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What Are the Benefits of a Sugar Free Diet?

When you choose to consume a sugar-free diet, you eliminate sugar and all of its relatives, such as high-fructose corn syrup. Sugar-free diets also frequently advocate consuming foods that are low on the glycemic index, such as whole wheat, instead of foods that can quickly spike blood sugar, like white bread, to keep blood-sugar levels steady. Going sugar-free has many purported benefits, from weight control to better physical and mental health.

Eating a sugar-free diet may allow you to more easily lose weight. Sugar is quickly metabolized into blood sugar, which prompts your body to release insulin. Insulin surges promote fat storage, say Barry L. Zaret and Genell J. Subak-Sharpe in the book “Heart Care for Life.” In contrast, foods that are low on the glycemic index such as oats, vegetables and whole grains produce only small blood-sugar and insulin fluctuations and keep your energy levels balanced, helping you feel fuller for longer periods of time, notes the Glycemic Index Foundation. People who prefer foods with added sugars also have a harder time controlling overall calorie consumption. This is especially true for folks who like sugar-sweetened beverages, especially those that contain high-fructose corn syrup, say Frances Sizer and Ellie Whitney, authors of “Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies.”

Eliminating sugar can reduce your risk for diabetes. That’s because added sugars raise your risk for being overweight, which in turn raises your risk for diabetes, say Sizer and Whitney. In populations around the world, the authors note, diabetes prevalence goes up when sugar consumption increases. If you are in the habit of drinking one or more sugar-sweetened drinks daily, in fact, you double your diabetes risk compared with a person who drinks less than one sugary drink per month.

Cutting sugar from your diet may actually improve your mood—or at least help you reduce mood swings, notes Ann Louise Gittleman in her book “Get The Sugar Out.” Some people say they have a “sugar high” followed by a “sugar low” after consuming sugary foods, says Janette Brand Miller, lead author for “What Makes My Blood Glucose Go Up--And Down?” Sugar may lead to irritability, anxiety, poor concentration and emotional outbursts, says Linda Page in her book “Linda Page’s Healthy Healing.” Emotional mood swings before menstruation or during menopause also may be linked to sugar, Page advises.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.