Americans consume an average of 94 grams per day of sugar which is approximately 358 calories. Although this may seem staggering, the consumption ratio is actually less than in 1999 when the statistics revealed that the average daily allotment was 111 grams of sugar a day which is 423 calories, according to a report by CBS News. Although this is an improvement, it is still a long way from a healthy sugar-free diet.
Benefits of a Sugar-Free Diet
Recent research has revealed that a diet without the sweet stuff is highly beneficial for your overall health and well-being. Although it might seem difficult to do away with sugar, ultimately, your body will thank you.
- Boosts your Immune System: Sugar causes your immune system to malfunction. When your insulin levels rise, your body’s hormone production is inhibited. The white blood cells are also employed to rid the body of the waste products that build up as a direct result of sugar consumption. This means that instead of fighting bacteria and viruses that invade the body, your immune system’s front line fighters, the white blood cells, are too busy cleaning up the by-products left behind by the junk food you consumed. This makes you even more vulnerable to diseases and less able to fight off illness when it does occur. Avoiding a diet filled with sweeteners will eventually boost your immune system.
- Reduces Your Hunger: When it comes time to metabolize the sweet stuff your system has a difficult time. It turns to key nutrients like Vitamin B, chromium, and potassium to get the job done. This means that your physical nutrient reserves are significantly depleted. When your system’s stockpile goes down it leaves you craving more nutrients for replenishment. This means that you start to consume more foods and more calories than your body require which increases unwanted weight gain. It becomes a never-ending cycle. Many people find themselves binge eating after consuming the sweetener. Focusing on a sugar-free diet means that your body doesn’t deplete its nutrients and you will not feel as hungry as often.
- Inflammation: Your system needs key nutrients to fight and prevent inflammation. When your body starts scrambling to replace your nutrient levels then your body becomes more vulnerable inflammation. This causes physical aches, headaches, or makes certain physical ailments such as arthritis worse because inflammation takes hold. Inflammation also causes conditions like hyperactivity, depression, indigestion, and dermatitis. Avoiding sweeteners will significantly reduce bouts of unwanted inflammation throughout you anatomy. You will also find that eating whole, unrefined foods actually boosts your energy because the food is converted into energy and is not stored as unhealthy fat.
- Improved Digestion: Sweeteners are not good for your digestion. The foods you consume are not readily assimilated by your form which means the key nutrients pass right through your system. Sugars further ferment in your digestive tract which causes gas and bloating. Abstaining from the sweet stuff improves your digestion significantly
- Energy Increases: After consuming a sweetener, your blood sugar levels rise. Insulin is quickly released by your system which triggers tryptophan. Your body converts tryptophan into serotonin which makes you sleepy. This becomes a continuous cycle and is often why you start physically dragging by the end of the day and you feel like all you want to do is take a nap. You can avoid this by eating a diet that is filled with vitamins, water, proteins, antioxidants, and fiber. These substances are the true fuel for your form and they will leave you feeling energized and not lagging. You will no longer need a sweet fix to feel like you gain a short burst of energy. Instead, you will feel wide awake and ready to take on the world all day instead of just for a brief span of time.
- Improve Your Mind: Your brain’s overall functions require glucose. Without it, your memory can fail and you do not feel as sharp. You might think that the way to improve your brain’s abilities is to increase your consumption of the sweetener but this isn’t true. Too much of the sweet stuff is detrimental to your brain and actually ruins your ability to remember things. The cognitive decline can even accelerate into dementia, according to the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. Eliminating the processed sweetener from your diet will significantly improve your mind’s ability to function and alleviate brain fogginess.
- Look Younger: Sweeteners causes sagging skin and wrinkles because of the byproducts that build up in your body. Eliminating it will put a healthy glow on your skin and create more vibrancy. In time, you will look more youthful.
- Weight Management: Fat in your diet is not the enemy of your body. In fact, your body needs fat function. Omega 3 and other good fats are what the body depends on to keep going. The real culprit that is probably upsetting your weight management plan is the sweet stuff. The physical system actually converts the sweeteners that you consume to unwanted fat. If you remove them from your diet then you will be better able to manage your weight.
- Eliminates Possible Allergens: The chances are good that the sweetener you use contains corn additives that have been added through processing. Many are even packaged with cornstarch in an attempt to avoid clumping. Corn is a major allergen in many people. Unfortunately, the sweeteners used to make baked goods and other commercially available desserts often contain some corn residue or products that cause allergies in many people.
- Dental Health: Sugary build-up in your mouth is the food source of harmful bacteria. Brushing can remove some of the bacteria but not all. Ultimately, tartar and plaque will build up on your teeth and can lead to gum disease or tooth decay.
How to Create a Sugar-Free Diet Plan
Now that you have looked at the benefits of eliminating the sweet stuff from your diet, you are probably wondering how you go about it. Here are a few tips:
- Read Labels: You should always know what is in your food. Reading labels closely will help you cut out the unwanted stuff.
- Increase the Fiber: You should increase your fiber intake by about 30 to 40 grams per day. Your diet should include fresh vegetables, nuts, chia, flax seeds, and fruits. These will help naturally meet your body’s sweet requirements while making you feel full and reduce your cravings.
- Avoid Alcohol: Alcohol is often filled with sweeteners and is unhealthy. Read the label carefully to discern the hidden and often overlooked ingredients.
- Replace Unhealthy Options With Healthy Choices: If a food is heavily processed then it should be avoided and replaced with healthy options. Fast food establishments should also be avoided.
- Juice and Other Drinks: Many people think that juice is a safe choice because it is natural. Unfortunately, many juices contain an abundance of sweeteners to make them more palatable to consumers. Just because something is listed as a ‘juice’ does not mean that it is truly healthy for you.
Hidden Ingredients in Foods
No matter how closely you read the labels on foods there is a good chance you might not even realize the food contains sugars because it has unfamiliar ingredients listed.
Here are a few words that are actually just code for sugars:
- Confectioners Powdered Sweeteners
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Corn Syrup
- Brown Sweeteners
- Invert Sugars
Daily Sugar-Free Meal Choices
Breakfast: Unsweetened oats or cereals. Use nuts, cinnamon, coconut milk, or stevia to sweeten your oatmeal or cereal. Hard Boiled eggs, avocado, and toast are also two alternatives. Unsweetened goat’s milk yogurt is also a great idea.
Lunch: Nothing beats a big, healthy salad for lunch. You can even add a few pieces of sliced chicken to make it yummier. You can also consider soup. Salmon and turkey burgers are also great choices. Maybe a brown rice mixed with veggies.
Dinner: Steak and veggies are a great dinner idea. You can also go with fresh fish, rice, quinoa, veggies, burritos, chicken, lots of veggies and even some sweet potato.
Beverages: Water, seltzer, black coffee, coconut milk, or herbal tea are all good choices.
Precautions When it Comes to a Sugar-Free Diet
Remember your system requires carbohydrates to function. This is especially true of your brain. However, when you cut unhealthy sweeteners then you have to focus on how to add fuel to your diet for your body to function. Cutting out sweeteners is never easy and it is going to take you some adjusting both mentally and physically to achieve the hard dietary choice.
Side Effects of a Sugar-Free Diet:
- Brain Fog
- Changes in Sleep Patterns
To truly attain the benefits of a sugar-free diet, you must abstain from sugars in all artificial forms. Gradually, your body will start getting used to a lower glucose level and will end up functioning better than ever before.