Honestly, its not that hard for me to stay on track with this whole giving-up-refined-sugar-for-Lent thing as long as I'm not around sugar. Then, I'm faced with a large chocolate pudding cake at my residential life staff meeting and I'm craving sugar more than anything.
It's times like these when I have to remember exactly why I gave up sugar. So, here are the health benefits of avoiding of sugar, for those interested!
-There is a connection between eating lots of sugar and low HDL cholesterol levels (the good cholesterol), which means an increased risk of heart diesase
-From 2001 to 2004, Americans consumed approximately 22g or 355 calories worth of sugar each day
-The average American eats approximately 140 pounds of sugar per year (this is white, brown, or HFCS...disgusting)
-Sugar has similar effects on our brain as cocaine...so it is truly addictive!
-Eating lots of sugar puts you at a higher risk for Type 2 Diabetes
-Sugar has an acidic effect on our body, and the body must neutralize that acidity with alkaline, so the body pulls calcium from our bones (an alkaline mineral) to neutralize the acidity. This weakens our bones! (This is a similar process that the body goes through when dairy is consumed)
-Eating sugar slows down your immune system
-Sugar has been found to nearly paralyze white blood cells for up to 5 hours and reduce their ability to work by 40%
-Sugar increases the serotonin ("feel good" chemical our brain makes) levels in our brain, and we develop a sort of chemical "high." However, because the body naturally cuts back on serotonin production over time, a lack of sugar (and therefore no "feel good") could result in depression when our serotonin levels are low.
-Sugar feeds cancer
-Sugar can decrease growth hormones
-Sugar can lead to osteoporosis (see earlier bullet about acidity)
So, there are quite a few reasons for you on why you should limit your sugar (white & brown sugars, HFCS, and other refined sugars) intake! Try to replace your sugars with natural substitutes that are less refined - like sucanat, evaporated cane juice or stevia - and your body will thank you for it. I would recommend avoiding these substitutes as well - not completely, just decrease your intake of them! Stevia would be my recommendation for a good, natural, no calorie alternative to sugar. Give it a try!
Have a great day!