5 reasons to cut down on sugar

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South Africa recently joined 30 countries worldwide by introducing sugar tax. This aims to encourage people to consume less sugar. According to the World Health Organisation, the average person should not consume more than 20g of sugar a day.

By Grace Manjiu

Pharmacist and diet pioneer Gert Coetzee says sugar is enemy number one when it comes to health. Obesity is linked to excessive sugar consumption, and is a major risk of high blood pressure. Eventually, this puts you in line for chronic diseases such as kidney failure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Here are a few benefits of cutting down on sugar:

1.Weight loss – Cutting down on sugar can help you maintain a healthy weight. This is because food and drinks that are high in sugar have high calories and don’t have nutritional benefits. Additionally, sugary foods can make you more hungry than usual. This means that you are likely to end up eating more throughout the day. So, instead of eating sugary foods when hungry, focus on consuming protein and fibre in order to help your body get the nourishment it needs.

2. Healthy heart – Reducing your sugar intake will help keep your heart healthy and protect you from cardiovascular problems later in life. Added sugar raises insulin levels, and this increases your heart rate and blood pressure. Sugar that your body does not use as energy gets converted into fatty acids that become triglycerides – the main constituents of body fat. High levels of triglycerides increase your risks of developing stroke and heart disease.

3. Better digestion – When your body has too much sugar, the excess one makes its way through your digestive system, drawing water with it. This can lead to diarrhoea as well as pain and discomfort in your abdomen.

4. Healthy teeth – Sugar is not the direct cause of cavities – these are a bacterial infection caused by acids in the mouth. However, the mouth is full of bacteria, and some of it feed off on the sugar that you consume. This then creates acid that destroys your tooth enamel – the protective outer layer of your teeth.

5. Clear skin – Choosing a variety of nourishing foods and drinking a lot of water will help your skin look vibrant and fresh. Sugar sucks all the water out of your cells, in turn dehydrating your skin. The sugar in your diet creates internal stress in the body and inflammation, which can lead to breakouts and dull looking skin.