight, decreasing the risk of depression, and reducing the risk of heart disease. The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to quit sugar completely. Consuming a limited amount of added sugar each day is generally considered fine. It’s recommended to consult with your healthcare provider about ways to manage your sugar consumption, especially if you have a specific health condition related to blood sugar or are at risk of developing one.