Should you stop eating sugar?

Updated: Oct 7, 2020


Why is it so hard to stop eating sugar?

It is hard to stop eating sugar because we crave sugar from birth. Breast milk is high in sugar. The sugar in breast milk breaks down into carbohydrates which stimulates the release of hormones that promotes relaxation and helps with the bonding process between mother and child. This craving continues throughout life.

Also, some people are genetically more prone to sugar addiction than others. Researchers have found that humans possess variations in certain genes that are responsible for our sweet taste preference. Individuals who are born with a variation in this "sugar" gene tend to consume more sugar than those who don't have the genetic variations. According to researchers, this may be due to their body sensitivity to the amount of sugar in their blood (1).

Should you stop eating sugar?

For years, “health experts” have been suggesting people eliminate sugar from their diet completely. However, this is not practical or advisable. Sugar is not to be feared. It’s just not meant to be consumed in excess.

Eliminating sugar is nearly impossible--it is contained in almost all foods in either a natural or processed (refined) form. Distinguishing between these two forms of sugar is very important! Natural sugar is found in fruits and vegetables which contain fiber to slow the absorption of glucose into the blood. Processed sugar is refined and, like high fructose corn syrup, is added in large quantities to fruit juices, sweetened beverages, ice cream, and baked goods. Processed sugar contains no nutrients and gets into the bloodstream very quickly which causes spikes in blood sugar levels.

Although our body processes all sugar the same way, the natural sugar found in fruits has much greater nutritional value and a positive impact on the body. Since fruits and vegetables are an important part of all healthy diets, eliminating sugar entirely is not advisable.

How can I cut back on sugar?

You may want to reduce sugar intake because you “have the sweet gene”, are prediabetic or diabetic, or just want to eat healthier. Here are some tips:

1. Eat naturally sweet fruits

Fruits are filled with lots of essential vitamins, minerals and fiber. When fresh fruits are not in season, frozen fruits are a great alternative. Fruits low in sugar include avocado, raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes, and blueberries.

2. Use sugar alternatives

There are many sugar alternatives on the market which are generally not any better than the real thing. Although some of these sugar alternatives contain substances known to have possible health benefits, there are similar foods such as blueberries and green tea that also provide the same benefits. Here are a few alternatives that may help satisfy your sweet tooth:

  • Raw local organic honey. For those who want to lose weight, honey is a good choice because it has fewer calories than table sugar. It is also 50% sweeter than refined sugar.


  • Pure maple syrup. This is a lot like honey but has a lower sugar content. Maple syrup contains compounds called polyphenols that may help control blood sugar levels. The darkest color (Grade B) is the most flavorful which makes it one of my favorite sweeteners, especially when baking.


  • Organic stevia extract. This is a powdered or liquid extract from the plant, Stevia Rebaudiana, that tastes a bit sweet and bitter. It is 100 or more times sweeter than sugar and has zero calories. It is a good option for most people. But use it sparingly when stirring into coffee or baking.


Other possible options include xylitol, erythritol and monk fruit.

It is important to note that honey and maple syrup are not good options for those who are prediabetic or have type 2 diabetes. For others, limit intake of these sugar alternatives to one serving a day.

Stopping the consumption of sugar is not easy – it requires that you find healthier alternatives that will give you just the bit of sweetness you crave.

References:

1. Diószegi, J., Llanaj, E., & Ádány, R. (2019). Genetic Background of Taste Perception, Taste Preferences, and Its Nutritional Implications: A Systematic Review. Frontiers in genetics, 10, 1272. https://doi.org/10.3389/fgene.2019.01272

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