How—and Why—to Stop Eating Sugar
Learn about the two main ways sugar harms your health and get tips to reduce your sugar intake
For decades, Americans have been more worried about having too much fat in their diets than too much sugar. An aggressive campaign sponsored by the sugar industry played a large role in making this happen.
Now, awareness has shifted so that people realize that certain fats are essential for health, whereas sugar—whether in the form of granulated sugar, high fructose corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, molasses, stevia, or any form of fructose—can be very harmful if you overindulge. Specifically, excess sugar consumption is linked to two processes in the body that can cause health problems and reduce longevity:
Insulin Resistance: Calories that come from fructose have a unique impact on the body compared to calories from glucose. Whereas glucose is metabolized by every cell in the body, fructose is metabolized almost entirely by the liver. Fructose from juice and soda is particularly hard on the liver because it hits so quickly and must be processed so fast. When you eat too much sugar (and especially if this sugar hits the liver too quickly), a lot of it will be converted to fat. This can affect how the body responds to insulin and lead to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance has been associated with obesity, heart disease, type two diabetes, and some cancers.
Glycation: Glycation is an inflammatory process that can be trigged by too much fructose in the diet. First, fructose reacts with amino acids to form Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs). Then, the body tries to dispose of these AGEs using special immune defense cells called macrophages. As macrophages work, they can cause damage to other cells. The more fructose you consume, harder your immune system will have to work and the more inflammation will occur. You may develop chronic inflammation, which has been linked to many health issues including premature skin aging, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and arthritis.
Tips for Reducing Your Sugar Intake
Sugar is everywhere in the typical American diet. In fact, the average American eats 2.5 pounds of sugar per week. In order to protect your health and longevity, reducing your sugar intake is wise.
Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. If you try to eliminate sugar completely, you’ll probably get frustrated and give up. A better approach might be to focus on adopting a few sugar-cutting measures and really sticking to them. Here are some suggestions:
Skip the Sugar at Breakfast: In many parts of the world, breakfast is a savory meal, not a sugary one. Try cutting out sugary cereals, donuts, syrup-drenched pancakes, and other sweet treats and replacing them with a high-protein breakfast instead. Eggs are an excellent breakfast food.
No More Soda: Many people reach for soda because they want the caffeine or they enjoy the carbonation. Unfortunately, soda comes with tons of sugar—often in the form of high fructose corn syrup. Try replacing soda with unsweetened tea if you crave caffeine or carbonated flavored water if you like bubbles.
Check Food Labels: Sugar is hiding in all kinds of processed foods that you might assume are sugar-free. This includes crackers, sauces, condiments and more. There are sugar-free options, though they may not be advertised as such. To find out which products to eliminate and what you can replace them with, you’ll need to read your food labels.
Snack on Fresh Fruit: While fruit does contain fructose, it’s not a worrying source of sugar. Why not? Because it’s very difficult to overeat naturally-occurring sugars to the point where you overload your liver. For example, you’d have to eat multiple apples to get the same amount of sugar you’d get from one glass of apple juice, but most people are content to stop at one apple because the fiber fills them up. Fruit also has the benefit of providing vitamins and minerals, not just empty sugar.
Reducing your sugar intake is just one way to help support longevity. For more information on healthy aging, contact Renew Youth today.