It's ageing us
The sugar in your diet affects the amount of sugar in your bloodstream—and studies suggest that high blood sugar levels set up a molecular domino effect called glycation, in which sugar attaches itself to proteins. These new molecular structures hinder the repair of your skin's collagen, contributing to the loss of elasticity found in aging body tissues, from your skin to your organs and arteries. The more sugar circulating in your blood, the faster this damage takes hold.
It creates a cycle of energy highs and lows
Added sugars are simple carbohydrates. This means they're digested quickly and enter your bloodstream fast, providing that familiar rush. But once that shot of sugar is metabolised, you're in for a crash. You may be riding this energy roller coaster all day, since added sugar is hiding in countless sneaky places—even salad dressing and mayonnaise. Unstable blood sugar often leads to mood swings, fatigue, headaches and cravings for more sugar. On the flip side, those who avoid sugar often report having little or no cravings for sugary things and feeling emotionally balanced and energised.
It makes us fat - and dangerously so
Everyone knows that a sugar-rich diet can pack on the pounds, especially in the tummy area. But what you may not realise is just how dangerous that is. Sweet fare spikes your blood sugar, triggering a flood of insulin through your body, which over time encourages fat to accumulate around your middle. Known as visceral fat, these fat cells deep in the abdomen are the riskiest kind because they generate adipokines and adipose hormones—chemical troublemakers that travel to your organs and blood vessels, where they bring on inflammation that can contribute to conditions like heart disease and cancer. So, when you cut back on sweets, desserts and hidden sugars, you'll start reducing belly fat and the dangerous conditions that come with it.
It's keeping us fat
Increased insulin levels don't just add pounds to your stomach; they put fat cells all over your body into calorie-storage overdrive, says US endocrinologist David Ludwig, MD. "I call insulin the Miracle-Gro for your fat cells. It's just not the sort of miracle you want happening in your body." Replacing refined carbs and sugary foods in your diet with healthy fats helps keep your insulin stable, he says, so fewer calories get stored as fat. As a result, "hunger decreases, metabolism speeds up, and you can lose weight with less struggle." Since having fewer sweets helps you keep off excess pounds, you'll also be more protected against type 2 diabetes.
Useful tips for reducing sugar intake
Here are some online resources that you might find helpful:
Some lower-sugar recipes
A guide to sugar-free baking