Sugar is a substance that’s almost impossible to avoid these days because it’s added to so many food products. Sugar is a source of calories that our bodies use as energy. And if we consume sugar from whole, unprocessed foods, it contains nutrients that will be better utilized by the body. Refined white sugar, however, causes chaos to our health. To understand just how much, read this article at the Selene River Press Historical Archives, which documents over one hundred ways sugar ruins our health.
Sugar addiction occurs when we consume sweet, sugar-laden foods. As a result, the pleasure center in our brain activates, making us feel good. The effect on the body is similar to alcohol, cocaine, or nicotine, which is just one reason sugar has such a powerful effect on the human body.
Some people consume sugar because they tend to “eat their feelings” (trying to compensate for some emotional dissatisfaction). Some people consume sugar because they’ve just always loved the sweet taste. Either way, it’s very easy to become addicted.
People can create an emotional connection with sugar. Some of us find it comforting. During hard times, we use it as a way to relieve stress or escape loneliness. It may sound odd, but many people nowadays find a certain kind of friend in sweet foods.
Sugar addiction can cause both physical and psychological health problems, including weight gain, obesity, cardiovascular issues, negative body image, and depression, just to name a few.
Good Sugar and Bad Sugar
There are three main categories of carbohydrates in your diet: starch, fiber, and sugar. Of that last category, sugar, there are two types: good sugar and bad sugar. In order to keep your body healthy, you need to know the difference between them.
The distinction between “good” and “bad” sugars is that the good sugars come naturally from whole, unprocessed foods. Bad sugars, though they’re sourced from whole plants such as sugar beets and sugar cane, are then refined. All the nutrients are removed, and therefore there is no nutrient value. Without nutrients, the body cannot process refined sugar in a healthful way.
Good sugars, such as lactose and fructose, are found naturally in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, milk, and beans. They aren’t added to processed foods. Natural sugar is much better for our overall health, and it’s also associated with better skin and balanced weight.
On the other hand, added sugars are primarily used to make food more delicious—and more addictive. That’s why manufacturers add processed sugars to so many packaged foods. They may intensify the sweet flavor, but they have a range of unhealthy effects on the human body. The more we can replace them with healthy, natural sugars, the more health benefits we’ll reap.
Health Benefits of Cutting Out Sugar from Your Diet
Even though junk food, snacks, cakes, sodas, and sweets taste good, they’re loaded with processed sugars that can harm your health and body functions.
The obvious fattening effect isn’t even the biggest problem. Eating too much processed sugar can lead to a range of other health complications. But if you can exclude them from your diet, there are some serious benefits:
- Healthy heart (decreased consumption reduces risk of heart attack)
- Healthy liver (no toxic effect on liver from fructose and glucose)
- Improved dental health (cutting out sugar prevents tooth decay and other dental problems, reduces bacteria in the mouth)
- Improved digestion (leads to easier processing of food and helps prevent constipation)
- Prevents high blood pressure and bad cholesterol
- Lower risk of obesity, diabetes, and cancer (cancer cells feed on sugar)
- Stronger immune system
- Energy boost
- Improved memory
- Clear, radiant, youthful skin
- Can lead to weight loss
- Better mood
- More confidence, positive body image
How Does Sugar Affect Your Weight?
In order to lose weight successfully, you have to exercise and modify your diet. One way you must modify your diet is to be careful about what kind of sugars you eat and the amount you consume.
If you want to slim down, it’s important to understand the difference between good and bad sugars. You should strive to exclude added sugars from your diet. That being said, if you can’t (or don’t want to) eliminate your consumption of added sugars and the products that contain them, try to at least limit your intake. It’s also useful to eat healthier alternatives of your favorite sugar-laden products. For example, if you love store-bought fruit juices, try making your own juice without the added sugar.
Your diet should be based on choosing foods that contains higher natural sugar content, such as fresh fruit, and the lowest possible amount of any foods containing refined white sugar.
If you’re serious about cutting down or cutting out refined sugar, check out Selene River Press for help finding the healthiest dietary methods of increasing healthy foods and decreasing bad foods. You’ll find lots of articles on the topic at the Selene River Press Self-Health Nutrition blog, including “3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Break Your Sugar Addiction” by Dustin Strong, CHN-BC.
Here are some other great online articles that may help you cut down on your sugar habit:
Slideshow: The Truth About Sugar Addiction
The Surprising Benefits of Cutting Back on Sugar
Sugar Addiction: The State of the Science
6 Really Good Things That Happen to Your Body When You Quit Sugar
21 Good Reasons to Eat Less Sugar That Have Nothing to Do with Weight Loss
7 Things That Happen When You Stop Eating Sugar
Image from iStock/wildpixel.