Do your New Year’s resolutions or health goals include?
- Losing weight
- Being healthier
- Having more energy
- Helping your brain stay sharper
- Being happier
- Having clearer skin
- Getting better sleep
- Saving money
- Not getting diabetes like your grandmother
Well, maybe your resolution wasn’t as specific as this last one, but these are just some of the potential health benefits from minimizing your sugar consumption.
Health risks of sugar and carbohydrates
A study in The Lancet showed there was a correlation between a high carbohydrate diet and total mortality risk. This massive study with over 100,000 participants from 18 countries didn’t show the same health risk with consumption of dietary fats. This is just one of many studies that are helping us rethink our dietary recommendations.
How sugar is toxic
- Insulin resistance, the cause of most diabetes, is partially caused by cells trying to protect themselves from the damage caused by excess sugar.
- Cell-damaging reactive oxygen species are a natural byproduct of cellular energy production from sugar.
- Increased sugar consumption leads to more of these reactive oxygen species in your cells.
- Reactive oxygen species contribute to insulin resistance because cells reduce their insulin receptors to protect themselves against this damage from excess sugar.
- Then the body starts producing excess insulin to try to force the cells to take up sugar.
- This excess insulin is the beginning of other health problems like pre-diabetes and obesity.
- Other toxins such as heavy metals and pesticides amplify this oxidative stress and these problems.
So basically, if we eat too much sugar or carbohydrates, our cells try to protect themselves by ignoring insulin’s message to remove sugar from the bloodstream. But this either leads to elevated insulin levels or high blood sugar. If you cut down on the sugar and carbs, you can help stop this cycle of damage.
Tips for Cutting out Sugar
- Go cold turkey. We often crave sugar less after avoiding it for a week.
- Eat fruit. The fiber and antioxidants in fruit protect us from oxidative stress and diabetes.
- Use natural alternative sweeteners. I use stevia, monk fruit, and occasionally xylitol.
- Ditch soda. Try flavored sparkling water or tea.
- Don’t keep high sugar treats in the house.
- Eat more protein and fat. These can help reduce hunger.
- Add stress reduction activities, such as mindfulness exercises. Stress can spur sugar craving.
- When it is time for a sweet treat, have one that includes antioxidants, such as those in dark chocolate or cinnamon.
Sugary temptations are everywhere these days, and it can be easy to give into them. But remind yourself of your health goals. My grandmother had diabetes so I know my risk might be greater. If I find myself tempted in the grocery store, I remind myself that too much sugar is a toxin. Yes, most of us can handle some amount of sugar in the diet. But with all the other toxic stresses in our lives, let’s minimize this one to support our health goals.
So here’s to a lower-sugar, healthier New Year!