When the New Year rolls around, it seems as if everyone makes resolutions to improve their health. Most of the time, those resolutions involve getting in shape or going on a diet. But if you’re still honing in on your resolutions, one thing you might want to consider is a sugar detox.
Now, eliminating sugar entirely can be challenging — especially if you’re thinking of quitting sugar cold turkey. But there are steps you can take to cleanse your body of as much sugar as possible.
Here’s some information on why too much sugar can be bad for you, and how to eliminate sugar from your diet.
Five Reasons to Consider a Sugar Detox
If you’re thinking of quitting sugar to detoxify your body, you need to speak with a doctor first before making any significant changes to your meal plan.
You’ll need to realize that it will be almost impossible to completely detoxify from sugar.
That’s because many healthy foods, such as grains, vegetables, and fruits, all contain at least a little natural sugar. But, they also have essential nutrients that you need in order to stay healthy.1
Now, the key to a successful sugar detox will be to stay away from foods that have a lot of added sugar. These are some of the reasons you should take steps to cleanse yourself of this dangerous – and addictive – substance.
1. Younger Looking Skin
No matter how healthy you may be, as you get older, there is a chance you will develop fine lines and wrinkles. It happens to almost everyone. But there’s evidence that a diet high in added sugar could accelerate the skin aging process. As a result, you might develop wrinkles and other signs of aging far sooner than you’d like.
You see, research indicates that sugar and protein stimulate the production of compounds known as advanced glycation end products. These can play a role in aging.2
As it turns out, if your meal plan includes too many refined carbohydrates and sugar, you might be at risk for premature aging. One study showed that the complexions of women consuming more carbohydrates and added sugar appeared more wrinkled than those who consumed fewer carbs.3
2. Healthier Cells
Cleansing your body through a sugar detox could also help protect against the premature aging of your cells. Now, the chromosomes in your body are held together at the ends by structures known as telomeres. And these telomeres act sort of like the tips of shoelaces. If the tips wear out, the shoelaces start to unravel. In a way, the same thing happens to your chromosomes.4
Telomeres naturally shorten as you get older, leading to the deterioration of your cells.5 But there is evidence that consuming too much sugar can accelerate this process.6
In one study, involving over 5,300 people, the results were startling. Researchers found that the participants who regularly drank sodas and other sugar-filled beverages had shorter telomeres. In fact, according to the results, drinking just 20 ounces of sugary beverages each day led to nearly five additional years of aging.7
3. A Reduced Risk of Blood Problems
You may know that consuming too much sugar can increase your risk of complications from high blood sugar levels.8 This is all the more reason to look for foods with no added sugar.
Now, when you consume too much sugar, you run the risk of becoming obese. And obesity is one of the main causes of health issues associated with high blood sugar levels.8 In fact, one study showed that for every can of sugary soda you drink, your risk of developing a blood sugar issue grows by 1.1 percent.9
While you might be thinking you’d just have to cut out sodas when starting a sugar detox, that’s not the case. A lot of drinks you think are healthy, such as fruit juices, are loaded with added sugar that can lead to health problems.10
4. Added Heart Protection
If you need yet another reason to cleanse your body of sugar, know that doing so might help protect your heart. Studies show that drinking too many sugary beverages, for example, could increase your chances of developing significant heart problems.11
Risk factors include high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and obesity – and a high-sugar diet can lead to all of these issues.12
In one study involving more than 30,000 adults, researchers found that people who get about 20 percent of their calories from added sugar are at a nearly 40 percent higher risk of dying from heart problems than those who only get 8 percent of their calories from added sugar.13
5. A Weight Loss Boost
If you’re hoping to lose some weight, a sugar detox might help. First thing: drop sugary sodas. Drinks high in sugar also contain a lot of fructose. Consuming too much fructose can make you hungrier and more prone to overeat.14
Fructose has also been shown to increase your resistance to a hormone known as leptin. And leptin’s job is to basically switch off your hunger and let you know when you’re full.15
When you make the decision to sugar detox, cleansing your body, you might also help reduce belly fat. This type of fat, also known as visceral fat, has been linked to multiple health issues.16
Other Health Risks Associated With Sugar
Choosing to sugar detox could also help reduce your risk of several other health problems. For example, having too much sugar in your blood can increase the chances of developing kidney issues.17
Cleansing your body of sugar could also help your dental health. If you eat too much sugar, an accumulation of bacteria can rob your teeth of essential minerals, leading to decay.18
Seven Ways to Cleanse Yourself on a Sugar Detox
Well, the case against sugar is pretty plain to see. So, how do you detoxify from it?
Quitting sugar cold turkey is one way, or you could gradually reduce your intake. Are there foods with no sugar at all? How do you change your meal plan each day in order to make your cleansing plans a success?
Let’s look at a few of the things you can do.
1. Make Changes at Breakfast
Now, the challenge in eliminating sugar is to stay away from the added sugars you’ll find in processed foods. And many popular breakfast cereal options are at the top of the list. Other breakfast foods that are high in sugar include muffins, waffles, pancakes (and syrup!). Even that jam you like to put on your toast each morning is bad news.
So, what are some healthier alternatives?
Well, if you’re planning a sugar detox, you should consider plain yogurt, oatmeal, or eggs. Some people even like avocado for their morning meal. Nuts and nut butter are also great no-sugar foods.
As long as you choose breakfast foods that are high in fiber and protein, and free of any added sugar, you’ll feel nice and full, and you won’t be tempted to snack before lunch.
2. Be Careful When it Comes to Dessert
You may think that you’d need to cut out all desserts in order for your sugar detox to be successful. But you can still enjoy great-tasting options while you cleanse your body from refined sugar and all the danger it poses.
Obviously, you’ll want to stay away from pies, cakes, ice cream, and other staple desserts loaded with refined sugar. Instead, try opting for treats that have natural sugars, like fresh fruits. Bake an apple or a pear, or consider adding dates to your diet. Dates are naturally sweet, they taste great, and they also deliver many nutritional benefits.19
3. Use Ketchup Sparingly
Do you find yourself automatically reaching for the ketchup when you have a meal? Well, you might want to reconsider that choice.
Turns out, just one tablespoon of ketchup can contain as much as a teaspoon of added sugar.20 If you must have ketchup, look for brands that are sugar-free. Take a close look at the labels to make sure.
Furthermore, you might want to consider other types of sauces instead of ketchup to spice up your meal while cleansing your body of sugar. Yellow mustard is one option, for example. Vinegar, pesto, and fresh herbs and spices are also typically free of sugar. Mayonnaise is also low in sugar, but it’s high in fat. So be careful about consuming too much.
4. Get an Ample Amount of Sleep
So, what does sleep have to do with a sugar detox? Plenty, according to research.
Not getting enough shut-eye can lead to major health issues. It makes it harder to concentrate, and it could even hamper your immune system.21,22 But now it appears that a lack of sleep could also have an effect on how you eat.23
One study showed participants who didn’t sleep well actually had issues with the frontal lobe of their brains. Now, your frontal lobe is the part of your brain that impacts the way you make decisions.24
The sleep-deprived participants tended to turn to unhealthy, sugar-filled foods.
Another study showed that people who go to bed later and don’t get as much sleep tend to consume more soda and junk food. They also tend to eat fewer healthy vegetables and fruits than those who get a full night of rest.25
5. Watch Out for “Low-Fat” Foods
Low-fat foods are good for you, right? They’re supposed to help you lose weight… and that’s not generally a bad thing. But unfortunately, they might not be as healthy as you think.
Take low-fat vanilla yogurt, for example. An eight-ounce serving not only contains a whopping 33.9 grams of sugar, but it also has 208 calories.26 On the other hand, eight ounces of plain, whole milk yogurt has 11.4 grams of sugar and 149 calories.27
This doesn’t mean that all low-fat foods are bad. You just have to take the time to look at the labels and make sure that the products you are buying are what they’re cracked up to be.
6. Beware of “Healthy” Snack Foods
A lot of manufacturers will claim that their processed snack foods are healthy when in reality, they’re anything but. For example, some protein bars or granola bars that are billed as “healthy” are actually loaded with sugar – often more sugar than candy. There are some granola bars, for example, that contain as much an ounce of sugar.28
If you’re looking for truly healthy snack alternatives, think about eating fresh fruit, trail mix, or nuts instead. You might also want to prepare some hard-boiled eggs, so you’ll have them handy when that snack craving strikes. The protein in the eggs will help fill you up and stave off those hunger pangs until lunch or dinner time.
7. Read the Labels
It can be challenging to find foods with no sugar. And while trying to avoid soda, candy, and cookies is always a good idea, you might still be getting a lot of sugar in so-called “healthy” alternatives.
The best way to know exactly what you’re getting is to carefully read the labels of the foods you’re thinking of buying. The higher you see sugar listed in the ingredients, the more that particular product will likely have. And keep in mind, manufacturers may use other words on their ingredients lists instead of just “sugar.” Look out for words like:
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Invert sugar
- Cane sugar
If you see any of these on an ingredients list, put that item back on the shelf and look for something else. Those labels are all just another way to say, “loaded with sugar”.
Sugar Detox: The Bottom Line
As you can see, eliminating sugar from your diet takes some work, but a sugar detox is worth it. Sugar may taste great, but it can also contribute to a lot of different health problems. If you can’t find foods with no sugar, look for ways to decrease your intake. Again, though, don’t make any sudden changes to your diet without talking to your doctor first.
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