Sugar can be habit-forming, and many people don’t even know that they have a problem. You might think you have a sweet tooth if you have a weakness for pastries and can’t go too long without having candy. The truth is, you may be overdoing it and your health is at risk. Read about 28-day sugar detox here.
Science has shown (in animals) that sugar can be as neurobiologically rewarding as cocaine, or more so. When you consume sugar, dopamine is released into your system which makes you feel good. However, after a while, that good feeling wears off and leaves behind cravings for more sugar (12).
How Sugar Affects Your Health
Loading up on large quantities of sugar is bad for more than just the way that it affects your mental state – it can have a very real impact on how healthy you are. Here are 10 negative effects of sugar on your health:
Tooth Decay And Gum Disease
One of the most obvious negative effects of sugar is dental decay and gum disease. When you consume too much sugar for your mouth to process, it attracts bacteria that strip away the enamel on your teeth which leads to decay and ugly, yellowing teeth (13).
You might be able to prevent cavities by brushing regularly and visiting your dentist every six months – but reducing your sugar intake is another way to prevent periodontal (gum) disease (13). It’s important to remember that it’s not just the sugar in candy that causes these issues – it’s any kind of sweet food, including juices, sugary sodas, and pastries.
Eating too much sugar makes you gain weight (9). It’s really as simple as that – if you consume more calories than your body burns off, you’ll gain weight. The average man needs about 2400-2600 calories per day to maintain a healthy weight and the average woman needs around 2000-2200 (5).
If you eat sugary foods like soda and desserts every day, then those extra few hundred calories quickly add up without you even realizing it. Before long, you’re facing some serious health problems because of your poor diet choices.
While sugar doesn’t directly cause diabetes, the weight gain it leads to puts you at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is when your body becomes resistant to the insulin that’s trying to process the glucose in your system, resulting in high blood sugar levels (9).
Alzheimer’s Disease And Dementia
Believe it or not, eating too much sugar might actually trigger mental health issues like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers think that eating lots of refined carbs puts too much stress on your brain cells and eventually leads to these conditions developing (3).
Heart Disease And Stroke
Plaque build-up isn’t just a problem with your teeth – it affects your heart as well because its arteries can become clogged with fat. This is called cardiovascular disease, and it’s one of the most deadly negative effects of sugar because it can lead to stroke or heart attack if untreated (9).
You may think that you’re eating too much because you have a very high metabolism – but in reality, this could be caused by your taste buds becoming desensitized to sweetness over time. Your brain gets used to the dopamine release that happens when you eat something sweet and then needs more than usual to get that same feeling (12). You’ll know that you’re overeating simply because the same amount of food doesn’t fill you up anymore – not even chocolate cake!
A late night dinner with ice cream might seem like a great idea when you’re craving something sweet – but unfortunately, eating sugar just before bedtime is one of the worst things that you could do. The rapid influx of carbohydrates that happens because of all that sugar will keep your blood sugar levels elevated for hours and might make it difficult to fall asleep (10).
It’s true – there are some foods out there (like dairy) that can trigger acne breakouts because of an increase in inflammation or hormonal changes, but there’s also no denying the link between sugar and acne. Researchers have found an association between sugary beverage and food intake and adult acne (4).
Chronic inflammation is a contributor to almost every disease, including cancer and arthritis – but did you know that sugar might play a role? It has been postulated by scientists that dietary sugar intake increases chronic inflammation in humans, although this has not yet been proven. (6).
Low Energy And Fatigue
You’d think having a massive amount of sugar in your system would keep you going for hours but what actually happens is the opposite. Sugar intake causes blood sugar spikes, which is great when you need a quick burst of energy but isn’t ideal when you’re trying to stay active for more than five minutes at a time. You’ll end up with a drop in blood sugar that can leave you feeling tired and completely drained (1).
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What Is A Sugar Detox?
The sugar detox is a 28-day program designed to help you cut sugar out from your diet for good. By the end of the program, you’ll be able to identify what types of sugars and carbohydrates you can and can’t tolerate so that you never feel tempted to eat too much again.
One of the best things about the sugar detox is that it’s not another fad diet – it actually teaches you how to break up with desserts and sweet treats for good so that they don’t trigger cravings or binges. You also learn why and how certain sugars and carbs affect your body in order to make smarter decisions when ordering food or grabbing a snack from a vending machine at work!
What Are The Rules For The 28-Day Sugar Detox?
There are three basic rules for the no sugar diet:
- One – Remove all sources of added and hidden sugars in food. Replace them with natural sugars from fruits and vegetables
- Two – Stick to the list of foods to eat and foods to avoid
- Three – If you slip up and give in to cravings, leave the mistake in the past and continue on the diet the next day
Quitting sugar is not something you can do overnight. Remember, this is a life-long habit that you’re trying to overcome. Therefore, your success depends on how reasonable you are. Setting small, achievable goals for each day of the detox can help you stay consistent and avoid cravings.
Foods To Eat During The Sugar Detox
Here are some foods that you should include:
When you’re on a low sugar diet, using herbs to flavor your dishes is a great alternative to sugar and salt. Herbs like basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, cilantro and dill are all great options to use in place of sugar – they actually contain compounds that can be beneficial for your health (8)!
Non Starchy Vegetables
Salad greens should be the star of your meals because they’re full of nutrients for very few calories compared to other vegetables. Think about adding spinach leaves, mushrooms, bok choy or broccoli into your dishes because these veggies are low on the glycemic index (meaning they won’t cause blood sugars or insulin spikes) (7).
Low Glycemic Fruits
If you’re craving something sweet, reach for a piece of fruit instead. While most fruits are high on the glycemic index (meaning it will cause your blood sugar to spike and crash), some fruits like berries and watermelon are low on the glycemic index so they won’t cause the same problems.
Chicken breast, beef, pork loin and lamb chops can be great protein sources on your no sugar diet. Protein and healthy fat sources help slow the digestive process which is beneficial for sugar metabolism and therefore can be an aid to those trying to quit sugar intake. Foods like eggs, beef, pork chops and fish are all good sources of protein that won’t affect blood sugars as much as carbohydrates.
Foods To Avoid
High Carb Foods
If you’re avoiding added sugars then that means refined carbs should play a much smaller role in your diet. Try to opt instead for whole grains, beans or legumes because these are considered high-fiber complex carbs which won’t spike your blood sugar as quickly as starches like white bread, white rice and pasta.
High Glycemic Fruits
Some fruits are higher on the glycemic index than others so they should be avoided if you’re trying to maintain stable blood sugars throughout the day. Bananas, dates, mangoes, papaya and grapes can all be limited if you’re making an effort to limit sugar in your diet, but fruit in general is still better than foods with added sugar (7).
Processed foods contain ingredients that have been added during processing – this may include sugar, salt or other additives that were added to help preserve the food or make it taste better.
If you’re going to give up soda, then switch it out with seltzer water instead.
Refined sugars are those that have been processed from their naturally occurring state into a more refined state – this includes white sugar and brown sugar. Honey, molasses and agave nectar should also be limited if you’re eating a low glycemic diet because they contain a few nutrients but also lots of natural sugars as well.
Hidden Sources Of Sugar To Avoid On A Sugar-Free Diet
When you’re on a low sugar diet, it’s important to avoid hidden sugars found in what you might not think of as ‘sugary’ foods like:
- Sugar Free Foods – Many sugar free products actually contain other forms of sugar (like dextrose or maltodextrin) that can affect your blood sugars and insulin levels. This is especially true for instant flavored oatmeal packets that are often loaded with 34 grams of sugar per packet!
- Condiments and Sauces – Soy sauce and BBQ sauce may be “sugar-free” but they do contain high amounts of sodium (11). Remember to always check the nutrition label before consuming these products because they also may be hiding lots of added sugars!
- Protein Bars– Protein bars can be extremely helpful when it comes to maintaining steady blood sugars after a workout – but they’re also loaded with lots of hidden sugars that you might not think about! Look for brands that contain less than 10 grams of sugar per bar and opt for bars that are actually made up mostly of protein like nuts or whey powder instead.
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The 28-Day Sugar Detox
If you think you have a problem with sugar intake, it’s time to detox from sugar. It can be hard to give up all the foods that you love for a long period of time, so consider taking a short break from these sugars and sweeteners to get yourself back on track. To help ease the process, try gradually cutting down on sugar intake over a week or two before going cold turkey. This will allow your taste buds to adjust and reduce the risk of suffering from intense cravings throughout this process.
Here are some helpful tips that can guide you through a successful no-sugar diet plan (2):
- When craving something sweet, reach for something tart instead. Lemons, limes and grapefruit are great options because they contain more nutritious benefits than a sugary treat.
- If you need a little something to satisfy your sweet tooth then try low glycemic fruits like blueberries, strawberries and raspberries.
- Instead of reaching for the brown sugar when cooking dinner, go for spices like cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger instead.
- If you miss having coffee with creamer in the morning then opt for using unsweetened almond or coconut milk instead of regular dairy milk – this will add some naturally occurring sugars but it won’t affect your blood sugar levels nearly as much.
- For a fresh salad that’s sure to energize you, skip the sugary dressing and opt for freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice instead.
- Cottage cheese is a great option for a dessert if you’re craving something sweet – it contains 5 grams of natural sugars per 1/2 cup but it’s also filled with 15 grams of protein!
- If you must have some kind of chocolate treat once in a while then go dark! The darker the chocolate, the better because this means that there are fewer added sugars to cause your blood sugar levels to spike. For an added bonus, pair these chocolates with fresh berries to get lots of antioxidants into your diet as well.
The Bottom Line
The 28-Day Sugar Detox is a great program to follow for anyone that wants to cut down on their sugar intake. After following this program, your taste buds will adjust to lower levels of sweetness so they’ll be ready when you decide to reintroduce natural sugars back into your diet later on.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 10 Reasons Why Sugar Is Bad for Your Health (n.d., atkins.com)
- 28 Day Sugar Detox (n.d., healthylivingjourney.com)
- Above-normal blood sugar linked to dementia (2013, harvard.edu)
- Association Between Adult Acne and Dietary Behaviors (2020, jamanetwork.com)
- Do men and women have different nutritional needs? (2012, acefitness.org)
- Effect of Dietary Sugar Intake on Biomarkers of Subclinical Inflammation: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Intervention Studies (2018, nih.gov)
- Glycemic index diet: What’s behind the claims (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- Health benefits of herbs and spices: the past, the present, the future (2006, pubmed.gov)
- Relationship between Added Sugars Consumption and Chronic Disease Risk Factors: Current Understanding (2016, nih.gov)
- Sleep and Blood Glucose Levels (2020, sleepfoundation.org)
- Sodium content in sauces-a major contributor of sodium intake in Malaysia: a cross-sectional survey (2019, nih.gov)
- Sugar addiction: pushing the drug-sugar analogy to the limit (2013, pubmed.gov)
- Sugars and Dental Caries: Evidence for Setting a Recommended Threshold for Intake (2016, nih.gov)