The Single Best Thing for Your Health
A healthier you is just seconds away.
It feels like there's always some new, expensive exercise or diet program that promises to improve your health. From cleanses to CrossFit, there's always a plan that claims to be the cure for all that ails you. But what if getting healthier was easier than all that?
Ariane Hundt, MS, a New York City-based nutrition coach and fitness expert, says the key to better health isn't what you're putting into your body. According to Hundt, what you're not eating makes the biggest impact. "Eliminating sugar from your diet can have dramatic instant and long-term benefits to your health," she says.
"Regular sugar intake is linked to a slew of health issues and those that consume it regularly can expect to deal with a higher incidence of diseases related to inflammation, immune system breakdown, faster aging, digestion issues, brain health deterioration, and degenerative diseases, such as cancer, Alzheimer's, and heart disease."
When you grab a donut or sip a sugary cocktail, your body responds by producing insulin. Over time, those insulin fluctuations can cause your endocrine system to work less effectively. "Constant insulin surges make the body less responsive to insulin and insulin resistance ensues," explains Hundt. "This is linked to diabetes, inflammation, brain health deterioration, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and auto-immune disease."
If you think you're playing it safe by sticking to fruit, you may want to reevaluate. "Sugar from fruit—fructose—is not better than sugar from other sources," says Hundt. "High fructose corn syrup, the cheapest sugar there is, is linked to fatty liver disease and mitochondrial dysfunction. Therefore, fruit should be limited to about 20 grams of fructose per day." That amount of fructose can be found in two small apples or three medium bananas.
While this doesn't mean nothing sweet can ever grace your plate again, it does mean sweets, including fruits, should be eaten sparingly. Opt for high-quality proteins, fiber-rich carbohydrates, and plenty of vegetables instead. In fact, after just a few days without refined sugar—and the subsequent insulin surges—you'll likely notice a sharp decline in your sweet tooth, anyway. And when you're ready to make a major lifestyle overhaul, ditch the 40 Unhealthiest Foods if You're Over 40!
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