Monday 23 January 2023

8 Incredible Effects of Giving up Sugar for a Month

 If you are someone with a sweet tooth who can never get enough snacks, cookies, and cakes, you are not alone. According to the American Heart Association, Americans consume, on average, 77 grams of added sugar a day, which is triple the recommended daily amount for women. To give you a visual, four grams of sugar is equal to one teaspoon of sugar, so 77 grams is just under half a cup of sugar. The AHA also found that the leading source of added sugar comes from beverages (soda, we're looking at you!), followed by snacks and desserts. Because so many of us consume more sugar than recommended, it may lead us to question the impact on our health and what the effects of giving up sugar might be.

First, let's dig a bit deeper into what too much added sugar could do to our bodies. Unlike natural sugar, this kind of sweetener includes sugars or syrups that are added during food processing or preparation. It may make food taste delicious, but too much of it can wreak serious havoc on our overall health. For instance, Harvard Health Publishing reported that elevated added sugar intake is associated with everything from diabetes and weight gain to fatty liver disease. Not only that, but the Mayo Clinic warns that excess added sugar consumption could also raise your triglyceride levels, which is linked to a greater risk of heart disease. Some research has even shown that it can increase the risk of cognitive decline and some cancers.

After learning of some of these possible effects of consuming too much sugar, you may be inclined to lower your levels of consumption. In fact, some people may even attempt to cut it out completely, or for a given period of time. Cutting out added sugars, even just for a month, may seem difficult at first, but the benefits it can bring are well worth it. From a lowered risk of diabetes to better gut health and less anxiety, read ahead for the incredible effects of giving up sugar for 30 days. 


Less inflammation in the body

effects of sugar on body inflammation

Chronic inflammation, which affects nearly around 125 million Americans, has been linked to a wide range of illnesses, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's, and arthritis, and three out of five people across the globe die of these inflammatory diseases. Among other common lifestyle factors like excessive drinking, smoking, obesity, and chronic stress that may increase your chances of inflammation, one research study from 2006 suggests that sugar may also be directly connected. So, learning to live without added sugar may be able to help you reduce the risk of some of these inflammatory conditions.


Reduced risk of cancer

risk of cancer

A 2020 report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that sugar intake may be a risk factor in the development of some cancers, with an emphasis on breast cancer. Allison Tallman, MS, RDN, CNSC, a registered dietitian at Sporting Smiles, also explains that giving up sugar may also reduce your risk of certain cancers.

"Sugar consumption 'feeds' cancerous cells, even with those that already have cancer," says Tallman.


Increased energy

high energy

"While sugar is a source of energy, the type of source (aka the quality) is the most important thing," says Tallman.

She points out that refined sugar, such as those found in processed foods, cookies, chips, and cake, can make you feel sluggish and lethargic.

"By giving up these foods, and therefore sugar, we're likely to increase our energy and feel better than ever," she adds.

So, if you were to try a sugar cleanse for an entire month, chances are that you'd likely feel a natural increase in your energy levels. 


Better gut health

effects of sugar on gut health

If you are someone who struggles with bloating and an unpredictable digestive system, you may want to give yourself a break from sugar. As it turns out, cutting out sugar for a month may be beneficial to your digestive health. One of the ways it can do this is by helping you achieve a better balance of "good" gut bacteria.

"Sugar and refined carbs feed bad bacteria in the gut, which can lead to digestive problems," explains Jenny Askew, MS, RD, LD, ACSM-EP, integrative and functional dietitian and president of The Nutrition Clinic for Digestive Health. This can lead to too much bad bacteria and not enough of the good kind, and can potentially cause gastrointestinal issues like gas, bloating, diarrhea, or even constipation.

"This can [also] contribute to inflammatory conditions—think acne, headaches, and rashes," Askew adds.


Better dental health

dental health

Since we were kids, sugar has been synonymous with cavities—and for good reason. According to Healthy Food America, adults who regularly consume one to two sugary drinks per day have 30% more dental disease than adults who consume no sugary drinks. In addition, HFA also reports that children who regularly drink sugar-filled sodas are at nearly twice the risk of dental decay compared to children who do not drink soda. During your month of no sugar, switch out sugar-laden drinks with healthier alternatives, such as flavored seltzer water or sugar-free tea with lemon.


Less depression & anxiety

depression & anxiety

Ditching added sugar for a month not only has positive effects on our bodies, but on our minds, too. For instance, according to a study, higher sugar intake in a diet is associated with a higher risk of depression. In a separate 2019 study, it was also found that a diet high in sugar can cause neurobiological brain function changes, altered emotional states, and anxiety. 


Lowered risk of diabetes

effects of sugar on diabetes risk

According to a recent study published in PLOS ONE, researchers discovered that "increased sugar in a population's food supply was linked to higher type 2 diabetes rates, independent of obesity rates." Another study, which was published in the British Medical Journal, found that regardless of a person's weight or levels of visceral fat, drinking just one sugar-sweetened beverage a day was associated with an increased risk of diabetes. So, this risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which is the most prevalent form of diabetes, may be lowered if you can cut out or severely limit your consumption of added sugar.


Better skin

Young woman looking at mirror while touching her face.

A recent study in France observed over 24,000 adults to see if dietary habits had any effect on whether or not an individual developed acne. What researchers found was that a diet full of sugar, fat, and animal products was indeed connected to an increase in adult acne. So, giving up sugar for a month may be beneficial in clearing up your skin.

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