Why You HAVE to Quit Sugar – 9 Proven, Science-Backed Reasons
Sugar is THE most acid forming, inflammatory, deadly food on Earth – and it is rife in our modern diet. In this guide I am going to prove to you why you HAVE to quit sugar.
It is addictive, more so than cocaine, and it has been exploited by food manufacturers to get you hooked on their foods for decades.
And we consume (as a population) a LOT of it.
According to a 2015 study by Euromonitor, an average American consumes about 32 teaspoons of sugar per day.
That’s 128 grams – on average!
That’s not an extreme, niche group of society – that’s an average person.
And it gets worse – in his book, The Sugar Fix, Dr. Richard Johnson has shown statistics stating that about 50% of Americans consume as much as half a pound, more than 225 grams, per day!
225g per DAY!
225g looks like this:
Imagine what eating that daily could do to your body!
And it’s happening predominantly because most of us have no idea just how much sugar is in the foods we’re eating.
An average person is eating 125g – more than 300% over what Government guidelines are (and I think our daily target should actually be lower than theirs). This is the #1 challenge to our health.
Just look at this chart from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showing how our sugar intake has grown over the past few decades (alongside obesity rates…interesting, we’ll get to that):
Obesity Rates vs Sugar Consumption; Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
And then consider that even 30 or 40 years ago we didn’t have salad dressings with 7g sugar per serve, pasta sauce with 12g per serve, breakfast and snack bars with up to 20g per serve, breakfast cereals with 20-30g per serve (plus the sugar from the milk)…
Don’t even get me started on soft drinks.
Just one study estimated that 180,000 deaths worldwide can be attributed to soft drink consumption.
We are under constant bombardment and a lot of us are utterly addicted to sugar.
And clearly, a lot of people are eating WAY over the recommended daily allowance – set at 37.5g for men per day and 25g for women – per day (remember a lot of people are consuming 225g per day!)
By the way I absolutely don’t judge anybody over this.
I know that if you’re eating more than the recommended amount each day – it’s doesn’t mean it’s your fault.
I truly believe that. Yes, we are responsible for our own actions…BUT…
We’re not being fed the truth.
We’re being misled, lied to, facts are being skewed, and sugar hidden in places where we wouldn’t even expect to look for it.
Shouldn’t we be warned that one serve of yoghurt can contain more than your entire recommended daily amount of sugar?
If you consume more than the recommended daily allowance for sugar I truly urge you and want you to read through this quick guide…
Today is the day that you finally quit sugar…
I am not writing this guide to simply shock you.
I want you to take from this how serious excess sugar consumption is.
I want this to motivate and educate so you can start to move in the right direction.
This guide will walk you through the NINE most destructive ways sugar damages your body, your hormones, your organs and why you absolutely have to quit sugar as soon as possible!
Why You HAVE to Quit Sugar NOW!
When most people think of the danger of sugar they only really think of it in terms of their waistline. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, but I want you to see how it goes WAY beyond that too.
Sugar is the most inflammatory, acidic, oxidising, stress-causing food on the planet.
And I want you to quit.
Up front, let’s recognise that high sugar intake causes:
– insulin resistance
– chronic acidity
– oxidative stress
And all of the below (plus so much more) arise when any one of these conditions are present.
But to break it down into more specific outcomes and to motivate you and get you going – here are my top 11 shocking things sugar is doing to your body and why you have to quit sugar today:
Reason to Quit Sugar #1. Type 2 Diabetes
In 2015 a study from the British Medical Journal reviewed data from 38,253 individuals over 17 different backgrounds to assess if a high consumption of sugar directly led to type-2 diabetes. Guess what they found…of course “sugar consumption is related to a “substantial number of cases of new onset diabetes” (14)
Consistent sugar consumption leads to consistently high blood sugar.
Type 2 diabetes usually begins with insulin resistance, and sugar consumption is the direct road to insulin resistance.
When there is high blood sugar, insulin is released by the pancreas, and the higher the blood sugar the more insulin must be released.
And if you trigger high blood sugars repeatedly, the accompanying overproduction of insulin will lead to huge and rapid production of visceral fat accumulating around your abdomen.
And the bigger your belly (i.e. the more visceral fat), the poorer your response to insulin, and the result is that higher and higher insulin levels are demanded, creating a vicious cycle.
Remember, nothing provokes high blood sugar like sugar itself.
This is when things start to get really bad. When visceral fat accumulates, the flood of inflammatory signals it produces causes the body to respond much less effectively to insulin.
This ‘insulin resistance’ means that the pancreas must produce even more insulin to metabolise the high blood sugar.
Eventually a vicious circle of high blood sugar, increased insulin resistance, increased insulin production, increased visceral fat, leading to more increased insulin resistance, more visceral fat, more insulin production…and so on…leaving you fat, sick, chronically fatigued and with the condition we label as type 2 diabetes.
Sugar consumption is the quickest way to type 2 diabetes, there is no question about it. And sugar being the most acidic food on Earth and dietary acidosis being a proven link to insulin resistance (15) means that…
You gotta quit sugar!
Reason to Quit Sugar #2. Cancer
Refined sugar (that’s white sugar, brown sugar…pretty much every sugar) and high fructose corn syrup (excessively used in foods and soft drinks) – a.k.a all sugar – is the biggest cancer causing food by far.
According to Ty Bollinger of The Truth About Cancer:
“Due to the anaerobic respiratory mechanism exhibited by ALL cancer cells, sugar is cancer’s favorite food! And since half of the white sugar in the USA comes from sugar beets, you should remember that most beets are now genetically modified. This is another reason to stay away from the “White Death,” isn’t it?”.
Sugar is probably the most acid-forming food on earth and cancer thrives in an acidic environment. We have all heard the Otto Warburg Nobel Prize winning research on how cancer cannot survive in an alkaline environment, but – shock horror – there has been more recent research into this.
In a 2012 study published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism (16) the researchers state their finding show that “lower pH levels in the extracellular space promote the invasive and metastatic potential of cancer cells”.
Further studies have proven this over and over again – acidosis causes cancer.
And with sugar being the most acidic food we know – it might be time to revisit how much we are consuming.
Reason to Quit Sugar #3. Hormonal Imbalance
Sugar not only provides major highs and lows in mood and energy, it can also disrupt one of the most powerful hormones in the body: insulin. And insulin is closely connected to all of the other hormones in your body, including estrogen and testosterone.
When insulin spikes, typically after a meal high in sugar, this can lead to lower levels of an important protein known as sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). SHBG binds excess estrogen and testosterone in the blood, but when it’s low, these hormone levels increase. Insulin also increases the production of testosterone, which is then converted into even more estrogen by fat tissue in the belly (see below).
These effects mean the ratio of estrogen to progesterone is way too high, leading to irritability, anxiety, insomnia and more.
After oestrogen and progesterone, next up on the list is cortisol, which is arguably even more important. Studies have shown chronically elevated cortisol levels are a precursor to almost every major disease.
When blood sugar spikes and too much insulin is released (which leads to low blood sugar immediately afterwards as the insulin quickly shuttles all the energy from the blood into cells) cortisol is released – the stress hormone – which not only makes us feel anxious and stressed, but also makes us feel hungry…
Elevated cortisol puts you at increased risk of a ton of different health problems, including:
• Digestive problems
• Heart disease
• Sleep problems
• Type 2 diabetes
• Memory and concentration impairment
• And so much more!
And then, fructose within sugar raises the levels of the hormone ghrelin which, after the cortisol has MADE us hungry, the ghrelin KEEPS us hungry, leading to…
Reason to Quit Sugar #4. Rapid Weight Gain
Sugar is both directly and indirectly an rapid fat gaining nightmare.
When we see charts that show the growing % of children and adults who are overweight or obese, they correlate directly with sugar consumption.
Remember the chart above from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition? Sugar consumption correlates exactly with obesity rates.
How Sugar Directly Causes Fat Gain
Remember: sugar is composed of two molecules… glucose and fructose.
Glucose is by far the lesser of the two evils because it can be metabolized by every cell in the body and if we don’t get it from the diet, our bodies make it. In fact, our bodies do actually use glucose for energy (along with fat, and to some degree protein), so some glucose is needed – but best sourced from complex carbohydrates rather than raw direct sugar.
However, fructose is different. Fructose is a big stressor to the body.
The only organ that can metabolize fructose is the liver, because only the liver has the capacity to transport it (17).
If you’re super athletic or exercising a lot every day, you’re fine because the liver will turn the fructose into glycogen – a storage form of glucose in the liver – because you’re burning so much energy.
However, if your liver is already full of glycogen (which is true of most people who eat too much sugar, and even if they exercise a regular amount), the fructose will be turned into directly into fat. (18).
The second way sugar directly increases fat on your body is because it messes with your insulin levels, making you insulin resistant.
When we eat a sugar-rich meal, or suck down a soda, glucose levels go up.
When there is excess glucose in the body, the body recognises this as toxic and rapidly releases insulin to clear the glucose from the bloodstream and into your cells.
Without insulin our blood would easily become toxic.
With a health balanced diet this mechanism works perfectly, as it has evolved to do.
However, we’ve broken this mechanism with our modern, sad western diet – packed full of sugar, carbs and grains that spike blood sugar like nothing else.
When the system is broken cells become resistant to the effects of insulin, meaning the body has to produce more to get the same effect. And then because you become resistant (insulin resistant) you have to make more, and more, and more…
The worse it gets, the worse it gets.
This is what leads to type 2 diabetes.
Aside from clearing glucose from the bloodstream, insulin is also responsible for sending signals to our fat cells telling these cells to collect fat from the bloodstream, store it and to avoid burning the fat that is already being carried.
So guess what happens when we have a ton of excess insulin in the body all of the time?
When insulin levels are chronically elevated, much of the energy in our bloodstream gets deposited as fat and stored.
And this leads us to the next issue…
When sugar consumption indirectly causes even more fat by messing with…
When you become insulin resistant and have excessive insulin production as discussed above, the body then has a hard time accessing the stored fat as energy.
So we not only stop accessing stored fat for energy, but there is a second problem: the brain starts to think that it is hungry when it is not.
Herein starts the ‘indirect’ ways sugar causes fat gain. It totally messes with your hormones. Four hormones in particular (as well as insulin of course):
- Hormone Disrupted #1 – Adiponectin:
According to Dr Sara Gottfried (bestselling author of The Hormone Reset Diet and expert interviewee in my Alkaline Base Camp membership):
“Adiponectin is literally the hormone that tells your body to burn fat for fuel. It’s like your body’s “fat burning torch.”
Multiple studies have shown that the more of this super hormone you have circulating in your bloodstream, the more fat you burn. Research shows that low levels of adiponectin are associated with a higher incidence of obesity. In fact, according to Dr. Leo Galland, Director of The Foundation for Integrated Medicine, “A lack of adequate adiponectin is emerging as a significant factor in people’s inability to melt flab and stay slim.” (19)
The frustrating thing about adiponectin is that the more fat you have, the lower your levels.
- Hormone Disrupted #2 – Ghrelin:
Ghrelin has been dubbed the “hunger hormone” and the more you have floating around in your boyd, the hungrier you will be, even when you’ve eaten enough.
Sugar completely messes with your ghrelin levels. If you find yourself feeling like you’re always trying to ignore cravings and especially if you still feel peckish after a meal, you almost certainly have elevated ghrelin levels (20)
This is especially true at night – and because ghrelin activates your brain’s reward mechanism to sweet foods and sugar, it makes the quit sugar/lose weight battle ten times harder.
Remember at the start of this guide when I said ‘It’s not your fault’ – this is exactly one of those reasons why.
- Hormone Disrupted #3 – Leptin:
Leptin, like ghrelin, is a great hormone when working and released properly, in proper amounts, at the right time. Leptin decreases hunger.
However, again, like ghrelin, when there is high sugar consumption and weight gain – the signal for leptin production gets seriously messed up. (21)
Generally, the more fat you have, the more leptin you make; the less food you’ll eat; and the higher your metabolic rate (possibly). Conversely, the less fat you have, the less leptin you have, and the hungrier you’ll be. Basically, for weight loss — the more leptin the better.
Sounds good right? If you gain weight you’ll make more leptin and eat less. Well that’s how it’s supposed to work.
But when you eat a lot of sugar (especially fructose) you quickly become leptin resistant, just in the same way that you become insulin resistant. (22)
And as they guys at Precision Nutrition put it – It’s a vicious cycle:
1. Eat more, gain body fat.
2. More body fat means more leptin in fat cells.
3. Too much fat means that proper leptin signalling is disrupted.
4. The brain thinks you’re starving, which makes you want to eat
5. You get fatter. And hungrier.
6. You eat more. Gain more fat.
7. And so on.
Leptin resistance is similar to insulin resistance (and they also share common signalling pathways). Insulin resistance occurs when there’s lots of insulin being produced (for example, with a diet high in sugar and simple carbohydrate), but the body and brain have stopped “listening” to insulin’s effects. When you quit sugar, this leptin resistance will return to normal very quickly.
- Hormone Disrupted #4 – Cortisol:
Cortisol is our stress hormone, and excessive sugar consumption causes it to be chronically elevated (23).
Excess cortisol ramps up your cravings for more sugar – creating a vicious cycle and leads to overeating and constant hunger.
The obvious result of this is that you will gain weight (24).
Plus, cortisol causes your body to actually break down your muscle tissue for energy instead of stored fat – giving you the OPPOSITE effect than what you really want. The less muscle you have, the lower your metabolism will be and the more fat you’ll gain.
And here another vicious cycle starts because elevated cortisol levels cause a larger percentage of fat to be stored in the abdominal area (visceral fat). And the more visceral fat you have, the more cortisol you will produce, leading to more cravings for sweets, less fat being used for energy, more fat being stored, which means more cortisol produced and on it goes…
Bottom line – if you want to lose weight you HAVE to drop sugar instantly.
Reason to Quit Sugar #5. Heart disease
If you were to ask 100 people on the street what the biggest cause of heart disease is – they’d say saturated fat.
Oh how we’ve been misled. We are now starting to wake up to the fact that saturated fat and other health fats PREVENT heart disease, not cause it – but a lot of damage has been done to a lot of people.
Heart disease is the biggest killer in the world. And a low-fat, high carb/sugar diet is a recipe for heart disease disaster. And that’s the EXACT diet we’ve been told to follow for years.
The real culprit: sugar.
Sugar is one of the leading drivers of heart disease due to the incredibly damaging effects of fructose on metabolism (27) and studies also show that repeated consumption of fructose (which is 50% of regular sugars as well as prevalent in fruit juice, soda and processed foods) raises triglycerides, small, dense LDL and oxidized LDL and increases abdominal obesity.
In a study in the American Society for Clinical Investigation – dietary fructose specifically increased DNL, promoted dyslipidemia, decreased insulin sensitivity, and increased visceral adiposity in overweight/obese adults in just ten weeks (28).
Sugar is powerfully destructive.
Reason to Quit Sugar #6. Fatty liver
Fructose is metabolised specifically by our liver. Other sugars such as glucose are metabolised by ALL of our cells and therefore, fructose consumption stresses the liver massively. When you consume a lot of fructose (regular sugars are 50% fructose, 50% glucose, high fructose corn syrup in sodas and other foods are 100% fructose, fruit is 100% fructose and so on) this causes a cascade of health issues.
The stress fructose causes to the liver means that it spends so much energy turning fructose into other molecules that it has no energy remaining to undertake all of it’s other functions.
This not only leads to high production of uric acid, but also leads to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, chronic fatigue and a super-high incidence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Reason to Quit Sugar #7. Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s is a huge and growing problem – and our modern diet is almost exclusively at fault.
According to Dr Mercola:
“As of 2013, 5.2 million Americans had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, a severe form of dementia,1 and Alzheimer’s diagnoses are projected to triple by 2050. Over half a million Americans die from the disease each year, making it the third leading cause of death in the US, right behind heart disease and cancer.”
The modern day shift away from healthy fats towards low fat has done us a huge disservice. While food manufacturers were clamouring to make foods taste good without any fat content – the sugar content of foods skyrocketed.
Remember above I mentioned low-fat yoghurts containing over 20g of sugar per serve? This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Sugar has gotten away with being under the radar for many, many decades, but clearly we are now seeing that SUGAR is the problem in our diet not fat.
Research has long shown that a low-fat diet leads to a higher prevalence of brain and cognitive decline, but now research is also showing Alzheimer’s to be intricately linked to insulin resistance, suggesting that a high sugar, low fat diet is a huge problem.
In a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association the researchers used brain scans to assess 150 middle-aged people who were at risk of Alzheimer’s but showed no signs of it at the beginning of the study (31).
They found that people with higher levels of insulin resistance – a major cause of high blood sugar – were found to use less blood sugar in areas of the brain prone to Alzheimer’s.
Study author Dr. Auriel Willette noted:
“If you don’t have as much fuel, you’re not going to be as adept at remembering something or doing something. This is important with Alzheimer’s disease, because over the course of the disease there is a progressive decrease in the amount of blood sugar used in certain brain regions. Those regions end up using less and less.”
Remember – insulin resistance means your body fails to respond to the insulin hormone, leading to high blood sugar and, often, type 2 diabetes. Overconsumption of low-fat, high-sugar foods, sodas and a diet low in fresh, nutrient rich foods is probably the biggest variable leading to insulin resistance, inflammation, oxidative stress and the conditions that follow.
In other words, the research suggests that Alzheimer’s, like type 2 diabetes, is largely in our own hands.
As Dr Wilette says:
“We are terrible at adjusting our behavior based on what might happen in the future,” says Willette. “Even people with mild or moderate insulin resistance who don’t have Type 2 diabetes might have an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease because they’re showing many of the same sorts of brain and memory relationships.”
Simply eating more healthy fat and to quit sugar is the #1 way to help prevent Alzheimer’s.
Reason to Quit Sugar #8. Gout
As we discussed earlier, those who consume high amounts of fructose (in both regular sugar which is 50% fructose, in sodas which are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, excessive fruits and fruit juices and so on) cause incredible stress to their liver – as the liver is the only organ that can metabolise fructose.
A direct result of this is a super-high production of uric acid. If the diet is not alkaline-rich enough to be able to help the body to neutralise this excess acidity, then the uric acid will be stored away in the extremities to protect your vital organs.
The end result is gout.
In fact, a recent study showed that men who consumed two or more sugary drinks per day were 85% more likely to develop gout than those men who only consumed less than one sugary beverage a month (32)
It’s also been shown that half of all gout sufferers are obese or overweight. And again, a high intake of sugar is shown to lead to obesity.
Gout can also be related to stress and elevated cortisol levels, of which high sugar consumption is a direct cause:
And according to Dr David Williams:
“Sugar depletes B vitamins and increases the risk of stress-related gout episodes. In addition, the form of sugar known as fructose is linked to gout. Fructose is found in many fruits, but most of the fructose we consume nowadays comes in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, which is used to sweeten everything from bread to sodas. Studies have found that consuming just one soft drink a day increases the risk of gout by about 50 percent, and two drinks a day almost doubles it.”
Reason to Quit Sugar #9. Premature Ageing
And finally if you want to look older than you are – eat lots of sugar.
Anything that causes oxidative stress causes ageing. Anything that adds antioxidants to the body helps fight this oxidative damage. Oxidation is basically your cells dying – and when your cells die you age.
When you eat a lot of sugar, this leads to the proliferation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) – and research has shown this to be responsible for atherosclerosis, hypertension, peripheral vascular disease, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, heart failure, and cardiac arrhythmias (33) – and in studies showing this, it’s been demonstrated that these conditions are the effect of sugar induced ROS.
And more specifically to ageing, this study from 2014 showed the direct link between soda consumption and accelerated cell ageing (34)
Anything that is going to destroy cells, shorten your telomere length and causes oxidative stress is going to age your body – inside AND out.
And sugar is just the very worst.
Replace sugar with antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory, alkaline foods and you will have abundant youth for many years to come (35)