Low sugar diets have become increasingly popular over the past few years, and for a good reason. It is well known that reducing our sugar intake, specifically added sugar, can lead to numerous benefits for our overall health and wellbeing. Cutting back on sugar can be a challenging task and understanding the benefits of reducing sugar may help you feel more motivated to make changes to your diet and lifestyle. Keep reading to learn more about the top 5 benefits of following a low sugar diet from Registered Dietitian, Chelsea Rice.
HELPS TO BALANCE BLOOD SUGAR
Consuming a lot of sugar at once can cause your blood sugar to increase too fast. The pancreas then releases a large amount of insulin to help move excess sugar out of the blood and into the cells. In turn, this rush of insulin can then cause your blood sugar levels to rapidly decrease, causing low blood sugar. These spikes and crashes are also referred to as ‘hyperglycemia’ and ‘hypoglycemia’. Both high blood sugar and low blood sugar can cause symptoms including, increased stress, low energy, brain fog, dizziness, headaches, exhaustion, GI distress, mood swings, and more.
AIDS IN WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
Several studies have shown that diets high in added sugar are associated with obesity (1). More specifically, research shows too much added sugar may increase your viseral fat, which is the fat that surrounds your abdominal organs. Viseral fat is linked to the increased risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease and diabetes (2). By reducing your consumption of sugary foods and beverages can lead to a decrease in overall calorie intake and subsequent weight loss.
REDUCES RISK OF CHRONIC DISEASE
It might be well known that too much sugar has been linked to type 2 diabetes, but consuming too much sugar also increases the risk of several other chronic diseases including heart disease and cetain types of cancer. It is important to remember that reducing the risk of these chronic diseases does not mean you have to fully give up sugar. Being mindful of the type of sugar, added vs natural sugar, as well as following the recommended daily amounts for added sugar can help to reduce the risk of weight gain and chronic disease. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that no more than 10% of your daily calories should include added sugar (3). The American Heart Association recommends that women should keep added sugar consumption to a maximum of 6 teaspoons (24g) per day, while men should consume no more than 9 teaspoons (36g) of added sugar per day (4).
IMPROVES GUT AND SKIN HEALTH
Consuming too much sugar can lead to inflammation in our bodies, which in turn can disrupt the balance of bacteria in our gut, leading to digestive issues as well as acne and other skin conditions. Additionally, sugary foods may cause your skin to age more quickly, leading to wrinkles and other signs of aging. This is due to the fact that too much sugar can break down collagen and elastin, the proteins that give your skin shape, structure, and firmness (5). By reducing your sugar intake, you can improve your overall mood and reduce your risk of developing other mental health conditions.
IMPROVES MOOD AND MENTAL HEALTH
Eating and drinking large amounts of sugar has been linked to increased rates of mood swings, anxiety, and depression (6). As described above, maintaining stable blood sugar levels can reduce mood swings and promote a more stable emotional state. Furthermore, did you know that our brain and GI tract are interconnected and that our gut provides a large amount of our serotonin (7)? Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in a lot of our bodies function, including mood and sleep. As described above, too much sugar can also impact our gut health and balance of bacteria. Because of the brain/gut connection, this imbalance can in turn have an impact on our overall mood and mental health.
In conclusion, following a low sugar diet can lead to many benefits for our overall health and wellbeing. From weight loss, to improved mood, reducing your sugar incake can have a profound impact on your life. It’s all about small changes! By slowly swapping sugary foods and beverages with more nutrient-dense options, you can improve your health and feel better than ever before.