Whether you’re trying to give up sugar completely, or want to cut back a little to improve your overall health and nutrition, focusing on the benefits is the best way to keep you committed to your goal. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends adults and children reduce their intake of sugar to less than 10% of their total daily energy consumption1 (including both added and natural sugar). So why reduce sugar intake? These four health and lifestyle benefits are reason enough.
1. Reducing sugar intake aids weight loss
Food and drink with a high sugar content such as soft drink, pastries or fast food often contain a lot of kilojoules with little to no nutritional benefits. Consuming more kilojoules than your body needs for energy can result in weight gain. As a result, if you reduce your sugar intake by avoiding these foods, it may help with weight loss.
Instead of reaching for junk food when you’re hungry, focus on healthy, fresh food that contains fibre, protein and low GI complex carbohydrates to give you energy throughout the day and help your body get the nourishment it needs – think green veggies, lean meats and fruit. Diabetes Australia provides great advice about the kinds of foods we should eat each day, along with the right amount, to make us healthier and boost our wellbeing.
2. It promotes healthy teeth and gums
If you like having bright and shiny pearly whites, reducing sugar intake is an excellent idea. When sugar from the food and drink we eat enters our mouth, the bacteria found in plaque converts this sugar into acid, which can gradually damage our teeth and cause decay. Over time, plaque can build up, eating away at the tooth enamel, which can lead to cavities and gum disease.
Limiting or avoiding sugary foods, plus brushing your teeth twice a day and regular dental visits, are the best ways to keep you grinning from ear to ear.
3. Reducing sugar may prevent chronic conditions
In Australia, many chronic health conditions share common risk factors that are largely preventable. Consuming too much sugar is associated with tooth decay and weight gain, which may increase your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some cancers.
Small changes in the kitchen to reduce sugar intake – such as cooking at home instead of picking up fast-food meals; swapping soft drink for water infused with a few slices of cucumber, lemon or mint; or deciding to skip dessert, or switch to low-sugar options – are small steps that can keep your body as healthy as possible.
4. It saves you money in the long run
A simple grocery list refresh can help keep your bank balance healthy, as well as your body. Reducing sugar intake by steering clear of the vending machine at work, swapping sugary drinks for water, and making homemade sauces and salad dressings instead of using store-bought ones will help to reduce your intake of hidden sugar and save you a surprising amount of money over the course of a year. For more ideas, check out our guide to eating healthy fresh food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.