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Sugar-Free Diet: Not a Good Idea!

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We may love it, but it doesn’t love us back. It’s bad for our health – and our waistlines.

“Many long-term studies link sugar to a risk of health issues later in life, including diabetes and obesity,” explains paediatric dietitian Jennifer Hyland, RD.

It has long been warned of the many harmful effects of sugar. But completely eliminating the naturally present in food can also be dangerous, says French doctor Jimmy Mohamed. This macronutrient is essential for the brain to function well.

As calls to opt for healthier food and cut out white sugar continue to multiply, according to Mohamed it’s not a good thing to completely forgo products rich in carbohydrates.

“The sugar-free diet is in vogue with a promise: to detoxify the body from sugar. But in this difficult period I do not advise it,” the specialist warned.

Essential for the brain

The reason for not eliminating sugar from our diet is that it is essential for the proper functioning of our body. It gives energy to our cells, especially those of the brain, which represents 2% of our weight, but requires 25% of the total energy consumption, added the doctor.

It’s also worth mentioning that just approximately a quarter of the 400 calories your brain requires should come from sugar – according to health authorities, people should consume no more than 30g of free sugars each day, which is about seven sugar cubes.

“Sugar is vital for your brain health – which is the biggest guzzler of the sweet stuff in your body,” added Dr Drew Ramsay.

An alternative to sweeteners

Mohamed also said that trying to eliminate sweeteners like white sugar, brown sugar and syrups – which are harmful and whose consumption you should limit – can create “a feeling of frustration.” 

In this regard, he recommended cinnamon as an alternative.

“Cinnamon has a sweet touch, but without sugar, which reduces the impulse [of consuming this sweetener],” said the specialist. Plus, it helps you get a good night’s sleep.

Consumption in moderation

Although it is not dangerous when consumed in moderation, excess sugar and other sweeteners can cause addiction, since it activates the production of dopamine and a reward circuit in our brain, Mohamed said.

In addition, it is necessary to know how to distinguish the good sugars from the bad ones. For example, alcohol can cause digestive disorders if consumed in excess, said the doctor. However, a source of quality sugars are fruits and vegetables.

As with carbohydrates and fat, it’s essential not to totally demonise any one food category – a little amount of sugar, if it’s the correct type, may help your brain function to its greatest potential.

Image Credit: Getty

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