Reasons to reduce sugar consumption

For many, excess sugar consumption is the main hindrance keeping them from attaining better health.  Not even a hundred years ago, Americans consumed an average of only four pounds of refined sugar every year. Today, consumption has skyrocketed to somewhere between 150 and 170 pounds annually.

Why is this a problem? Three main reasons, sugar has been show to weaken the immune system, sugar contains empty calories with little to no nutrient value, and over and over again, it has been referred to as an addictive substance, making it even harder to start eating less. There are small ways to reduce sugar consumption, though, that can improve health and energy.

First, sugar negatively affects the immune system, increasing the likelihood that the germs and viruses we come in contact with will manifest into illness. Sugar consumption also seems to play a role in the development of cancer, as cancer cells thrive off excess sugar, and the sugar suppresses the ability of the immune system to prevent the cancer cells from growing out of control. Reducing consumption of refined sugar can help prevent illness, helping us to maintain better health all through the year.

Second, sugars are often referred to as “empty calories.”  This is because for the amount of calories sugar provides in the typically American diet, sugar offers very little vitamin and nutrient power.  This can increase the chances of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, even with a diet that is sufficient in calories. These resulting deficiencies can result in further health complications.

Third, and perhaps the most important reason to reduce sugar consumption, is that it is highly addictive. The bottom line is that the more you consume, the more you will want to consume. Sugar gives a high by releasing several “feel good” hormones in the brain, but what is hard is when we try to lower consumption withdrawal-like symptoms seem to result, and the cycle continues.

We can act, though.  Those striving to reduce their sugar consumption can start by choosing desserts and snacks based around whole fruits, which are naturally sweet.  The fiber content of the fruits will slow down the digestion, helping the sugar to be more steadily absorbed.  People should be able to enjoy sweet flavorful foods in moderation, and choosing whole foods is a great first step.


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