The average American consumes around 300 extra calories every day just from sugar. That’s just the average person. About 20% of Americans actually take in more than 700 calories from sugar alone each day, according to a study recently published by the University of North Carolina. That is an entire cup of sugar each day.
Elyse Powell, a coauthor of the report and doctoral researcher at UNC, stated, “Not only are we getting added sugar from obvious places like cakes, candy, and soda, but it’s also coming from healthier-sounding packaged products like salad dressing, pasta sauce, and yoghurt.” Powell is referring to added sugars, and not natural sugars such as those found in whole fruit, vegetables, and plain milk.
The results of the study show what most of us already know, that we should be cutting back on sugar. According to the American Heart Association, women should consume 6 teaspoons or less per day, which is equivalent to about 100 calories or 25 grams, if you are consulting food labels.
You will experience some major changes when you cut sugar from your diet, and the changes you experience will be based upon how much sugar you currently consume and how drastically you cut your intake. Those who consume higher amounts of sugar will show symptoms that mimic drug withdrawal, such as anxiety, restlessness, and possibly depression. But, after your body adjusts, you can expect several positive changes to occur.
1. Heart benefits
Your risk of developing cardiovascular disease will drop significantly when you cut out sugar. James J. DiNicolantonio, Pharm.D., a cardiovascular research scientist at St. Lukes Mid-Atlantic Heart Institute in Kansas City, Missouri, states, “Added sugar chronically raises insulin levels, which activates the sympathetic nervous system, increasing blood pressure and heart rate. Within a few weeks’ time, you might expect to see a 10% decrease in LDL cholesterol and a 20-30% decrease in triglycerides.” Your blood pressure will probably become lower, as well.
2. Improved skin
When your body is experiencing systemic inflammation, you are more likely to develop acne. Sugar is inflammatory. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that non-soda drinkers who consumed one can per day increased their systemic inflammation levels by up to nearly 90%. Avoiding sodas and other sweetened drinks can reduce the inflammation in your system significantly, and help you to avoid developing mid-life zits.
3. Reduced risk of diabetes
When you consume large amounts of added sugars, you will increase the buildup of fatty deposits around your organs, particularly your liver. As these deposits increase, you will become increasingly insulin resistant and your pancreas will work extra hard to fight the process. A recent study showed that eating 150 calories of sugar is 11 times more likely to increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as opposed to consuming 150 calories of lean protein or healthy fats.
4. Your mood will improve.
When you first remove the sugar from your diet, you might find that you are a little crankier than normal. But, shortly after you eliminate sugar, you will find that you feel much better, have less anxiety, and experience less irritability and mood swings.
5. You’ll sleep better.
Instead of feeling sluggish in the middle of the day, you will find that your energy levels stay much more balanced. Added sugars increase the release of cortisol, which can cause interrupted sleep overnight. When you are sugar-free, you will feel more alert during the day and have fewer sleep interruptions during the night.
6. Your memory will improve.
Those who consume lots of added sugar may feel fuzzy-headed. Over time, the effects can accumulate, leading to true memory loss. But, when you cut out the sugar, you will feel sharper and the communication within your brain cells will improve.
7. You will lose weight.
When you cut out sugar, you will still need to eat. But you will be eating more whole foods and healthy choices, and less processed foods. You will probably consume fewer calories overall, and you will find that you drop pounds as a result.
If you are ready to improve your health and experience some of these great health benefits, consider cutting sugar out of your diet.