When Def Leppard sang, “Pour some sugar on me,” it’s unlikely that he was thinking of substituting ‘sugar’ with ‘galactose,’ ‘maltodextrin’ or ‘panocha.’ However, those and many others are all substitutes and other names for the favored sweetener.
Recently, sugar and the food industry has been put under the microscope for what sugar really does to the body. When looking at nutrition labels of packaged food, it’s impossible to find what percentage of sugar in one serving is of your daily value, as other items on the label state, such as protein or carbohydrates.
This is because the recommended daily allowance is no more than five percent of your daily diet, or approximately six teaspoons, according to the World Health Organization.
In fact, some manufacturers add sugar to packaged food that isn’t meant to be sweet or already tastes sweet, which is why added and hidden sugars can be hard to find and even worse for your body to discover later.
Giving up sugar is almost impossible to do, and not just because it’s found in almost all packaged foods. Because sugar fuels every cell in the brain, it triggers a sense of reward, which leaves you thinking that you want and need more.
Because so many of us are unconsciously consuming sugar in different forms, our brains are unable to detect when we’ve received enough; thus, we always want more.
If you’re thinking of giving up sugar, you’re not alone—celebrities and bloggers like Davina McCall and Ella Woodward are on low-to-no-sugar diets. Should you choose to embark on a sugar-free diet, here are some things to expect.
1. Sleep like a baby
Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that gives you a boost of energy as it quickly converts into glucose in your bloodstream. Because your body is converting the glucose into insulin, it drops your blood sugar levels suddenly, leaving you feeling wiped out.
According to Prevention, sugar also triggers the release of the hormone cortisol, which can disrupt your beauty sleep. By giving up added sugars in candy, soda and other processed foods, your energy throughout the day will be sustained and you’ll have a restful slumber at night.
2. Say goodbye to pesky pimples and worrisome wrinkles
Ever notice a correlation of binge-eating starchy, sugary foods and the inevitable zits that appear on your face afterward? Or, maybe you’ve seen more wrinkles appear across your face even though you regularly apply sunscreen?
Well, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that sugar can be a main factor to both. Sugar is inflammatory and inflammation causes acne. Additionally, the inflammation caused by sugar creates enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, which can cause sagging in your skin. By eliminating processed sugar in your diet, you can say hello to the best skin of your life.
3. Control your feelings towards food
We already know that sugar releases a feeling of reward in your brain, but why? When we consume sugar, it produces serotonin and beta-endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that improve our mood, reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem.
Why wouldn’t we want to keep eating these kinds of foods? Because our body is continually craving that feeling of happiness, we’re constantly feeding ourselves foods with sugar.
Researchers have done studies where they monitor the brain when someone eats something sugary, and the results are similar to that of someone on drugs, according to WebMD.
Once you give up sugar, your body stops telling you that it needs that feeling of satisfaction, and you’re able to really know what foods and nutrients your body is craving, rather than constantly feeding it sugar.
4. Improve your overall health
By now, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Giving up sugar can reduce your risk of potential illnesses, such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes. Since sugar affects insulin in the body, and insulin activates the sympathetic nervous system, you’ll see an increased blood pressure and heart rate by consuming sugar.
In fact, adding just one serving of a sweetened drink, like soda, to your diet every day increases your chances of diabetes by fifteen percent, according to a study at the Harvard School of Public Health.
It’s not just soda that increases this risk, though. Foods with all kinds of added sugar, like high-fructose corn syrup and maltodextrin, can also have adverse effects on your health.
There are plenty of reasons to cut sugar from your diet, and studies have been conducted to prove why. While it may seem like a challenge to say no to sweets and read all of your nutrition labels, the overall benefits that you’ll get, like better sleep, health and potential weight loss, outweigh (no pun intended) the quick jolt of happiness that you get with the taste of sugar.