Have you ever tried cutting sugar out of your diet? It’s hard! Some foods are higher in sugar than you think, making a detox much more difficult to achieve. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or you just want to stop feeling like a train wreck 24/7, saying no to sugar is a goal worth reaching for. How much would your life really improve, though, if you were to stop eating sugar tomorrow?
It turns out your brain, heart, hormones, and even your skin suffer when you eat too much sweet stuff. Reducing your intake can make you happier, give you more energy, and help you sleep better. Here’s everything that will change for the better not long after you stop eating sugar.
1. You’ll actually be able to concentrate
Your brain needs sugar to function properly. Therefore, it’s important to consume plenty of naturally occurring sugars, like those found in fruits and vegetables. Too much processed sugar, on the other hand, can throw your brain off balance and make it hard to concentrate. Mayo Clinic notes low blood sugar, common after a sugar crash, can cause anxiety, heart palpitations, and fatigue, which can all make it next to impossible to focus and complete tasks. Avoiding large amounts of sugar during meals and snacks can keep your head clear.
2. You’ll be in a better mood
Do you reach for your favorite ice cream when you’re sad? Unfortunately, there aren’t any miracle foods guaranteed to turn your frown upside down for long. However, there are foods — especially those high in sugar — that can make you feel depressed. Sugar stimulates the release of a mood-boosting neurotransmitter called serotonin. This wouldn’t be so bad if your brain’s serotonin stores weren’t in limited supply. According to The Huffington Post, though, constantly depleting serotonin levels can mimic depression symptoms. Even though that pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream is ever so tempting after a breakup, you might end up feeling worse if you indulge.
3. Your blood pressure will drop
Physical activity and a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids significantly improve the health of your heart, and decreasing the amount of added sugar in your diet might be just as good for your blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association, a diet high in sugar increases your risk of developing heart disease. Sugar accumulates in your blood when you eat too much of it, forcing your heart to work harder to pump blood throughout your body. Cutting sugar out of your diet will lower your blood pressure, leading to a much happier, healthier heart.
4. Your skin will look and feel healthier
If you want to keep your skin looking smooth and young, cut sugar out of your life. According to Prevention, too much of it can even cause your skin to wrinkle and sag. High amounts of sugar in your blood can eventually cause a sort of chain reaction of damage and inflammation, which eventually affects your topmost layer of protective tissue. Too much sugar can also cause flares of acne and several other skin conditions sometimes associated with insulin resistance.
If you have skin problems, especially acne, you might see a lot of improvement if you stop eating (and drinking) sugar. Cutting back on dairy and salt might also give you healthier skin. Foods low on the glycemic index, like vegetables and certain whole grains, are much better for your skin as well as your overall health.
5. Your blood sugar will stabilize
When you eat food, your body converts it into sugar, which your pancreas regulates by secreting insulin. The more sugar you eat, the more insulin your pancreas is forced to produce. Eventually, the cells in your pancreas can no longer keep up. This leads to insulin resistance, which can eventually develop into diabetes if you don’t take steps to give your pancreas a break. Reducing the amount of processed sugars in your body can stabilize your blood sugar, so eat the right foods and avoid processed foods as much as possible.
6. Your cholesterol will improve
There are two types of cholesterol in your blood — HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol). The purpose of HDL cholesterol is actually to transport LDL cholesterol to the liver to keep it out of your bloodstream. If your HDL cholesterol levels are too low, LDL cholesterol stays in your blood, which can cause heart problems. Research has shown that people who eat more sugar tend to have lower HDL cholesterol, which is one of several markers for heart disease.
It’s not foods high in cholesterol, but those high in sugar, that can hurt you. It can’t hurt to keep an eye on your cholesterol, especially if your family has a history of high levels, but it’s much more important to watch your added sugar intake to keep your HDL cholesterol in a healthy range.
7. Your energy levels will skyrocket
The body’s main sources of energy — protein, fat, and carbs — are what fuel your body and your brain. When your afternoon snack consists of two candy bars and a diet soda, though, you’re basically just setting yourself up for exhaustion. Livestrong.com says excessive amounts of sugar will almost always end in a sugar crash, which can basically feel as if you never ate anything at all. When you start filling up on foods that give you better energy — the kind that won’t end in a crash — you’ll start to notice the difference. Always choose fiber- and protein-filled snacks to provide your body with the kind of energy that can last until your next meal.
8. You’ll fall asleep easier
Indulging in a sweet treat before bed can wreck the quality of your sleep, and you probably won’t even notice, because sugar disrupts your sleep cycle. According to Men’s Health, a diet high in refined sugars — everything from white bread to cookies — can impact your body’s release of the hormone that makes sure you enter the kind of deep, restful slumber necessary for energy restoration and muscle repair. Therefore, saying goodbye to sugar can completely transform you from a cranky, sleep-deprived zombie into a much more relaxed, well-rested humanoid.
9. You’ll probably lose weight
Sugar is a much bigger contributor to unwanted weight gain than sodium or fat. It disrupts your sleep, drains your energy, and makes you crave unhealthy food. When you stop eating sugar, you’re much more likely to lose weight successfully. The New York Times notes that highly processed foods — most of them loaded with added sugars — are mostly to blame for excessive weight gain. Put simply, your body tends to store excess sugar as fat, especially when a large portion of your diet comes from processed food. Eating less sugar leaves more room for healthier foods that provide long-lasting energy and can contribute to weight loss.
10. Your liver will thank you
People who abuse alcohol often suffer severe liver damage over time. Something similar can happen to people who eat too many processed sugars, a condition called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Though this condition is treatable early on, Harvard Health Publications says it can eventually lead to cirrhosis and subsequent loss of liver function if left untreated. The best way to prevent liver damage, even if you don’t drink alcohol, is to limit the amount of refined sugars in your diet.