The average American eats between 150 and 170 pounds of refined sugars each year, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. That’s the weight of an average person! Refined sugar can contribute to weight gain, especially after the age of 50, around the middle which increases the risk for heart disease and cancer. Refined sugar can also lead to excessive inflammation which causes cells to age more quickly and can increase the risk for many chronic illnesses.
What can cutting out sugar for two week do for you? Besides reducing calories, eliminating added sugar will reset your taste buds to notice the more subtle sweetness in fruits and vegetables. Cutting out sugar can also lower the risk for type 2 diabetes, which increases with age. Weight loss may also be an added benefit of limiting sugar, which along with stress management, a healthy diet and exercise, can help treat and prevent type 2 diabetes.
The 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommends that added sugar should total no more than 10 per cent of daily caloric intake. In a 2,000 calorie diet, that’s only 200 calories which should be attributed to added sugar. But the average can of soda alone contains approximately 126 calories from sugar. That’s why it’s important to read labels when trying to cut out sugar; many sauces, granola bars, yogurts, salad dressings, pizza crusts and crackers also contain added or “hidden” sugar. Look for foods that contain less than 5 grams of added sugar.
It is estimated that 86 million Americans have pre-diabetes but only about 10 per cent are aware of this health risk. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, intervention is especially effective on patients over the age of 60. Cutting out added sugar seems to be a good place to start.
High sugar intake is also linked with an increased risk for mild cognitive impairment, a recent study by the Mayo Clinic found. The brain uses sugar as fuel but high levels of sugar may prevent the brain from using the sugar.
Try taking the Two-Week Sugar Challenge with your friends or family and see what happens. You may find you crave sugar less, feel better, lose weight and may even notice improvement in your complexion.
For more information about the challenge, visit the Mayo Clinic website here.