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Sweet Nothings: Why A Sugar Detox Diet Is Important For Health

Better Health With Sugar Detox Diet

Sugar has no nutritional value other than adding calories to your diet. But, surprisingly obesity is not the 'only' reason why you need to eliminate sugar from your diet. Empty sugar calories can also increase your risk of having renal disease, diabetes, and even colon cancer. To top it off, opting for a sugar detox may help you live a much healthier, disease-free life!

Obesity and the associated health problems are an important health issue around the world. Increased sugar intake is found to be the major culprit in our oversized lives. Studies show that the consumption of beverages and foods with added sugars has risen markedly over the past few decades among the population. The intake of added sugars–sucrose, corn syrup, and high-fructose corn syrup–increased from 13.1 percent of energy during the period 1977 to 1978 to 16.6 percent of energy during 1999 to 2002.1

An 8-year follow-up study on women have shown that when people consume large amounts of beverages with added sugars, they tend to consume more calories and gain weight.2

Why Should One Follow A Sugar Detox Diet?

Obesity is certainly one of the most serious problems associated with added sugar in our diets. However, that is merely the tip of the iceberg. Here are some other reasons why you should cut your sugar intake down.

Central Nervous System Gets Affected

Research has shown excessive sugar intake can alter the central nervous system. In a study done to understand the effect of excessive sugar consumption on the body, it was found that consumption of too much sugar caused behavioral and neurochemical signs of opioid withdrawal. 3

Various Other Health Complications

Excessive sugar consumption can also lead to the development of various other diseases like metabolic syndrome, fatty liver disease, and even type 2 diabetes. 4 Studies have also shown that abnormal glucose metabolism plays a significant role in the development of pancreatic carcinogenesis.5 Dietary sugars, especially diets high in simple carbohydrates rather than complex carbohydrates, also increase the risk of colon cancer.6

High sugar intake can also be blamed for kidney damage, ultimately leading to nephropathy. Several studies also showed a link in bodily changes and an increase in the amount of sucrose in the diet. Some of these changes resemble the abnormalities seen in maturity-onset diabetes and coronary heart disease.7

Reduced Sugar Intake Means Reduced Weight

Certain studies conducted in children and adults have shown that reducing the intake of soft drinks reduced weight gain. A study conducted in Amsterdam divided 641 youth into two groups and provided 250 mL of low-caloric sweetened beverage to one and a sugar-containing beverage providing 104 kcal to another over an 18-month period. It was found that the BMI, weight, skinfold thickness, and fat mass increased significantly less in the low-caloric beverage group.8

Who Should Follow A Sugar Detox Diet?

To answer that question in the simplest manner: those who wish to live a healthier life with fewer diseases and more energy, improved appearance, and improved dental health should opt to follow a sugar detox diet. Let’s take a look.

Healthier, Disease-free Life

Studies have revealed that tumors tend to show an increased rate of glucose uptake and utilization. On the other hand, glucose deprivation and antiglycolytic drugs induce tumor cell death.9 A study on animals links sugar consumption with hypertension. 10 It also increases the risk for cardiovascular disease-related mortality.11

Improved Energy

Research suggests that the urge to snack on sugars to raise energy levels is motivated by a lack of proper awareness. A study asked its volunteers to make self-ratings of their feelings of energy, tiredness, and tension for a fixed two-hour period each day in the context of their normal daily activities. Volunteers associated walking with higher energy and lower tension significantly more than snacking. The sugar snack condition was associated with significantly higher tension after one hour, and a pattern of initially increased energy and reduced tiredness, followed one hour later by increased tiredness and reduced energy. 12

Enhanced Mental Clarity

Studies have revealed a connection between a diet high in fats and refined sugars and poorer hippocampal function.13 The hippocampus, a major component of the brain, is thought to be the center of emotion, memory, and the autonomic nervous system. Another study, taken to determine whether replacing sucrose in diet long-term with honey would decrease deterioration of brain function in rats during aging, showed that the honey-fed animals displayed better spatial memory throughout the study and also showed decreased anxiety than animals fed on a sucrose diet. 14

Improved Appearance

The effect of sugars on aging skin is governed by the simple act of covalently cross-linking two collagen fibers, which renders both of them incapable of easy repair. The amino acids present in the collagen and elastin that support the dermis are linked by glucose and fructose, leading to the production of advanced glycation end products or “AGEs.” This process is accelerated in all body tissues when sugar is elevated.15 AGEs are proteins or lipids that become glycated or bonded as a result of exposure to sugars. They can be a factor in aging as well as in the development or worsening of many diseases. The accumulation of these products in the tissues is strongly associated with aging.16

Better Dental Health

The risk for caries is highest if sugars are consumed a lot especially when they are in a form that is retained in the mouth for long periods, like candy, cough drops, lollipops, etc. Sucrose is the most cariogenic sugar because it can form glucan that enables firm bacterial adhesion to teeth and limits diffusion of acid and buffers in the plaque. Education and counseling for better dental health aim at teaching parents the need to reduce the amount of obvious and hidden sugars children consume.17

Is It Okay To Replace Sugar In The Diet?

The fact is that our body needs carbohydrates, which are broken down into sugar — an essential commodity for the body to create energy to survive. But there seems to be a dearth of definitive evidence when it comes to determining how much sugar is good or bad. There is not much data to suggest that sugar intake is advantageous, whereas some data suggest that it can be detrimental. Going by research, however, there are indications that high sugar intake should be avoided. Sugar has no nutritional value other than to provide calories. In order to improve the overall nutrient density of a person’s diet and to help reduce the intake of excess calories, individuals should ensure that foods high in added sugar are not displacing foods with essential nutrients or increasing calorie intake.

References   [ + ]

1. Cook AJ, Friday JE. Pyramid Servings Intakes in the United States 1999–2002, 1 Day. Beltsville, Md: USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Community Nutrition Research Group; 2005.
2. Schulze, Matthias B., JoAnn E. Manson, David S. Ludwig, Graham A. Colditz, Meir J. Stampfer, Walter C. Willett, and Frank B. Hu. “Sugar-sweetened beverages, weight gain, and incidence of type 2 diabetes in young and middle-aged women.” Jama 292, no. 8 (2004): 927-934.
3. Colantuoni, Carlo, Pedro Rada, Joseph McCarthy, Caroline Patten, Nicole M. Avena, Andrew Chadeayne, and Bartley G. Hoebel. “Evidence that intermittent, excessive sugar intake causes endogenous opioid dependence.” Obesity research 10, no. 6 (2002): 478-488.
4. Bray, George A., and Barry M. Popkin. “Dietary sugar and body weight: have we reached a crisis in the epidemic of obesity and diabetes? Health be damned! Pour on the sugar.” Diabetes Care 37, no. 4 (2014): 950-956.
5. Michaud, Dominique S., Simin Liu, Edward Giovannucci, Walter C. Willett, Graham A. Colditz, and Charles S. Fuchs. “Dietary sugar, glycemic load, and pancreatic cancer risk in a prospective study.” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 94, no. 17 (2002): 1293-1300.
6. Slattery, Martha L., Joan Benson, T. Dennis Berry, Debra Duncan, Sandra L. Edwards, Bette J. Caan, and John D. Potter. “Dietary sugar and colon cancer.” Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention 6, no. 9 (1997): 677-685.
7. Yudkin, John, S. S. Kang, and K. R. Bruckdorfer. “Effects of high dietary sugar.” British medical journal 281, no. 6252 (1980): 1396.
8. de Ruyter, Janne C., Margreet R. Olthof, Jacob C. Seidell, and Martijn B. Katan. “A trial of sugar-free or sugar-sweetened beverages and body weight in children.” New England Journal of Medicine 367, no. 15 (2012): 1397-1406.
9. El Mjiyad, N., A. Caro-Maldonado, S. Ramirez-Peinado, and C. Munoz-Pinedo. “Sugar-free approaches to cancer cell killing.” Oncogene 30, no. 3 (2011): 253-264.
10. Preuss, Harry G., Mohmed Zein, Philip MacArthy, Donald Dipette, Sharda Sabnis, and Joseph Knapka. “Sugar-induced blood pressure elevations over the lifespan of three substrains of Wistar rats.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 17, no. 1 (1998): 36-37.
11. Yang, Quanhe, Zefeng Zhang, Edward W. Gregg, W. Dana Flanders, Robert Merritt, and Frank B. Hu. “Added sugar intake and cardiovascular diseases mortality among US adults.” JAMA internal medicine 174, no. 4 (2014): 516-524.
12. Thayer, Robert E. “Energy, tiredness, and tension effects of a sugar snack versus moderate exercise.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 52, no. 1 (1987): 119.
13. Francis, Heather M., and Richard J. Stevenson. “Higher reported saturated fat and refined sugar intake is associated with reduced hippocampal-dependent memory and sensitivity to interoceptive signals.” Behavioral neuroscience 125, no. 6 (2011): 943.
14. Chepulis, Lynne M., Nicola J. Starkey, Joseph R. Waas, and Peter C. Molan. “The effects of long-term honey, sucrose or sugar detox diets on memory and anxiety in rats.” Physiology & behavior 97, no. 3 (2009): 359-368.
15. Danby, F. William. “Nutrition and aging skin: sugar and glycation.” Clinics in dermatology 28, no. 4 (2010): 409-411.
16. Bengmark, Stig. “Impact of nutrition on ageing and disease.” Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care 9, no. 1 (2006): 2-7.
17. Tinanoff, Norman, and Carol A. Palmer. “Dietary determinants of dental caries and dietary recommendations for preschool children.” Journal of public health dentistry 60, no. 3 (2000): 197-206.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.