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Physical and mental health benefits of a sugar-free diet

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Deciding to begin on a sugar-free diet can be a complicated challenge, especially as sugar comes in many forms – but here we list the many benefits of not consuming the substance

Following a sugar-free or no-sugar diet can be difficult as sugar is found in various fruits and beverages, even those tagged as healthy. A little sweetness is not a bad idea, but remember that sugar is not healthy food.

Although it may be absolutely healthy to consume food with low sugar content, it is important that you maintain a low gross sugar intake to reduce the risks of the side effects of excess sugar on your physical and mental health. When next you want to add a sweetener to your meal, you can try other natural alternatives rather than refined sugar, and in no time, you will see the benefit of a no-sugar diet in your well-being and life.

Why reduce your sugar intake?

Many adults eat more sugar than they should. Therefore, reducing your refined sugar intake is healthy for every adult. However, some people may wish to take it up the notch and scrap sugar from their diet. A sugar-free diet is becoming a trend as people keep looking for ways to improve their health, burn calories and reduce weight.

There are a lot of health benefits from a sugar-free diet, and there are even more risks attached to excess sugar intake. In this article, we will be discussing some sugar-free diet benefits. To begin, here are some important reasons you must reduce your sugar intake:

● Heart disease
● Obesity
● Diabetes
● High blood pressure
● High cholesterol
● Chronic inflammation

Reducing sugar intake will help reduce the risk of these health conditions. More so, when you replace refined sugar with organic, natural sugar, you get all the essential minerals and vitamins without adding any calories. Reducing sugar intake is also vital in your weight loss journey.

Physical benefits of no sugar diet

Natural or organic sugar can be found in whole foods like fruits or milk. They are less harmful as the body spends more time processing the sugar in them because it takes longer for the body to digest whole foods. Meanwhile, the body absorbs refined sugar faster or can’t process it fast enough. Refined or added sugar is common in beverages, juice, sweets, coffee, etc. Many physical benefits are attributed to a no-sugar diet. Here are some of them:

1. Increased energy

A sugary meal may boost our energy, but this only lasts for a while because it eventually leaves the system, leading to a blood sugar crash which leaves us more inactive and unfocused. Some recreational substances and drugs produce this same effect. Another similar effect is addiction; we’ll get to this soon.

When you consume a sugary meal, you feel an energy rush, similar to the euphoric sensation certain recreational substances produce. This energy rush lasts for a while, and as they wear off, we feel more lethargic than before the meal.

However, when you are on a low-sugar diet, you only consume slow-burning carbohydrates and proteins such as bananas, apples, peanut butter, and the like. They sweeten our taste buds and fuel our bodies for increased energy without experiencing the blood sugar crash.

2. Reduced risk of serious diseases

Several studies show that excess sugar is the gateway to many health conditions, including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, chronic inflammation, and many others. Reducing sugar intake, engaging in exercise like cardio, and eating a healthy diet can improve your heart’s health, immune system, and physical health in general, reducing your risk of serious diseases.

3. Weight loss and weight management

As long as you don’t consume more than the recommended daily volume of refined sugar, it is unlikely it will cause weight gain. However, a series of studies and literature has shown us that food high in sugar may lead to being overweight or obese. More so, high-sugar diets are particularly associated with belly fat – visceral fat, and it is the gateway to chronic diseases like diabetes and various heart conditions.

A sugar-free diet will burn down fat and maintain a stable weight. Natural alternatives for refined sugar, such as dates, stevia and honey are healthier sweeteners and will not compromise your weight. Some fruits, such as banana, contains sugar yet are healthy for weight management.

4. Fewer cravings

Earlier, we mentioned addiction in relation to sugar: sugar is addictive. This is because consuming this substance releases more feel-good chemicals in the brain – also known as dopamine. When you have a bite of that delicious cupcake, this chemical tells you to have another bite or even another cupcake.

The more you consume such sugary meals, the higher the dopamine level in your brain, directly increasing your cravings for sugary snacks. When you cut back on your sugar intake, the dopamine level in the body returns to its normal state and reduces cravings.

Woman reaching for donut, having to battle sugar cravings
© Kaspars Grinvalds

5. Healthier skin

To maintain clear skin, you should reduce your sugar intake. Healthier skin is one of the sugar-free diet benefits. The body produces more insulin and similar hormones when you consume excess sugar. These hormones may trigger some changes in the skin, causing acne.

When you reduce your sugar intake, your body tends to age slower. As we age, so do our skin’s elastic proteins and collagens. This is why we see more sagging, wrinkles, and creases in older individuals. Refined sugar, as well as grilled, roasted or fried foods, have contents that react with elastic protein and collagen.

The more you consume these substances, the higher the chances of your skin wrinkling, sagging or creasing earlier. Although cutting back on your sugar intake may not reverse clear wrinkles and creases, it will slowly help slow your skin aging process.

Mental benefits of sugar-free diet

Several mental and psychological conditions are linked to excess sugar. No! Sugar may not be the leading cause, but they clear the path and ease the journey to these conditions. Reducing sugar intake reduces the risk of psychological disorders and presents other benefits. Here are some of the mental benefits of a no-sugar diet.

1. Improved cognitive health

Heavy long-term usage of sugar may affect your cognitive ability and health. When there is excess sugar in the body, it builds insulin resistance and alters the blood sugar level. When this happens, there are risks of certain neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Reducing your sugar intake does not only reduce the risk of this disorder, but it also builds your cognitive health and improves focus.

2. Better memory and learning skills

Did you know that high sugar level affects one memory? Insulin is a hormone that enhances synaptic connections. High sugar levels will create resistance against these hormones and hinder memory and learning skills. More so, it affects the BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor), which is critical in memory and learning. A no-sugar diet will take all of these away and enhance your memory and learning ability.

3.Reduces anxiety

After a sugary meal, our blood sugar level increases, and we will most likely experience brain fog. After a while, and the blood level crashes, anxiety may set in. This is an implausible experience when you consume whole foods that contain natural sweeteners. Hence, one of the sugar-free diet benefits.

4. Reduced risk of depression

When we consume a sugary snack, the serotonin in the brain is stimulated. However, if it becomes overstimulated, it depletes chains of neurotransmitters, which may lead to mood disorder. Depression is a prevalent one here. A no-sugar diet tables has reduced risk of depression.

What are healthy alternatives to sugar?

Are you thinking of starting a sugar-free diet journey? It may not be easy, but with healthy natural sweeteners and sugar alternatives, cutting back becomes easier. Below are some natural, healthier alternatives to refined sugar:

● Stevia
● Honey
● Maple syrup
● Dates
● Yacon syrup
● Monk fruit sweetener

Are you considering a no-sugar diet plan?

You should consider taking it slow. Alternating diets or taking sugar only on special occasions may help certain individuals cope with the plan. Reducing your overall sugar intake is good and healthy for most individuals as it has many physical and mental benefits.

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