Obesity is a prevalent problem across the world. Take America as an example, the national obesity rate is now estimated at 35.5%, which is statistically higher than the number of citizens who are merely overweight.
While there are many potential triggers for obesity, an excess level of sugar consumption is thought to be one of the most influential. While the average male should consume no more than 37.5 grams of sugar each day, the average American man takes in an estimated 126 grams (which is the equivalent of 22 teaspoons).
This clear and sizeable difference highlights the negative effects of sugar which remains the primary cause of obesity and numerous other health issues. Therefore, by reducing our sugar consumption, we can drastically improve our physical health, while also improving productivity and mental performance.
Sugar Can Cause Heart Diseases And Belly Fat
When surfing online, you will probably have noticed that there are conflicting reports about the negative impacts of sugar on the human body and mind. While some scientists have claimed that saturated fat is in fact the primary cause of heart disease and far more dangerous than sugar, however, the validity of these reports have been discredited by the fact that the sugar industry paid Harvard scientists to publish such findings.
Modern scientists have now reversed their position, citing excess sugar consumption as a primary cause of physical ailments such as migraines, adrenal fatigue and heart disease. It is also believed to be the leading contributor to the accumulation of belly fat, and most doctors now suggest that citizens should restrict their intake to a single can of soda each day.
There are other, more far-reaching physical effects of excess sugar consumption too. Not only can too much sugar and fructose damage the liver (in a similar way to alcohol), but it can also increase your uric acid levels and increase your chances of developing heart and kidney disease. It is also cited as a key cause of metabolic dysfunction, the key symptom of which is elevated blood sugar levels and dangerously high blood pressure.
Your Mind And Productivity Will Also Be Affected…
The issue of elevated blood sugar is particularly interesting, as this suggests that sugar can also have an adverse impact on our mental performance over time, impacting on everything from our underlying mood to our levels of focus and productivity at work. On a fundamental level, studies have shown that the excess consumption of sugar triggers cycles of binge eating and significant dophamine spikes, which in turn can cause physical and emotional crashes at any given time.
A 2013 study from US analytics firm Gallup even cited sugar-related health issues as a potential factor in global levels of employee dissatisfaction, with just 13% of workers actively engaged at work and capable of maintaining their mental focus over time.
These symptoms and statistics reveal that sugar consumption is a primary cause for numerous physical and mental health concerns, which in turn can impact heavily on our quality and longevity of life. This is also a major concern for our employers, particularly with absenteeism thought to cost an estimated £17 billion ($20.8 billion) in the UK alone each year.
Rethinking Your Approach to Sugar
In some instances, excess consumption is driven by ignorance and a failure to identify the hidden sources of sugar in food and beverages. SugarScience.org recently reported that a staggering 74% of processed foods contained added sugar that is concealed under more than 60 different names, including starch and carbohydrates. In fact, sugar is a general dietary term for sweet and soluble carbohydrates such as glucose, meaning that many of us consume sugar unknowingly through food such as pasta, sauce and ready meals. In some of these instances, sugar is presented in a highly processed and concentrated form, making it even more dangerous to the human body.
This is just the beginning when it comes to identifying hidden sources of sugar, however, with food items such as granola, yoghurt and salad dressing all deceptively high in soluble carbohydrates. The fact that these ingredients are often marketed as healthy alternatives to snacks like chocolate and biscuits is even more concerning, as this often means that even those who are attempting to reduce their daily intake are consuming far more sugar than they think.
This represents a sizeable gap in knowledge, and one that is exacerbating the inflated levels of sugar consumption in the US and across the world.
How to Reduce your Daily Sugar Intake and Cultivate Positive Eating Habits
Just as the excess consumption of sugar can have an adverse impact on your body and mind, so too reducing your intake requires both physical and mental effort. This process starts with the understanding that sugar, in its natural form, is not inherently bad, and that you must take responsibility to moderate your consumption and identify all highly-concentrated forms of the substance like fructose (which is commonly found in processed foods and carbonated beverages such as soda).
From here, you can begin to eliminate certain foods and moderate others, paying particularly attention to processed products and refined carbohydrates. These food groups include popular items such as ready meals and breakfast cereals, as these items are known to break down the sugar in your body and trigger an increase in insulin levels. Try to replace these initially with food that include natural sugar (like fruit), and gradually try to reduce your intake over time.
It is also recommended that you rethink your approach to grocery shopping, dedicating up to 90% of your budget on whole foods and focusing on the preparation of meals from scratch rather than pursuing processed alternatives. This will help to gradually improve and refine your diet, allowing you to reduce your sugar intake and increase the consumption of healthy fats and fermented foods with beneficial bacteria.
This structured approach will enable you to make incremental but manageable changes, under the understanding that it takes approximately eight to 12 weeks to break bad habits and cultivate good ones in their stead. It also uses knowledge and an understanding of the negative effects of sugar to make progressive changes to your diet, which in turn can lead to a healthier body and improved mental performance over time.