Without a doubt, consuming added sugar in high amounts is harmful to your overall health. The bad news, however, is that most people consume so much added sugar, usually in the form of sweetened beverages like soda, sugary breakfast cereals, sweetened pastries, etc.
Reducing your intake of added sugar is good for your health because a high intake of sugar is associated with an increased risk of some health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and fatty liver.
To cut down on their intake of added sugar, some people engage in “no sugar” challenges. This involves drastically reducing the intake of all forms of added sugar for a specific period. This is usually 30 days.
The question is, is it worth it? This will be considered in this article.
How does it work?
There are variations of no sugar challenges. However, most of them have almost the same guidelines.
The aim is to completely cut out sugar intake for 30 days. Sugary foods are then replaced with nutrient-dense, whole foods that are not laced with added sugars.
You may eat natural sugars, such as are found in foods like fruits, vegetables, and dairies. The goal is to completely exclude added sugars and foods laced with added sugars, including ice cream, sugary cereals, cakes, cookies, soda, candy, and sweetened coffees.
What are the benefits of giving up sugar?
- Blood sugar
Eating foods and beverages that are loaded with added sugar is detrimental to blood sugar management and may raise your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Sweetened drinks and foods like soda, baked goods, energy drinks, and candy are loaded with sugars like corn syrup and high fructose.
Reducing your intake of these added sugars will help bring down your blood sugar and insulin levels.
Foods with added sugars are rich in calories but deficient in filling nutrients such as fiber and protein. This explains why a high-sugar diet is associated with weight gain.
Excessive intake of sugar is associated with increased visceral fat as well. Visceral fat is fat that surrounds your organs. A high visceral fat has a strong correlation to increased disease risk.
Excluding sources of added sugar from your diet may enhance weight loss, especially when combined with a nutrient-dense diet rich in fiber and protein.
- Dental health
Everyone knows that sugary beverages and foods are bad for oral health. Intake of added sugar increases the risk of gum diseases and cavities, in both adults and children. So, cutting back on added sugar will certainly be of benefit to your teeth.
- Liver health
Sugary foods, such as high fructose diets, can put you at risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This condition is characterized by the buildup of fat in the liver. Reducing your sugar intake, especially beverages and foods sweetened with high fructose corn syrup most likely reduces liver fat and boosts the health of your liver.
- Heart health
Sugary diets are linked to major heart disease risk factors. These include high triglycerides, high blood pressure, and high LDL cholesterol.
Replacing sugar-rich diets with healthy diets like whole plant-based foods and paleo diet significantly reduces your risk of heart disease.
What are the downsides of giving up sugar?
It is important to note that there are no downsides to reducing added sugar intake. However, you have to do it responsibly. Replace sugary foods with healthy eating choices throughout your “no-sugar” challenge.