No matter how great our self-control is or isn't, we humans all have one unsurmountable weakness--we can never get enough sugar.
Sugar, found in significant quantities in everything from energy drinks to fruit yogurt to granola bars--has become our #1 health enemy. The American Heart Association recommends that no more than 100-150 of our daily calories come from sugar, and most every other health organization agrees that we should be eating far less sugar than we do.
In addition to shedding excess weight, there are a variety of other health benefits that come from cutting back on the sugar we consume every day--including feeling better on and off the job. And when we feel better, we are more effective.
Here are just a few reasons why everyone should be eating less sugar.
1. Lowered cardiovascular disease and risk of heart attack
In addition to obesity being a contributor to increased blood pressure, people with diets in which 25% of calories come from added sugar are twice as likely to die from cardiovascular disease. Emory Hospital emergency physician Darria Long Gillespie says that, "For every extra soda or sugary drink you consume, you may increase your risk of heart disease by 25 percent."
2. Reduced chance of Alzheimer's and depression
Diets high in sugar reduce production of a chemical known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a chemical which helps the brain form novel memories and recall the past. Low BDNF levels are present in those with glucose metabolism impairment--such as diabetics--and have been linked to development of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Adults who drink more than four servings of sugary soda a day are 30% more likely to be diagnosed with depression than those who consume unsweetened beverages. Heightened glucose levels from drinking sweetened soda mess with insulin cycles in the brain and reduce the effect of the "happy" brain chemicals--leading to higher chance of depression and anxiety.
3. Younger, healthier, clearer skin and clearer mind
A lifetime of overeating sugar can lead to skin losing its elasticity and appearing wrinkled. Sugar molecules eventually damage collagen and elastin--chemicals responsible for keeping skin youthful and vibrant.
Foods with a reduced glycemic index also allow for better attention spans, fewer hormonal fluctuations, and greater synaptic action in the brain. Sugar, with its incredibly high glycemic index, prevents us from achieving our true potential in many more ways than weight gain. Be wary of your food choices, and choose less sugar consistently to effortlessly change the way you live.