In light of National Simplicity Day we’re highlighting the importance of low sugar and how simple and minimal ingredients often have positive benefits on our health. Sugar is something we think should be kept as minimal as possible because too much of it is shown to have detrimental impacts on our health.
Have you noticed the overwhelming animosity towards sugar in the media, published scholarly articles, and among nutritionists and doctors alike? All of a sudden it seems as if everyone’s response to foods high in sugar is “bleh, no thank you!” or “carbs are no longer the devil, sugar is!” and there’s a good reason why.
According to the American Heart Association, the maximum number of sugars you should be consuming daily are 37.5g for men and 25g for women (and even that’s a generous amount). The sugars we’re primarily referring to are added sugars, which are the sugars that food manufacturers add to products to enhance flavor or increase shelf life. Contrary to how much sugar people should be consuming, the average American is consuming 82g everyday!
This number needs to be way lower, but it gives us hope that more and more people are beginning to realize the negative effects of sugar on health. It also gives us hope that with consumers’ shift towards eating diets lower in sugar, there are more products being created to meet their needs.
While some diet fads come and go, the “low sugar trend” is one we hope sticks around for a long time and here’s why:
1.) Sugar is linked to disease
There’s a multitude of research linking high added sugar consumption to disease. A groundbreaking study at the University of Surrey showed that people who consume high levels of added sugar are more at risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The study looked at two groups of men: one who had high levels of liver fat (a condition known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) and another with low levels of liver fat. They were placed on either a high sugar or low sugar diet. After 12 weeks, the men with NAFLD that were placed on a high sugar diet showed changes in fat metabolism that are associated with cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes and even the men with low levels of liver fat who were placed on high sugar diets showed increased liver fat and their fat metabolism resembled the men with NAFLD.
2.) Sugar increases body weight
Americans are consuming WAY too much added sugar which is causing obesity to be a bigger epidemic than ever right now. Nearly three-quarters of American men and 60% of American women are obese or overweight. This is largely due to the overwhelming amount of added sugar americans are consuming, specifically from processed foods and beverages.
Americans consume more soda than any other country. In fact, a 12 oz Coca-Cola contains 40g sugar (That’s close to double the recommended daily allowance!) A problem with consuming too much added sugar is its’ high calorie content and low nutrient density. If you’re not consciously aware of it, it’s pretty easy to suck down a few large Pepsi’s at the movie theatre because you’ll never feel full (and instead just end up bloated, uncomfortable, and a few pounds heavier).
3.) Not all sugar is created equal, but you should still be conscious of it
Sugar comes in various forms, and although it all affects our bodies differently, it should all still be taken into account. You might be surprised that even fruits contain high levels of sugar. Although sugar from fruit affects our bodies differently than added or refined sugars (sugar that has gone through a chemical process, removing impurities and beneficial nutrients), at the end of the day, sugar is still sugar and it can have adverse effects on your health.
But wait, isn’t fruit full of vitamins and minerals? Yes! So, this doesn’t mean you have to ban fruit for good. Sugar from fruit and other unrefined sources such as agave, maple syrup, organic cane sugar, and coconut sugar provide more nutrients than refined sugars, such as high fructose corn syrup (which has a high correlation to disease such as Type II Diabetes). However, it’s still important to be conscious of over eating foods high in any type of sugar to avoid weight gain or blood sugar problems.
While it’s not necessarily easy to cut sugar out completely (we know, sweets taste good), here are some tips to help you reduce your sugar intake and do your body some justice!
Tips for reducing sugar intake
Look out for sugar in processed foods
Added sugar is everywhere and it hides really well in processed foods including seemingly healthy options such as cereals, post-workout drinks, and protein bars and beverages! Some protein bars contain up to 25g sugar, which makes them a pretty unappealing post workout option. Remember to read labels carefully and check if your favorite go-to bar or drink has more sugar than you might have expected.
Drink more water
Higher water intake is shown to have significant health benefits, including increased desire to eat more vegetables and opt for more healthy choices in general. Remember to carry a reusable water bottle, (we love the Hydroflask) to make sure you have sufficient nourishment at your convenience!
Eat foods with protein and healthy fats
Protein slows the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream and fat is a long lasting source of energy. By filling yourself up with foods that have both, you will help curb sugar cravings because you’ll be full and satisfied before you’re tempted to reach for that candy bar.
Try incorporating more plant based foods that have high protein, healthy fats, and low sugar into your diet. Chia seeds and plant based Koia (which contains 18g protein, little sugar, and will still satisfy your sweet tooth) are perfect examples. Check out this High Protein French Toast Recipe that has low sugar and is extremely delicious!
Substitute dessert for low sugar fruits
Fruits contain vitamins and have many other health benefits. Although some fruits are high in sugar and should be consumed in moderation, others such as raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries are lower in sugar and are perfect for satisfying that after dinner sweet tooth. Next time you’re tempted to snack on a bag of Sour Patch Kids, try satisfying your fruity craving with a small bowl of berries!
Today on National Simplicity today, we encourage you to reflect on the excess sugar that shows up in your diet.
No matter how healthy you are, it’s evident that consuming too much sugar hinders your health. However, with more and more people gaining knowledge about the effects of sugar on their bodies, it seems that the “low sugar trend” will continue to stay on the rise. Low sugar is in and we’re on board!