AFTER all the overindulgence in December, it’s likely we’re all feeling a little deflated. Frida Harju-Westman, in-house nutritionist at the health app Lifesum (www.lifesum.com), explains why now is the perfect time to get sugar out of your system once and for all, and embark upon a month-long detox in preparation for the year ahead.
The health benefits of a sugar detox:
• You will feel full and satisfied for longer – Heavy, sugary foods may fill you up short term, but these foods spike blood sugar and insulin levels and the subsequent sugar slump quite soon after will have you reaching for the biscuit tin again.
• You’ll have renewed energy – It’s a simple science, if you don’t eat well, you won’t feel well. Food is your fuel and the quality of the fuel you give your body will determine how it functions. By ridding your diet of sugar, you’ll notice improved concentration and feel less fatigued.
• You’ll get rid of cravings – Eating sugar creates a vicious cycle. Fatigue makes you crave sugar for an instant energy boost. Then the sugar slump hits soon after, you reach for the sugar to combat it, and the cycle continues. By eliminating sugar you can start to reverse the cravings after just three days.
• It can decrease your chance of disease – Research also shows that a high sugar intake can increase the risk for many wealth diseases such as cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart diseases.
• You’ll lose weight – One obvious benefit to giving up the sweet stuff is weight loss. Sugar is converted to fat in the body if not used for energy soon after being consumed.
• You’re sex drive may improve – This might seem like a surprising benefit but there is a link between healthy insulin balance and hormone level, and so too much sugar can have a negative influence on your libido.
• You’ll have a better complexion – Sugar may (temporarily) make you feel good, but it won’t make you look good. It has been proven that sugar actually attacks collagen, leading to duller and dehydrated skin. Not only that, healthy collagen is what halts the production of wrinkles, so that sugar habit could be prematurely aging you.
• You’ll decrease bloating – Sugar can wreak havoc on your digestive system, as the sudden rise and fall in blood sugar levels can cause inflammation in the body. Carbohydrates in particular, are common triggers of gas and bloating in the intestines and sugars such as fructose and lactose (found in fruit and dairy respectively) can also contribute to the production of gas as the digestive enzymes work to break them down.
How to have a sugar detox
Frida explains, “It’s a good idea to start with a complete sugar detox for the first couple of days as a way to reset your body, before slowly reintroducing natural sugars and unrefined carbohydrates for the remainder of the month.
“When re-introducing sugar, reintroduce a small amount each day, such as a piece of fruit and some dairy. Gradually re-introduce healthy grains, try and stick to wholegrain as much as possible, as well as more fruit and dairy. Adding these gradually will help your palate to recalibrate and better recognise the sugars you’re eating so you don’t overindulge.”
By the end of the month, your body will have adapted and you will have learned new, healthier behaviours that will help you restrict your sugar intake for the rest of the year.