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If there’s one food group that people have a problem cutting out, it’s sugar. We can’t seem to get enough of the sweet stuff, so much so that we are consuming double to triple the federal guidelines for sugar consumption.
Although most of us already realize that sugar is bad for your weight, there’s much more to sugar’s detrimental effects on the body. High sugar consumption can cause diabetes, heighten blood sugar, mess with your attention span, and raise cholesterol, among other negative symptoms.
But just because you currently consume a lot of sugar doesn’t mean you can’t reverse the damage if you begin changing your habits now. A recent study from University of California-San Francisco and Touro University found that kids who cut down on sugar saw a significant reduction in blood pressure, had lower cholesterol levels, improved their insulin, and even lost weight in just 10 days.
“The same findings would be expected in adults in this short of a time,” says Dr. Melina Jampolis, MD, PNS and author of the new book, The Doctor On Demand Diet. “Long term, the same effects [will remain], along with reduced belly fat and weight, as long as the sugar was replaced with healthier carbs, healthy fat, or lean protein, plus a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes.”
The FDA is now suggesting limiting sugar intake to 50 grams a day, which is the equivalent of about one cake of coke. That amount is about 10 percent of your caloric intake, though the World Health Organization is recommending it should be even lower, at around five percent.
If you want to try cutting down on sugar, try these four simple ways to get rid of the nutritional enemy from your diet.
1. Ditch The Sugary Drinks
The biggest sources of unrecognized sugar intake, particularly for kids, is fruit juice and sports drinks. “It’s not the healthy stuff many parents think it is, says Bert Herring, MD. Eight ounces of apple juice has more sugar in it than the same amount of Coca-Cola.”
2. Check Food Labels
“Since sugar is added to so many prepared foods such as barbecue sauce, ketchup and salad dressing, people may consume more than they realize,” says Herring. “Check labels carefully to substantially reduce or eliminate sugar from their diets.
3. Switch To Whole Grains
Refined carbohydrates such as white bread or white pasta essentially convert into sugar, so they should be avoided along with your dessert. “Quickly-digested starches are virtually the same as eating sugar, because they digest so quickly to sugar that their glycemic index can be as high or higher than glucose,” says Herring.
4. Eat Balanced Meals
People often turn to sugar when they’re hungry or the blood sugar is low, so eating proper meals can help reduce your cravings. “Whenever you eat, make sure to choose a healthy protein (vegan or animal) and a healthy fat,” says Certified Holistic Nutritionist Elissa Goodman. This will help keep your blood sugar from dropping and make you feel more satiated.
Although it’s okay to keep some sugar in your diet, stick to the natural kind such as fruit, and avoid refined sugars and high fructose corn syrup, which have the most negative health effects.