Ain’t life sweet! Unfortunately, sometimes life can be a little too sweet. We’re surrounded by the sweet stuff with the lifestyle that we lead, so we’re constantly, either consciously or subconsciously, stuffing our faces with a large amount of sugar every day.

Sugar is everywhere – literally. From our favorite guilty snacks to even those alleged guilt-free snacks that include protein bars and fruit juice. It’s a hard cycle to escape from, but it’s important to address our intake of sugar. Especially when sugar has been found to shorten your life expectancy by several years (1).

Okay, but how much sugar is okay?

When we talk about the dangers of sugar, we’re not necessarily talking about the natural sugars found in fruits and honey. Rather it’s the added sugars found in processed foods that we’re worried about.

So, when it comes to how much sugar you’re allowed to enjoy;

  • Adults should have no more than 30g of free sugars a day, (roughly equivalent to 7 sugar cubes)
    sweet

    Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

  • Children aged 7 to 10 should have no more than 24g of free sugar a day (6 sugar cubes)
  • Those aged 4 to 6 should have no more than 19g of free sugar a day (5 sugar cubes)
  • Children under the age of 4 are recommended to avoid sugar-sweetened drinks and food with sugar added to it.

That said, perhaps it’s time to take a step back and maybe re-evaluate our feelings on sugar?

9 Anti-aging benefits of quitting sugar

1. You’ll anti-age your skin

Looking for the fountain of youth? Well, you’re not going to find it in the sugar bowl.

Your sweet tooth can trigger glycation, and this is a process whereby sugar molecules bind together, causing the deformation of collagen and elastin in our skin. For those who don’t know, collagen and elastin are proteins in the body that help maintain your skin’s youthful and supple appearance.

It’s not just premature wrinkles that you have to worry about. A study published in JAMA Dermatology found a strong association between acne and the consumption of fatty and sugary products.

If you really want to improve the appearance of your skin, then it may be time to put the cookie down.

2. You’ll be happier

Yes, you may think that sulking into a pint of ice cream can help to boost your mood, but this feeling is actually temporary. This is because a high-sugar diet can increase the risk of depression.

So, if you really want to improve your mood, put the sweet treats away and listen to some music instead.

3. You’ll shed some lockdown weight

weight

Photo by i yunmai on Unsplash

Sugar itself doesn’t make you gain weight but eating too much of it can definitely increase your number on the scale.  Especially when you remember that when you eat sugar, your body often doesn’t get the signs;l that you’re full. This then causes you to overeat and before long, you’ve put on some weight.

It’s important to remember that while cutting back on sugar can help with weight loss, it’s not the only thing you can do. If you really want to lose some weight, then it’s important to adopt other lifestyle habits, such as eating more protein, drinking more water, and of course, exercising.

4. You’ll catch fewer colds

We all definitely need a stronger immune system, but did you ever think that your sweet tooth would be responsible for the cold you just caught?

Too much sugar in the body triggers high levels of inflammation. Chronic inflammation isn’t only the source of many chronic diseases, but it’s also been found to weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to colds, and flu, and, of course, coronavirus complications.

Cutting back on sugar can help to strengthen your immune system, and you’ll be less likely to catch a cold.

5. You’ll reduce your type 2 diabetes risk

While eating too much sugar does not directly cause diabetes. it’s definitely one of the major risk factors.  In fact, sugar has been found to increase one’s risk of diabetes by 13%.

6. You’ll have healthier teeth

Your sweet tooth is really affecting your other teeth.

Too much sugar causes cavities, and this of course increases the risk for tooth decay and other oral health concerns.  That said, if you want to avoid visiting your dentist’s office for a root canal procedure, then watch your sugar intake and brush your teeth, at least twice a day. Don’t forget to floss!

7. Your heart will thank you

According to a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, sugar consumption was linked with larger fat deposits around the heart and in the abdomen, which are risky for health.

Our findings provide more evidence that consuming too much added sugar and sugary drinks is related to a higher amount of fat tissue,” said study author Dr. Lyn Steffen of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. “And, we know that fat deposits are connected with higher risks of heart disease and diabetes.”

As heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death worldwide (yes, even in a pandemic), it’s important to protect your heart health as much as you can.

8. You’ll sleep better

All those sweet midnight snacks are messing with your sleep.

According to a study from the Journal of the American Heart Association, poor overall sleep quality was associated with greater consumption of added sugars.

If you really want to get some proper shut-eye, then you should consider cutting back on the sweet stuff.

9. Your memory will improve

How good is your memory? Can you remember the names of everyone in the office? If not, that extra donut you had during lunch may be to blame.

An animal study from the University of Georgia suggested that the daily consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages during adolescence affected performance on a learning and memory task during adulthood. A separate French study also found a strong link between excessive consumption of sugary foods and an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s in people with a genetic predisposition to the disease. 

So, if you’re thinking about starting your day with a sugar-rich muffin for breakfast, remind yourself that you’ll be sharper during the day without the sugar.

So, should I do a sugar detox?

That is not what we said.

While many advocate for “quitting sugar,” the fact of the matter is that you can’t completely eliminate sugar from your diet. As we said, sugar is everywhere. 

Also, a sugar detox won’t really do anything but increase your cravings and once you break your detox, it becomes a slippery slope of binging and feeling guilty.  If you really want to adjust your intake of sugar, it’s important to take more practical, sustainable steps.

Sustainable steps to quitting sugar

  • Opt for natural sweetness like honey, maple syrup, nutmeg, and fresh fruit African baobab [longevity live]
  • Read the label: sugar comes in many forms, so it’s important to always read the ingredient label. Look out for anhydrous dextrose, brown sugar, cane crystals, cane sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, crystal dextrose, evaporated cane juice, fructose sweetener, fruit juice concentrates, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, liquid fructose, malt syrup, maple syrup, molasses, pancake syrup, raw sugar, sugar, syrup, white sugar, fructose, lactose, and maltose.
  • Switch to dark chocolate: 70% cocoa and up
  • Drink more water
  • Avoid diet sodas
  • Eat mindfully
  • Don’t feel guilty

Want to know more?

You may think that artificial sweeteners are the way yo go when it comes to quitting sugar but that isn’t necessarily true. In fact, artificial sweeteners can create health concerns of their own.

References

van Dam, E., van Leeuwen, L., Dos Santos, E., James, J., et al. (2020). Sugar-Induced Obesity and Insulin Resistance Are Uncoupled from Shortened Survival in Drosophila. Cell metabolism31(4), 710–725.e7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2020.02.016
Gentreau, M, Chuy, V, Féart, C, et al. (2020). Refined carbohydrate‐rich diet is associated with long‐term risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in apolipoprotein E ε4 allele carriers. Alzheimer’s Dement. 16: 1043– 1053. https://doi.org/10.1002/alz.12114
Knüppel, A., Shipley, M. J., Llewellyn, C. H., & Brunner, E. J. (2017). Sugar intake from sweet food and beverages, common mental disorder and depression: prospective findings from the Whitehall II study. Scientific reports7(1), 6287. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-05649-7
Noble, E.E., Olson, C.A., Davis, E. et al. (2021). Gut microbial taxa elevated by dietary sugar disrupt memory function. Transl Psychiatry 11, 194. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41398-021-01309-7
Penso L, Touvier M, Deschasaux M, et al. (2020). Association Between Adult Acne and Dietary Behaviors: Findings From the NutriNet-Santé Prospective Cohort Study. JAMA Dermatol.156(8):854–862. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2020.1602
So-Yun Yi, Lyn M Steffen, James G Terry, David R Jacobs, et al. (2020). Added sugar intake is associated with pericardial adipose tissue volume, European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, Volume 27, Issue 18, 1 December, Pages 2016–2023, https://doi.org/10.1177/2047487320931303
Zuraikat, F. M., Makarem, N., Liao, M., St-Onge, M. P., & Aggarwal, B. (2020). Measures of Poor Sleep Quality Are Associated With Higher Energy Intake and Poor Diet Quality in a Diverse Sample of Women From the Go Red for Women Strategically Focused Research Network. Journal of the American Heart Association9(4), e014587. https://doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.119.014587
Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba is a beauty and wellness writer who has a passion for poetry, equality, natural hair, and skin-care. With a journalism degree from Pearson's Institute of Higher Education, and identifiable by either her large afro or colorful locks, Pie aspires to continuously provide the latest information, be it beauty or wellness, on how one can adopt a healthy lifestyle on a day-to-day basis.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.

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