Every one of us has a sweet tooth, and whether it rules your life or not, there are many reasons to avoid sugar in its processed or concentrated form for a variety of health reasons. This is not an advertisement for a low-carb diet, but is more about learning how certain aspects of sugar from the wrong sources harm us instead of help us. There are ways to indulge your sweet tooth the right way, without harming yourself through refined and processed sweeteners, or artificial sweeteners. Read these reasons to avoid sugar and as always, let me know what you think!
1. Sugar Ages You
While you may not be concerned with aging just yet, this is one of the top reasons to avoid sugar. I can tell you from experience, I look younger now at 28 than I did at 17 and 18 years old through my skin. Many people think I’m still in college! I credit this 100% to my diet alone. You can truly eat for beauty, without paying tons of money. Nature is your best weapon against wrinkles and acne. Sugar is the worst offender of all for wrinkles, bad skin, inflammation and acne. First of all, sugar causes cells to shrink, die, and become inflamed. It also targets and breaks down collagen in the skin. Collagen is the skin’s plumping and firming tissue, so harming it is seriously detrimental to the skin. Refined sugars are the biggest offenders so stay clear of all processed foods, white sugar, candy, junk food and the like.
2. It Causes Weight Gain
If you’re looking to pack on pounds, then sugar will do it. Not only does refined sugar age you, but it also inhibits your cells to burn fat. In fact, it is the number one cause of type 2 diabetes. This can be tricky because sugar is in everything! It is hard to even pick up a bottle of salad dressing without seeing it. It lurks under sneaky names like high fructose corn syrup (corn sugar), fructose (concentrated fruit sugar) dextrose, sucrose, maltodetxtrin (corn or grain sugar), lactose (milk sugar), evaporated cane syrup, and is found in healthier, but still high, sugar sources such as molasses, honey and agave nectar. Be sure to avoid these on a daily basis. Though the occasional bit of maple syrup and honey won’t hurt you, refined sugar in the other forms is never a good choice or option. Even if a product states it is healthy, read the ingredients list. Labels lie to sell you products so don't be fooled! Tons of foods have added sugars, which lead to weight gain or intense, ongoing sugar cravings. Why not try a healthier, friendly sweetener such as stevia, an herb based sweetener which is not artificial, and does not contain any sugar or carbs. For food options, opt for plain fruit instead of junk food.
3. Sugar = Empty Calories
Sugar has no nutrients; none- what-so-ever. Yep, that’s right. You’re basically eating nothing but empty calories when you eat sugar. Calories have one purpose- to energize us and sustain us through nutrients. Sugar is filled with calories, but no nutrition, so your body never gets any sustainable fuel. Sugar also trains your brain to want more food all the time, leading to more calorie intake. Processed or any refined form of sugar is devoid of minerals, nutrients, fiber and water, making it pointless to eat. Sweeten your food with foods that have nutritional benefits such as fruit in moderation, and sweeter veggies.
4. Sugar Hurts Your Liver
When we eat fructose, a form of sugar, it goes straight to the liver. Unless you’ve just finished a long race or marathon workout, your glycogen levels in your liver won’t use the fructose to replenish glycogen stores for energy. Most people aren’t consuming sugar and fructose after a long workout, so it gets stored as fat because the liver doesn’t need it to replenish stores of glycogen. What is glycogen? Glycogen is what your liver uses for fuel. Usually it has plenty to sustain you through eating healthy foods, but it can also use sugar for fuel or to replenish stores when they are low. Rarely does your glycogen ever get low enough to need fructose or other forms of sugar. This is why marathon runners carb-load before a race- to sustain their glycogen levels. For the rest of us, the sugar we eat is not needed, and is instead directly harming our liver and overloading it. When the liver doesn’t need the excess sugar to replenish glycogen, it is secreted into the pancreas, which becomes overwhelmed and pumps out excess insulin to help balance the body. This leads to type 2 diabetes, weight gain, and a fatty liver.
5. Sugar Makes You Cranky
Of course when we first eat sugar, it makes us happy, but within an hour or two, if you don’t supply your body with more sugar, it just makes you plain moody and cranky. Sugar is extremely hard on your blood sugar. It makes levels surge out of control, giving you a high and fast source of energy, but then plummets down extremely low. Imagine your body on a roller coaster all the time. This is your body on sugar. It is never even. You’re either eating sugar or constantly craving it. Your body naturally craves sugar. It is instilled in us to. The smart way to eat sugar is through sweet fruits and vegetables. Eat tons of them. I like to eat fruit in the morning since it usually tames my sweet tooth all day this way, and eat sweeter vegetables like sweet potatoes, squash and carrots with plenty of greens and lean protein the remainder of the day. I never crave sugar anymore when doing so. A little dried fruit is okay in homemade trail-mix too.
6. Sugar is Filled with Chemicals
Sugar goes through tons of processing to reach its final state of the white substance, which many people refer to as cocaine because sugar is as addictive as cocaine. In fact, they are even processed in similar ways! Sugar is filled with bleaching agents and other chemicals to make it the fine, consistent powdery substance so many of us buy. Think about what all the sugarcane plant must go through before it reaches the bags of sugar or candy bars in stores. It resembles nothing what the plant looks like, which is always a sign of refined foods like sugar, white flour, etc. Sugar is also made from bone char, which is an ingredient derived from the hooves of cows, pigs and/or sheep. Ugh!
7. Sugar Causes High Cholesterol
Yes, that’s right. Sugar doesn’t only harm your blood sugar and insulin levels, but also harms your cholesterol levels. How? Well for starters, it raises your triglyceride levels, while vegetables, healthy proteins, and healthy fats actually lower triglycerides. Watch out for sauces and syrups in restaurants and in packaged food, which are almost always a source of sugar. Many people who have reduced consumption of sugar and processed foods like these, have naturally lowered their cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
8. Sugar Ruins Your Metabolism
A funny thing happens when we eat sugar. Though it gives us a false sense of energy, it actually lowers our metabolism. It is one of the top sources for Metabolic Resistance. Metabolic resistance is basically when your body cannot function at its optimal energy levels. It causes weight gain, diabetes, heart disease and more. When we eat foods our body can’t use for nutrients, it gets stored as fat. Over time, foods such as sugar, processed foods and harmful fats cause our bodies to not only age faster and gain weight, but slow our metabolism because our bodies have to work harder to process these foods that have basically no nutrition.
I hate to sound like the nutrition police, but I’ve been in the trap that sugar withholds us in and I suffered major consequences. The sad part is, no one told me the simple answer was through my food choices. I had to research and live it all on my own. For 11 years now, I've been healthier, looked better and felt amazing. Simultaneously, I’ve met so many people suffering from these issues, which were all improved dramatically by them with removing refined and processed sugar and foods from their diets. While I am not a doctor dishing out medical advice, the research is there wherever we look that refined sugar is not a good option. Start avoiding sugar in these forms and reap the benefits. You’ll never look back or look at Ben and Jerry’s the same. That’s a promise I can keep as someone who used to live off the stuff. Have you stopped eating sugar for health reasons? Tell me about it!