Sweet benefits of giving up sugar

Recently, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i raised the alarm that imported sugar in circulation maybe laced with heavy metals such as mercury, copper and lead. This brought panic amongst Kenyans. Some have opted to quit sugar altogether. However, this move maybe totally worth it, writes Ann Wairimu

1. You will look more youthful

Sugar causes glycation, a process by which the sugar molecules bind and deform collagen and elastin in the skin: the two main proteins that give the skin its youthful, supple properties. Sugar has a dehydrating effect while it increases oil production at the same time. It also affects the ability of water binding making your skin to look much less vivacious.

Giving up or reducing the amount of sugar you take may improve your complexion colour, take care of your oily skin and your face will be more hydrated and perky.

2. Lower your risk of getting some types of cancer

Cancer cells are fed by sugar, which encourages ongoing cancer cell growth. Cancer cells’ rate of sugar uptake is more than 10 times higher than the rate at which regular healthy cells make use of it. Cancer cells are also known to thrive in environments that are acidic in nature. Since the pH of sugar is about 6.4, it provides a cancer-friendly atmosphere. Sugar is linked to cancers of the breast, prostrate, endometrium and pancreas.

3. Achieve some of your weight loss goals

Sugar provides empty calories and stimulates the effects of  Ghrelin (the hunger hormone), which stimulates appetite, making you more likely to overeat and to opt for foods which don’t satiate you for a prolonged period of time. Also, when sugar is consumed, insulin production increases. Insulin, in turn, prohibits the body from using fat as energy while converting sugar to fat and hence the weight gain. The higher your sugar consumption, the less ability you have to burn fat because your body is burning that sugar instead.

4. Pamper your liver

The consumption of excess sugar (particularly in the form of fructose) and sugar-sweetened beverages is heavily linked to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Excess fructose cannot be metabolised by the liver without glucose, so the fructose gets stored around the liver. The more sugar you consume, the more chance your liver has to produce copious amounts of fat, which can result in a fatty liver.

5. Lower the risk of diabetes

Quitting sugar gives your body’s natural detox systems a chance to do their job. In the first couple of hours without sugar, your pancreas starts to produce less insulin and your liver starts to catch up on processing stored toxins. This process will take a little longer if you are already insulin-resistant (a pre-diabetes state in which your body produces the hormone insulin, but doesn’t use it properly).

6. Improve your mental health

High sugar intakes have been associated with increased risk in depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. While sugar intake isn’t necessarily a cause of anxiety, the constant blood sugar rollercoaster and release of adrenaline and insulin may contribute to the feelings of anxiety in those who already suffer. It’s important to note that changing your diet won’t necessarily cure anxiety, but it can help to reduce some of the symptoms associated with it.

7. Improve dental health

Sugar is a major cofactor in causing cavities as it interacts with bacteria in your mouth to form the acid that causes decay. Your breath will also improve as sugar feeds the bacteria that cause bad breath.

8. Energy throughout the day

High sugar foods have a high glycemic index, which means they are released into the blood at a fast rate. This promotes a large spike in blood sugar. This, in turn, generates a rise in energy levels, which quickly dip when insulin guides the sugar away from the blood and into the cells. The low blood sugar you’ll then experience means you’ll be lacking in energy, and will encourage you to find your next sugar hit. Freeing yourself from this reliance on sugar becomes hugely gratifying as your energy levels become more stable throughout the day, without the large peaks and troughs.

9.Reduced food cravings

This is because when blood sugar is uncontrollable, you’ll experience sugar highs and sugar lows. The lows drive you to drastically increase your blood glucose and, as a result you’re more likely to crave sugarly foods, which keeps you riding the sugar rollercoaster. The good news is that when you gradually cut down on your sugar intake, it’s much easier to deal with these urges.

10. Sleep like a baby

A high sugar intake will delay the release of melatonin in the brain, which is essential for the homeostatic control of sleep. And lack of sleep, in turn, can increase your need to eat more sugar, continuing the cycle. Research suggests that poor sleep may lead to an impaired blood glucose balance, which stimulates your desire to consume more sugar.

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