A common question I ask my client’s is, “If you could change one thing to improve your health what would it be?” I get many different answers but many times I get a return question asking me what I think is the most important thing someone can do to improve their health.
My answer in short is….
Why is removing sugar from your dietary plan the single most important action YOU can take to better your health?
So glad you asked!
6 Ways Sugar Ruins Your Health
- Feeds unwanted bacteria such as candida, causing an overgrowth of these bacteria resulting in oral thrush, yeast infections, skin rashes and fungus, digestive issues, food cravings, exhaustion and more…
- Ages your cells and Increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia.
- Raises your blood sugar levels. Sugar in the blood causes the secretion of the fat storage hormone, insulin, causing an increase in belly fat. This results in systemic inflammation, weight gain and an increased risk of developing diabetes.
- Is the top fuel for the growth of cancer cells.
- Weakens your immune system.
- Raises blood triglycerides levels increasing the risk of heart disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
- And the list goes on…
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Sugar is Everywhere!
Sugar exists in so many forms and carries many names. There are simple processed sugars such as fructose, corn syrup, glucose, agave, sucrose (table sugar), and dextrose. Then there are more natural sweeteners including honey, pure maple syrup, molasses, monk, date or coconut sugar.
Sugars, whether in a more natural form or highly processed, can negatively affect your health, especially in high quantities. It’s summertime, a time full of barbeques and party events where sweet treats come along with the territory. Keeping the consumption of these sugars, whether natural or highly processed, to a minimum is key!
What about Sugar Substitutes?
Another category of sweeteners that are popular with “dieters” are low-calorie sugar substitutes.
There is an abundance of artificial sweeteners on the market today. Some common names include: Aspartame (Equal or Nutrasweet) and Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low), Sucralose (Splenda), and sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, mannitol, erythritol and xylitol. These substances can be found in an abundance of different foods from yogurts and salad dressings to the gum that you chew! Sugar alcohols are generally considered “safe” in small amounts when compared to artificial sweeteners but may cause some gastrointestinal upset (gas and bloating).
Artificial sweeteners are unnatural man-made chemicals that are harmful to your health and can even cause weight gain. Yes, I said weight gain! Simply said, these sweeteners tend not to satisfy the sweet addiction our bodies crave so we tend to eat more of them!
I prefer you to consider fresh fruits or organic pure Stevia instead. Stevia is an herbal plant that is 200x sweeter than sugar so you only need a little bit when you use it.
The magic question is…how much sugar should you consume?
The answer to this question becomes a complicated one. If we take a look at the latest USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2015-2020), it recommends no more than 10 percent of our daily calories come from sugar.To understand this better, the Dietary Guidelines are based off of a 2,000-calorie diet. So, in general, ten percent of 2,000 calories equals 200 calories. This equates to 50 grams of sugar, the same as saying approximately 12 teaspoons of sugar!
The guidelines go further to explain no more than 100 calories (25 grams or 6 teaspoons) of added sugar per day for women and no more than 150 calories (36 grams or 9 teaspoons) of added sugar for men. The FDA recently added to the food label “added sugar” and recommends no more than 10 grams of added sugar per serving. Added sugar is the sugar added in the processing of the product but this does not account for the amount of sugar already in the product. To understand this more clearly, see the label below.
Subtract the amount of added sugar from the total sugar to find the total amount of natural sugar in the product. Example from the label above: 12-10=2 grams of naturally occurring sugar.
The USDA Dietary Guidelines address the importance of reducing sugar in the diet but the truth has it…these guidelines are still too much!
A leading expert who is known for bringing the research forward on sugar is Dr. Robert Lustig. Check out one of his you-tube videos below https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM . It’s worth the short time you invest to watch it!
The best meal plan to keep sugar intake to a minimum is a one sourced from organic whole foods! A whole foods meal plan is devoid of refined flours and sugars, and contains food that is minimally processed and exists as close to its natural state as possible. A lot less need for math and food label reading!
Include a healthy source of protein and fat at each meal or snack to promote satiety and head off cravings for sugary treats!
Follow an organic whole foods meal plan so your body can thrive! Include:
- An abundance of phytonutrient rich produce including leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables as well as low glycemic high fiber rich fruits such as berries.
- Pasture raised hormone free animal sources.
- May include a small amount of whole grains such as quinoa and wild rice.
- Quality fats such as nuts, nut and seeds and their butters and healthy oils such as avocado, coconut, olive, flax and ghee.
Are your ready to get off sugar? Join our FREE 7-Day Sugar Detox! We will help you kickstart your sugar-free life. It’s easy to follow and FREE! Get My First Action Plan Now
Keri Lynn MacElhinney, RD, CDN, CLT, IFNCP is a Functional Medicine Nutritionist at Blum Center for Health. She has over 20 years of professional experience as a Registered Dietitian and holds a nutrition license in New York and the State of Connecticut. In her early years, her field experience covered a wide array of areas including acute care hospitals, community health centers, substance abuse. Make an appointment with Keri Lynn at 914-652-7800.