10 Ways Your Life Will Improve Without Sugar
Sugar is a seductress and when you get free of her clutches your life will improve in a number of ways including reducing your unloved meno signs.
And who knows? The bugbears you blame on growing older could actually be due to the sugar you ingest. We kid you not!
Words of Wisdom
“If we’re asking someone to give something up do they understand what they’re going to gain in return?”
– Dean Ornish – founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in California and Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
1. You’ll Sleep Better
As we mentioned in Part 1 of The Sugar Series: Sugar, Hormones & Weight Gain, sugar increases the blood sugar fluctuations and levels of the hormone cortisol that occur in your body. Once you know how it works (again, we invite you to read Part 1) it becomes easy to understand why your energy goes up and down when you eat sugar. When you give it up, your body balances out, your brain lights up, you won’t feel the need of an afternoon snooze from a sugar crash and, once you’re through your sugar hangover, you’ll sleep through the night. Ahhh bliss.
2. You’ll Lose Weight
From the feedback, you give us we know sleep and weight gain (oh, and hot flushes!) are some of your biggest crosses to bear during the meno years. One way to lose weight relatively easily is by eliminating or minimising sugar from your diet. You’ll be doing you body a lot of good as you’ll learn from reading this story, and as a bonus, your waistline will reduce. Swap cakes and biscuits for a piece of fruit (don’t OD on fruit though, it’s high in fructose which is sugar but it’s nutritious and delicious) and a handful of nuts, or a piece of soft cheese stuffed in a date – tasty! They still come with calories, but they’re very, very different ones from refined sugar. It takes a while to get into the habit but once you do you’ll never look back. Promise.
3. You’ll Have More Energy
The reasons for this go back to number 1. However, it’s important to note you will go through a withdrawal period that could come with fatigue. Just like cocaine and heroin, sugar is a drug and it takes a while to wrest it from your life. Sorry, if you’ll pardon the pun, there’s no sugar-coating that fact. But once you get over the hump you’ll be swinging from the chandeliers.
4. You Can Wave Brain Fog Bye Bye.
Brain fog. Is it from sugar or the meno years? In our honest opinion? Probably a bit of both. But get rid of the white stuff and you’ll find your brain becomes way more alert. In fact, one study discovered that a high-sugar diet affects learning and memory adversely, and the really scary thing is the researchers found that dietary sugar may damage brain cell communication. This is something we definitely don’t want. Our brain is our treasure – albeit often taken for granted – but a precious treasure.
4. You’ll Look Younger
And don’t we all want that! Oh, to have the skin we had at 20 and the wisdom we have now right? Never mind. You’re still beautiful in our book. That said, get rid of sugar from your diet and your skin will become more smooth and radiant. Why? Well, the main ‘youtherising’ (that’s my word) proteins in our skin are collagen for plumping and elastin for elasticity. When we eat sugar it sticks to these in a process called glycation and makes them dry and undernourished. And what happens then? Hello, wrinkles! Who knew giving up sugar would be akin to a really, really good lifetime habit of facials.
5. You Can Deal With Your Anxiety & Depression
Whether you’ve got a minimalist sweet tooth or a full on sugar habit the effects of sugar are different for everyone. One thing we do know is that the ups and downs of continual sugar spikes mean if you don’t get your fix you could go through an addiction-like withdrawal with signs like anxiety, restlessness and depression.
A study led by Columbia University’s psychiatry professor James Gangwisch that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that sugary foods (and refined carbs) could lead to depression. “Most nutritionists would agree that people should try to keep to a minimum added sugar and refined grains and to eat whole, natural, seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and beans,” said James. “I think this would be well worth a try for anyone suffering from depression.”
8. You Can Tell The Mid-Life Zits To Disappear
I’ve been hearing of lots of women who are experiencing menopausal acne and not liking it one little bit. They thought they’d left pimples and blemishes behind years ago but no, our friend sugar contributes in a huge way to systemic inflammation, which is a proven trigger for acne. That’s one more reason to get over your sugar addiction.
9. You’ll Give Your Health A Boost
We know that as our estrogen levels decline during peri and post-menopause our incidence of chronic and serious illness can increase. The systemic inflammation and topsy-turvy insulin levels (mentioned above and in part one) that accompany dietary sugar is something you want to keep a lid on when it comes to conquering this. These incidents can increase blood sugar, heart rate and the build up of fatty liver and insulin resistance putting you at risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes among other things.
10. You’ll Feel So Great You’ll Be Grinning From Ear to Ear!
The benefits of eschewing (or minimising) sugar are 10-fold. Give yourself three weeks and it’ll become like second nature. Swap the sugary coffee for fresh lemon and ginger tea (yummy) and the cupcake for an orange or two pieces of really good, 85% dark chocolate (that doesn’t have sugar listed in the top three ingredients). And try and get into the habit of eating a salad a day. In winter try a warm salad, they rock! It’ll change your life and how you feel.
That being said, it’s not easy. Have you ever heard of anyone breaking an addiction saying that it was? But I have to tell you that when you swap the sweet stuff for lots of green leafy vegetables and a salad a day you start to feel so wonderful you have a ready smile, oodles of energy, tend to be ‘nicer’ and are always ready, willing and able to go the extra mile.
THIS WAS PART TWO OF OUR THREE-PART SERIES ON SUGAR. YOU CAN READ PART 1: SUGAR, HORMONES & WEIGHT GAIN HERE.
Jennifer is a certified integrative health coach with a specialty in 40+ women and hormone balance for weight loss. If you have questions email her here.