Published On By Dimitar Marinov [MD, PhD]

Reasons To Quit Sugar

Excessive sugar consumption could raise your likelihood of developing high cholesterol, weight gain, heart disease, and diabetes and even lower your longevity.

Typically, there are two types of sugar – natural sugars and refined sugars. Here, we are referring to the harmful effects of refined sugars, commonly present in processed foods like sweets, pastries, doughnuts, high-fructose corn syrup, soda, and desserts.

Even foods that may seem healthy, like packaged breakfast cereals, health bars, juices, salad dressings, and condiments, could contain a lot of sugar too. You should try to quit sugar, which may be challenging during the initial days but may provide long-term health benefits.

Reducing your sugar consumption might help you lose weight, prevent energy crashes, improve skin health, and lower the risk of developing chronic diseases. This article discusses the health implications of excess sugar consumption and mentions 13 reasons to quit sugar.

13 Reasons To Quit Sugar That Are Worth Knowing

  1. Gain Body Fat

    Sugar makes weight loss difficult by triggering addiction cycles and causing the pancreas to produce excess insulin. The imbalance in hormone levels may cause mood swings, fatigue, and increased cravings, all of which contribute to increased body fat.

    High sugar intake may cause insulin resistance, where your cells become less responsive to insulin. Insulin resistance might promote fat deposition, especially around the abdomen.

    Sugar may disrupt the normal levels of appetite hormones in the body, triggering increased hunger and potential overeating. Such effects might contribute to weight gain and increased body fat levels.

    These factors collectively make it challenging to lose weight and maintain a healthy body composition. Staying mindful of sugar consumption and choosing nutrient-dense foods may help reduce the adverse impacts of excessive sugar on body fat and overall health.

  2. Harmful For Liver

    Consuming excessive sugar may contribute to fat accumulation in the liver, a condition termed non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD is closely linked to weight gain, which could increase your body fat percentage and cause health complications.

    When sugar breaks down in the digestive tract, fructose poses a particular challenge for the liver. The fructose may strain the liver’s metabolic processes, causing the conversion of fructose into fat and the development of fatty liver disease.

    Sugar consumption may promote inflammation in the liver, which might contribute to liver damage and disease progression. Excessive sugar consumption may impair the liver’s ability to function properly, inducing a buildup of waste products and toxins in the body.

    A sedentary lifestyle combined with excessive sugar intake may further strain the liver, potentially resulting in fatty liver disease. Therefore, it becomes all the more necessary to refrain from consuming sugar to help support healthy liver function.

  3. Increase Risk Of Cancer

    Research studies do not indicate a direct association between excess sugar intake and cancer. However, it suggests that excessive sugar consumption may play a role in cancer development by contributing to weight gain.

    Sugar-laden foods like desserts, sweetened cereals, and fizzy drinks may be contributors to weight gain and increased cancer risk. These sugar-rich foods may trigger weight gain and cause insulin imbalance, which might promote the growth of cancer cells.

    The empty calories provided by sugar-rich foods do not offer essential nutrients. Instead, they might contribute to the development of cancer by creating an environment favorable to tumor growth.

    It is advisable to reduce or preferably quit sugar consumption to help decrease the risk of cancer. You could satisfy your sugar cravings by consuming foods with natural sugars, like apples, bananas, berries, or grapes.

  4. Leading Cause Of Diabetes

    Excess sugar consumption may lead to diabetes due to its influence on insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels. High sugar consumption causes frequent spikes and drops in blood sugar levels, straining the body’s ability to regulate glucose effectively.

    Insulin is a hormone that helps stabilize blood sugar by allowing bodily cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. However, excess sugar intake may cause the cells to become resistant to insulin, potentially leading to prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

    Excessive sugar intake contributes to weight gain, especially around the abdomen. This excess abdominal fat, known as visceral fat, is connected with insulin resistance and increased risk of developing diabetes.

  5. Bad For Heart Health

    High sugar intake poses a major risk to cardiovascular health, contributing to elevated heart disease risk. Diets high in sugar may increase the risk of heart disease by causing elevations in blood triglycerides and reductions in “good” HDL cholesterol levels.

    Excessive sugar consumption might trigger metabolic imbalances that are detrimental to heart health. The World Health Organization recommends significantly reducing sugar intake to minimize the risk of heart disease, weight gain, and type 2 diabetes.

    Consuming fructose, a common component of sugar, is associated with elevated levels of triglycerides, LDL, and VLDL. Elevations in these lipid markers may signal an increased risk of heart disease.

    Excessive sugar consumption is strongly associated with hypertension and abnormal cholesterol levels. These effects may exacerbate the likelihood of developing cardiovascular issues.

  6. Impact Mental Health

    Reducing sugar intake may help improve mental clarity and cognitive function, contributing to enhanced mental health. Limiting your sugar intake might help you feel sharper and more focused throughout the day.

    Cutting back on sugar helps stabilize blood sugar levels, contributing to better memory retention and increased work performance. The stability in energy levels may prevent mid-day crashes that often accompany high-sugar diets, allowing for sustained mental alertness.

    The pancreas and liver could play a part in supporting mental clarity. Excess sugar intake forces these organs to work harder to metabolize the sugar, depleting energy that could have been utilized elsewhere in the body.

    Such exhaustion might contribute to feelings of sluggishness and fatigue, both physically and mentally. Therefore, eliminating or reducing sugar intake may help improve cognitive function, focus, and mental acuity.

  7. Sugar May Be Addictive

    Sugar has an addictive potential due to its ability to stimulate brain receptors similar to those activated by highly addictive substances like cocaine.

    When sugar-rich diets trigger these receptors, they could generate a reward signal in the brain that may override self-control mechanisms, potentially causing addiction. It may increase your temptation to consume more sugars, creating a cycle of addiction.

    It is essential to recognize the potential for sugar to trigger addictive behaviors. Stay mindful of sugar consumption, choose whole foods over processed sugary snacks, and seek support if struggling with sugar cravings.

  8. Bad For Oral Health

    Consuming sugary foods and drinks may create an oral environment that might induce potential tooth decay, cavities, or other dental health concerns.

    The combination of sugar and bacteria produces acid that erodes the enamel, the protective layer of the teeth. It could weaken your teeth and make them more susceptible to decay, which could increase the risk of dental issues.

    Sugary foods provide an ideal environment for oral bacteria to thrive in the mouth, raising the risk of periodontal disease and oral infections. Prolonged consumption of sugar-laden foods without proper oral hygiene may trigger the formation of cavities, requiring medical intervention.

    Practicing proper oral hygiene practices, like brushing and flossing regularly, could help mitigate the effects of sugar on teeth. Choosing water or sugar-free alternatives over sugary drinks may significantly reduce the risk of developing dental problems in the long run.

  9. Disturb Quality Sleep

    Consuming sugary foods and refined carbs, especially around bedtime, may disrupt your sleep quality. It may increase blood sugar levels that might keep you awake for hours.

    Erratic sugar levels may trigger the release of hormones that control glucose levels and stimulate the brain. Such effects could make it easier for you to wake up during the night.

    Choosing whole-grain carbohydrates, like oatmeal, as a bedtime snack might promote quality sleep. It might help maintain consistent blood sugar levels and increase serotonin levels, potentially reducing your waking frequency throughout the night.

    Foods to Avoid Before Bed Foods to Opt for Before Bed
    Sugary snacks and desserts Whole-grain carbs like oatmeal
    White bread and pasta Lean proteins such as turkey or chicken
    Potato chips and crackers Greek yogurt with berries
    Ice cream and chocolate Herbal tea or warm milk
  10. Zero Nutritive Value

    Sugar is a provider of empty calories in your diet. It does not offer any essential nutrients like proteins, vitamins, or minerals necessary for the body’s proper functioning. This could make sugar a prime contributor to excessive calorie intake.

    In 2017-2018, the average American adult consumed close to 17 teaspoons of sugar daily, equivalent to around 270 calories. Such high sugar consumption might contribute to weight gain and other health issues.

    Processed foods and beverages like pastries, muffins, sauces, soda, or packaged fruit juices contain a surplus of empty calories. These foods contribute to increased calorie intake and may lead to various health concerns, such as insulin imbalance, liver problems, weight gain, or diabetes.

    Emphasizing foods rich in essential nutrients like proteins, vitamins, and minerals over sugary products may lead to a more balanced and wholesome diet.

  11. Develop Metabolic Syndrome

    Metabolic syndrome may refer to a combination of health conditions, such as hypertension, increased blood sugar, excess body weight, abdominal weight gain, and abnormal lipid levels.

    High sugar consumption, especially when excessive and chronic, is a significant contributor to the development of metabolic syndrome. People with metabolic syndrome might have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular complications like strokes and heart attacks.

    Excessive sugar consumption may increase blood pressure by affecting the kidneys, leading to an imbalance in sodium and fluid levels. High blood pressure could be a contributor to an increased risk of metabolic syndrome.

    The presence of metabolic syndrome may significantly increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It is a chronic condition that affects the way the body metabolizes sugar, potentially leading to severe health complications.

    You could reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome through lifestyle changes, including diet modifications and regular exercise.

  12. Develop Skin Problems

    Sugar consumption may cause skin issues, such as acne and loss of skin firmness. Excess sugar intake triggers inflammation, which might cause or exacerbate skin conditions like eczema, acne, and psoriasis.

    When you consume excess sugar, it may react with proteins in your body to form harmful molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs damage elastin and collagen, proteins that might cause wrinkles and skin sagging.

    High sugar levels may increase oxidative stress, producing free radicals that damage skin cells. Such effects might lead to dull skin, uneven skin tone, and a greater risk of developing skin conditions like acne and rosacea.

  13. Causes Inflammation

    A high consumption of sugars, refined starches, trans-fats, and some saturated fats may trigger inflammation in the body. It may increase the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines that cause inflammation in the body.

    Excess sugar may overstimulate the immune system, leading to an exaggerated inflammatory response. Chronic activation of the immune system might result in persistent low-grade inflammation.

    Inflammation may trigger or increase the risk of developing health conditions like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

    Consuming a diet rich in vegetables, antioxidants, fruits, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids might help reduce inflammation and decrease the risk of associated chronic diseases.

Why Does Giving Up Sugar Feel So Bad?

Consuming sweet foods and drinks may stimulate the brain’s release of dopamine and other pleasure-inducing hormones. They could create a rush that might lead to cravings and addiction-like behavior for sugary foods.

Regular sugar consumption may lead to tolerance, where the brain becomes desensitized and requires more sugar to achieve the same pleasurable effects. A high sugar intake could make it challenging to reduce sugar consumption without experiencing withdrawal-like symptoms.

Giving up sugar may result in unpleasant side effects like cravings, irritability, fatigue, and mood swings. These symptoms could be part of the body’s adjustment to lower sugar levels and reprogramming of the brain’s reward system.

However, the discomfort experienced during sugar withdrawal is temporary. You could manage these symptoms by gradually reducing sugar intake, staying hydrated, and replacing sugary foods with healthier alternatives.

Also See:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How To Combat Sugar Cravings Effectively?
    Focusing on balanced meals with protein, fiber, and healthy fats might help reduce sugar cravings. Choosing whole foods over processed snacks, drinking adequate water, and engaging in regular physical activity may also help combat sugar cravings effectively.
  2. Are There Healthy Sugar Alternatives to Satisfy Cravings?
    Healthy sugar substitutes may include natural sweeteners like stevia, monk fruit, and erythritol. These may satisfy cravings without the negative effects of sugar with minimal influence on blood sugar levels.
  3. Can Exercise Help Reduce Sugar Cravings?
    Exercise may help minimize sugar cravings by stabilizing blood sugar, improving insulin sensitivity, and releasing endorphins that could diminish cravings. Regular physical activity also helps manage elevated stress, which is often linked to increased sugar cravings.
  4. What Are the Long-Term Benefits of Cutting Out Sugar From Diet?
    Eliminating sugar from the diet may lead to long-term benefits like improved heart health, reduced risk of diabetes, weight loss, and better dental health. It may also offer additional benefits, including clearer skin, enhanced mental focus, stable energy levels, and quality sleep.

Conclusion

Excessive sugar consumption may have an addictive influence, as it may alter the brain’s response and induce pleasure upon consumption. A diet high in added sugars might cause multiple health issues, such as metabolic syndrome, insulin changes, weight gain, or diabetes.

Sugar crashes could disrupt your physical activities and daily tasks, leading to both physical and mental fatigue. Therefore, cutting back on sugar or eliminating it becomes important to sustain overall health and well-being.

Reading food labels before eating, replacing sugary foods or beverages with healthy substitutions, and switching to natural sugars might help decrease your added sugar intake.

Being careful about how much sugar you eat and slowly cutting back on it could really help your health and how you feel over time. If you work on eating less added sugar, it can make a big difference in keeping you healthy and lowering your chances of having health issues.

Disclaimer
  • This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice.
  • It is not recommended to disregard/delay seeking professional medical advice or treatment because of what you read or accessed through this article.
  • The results may vary from individual to individual.
  • Consult your doctor for any underlying medical conditions or if you are on any prescribed medicines before following health tips or instructions.

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