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Why should we reduce our sugar intake?

It is hard to get away from it these days – low sugar is everywhere, but why we are being told to reduce our sugar intake? Here’s 7 reasons why reducing sugar benefits your health:

  1. Sugar drives our insulin levels up – it’s the body’s way of packing those calories into cells for later use, but too much insulin release too many times a day is associated with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes. In a cohort study of 310,819 participants, individuals in the highest quartile intake of sugar-sweetened beverages had a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes[1].

  2. Sugar’s not great news if you are concerned about high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol either. In a systematic review, high sugar intakes raised triglyceride concentration, total cholesterol and both systolic and diastolic blood pressure[2].

  1. It doesn’t do your waistline any favours. A systematic review of 30 randomised controlled trials demonstrated that reduced sugar intake was associated with a decrease in body weight and increased sugar intake associated with a comparable weight increase[3].

  2. If vanity is your undoing, then it might interest you to know that sugar can make your skin wrinkled. This is due to excess sugar in the bloodstream binding with proteins to form AGEs (advanced glycation end-products), which damage collagen and elastin which keep skin firm and peachy[4].

  3. These same AGEs might also be producing effects in the brain and are thought to be the mechanism by which a high sugar intake is associated with an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease[5].

  4. Reducing your sugar intake might also keep your breath sweeter as a high sugar intake is correlated with dental decay[6]. Sugar is a food source for oral bacteria so they quickly build up causing plaque build-up and “morning breath”.

  5. Eating sugar makes you crave even more sugar, so reducing your sugar intake can help reduce food cravings. This study on overweight women shows that a diet lower in refined sugars helps curb appetite [7].

[1] Malik, V. S., Popkin, B. M., Bray, G. A., Despres, J. P., Willett, W. C., & Hu, F. B. (2010). Sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis. Diabetes Care, 33(11), 2477–81.

[2] Morenga, L. A. Te, Howatson, A. J., Jones, R. M., & Mann, J. (2014). Dietary sugars and cardiometabolic risk : systematic review and meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials of the effects on blood pressure and lipids 1 – 3. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 100(1), 65–79.

[3] Chen, L., Appel, L. J., Loria, C., Lin, P., Champagne, C. M., & Elmer, P. J. (2009). Reduction in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with weight loss. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 89, 1299–306.

[4] Danby, F. (2010). Nutrition and aging skin: Sugar and glycation. Clinics in dermatology (Vol. 28).

[5] Iadecola, C. (2015). Sugar and Alzheimer’s disease: a bittersweet truth. Nat NeuroSci, 2015 April; 18(4): 477-8.

[6] Bovi, A. P. D., Di Michele, L., Laino, G., & Vajro, P. (2017). Obesity and Obesity Related Diseases, Sugar Consumption and Bad Oral Health: A Fatal Epidemic Mixtures: The Pediatric and Odontologist Point of View. Translational Medicine @ UniSa, 16(2), 11–16.

[7] Arumugam, V., et al. (2008). A high-glycemic meal pattern elicited increased subjective appetite sensations in overweight and obese women. Appetite 2008 Mar-May; 50(2-3): 215-22

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