If you can only make one change to your diet this year, let it be this: stop eating sugar! This change is the one that is likely to make the biggest imaginable difference. It won’t just benefit your teeth or your waistline; the harmful effects of sugar go much deeper than that.
The dangers of sugar
Consuming large or steady amounts of sugar can cause a build-up of fructose in the liver. This excess fructose gets converted into fat. Some of the fat is sent out of the liver, but a portion remains. Eventually, this can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Other health problems linked to sugar intake are leptin resistance, increased risk for gallbladder disease, diabetes, and premature aging. It has also been linked with increased levels of uric acid, which raises levels of inflammation in the body.
Most of the sugar you eat is hidden
A good rule of thumb these days is that if food comes pre-packaged, it is probably loaded with sugar. In our recent article, “What Happened to the Man Who Ate a Sugar Diet for 60 Days,” we reported that all of his high-sugar meals were foods that are generally thought to be healthy.
The cereals, muesli bars and yogurts most people think of as healthy staples are loaded with sugars. Sugar is also added to all types of foods you might not expect, like barbecue sauces, pasta sauces, canned fruit, instant hot cereal and bottled tea.
Safe alternatives for pleasing your sweet tooth
The good news is there are other alternatives you can use to satisfy your sweet tooth. Raw stevia is an excellent source of sweetness. The leaves of the stevia plant can be dried and crushed, and the result is a healthy natural sweetener.
Stevia can be substituted in baking recipes, added to drinks, sprinkled onto cereals and more. Just make sure you’re getting real, unprocessed, raw stevia leaves – many imposters exist, and many of the stevia products on the market have sugar as a second or third ingredient!
Another great substitute for sugar is raw honey. While sugar is an isolated chemical compound with no nutritional value, honey is actually a whole food containing many beneficial compounds. Animal research studies have found that honey is effective at lessening weight gain.
In a study published in the Journal of Medical Food in 2004, it was found that natural honey can lower plasma glucose in healthy, diabetic subjects. Consuming raw honey is best because the cooking process can destroy the enzymes and probiotics that make it such a healthy food.
So, if there’s only one resolution on your list this year, make ditching the sugar a top priority.
-The Alternative Daily