Did you know, there are tons of benefits to a sugar free diet, besides weight loss?
Lowering your sugar intake can significantly improve your health, lower your risk for chronic diseases, give you more energy, and make you feel all around better.
Keep reading to learn about 8 compelling reasons why you should consider a sugar free lifestyle.
1. Lower Blood Pressure
Research shows that decreasing sugar intake, specifically high fructose corn syrup and refined sugars, can reduce blood pressure.
Studies have found that people who have a lower glycemic load, which is related to a diet low in carbohydrates and sugar (carbohydrates turn into sugar in the body), have lower and healthier blood pressure levels.
Corn syrup can be found in tons of processed food products. It’s in everything from soda to ketchup. While it may make our foods and beverages taste extra sweet, it can significantly increase blood pressure and cause hypertension.
Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a risk for many chronic diseases including heart disease and stroke. This is because high blood pressure restricts and strains the arteries.
Cutting out foods with corn syrup and refined sugars through a sugar free diet will not only lower your sugar intake and prevent high blood pressure. It will also reduce your intake of additional unhealthy foods and additives.
Since table and corn sugars are found in processed foods, they are accompanied by harmful additives such as preservatives, sodium, and trans fats.
Basically, cutting out unnatural sugar from your diet will make your diet as a whole healthier.
2. Lower Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Heart Attack
As mentioned, sugar is related to high blood pressure and consequently heart disease and heart attack.
One longitudinal study found that participants who had diets high in sugar were two-times more likely to die from heart disease compared to those who consumed much less sugar. And, as sugar intake increases, the risks of heart disease also increase.
This means that the less sugar you consume the lower your risk for heart-related illnesses. This is just one reason why people are turning to a sugar free diet, especially those who have a family history of heart disease.
There are different hypotheses for how sugar influences the heart. First, sugar is hard on the liver and can cause fatty liver disease. This disease is associated with heart disease risk.
Sugar intake also increases weight and inflammation. Overweight and obesity have long been connected to heart problems. Recent studies also have found that chronic inflammation is hard on the arteries and organs, especially the heart.
3. Save your Liver
New research shows that sugar intake is just as hard on your liver as alcohol.
Specifically, fructose, which is found in fruit but also added to many processed foods (e.g. high fructose corn syrup), can be toxic to the liver.
Fructose is processed by the liver. In small amounts it’s fine. However, when we bombard our liver with a lot of it on a consistent basis, it causes problems.
Consuming too much sugar can lead to fatty liver disease, which is when fat builds up in the liver and slows down live functioning. It can also lead to scarring and inflammation of the liver which is not only painful but can cut of important blood flow to the liver.
A diet high in added sugars can even lead to cirrhosis (non-alcoholic). Cirrhosis is fatal without a liver transplant.
So, going sugar free will keep your liver healthy and possibly extend your life.
4. Increase Energy
Sugar is used as energy by the body. However, when consuming sugar in large amounts, the effect can be adverse.
Everyone has experienced a sugar high. This is when we intake a large amount of sugar and our pancreas reacts by releasing a large amount of insulin to process the sugar and put it into our cells for energy.
The issue is that we can only create so much insulin and use so much sugar. The rest of the sugar goes to the liver and is exerted into fat.
After we have used the sugar that we can, we feel a boost of energy for a short while, until the glucose is processed. Then boom. We crash.
So ultimately, eating a lot of refined or simple sugar is more negative for energy levels than positive.
Consuming healthy fats is a better method in producing overall energy for body and brain.
Too much sugar means more energy is needed to process and digest it. This can make us feel tired and “blah”, too.
Also, diets high in sugar can cause inflammation in the body and lead to digestive issues. Both of these circumstances take energy to deal with, as the body has to work harder. So, people who consume a lot of sugar often feel fatigued and have low energy.
A sugar free diet means you’ll be obtaining energy from healthier sources that won’t have adverse effects. Go sugar free, and you’ll never have those awful crashes again.
5. Reduce Brain Fog and Stop Memory Loss
The brain needs glucose, which is found in sugar, for energy and functioning. However, some studies have found that too much sugar can have a negative impact on the brain.
Too much glucose can accelerate the aging of cells. Aging brain cells can lead to quicker memory loss.
Some studies have also found that high blood sugar levels due to consistent sugar intake are associated with memory decline and cognitive deficiencies. This is why a high percentage of people with diabetes or prediabetes develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Too much sugar can ultimately cause insulin deficiencies. Insulin is a hormone that regulates and processes glucose. It also is important for breaking down amyloid proteins in our brains.
When our bodies are overflowing with sugar, insulin sort of becomes “used to” sugar and gets lazy. High sugar intake also leads to weight gain which reduces insulin sensitivity. People who were born with type 1 diabetes simply do not produce enough insulin.
Whatever the cause, not having enough insulin to break down those proteins in the brain causes “brain clumps”. These are associated with memory loss, fog, Alzheimer’s, and stroke.
Another reason why we get brain fog has to do with energy.
Anytime our body has too much of something, it has to take more energy and time to process it. This is why we can get brain fog after eating a lot of sugary treats. Our energy is being used to process and digest the sugar, rather than for brain functioning.
6. Prevent or Control Diabetes
We all know that sugar causes diabetes. It is also important to regulate sugar intake for people who already have diabetes. But what is the connection? How important is a low-sugar diet to our health?
More than 100 million people in the U.S. have diabetes or prediabetes. And this is not a coincidence. It is directly related to our diets which are high in added sugar along with processed foods.
First, simple carbohydrates (table sugar, added sugar, etc.) are metabolized and digested quickly. This leads to spikes and drops in blood sugar. Blood sugar levels that go up and down increase the risk for diabetes and other diseases.
Secondly, insulin is important for regulating the amounts of glucose in our blood (blood sugar). When our cells become resistant to insulin due to being overweight or having diabetes, you get high blood sugar and in turn more fat stored in the body.
Living with diabetes is not easy. It causes low energy, stress, damage to the blood vessels, kidney problems, poor eyesight, and nerve damage.
7. Reduce Risk of Depression
Research shows that sugar intake is associated with mood swings and depression.
Some scientists believe that sugar’s effects on dopamine levels cause it to become an addition and have addiction-like consequences.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is in charge of telling the brain when to initiative body movement as well as when something is rewarding. It is the cause of the good feelings we have when winning something or eating something delicious like a sweet piece of cake.
Sugar has been found to trigger dopamine in the brain when consumed causing our brains to want more. It is a very similar neurological reaction to that of cocaine.
People can easily become addicted to sugar. Consequently, addictions are associated with mood disorders and depression. When your brain stops receiving dopamine, you may feel a crash in your mood, sad, and even depressed.
Another hypothesis includes the relationship between sugar and inflammation. Refined sugar intake causes cellular inflammation, which has been found to be a bio-marker within patients with depression.
The fact of the matter is– a sugar free lifestyle can lead to a happier and more stable life.
8. Better Immunity
As you can see, eating too much sugar lowers your immunity to chronic diseases. However, it can also impact your immediate immune system, too.
Glucose molecules mimic those of vitamin C. Sometimes, white blood cells may get confused and use glucose instead of vitamin C to fight bad bacteria. This is especially the case when you are low in Vitamin C but have a lot of sugar in your blood.
This confusion or substitute will not work to fight infection.
Another reason why high sugar intake can lower immunity is associated with the energetic load. Too much sugar, especially complex carbohydrates that take longer to process and digest, will use up the body’s energy.
This takes away energy for fighting infection and healing.
Eating a sugar free diet will simply lead to a healthier diet full of good nutrients. Having a well balanced and nutritious diet will increase your immune system because it will provide your body will energy, good bacteria, healthy digestion, and immune-boosting nutrients.
Tips for Following a Sugar Free Diet
Now that you know the benefits of a sugar free life, here are some tips to stick to it!
When you’re doing your grocery shopping, pay attention to the labels. Look at the ingredients and make sure sugar has not been added. Some labels will say “no sugar added”, “all natural”, or “sugar free”.
Most foods do not need sugar added to them. Pay attention to “hidden sugars” in items that you would not think would have sugar such as bread, condiments, and canned goods.
Choose Natural Sugars
If you must have small amounts of sugar in your diet, choose foods that contain sugar naturally such as fruits or dairy. Look for products that say “no added sugar” and check the ingredients to be sure.
When you’re craving sweets, try eating fruits like grapes or berries. And for those sugary drink/soda cravings– make your own fruit juice or fruit-infused water or give Kombucha a try.
You can add honey or agave to sweeten things up a bit, as honey is another natural sweetener. But make sure you get organic and raw honey or agave to make sure they have not been infused with added fructose.
Lower Carb Intake
Many carbohydrates such as breads and pastas have added sugar. If you lower your intake, you lower your likelihood of consuming added sugar.
In addition, carbohydrates get metabolized as sugar. Your body doesn’t tell the difference. So, all the consequences of sugar also stand for carbohydrates, too. Lower the amounts of carbs will reduce sugar-related risks.
Sugar Free Meal Plans and Recipes
The Keto Diet completely cuts out sugar and most carbs. It’s a diet high in fat, moderate in protein, and very low in carbohydrates. Check out our keto meal plan and recipes to give the keto lifestyle a try.