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11 Reasons to Eat Less Sugar besides Weight Loss

Experts suggest that no more than 10 percent of the total daily caloric intake should come from added sugars, making ditching sweets seems a priority for many. While cutting back sugar intake can aid in weight loss, there are myriad other benefits.

11 Reasons to Eat Less Sugar besides Weight Loss

Cutting down on sweets is one of the first steps people take for weight loss. Taking out sugar-laden sodas and desserts saves hundreds of calories when taken out of the daily equation. With the new Dietary Guidelines suggesting no more than 10 percent of the total daily caloric intake coming from added sugars, ditching sweets seems more of a priority. Besides weight loss, these 11 reasons to eat less sugar will keep its intake within recommended limits.

The Down Low on Sugar

First thing's first; sugar is not the bad guy we all think of it to be. Glucose, a simple sugar provided by carbohydrate sources, is the body's primary energy source. Consuming sugar keeps the body's cells from starvation and energized. Without this fuel, energy will be compromised and the body will resort to other energy reserves including precious muscle. Sugar becomes victimized when it is consumed in it's refined form and in excess. Candy, cookies, and other sweet treats virtually contain zero health benefits. Unlike desserts, natural sugars from sources like fruit contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants important for health. Unfortunately, the general population consumes the majority of their sugar intake through processed and added sugar-containing foods.

11 Reasons to Eat Less Sugar

1. Reduce Diabetes Risk

Although some research has linked sugary beverages to type 2 diabetes, the sole intake of sugar is not always the cause of diabetes development. Ultimately, a diet filled with sweets is loaded with calories. A high calorie diet leads to weight gain which can contribute to obesity. Obesity, in fact, is a significant risk factor in developing type 2 diabetes.

2. Maintain Good Eyesight

Research shows eating lots of sugary foods may make eyes more susceptible to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of severe vision loss in individuals over age 60. Specifically, those who consume high glycemic index foods were at an increased risk. The glycemic index measures how foods affect blood sugars. High glycemic foods, sugary items and refined grains, spike blood sugar quicker and higher than low glycemic foods, like whole grains and vegetables.

3. Avoid Nutritional Deficiencies

When a cup is completely filled with soda, there is not enough room to fill it with water. A high diet filled with sugar is a similar concept; if sugar fills up the majority of the diet, there is little room for nutrients. Replace sugary items with whole grains, fruits, and vegetables filled with essential vitamins and minerals to prevent nutritional deficiencies.

4. Preserve Bone Mass

With many sugary and soft drinks, often comes phosphoric acid. Phosphoric acid can increase calcium excretion, an essential mineral for bone growth and maintenance. Furthermore, soft drinks lack calcium. The combination of increased calcium excretion and lack of calcium can accelerate bone loss. Choosing a glass of milk over a soda can reduce the risk of bone loss and osteoporosis.

5. Combat Tooth Decay

Like the body's cells, bacteria also use sugar as an energy source. The combination of bacteria and sugar can create a thick, glue-like substance on the teeth. The stickiness can ultimately lead to cavities. Good oral hygiene and sugar reduction can limit the risk of tooth decay.

6. Avoid Addiction

Research shows that sugar can actually be addictive. With any addiction, the "feel good" hormones are stimulated and released. Some individuals even express withdrawal symptoms when ditching sugar, especially with soda. Other individuals once sweets leave the diet, the cravings become limited and sooner or later extinguished.

7. Reduce the Risk of Cancer

Some individuals believe sugar feeds cancer. In reality, the body depends on sugar for energy. Feeding cancerous cells won't speed their growth just like starving them won't slow or stop their growth. However, a high intake of sugar can lead to obesity which can contribute to cancer risk over time.

8. Boost the Immune System

Too much sugar can actually interfere with immune responses that attack harmful bacteria. In turn, high sugar-containing foods lack powerful, immune-boosting vitamins and minerals. Swap the cake for a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, molecules that prevent against cell damage.

9. Accelerated Aging

It's true, researchers and theorists suggest too much sugar can accelerate aging. Theorists base sugar-induced aging upon two phenomena: glycation and oxidative damage. Glycation is a natural body process where sugar in the bloodstream attaches to proteins and create a harmful new product known as advanced glycation age end products (AGE). Cleverly enough, the more the AGEs accumulate, the more rapid aging can occur due to changes in skin elastin and collagen. Oxidative damage results from free radicals, including poor diet and other environmental toxins. A diet high in sugar can contribute to wrinkles along with several age-related brain disorders.

10. Cholesterol Reduction

Move over saturated fat, there is a new contributor to poor lipid profiles. A diet high in sugar has shown to increase triglycerides and LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) while reducing HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). The combination is a significant risk in the development of heart disease.

11. Reduce Arthritis Symptoms

Although there are several anti-inflammatory food claims, sugar earned its spot on the list. In fact, there is also association between a diet high in sugar and the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune inflammatory disease. The reduction of sugar can reduce arthritic symptoms and the risk of RA development.


Cancer. Mayo Clinic. Available at:

Gemma C, Vila J, Bachstetter A, et al. Oxidative Stress and the Aging Brain: From Theory to Prevention. In: Riddle DR, editor. Brain Aging: Models, Methods, and Mechanisms. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2007. Chapter 15. Available from:

Welsh JA, Sharma A, Abramson JL, et al. Caloric sweetener consumption and dyslipidemia among US adults. Journal of the American Medical Association 2010:303(15):1490-1497.

Diabetes Myths. American Diabetes Association. Available at:

Sarah Asay's Photo
Written By Sarah Asay, RDN. Published on February 09, 2016. Updated on March 02, 2016.


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