What's so bad about refined sugars? The list just keeps getting longer. For one, studies have shown what anyone who's fallen hard into a deep doughnut-filled hole knows all too well: the more refined sugar we eat, the more we crave it. Sugar addiction is real; when we eat sugary foods, the same feel-good parts in the brains as for drugs, alcohol, and smoking light up. In addition, studies have found that sugar actually ages you; the newest, published this month, found that sugary drinks like soda speed up the body's aging process by shortening the length of your chromosomes. Translation: downing a can of soda sends a sugar shock to the system that makes you older, faster.
It's no secret that a sugar habit is the culprit for many health-related conditions. Eating too much refined sugar has been linked to cancer, liver damage, heart failure, and other serious conditions. "Excess sugar is killing us — we're hooked and we don't even know it," says nutritionist Kathie Dolgin, author of Sugar Savvy Solution. She notes that many of us eat four times the amount of added sugar we are supposed to, often without even knowing it, thanks to hidden, added sugars in common food products. "Sugar hides in surprising foods — not just candy or sweets — that we consume every day and all have in our kitchen," Kathie says. So even if you're doing your best to resist cookie cravings, filling your diet with processed foods probably means you're still eating too much of the sweet stuff.
So, what can you do to cut sugar cravings to feel and look your best? Here are some tips that can help you enjoy refined sugar in moderation (which, according to American Heart Association guidelines, is 24 grams or six teaspoons of sugar a day):
- How to resist sugar cravings
- How to find hidden sugars on nutrition labels
- Know the difference between natural and added sugars
- Low-sugar dessert ideas
- Why you should ditch that soda habit right now