Sugar detoxification, also known as sugar detox, is the elimination of added sugar from a person’s diet. It is an excellent decision to make for a healthier lifestyle. While doing this isn’t always easy, the benefits it provides are worth it.
This is because sugar has been known to have unfavourable impacts on the body. Studies have associated a high consumption of sugar with several medical situations such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, as well as poor dental health.
Sugar may also lessen your energy levels, thereby causing fatigue and decreased vigilance during the day. Following a 2019 review, consuming sugar may even be a factor in depression. Sugar detox may help protect against chronic disease development and strengthen your general well-being.
This article takes a look at how sugar detoxification may influence the body, both physically and mentally, together with the effective means of beating the side effects.
Why does cutting down on your sugar intake feel so bad?
Lots of studies have discovered that sugar affects the brain’s reward system. This reward system enables humans to survive, but it is also associated with addictive behaviour.
Sweet foods, as well as drinks, boost your brain’s reward system, causing you to consume more of the food. Following a 2018 study, the most common foods attributed to addictive symptoms have high added fats or added sugar content.
Studies have also revealed that sugar activates the release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens. This is the same region of the brain involved in the reaction to addictive drugs.
Sugar can also prompt the discharge of endogenous opioids in the brain, which triggers a rush that may result in future cravings. Consuming sugar changes your brain so that it becomes tolerant to it, causing you to need more for you to get the exact effect.
The average person consumes 22 -30 teaspoons (about 88 – 120 grams) of sugar every day. This is more than the approved maximum, which is six teaspoons (approximately 24 grams) for females and nine teaspoons (nearly 36 grams) for males.
Thus, if your diet contains high added sugar content, decreasing your added sugar consumption may come with some alarming symptoms.
Symptoms of sugar detox
Sugar detox could result in some physical and mental symptoms. How the body responds to abstaining from sugar is different for everyone.
The symptoms, as well as their severity, will depend on the quantity of added sugar you consumed through sweetened foods and beverages. Some people discover that their symptoms persist from some days to a couple of weeks.
As your body adjusts to a reduced added sugar diet with time and your added sugar consumption becomes less frequent, the less severe your symptoms and appetites for sugar are likely to be.
You might discover that your symptoms are terrible at certain moments during the day, such as between meals. Stress may also prompt cravings for sugar, so you may discover that your symptoms get serious during periods of stress.
Reducing added sugar from your diet could lead to several emotional and mental symptoms, that include:
Few individuals may feel depressed when they reduce added sugar from their diet. This is somewhat as a result of a drop in dopamine release.
The feeling of anxiety may be escorted by restlessness, nervousness, and irritability. You may feel like you have less tolerance than normal and are always on edge.
Differences in sleep patterns
A handful of people experience changes in their sleep when they reduce their sugar intake. You might find it difficult to sleep through the night.
You may find it hard to focus when you stop consuming sugar. This can result in you forgetting things and making it difficult for you to concentrate on assignments at work or at school.
You may see yourself yearning for other foods, such as bread, pasta, and potato chips, along with the hunger for sugar.
When reducing your sugar intake, you may observe that you are feeling physically down. Several people get headaches. Other likely physical withdrawal symptoms are:
- Light-headedness or dizziness
Tips for reducing added sugar intake
Suppose you are used to consuming sugary foods such as ice cream, cake, candy, sweetened breakfast cereal, and cookies as well as regularly drinking sugar-sweetened beverages. In that case, it might take some time to lower your reliance on added sugar.
For some individuals, eliminating all kinds of added sugar from their diet is beneficial to them. Nonetheless, others may find this procedure too extreme.
Fortunately, making little changes to your sugar consumption can considerably affect your general health. Follow these few tips to decrease your added sugar consumption over time gradually.
Choose water over sweetened drinks
Stop consuming sugary soda, fruit juice, and energy drinks and replace them with sparkling or plain water. If you desire a boost of flavour, add some mint or slices of lime or lemon.
Begin your day the low sugar way
Rather than reaching for that colourful box of sugary cereal or frosted doughnut, fill your body with a protein and fibre-rich omelette prepared with veggies and fresh berries.
Examine the labels
Lots of foods and sauces are elusive sources of added sugar. Examine the labels of products such as salad dressings, oatmeal packets, barbecue sauce, and marinara sauce to check for added sugar.
Go for unsweetened snacks
Your favourite granola or protein bar could be loaded with added sugar. Go for nutrient-dense snacks such as seeds & nuts, hummus & veggies, or hard-boiled eggs when you feel the need snack.
Rather than reaching for your favourite pint of ice cream or go-to candy bar immediately after dinner, ask yourself if you’re starving or if it’s just your appetite to consume sugary foods that are getting the better of you?
If you are hungry, go for something with high protein content and healthy fat, such as a handful of macadamia nuts, unsweetened Greek yoghurt with berries, and many more.
Concentrate on your entire diet
Optimizing your diet’s nutrient-density can help improve your health and help you reduce your added sugar intake as well. Concentrate on unprocessed foods that include vegetables, nuts, eggs, fruits, poultry, beans, seeds, and seafood.
How to regulate the side effects
Here are some pointers to help you win against the side effects and avoid or at least limit some of the symptoms associated with sugar detox.
Although eliminating all sources of added sugar might be beneficial to some people, others do better by concentrating on reducing or eliminating one source of added sugar at a time.
For instance, if the primary source of added sugar in your diet is soda, try eliminating sugary drinks first before you cut back on other added sugar sources.
Numerous added sugar “detoxes” involve eliminating all added sugar from your diet for a particular period. While these may be useful to a few individuals, the priority should be on minimizing your added sugar consumption for life, not just for some time.
You can accomplish that by doing what works best for you. This may suggest gradually eliminating added sugar over time instead of cutting back on every added sugar source at once.
Consume foods that are rich in protein
Including protein in every of your meal will help you prevent hunger as well as low energy levels during your sugar detox. Research indicates that consuming protein can facilitate fullness feelings, which can assist you in managing food cravings.
This will help you fight the temptation to eat a candy bar or other sugar fix. Healthy protein sources include eggs, lean meats, legumes, beans, fatty fish, and nuts.
Increase your dietary fibre consumption
Consuming high fibre foods might help you turn away hunger. High fibre foods take longer to digest, thereby making you feel fuller for a more extended period.
It also helps in healthy blood sugar regulation. Keeping your blood sugar at a safe level could help prevent cravings.
Go for high fibre vegetables, legumes, and beans. Combining high protein and high fibre foods are good for maintaining a healthy blood sugar level. For example, you can combine high fibre veggies such as broccoli with your eggs or spreading some pumpkin seeds over your oatmeal.
Staying hydrated is crucial for your general well-being and may assist you in managing sugar cravings. Taking water in place of drinks with high sugar content can help reduce your added sugar and general calorie consumption.
Drinking water can also help make your bowel movements regular. This is particularly significant when you increase your fibre consumption. Fibre-rich foods and sufficient water consumption are required to help keep the stools soft and move them through the digestive system, allowing you to prevent constipation
Avoid unnatural sweeteners
Replacing sugar with unnatural sweeteners may look like an excellent idea when you are quitting added sugar. However, this synthetic sweetness can derail your efforts.
A few studies indicate that specific artificial sweeteners could cause metabolic alterations that may heighten cravings, food consumption, and weight gain. Minimizing your intake of sweet foods, even those it’s sugar-free, might be the appropriate means of cutting added sugar from your diet.
Maintain your anxiety levels
A study reveals that stress influences food selection and boosts appetites for sweet foods. Sugar seems to have a soothing effect on stress hormones, contributing to your craving for sugar when feeling stressed.
Maintaining your stress will make it more comfortable to cut sugar from your diet and help keep your yearnings under control. Taking a stroll, chatting with a friend, and reading a book are some simple ways to relax.
Exercise is helpful in numerous ways when eliminating added sugar from your diet. It can help boost energy and minimize stress, which can assist in fighting symptoms such as fatigue, low energy levels, and stress-induced appetites that may arise when reducing your added sugar consumption.
A 2015 study revealed that short sessions of exercise like a quick 15-minute walk reduce cravings for sugary foods. Ensure that you begin gradually and if you have any preexisting medical problems talk to your doctor before starting any exercise.
Concentrate on general diet quality
Researches indicate that enhancing the general diet quality can help reduce cravings for sugary foods and boost appetites for healthier foods.
For instance, consuming fewer foods with high added sugar content like cake, ice cream, and cookies and increasing your consumption of nutrient-dense foods such as beans, fish, vegetables, and whole fruits may help lessen your dependence on added sugar.
Get adequate sleep
Inadequate sleep may heighten added sugar reduction symptoms, including fatigue, cravings, and low mood. This may also boost your cravings for sugar and other unhealthy comfort foods.
Sleep deprivation changes appetite-regulating hormones and may bolster appetites for highly palatable foods like those that have high added sugars content.
Getting sufficient sleep might help you:
- Make healthier food choices
- Reduce your stress levels
- Improve your energy levels
- Boost your concentration as well as your memory
Avoid napping during the day and create a sleeping calendar that is comfortable for you.
Consume something bitter
According to studies, consuming bitter foods could help stave off sugar cravings by operating on receptors in the brain that drive sugar consumption. You can prepare your bitters or select bitter foods that include coffee, arugula, or broccoli raab (rapini).
Sugar detox can be challenging, mainly if your diet contains a high amount of added sugar, so take it easy on yourself. You can also jot down your motivators for quitting sugar. Look at them when you feel the need to consume sugary foods.
If you notice that the hunger worsens during specific periods of the day, plan activities to keep yourself occupied during that period, or consume high protein snacks and water. It’s crucial to know that sometimes enjoying a sugary treat may not affect your efforts or health.
Eliminating sugar from your diet might be accompanied by some unpleasant symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, depression, anxiety, and more. Nevertheless, reducing added sugar intake can also have considerable health benefits.
Numerous ways make decreasing the quantity of added sugar in your diet a lot more comfortable, including staying hydrated, exercising, and many more. Making fundamental alterations to your diet, exercise, and sleep habits can assist in beating the hunger and establish a healthier lifestyle.