Not all types of sugar are created equal – some are essential for a healthy lifestyle but overindulgence can lead to health complications in the long run.
'Good' sugars will typically occur naturally – like the ones found in fresh fruits, vegetables and specific grains. They are necessary for the body, serving as fuel, and that's according to the American National Institute of Health. 'Bad' sugars are typically an added ingredient, piled into processed foods like doughnuts, fruit juice and sodas.
There isn't really a problem with added sugar as part of a balanced diet – a teaspoon of sugar in your tea or a modest slice of cake aren’t out to get you. The real issue is overconsumption. According to a 2018 study by UK insurance provider Protectivity, the UAE is one of the top consumers of sugar in the world, with an average of 213kg per year, per person. That, according to the same study, equals approximately 146 teaspoons of sugar daily.
As we make efforts towards a healthier lifestyle during the Dubai Fitness Challenge, consider improving your eating habits by cutting down your sugar intake. Need convincing? Check out these major benefits of reducing how much of the sweet stuff you put in your body.
1. Reduce risk for obesity and cardiovascular conditions
When you eat food, your body produces a hormone called insulin to break down sugar to use for energy or stored for later. Too much sugar – and therefore insulin – results in increased fat cells, leading to weight gain. Replace refined sugar with healthy fats to keep your insulin levels stable. This can help you lose weight and abdominal fat, therefore reducing your risk for obesity and heart diseases.
2. Cut the risk for diabetes
When you eat food with high levels of added sugar, your body is forced to produce enough insulin to convert and store it. Your body may lose its ability to effectively regulate blood sugar levels, resulting in Type 2 Diabetes. So, either your body stops creating enough insulin or your cells stop responding to the insulin it does produce. Cutting down refined sugars from your diet can help you lose weight and better protect you from developing diabetes as a result.
3. Improve your skin
If you struggle with acne-prone skin or simply care about its general condition, cutting out sugar can result in clearer and younger-looking skin. High amounts of sugar in your body can break down collagen and elastin – the proteins which give your skin its natural elasticity and bounce – thus accelerating the signs of ageing. Give your skin a break by avoiding foods with a high glycaemic index.
4. Better for your teeth
Your mouth is already home to a universe of bacteria, some good and some bad. Some kinds of bacteria produce acid when they encounter sugar, removing minerals from your tooth enamel, the shiny and protective layer covering your tooth. While your saliva can help counter this process, overexposure results in cavities. According to a study on sugar and dental health, sugar attracts destructive forms of bacteria that form a sticky film called dental plaque on your teeth, altering your mouth’s pH to be more acidic. It’s always a great idea to reduce sugary soft drinks, juices and candies to improve your dental health in the long run.
5. Enjoy long-lasting energy
Food like sodas, energy drinks and candy put high levels of sugar in your body. While they may give you a sudden surge of energy, they can also cause fatigue and negatively affect your mood. Replacing refined sugar intake with complex carbs, healthy fats and protein is a formula for more sustainable energy production. According to WebMD, food like chicken, oatmeal, berries and walnuts are good sources to boost energy because they take longer to digest and better satisfy hunger.
Sign up for this year's Dubai Fitness Challenge to take part in the life-changing 30-day program.