Sugar is one of the most addictive substances on the planet, and one of the most dangerous for our health. Which is why it is so vitally important to cut back on sugar and find a healthy sugar substitute.
Give how addictive it is, it must be a monumental task to truly cut back on sugar, or better yet, cut it out completely.
But, shockingly, it is not. There are very simple and effective steps we can take to cut back on sugar, supercharge our health, and incorporate the best healthy sugar substitute (it’s probably not what you think).
Taking positive steps to cut back on sugar will be more than worth it, considering the damaging effects of sugar on your body that have been noted by the scientific community.
Let’s take a look at a couple of those dangers of sugar now, before we get positive about what we can do.
Dangers of Sugar #1: Overeating Leading to Weight Gain and Disease
It should come as no surprise that overeating can lead to weight gain.
It should also come as no surprise that being overweight is one of the leading risk factors for a multitude of diseases.
So when the scientific community airs concerns such as the following about the dangers of sugar, paying close attention may be the most important thing we can ever do for our health.
In a review published in the journal Frontiers in Bioscience in 2018, researchers from the NIH noted that excessive sugar consumption “may trigger neuroadaptations in the reward system that decouple eating behavior from caloric needs and leads to compulsive overeating. Excessive sugar intake is in turn associated with adverse health conditions, including obesity, metabolic syndrome, and inflammatory diseases.” (emphasis mine)
As scary as that all sounds, it actually points out great hope.
It infers that we could possibly avoid those problems if we can simply cut back on sugar intake.
No expensive medical treatments, pricey and exotic health supplements, or the like. Instead, one of the simplest health interventions you could think of.
Now obviously it is possible to become overweight or attain adverse health conditions even if you don’t over consume sugar so cutting back on sugar may not necessarily be the cure-all. But, if you are consuming excessive amounts of sugar, cutting back on that might do you way more good than you can possibly imagine.
Dangers of Sugar #2: Depression
Research published in August 2015 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that, among women who participated in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study from 1994 to 1998, those who consumed the most added sugars had 23% higher odds of incident depression than those who consumed the least.
The good news?
Just like the first danger discussed, this one has a potentially very easy, inexpensive solution to help prevent a negative outcome, or at least reduce the risk.
Cut back on sugar.
Again, there are other factors that impact mental health so it is not necessarily a cure-all, but rather a potentially protective measure.
But if cutting back on sugar can lessen the risk or at least potentially help? Well, there are no cheaper or easier solutions than that.
Given how obvious it’s negative impact is on our health, removing sugar from our diets might be the healthiest lifestyle choice we can make and best medicine we can ever take.
Without further adieu, let’s get into the three simple ways to cut sugar out of our diets.
#1 Tip to Cut Back on Sugar: Do Some Light Label-Reading
Although sugar seems to be crammed into every nook and cranny of processed foods, hiding where you do not expect it, a little label-reading at the grocery store can take care of that in no time.
These days, labels usually have an added category beyond just “sugar”, like they had in the old days. You will likely notice just underneath that is a category called “added sugars”.
This is a wonderful addition because it helps you differentiate between naturally occurring sugars, such as those found in fruits, with those that are added and keep you coming back for more.
And more, and more, and more.
So check those labels for the added sugars, if nothing else.
Now, avoiding processed foods as much as possible, which we can consider an “honorable mention” to this list, would be the easiest and healthiest way to avoid all that hidden sugar and possibly other non-food ne’er do wells that are jammed into processed foods. But I know that avoiding them entirely is not always possible and, let’s face it, some processed foods are pretty darn good. So if you don’t eliminate them entirely, you can at least choose the best options with the least added sugars.
#2 Tip to Cut Back on Sugar: The Best Healthy Sugar Substitute for Sugar-Laden Foods
Now that you’ve carefully chosen your foods without added sugars, what do you do about those cravings?
Let’s face it. Sugar didn’t stop being addictive just because you’ve been reading the labels. If you had cravings before you started reading the labels, there’s a good chance you’ll have them after as well.
So how do we satisfy those cravings, that “sweet tooth”, safely with a substitute for added sugar?
Fortunately, we have a lot of healthy options for those who have developed a sweet tooth. So many, in fact, that they not only have earned a spot on this list, but were given to us to eat by God himself.
They are called fruit.
Stay with me here. You might have been expecting me to say something like stevia or xylitol. But the best healthy sugar substitute is not necessarily a different sweetener that takes the place of sugar. An even better substitute might be a natural, whole food that requires no added sweetener at all. A whold food we can use as a substitute to take the place of desserts altogether.
And it actually works.
I am definitely a savory-food kind of guy, but even I have a pretty serious sweet tooth at times.
Every night, after dinner, my mind immediately thinks I need something sweet after all that savory goodness.
So I have had to learn to combat that with something more than just willpower.
I love to keep at least one bag of mandarin oranges in the fridge at all times. Sometimes you see them at the store called clementines, or “cuties” (how adorable).
These little things are awesome.
First of all, they are quick and easy to eat. They peel like nobody’s business, are sweet and juicy when ripe, are loaded with great, bioavailable vitamin C, among a host of beneficial bioflavonoids, and contain much healthier, natural sugars in the form of naturally-occurring fructose.
One or two of these after dinner and not only have I turned off that switch in my brain that told me I needed something sweet, but I’ve done so without adding hardly any calories. I’ve also given my immune system the boost it needs. (Vitamin C is vital to your cognition also, so added bonus there.)
Instead of consuming sugar that would take a sledgehammer to my immune system and cognition, I’ve eaten just a little bit of low-calorie fruit (see weight loss) that powers up my immunity and my smarts (both of which I need). It is very rare you can find a dessert that will offer all of these same benefits.
As an added bonus, it’s also super inexpensive so those rising grocery bills we’ve been seeing might not rise quite as much.
There are of course healthy sugar substitutes out there. But with a little bit of fruit instead, you might find you’ve not only kicked those dessert cravings to the curb where they belong, but leveraged that craving into giving your health a boost with great nutrition.
#3 Tip to Cut Back on Sugar: Exercise
This one might sound a little surprising. It was to me at least.
In 2017, researchers from Italy published a review in the Journal of Affective Disorders noting that sugar addiction has recently been counted as “another binge/compulsive/addictive eating behavior, differently induced, leading to a high-significant health problem.”
They recognized that regular, moderate exercise has been shown to have a positive impact on physiological imbalances caused by affective disorders.
Although more research is needed, they believe that exercise can present a barrier between sugar addiction and affective disorders.
And, in the theme of these three tips to cut back on sugar, it also represents a high-value, low cost intervention that comes with more than one benefit.
We might theorize that incorporating more regular exercise into our lives could not only help relieve affective disorders brought on by sugar addiction, but the positive health ramifications of that exercise could lead to a shift in mindset toward our diet and health.
Once we purpose ourselves to make a positive change in our lives, we tend to make additional decisions to support that positive lifestyle change. In this case, recognizing the dangers of sugar potentially leading to affective disorders and implementing exercise as a way to help relieve that can reasonably lead us to actively avoid added sugars in our diets as well.
The known benefits of exercise combined with the known benefits of reduced sugar consumption is a potent combination for our health. And, like the others on this list, constitute close to the simplest, easiest, and least expensive interventions we can make.
Putting it All Together: Cutting Back on Sugar to Supercharge Our Health
Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest solutions.
You can read all the scientific papers until you’re blue in the face. But there are few health interventions that can supercharge our health and wellbeing the way cutting back on sugar can.
Combining cutting back on sugar with replacing it with healthy, vitamin-laden whole foods like fruit, and adding in some regular exercise is a powerful combination that could supercharge your health like almost no other.
And it costs next to nothing.
Add in another super simple, super easy, and super inexpensive habit like drinking enough water, and you could put together an elite health foundation without having to do anything fancy and perhaps even saving money.
If nothing else, making positive lifestyle changes like these could give you the health foundation you need to start taking additional, next-level steps to boost your health off the charts. But without that foundation, that could be very difficult, if not impossible to do.
So here’s to your health and your pursuit of great!
*As always, consult with your doctor when making dietary and lifestyle changes, especially those that could affect your blood sugar or if you are or plan to be taking medications for any condition, and ensure you only incorporate changes that are appropriate and safe for you. The information posted here is for informational purposes only.
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