We all know that sugar makes us gain weight, decays our teeth, and gives us pimples – but what many people don’t consider is the impact that sugar has on the gut.
The ways in which sugar harms your health are not always obvious until it’s too late. Sugar can weaken the immune system, increase your risk of developing diabetes, and increase levels of inflammation in the body. These health issues are in fact directly related to the damage sugar causes to the gut.
A high-sugar diet can severely alter the balance of healthy bacteria in your gut, destroying the ‘good’ guys and allowing the ‘bad’ to thrive. This can increase your susceptibility to gut imbalances like SIBO or Candida overgrowth, as well as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other digestive disorders.
While quitting sugar may seem like a chore, the benefits are certainly worth it! In fact, you may start to see – and feel – the healthy changes in your body in as little as ten days.
How Sugar Affects Your Gut Health
Excess sugar has a catastrophic effect on the balance of microorganisms in your gut. Your gut is home to billions of bacteria that work to maintain the health of your immune system, digestive function and many other processes in the body.
However, harmful bacteria and yeasts such as Candida albicans are quick to grow in the presence of organic, carbon-based compounds. With a regular supply of sugar, these pathogenic organisms can grow and spreads throughout your gastrointestinal tract. They can overwhelm the populations of ‘good’ bacteria that naturally reside in your gut, causing systemic health issues.
When unhealthy populations of ‘bad’ bacteria begin breaking down the excess sugars in your bowels, the result is some nasty fermentation. This can manifest as symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, and flatulence.
Digestive Conditions Caused By Sugar
What is dysbiosis? Dysbiosis is the imbalance of gut bacteria: that is, when there are more bad bacteria than good. If left untreated, it can lead to numerous other digestive disorders, including those mentioned below.
Leaky Gut Syndrome: When the cells lining the gastrointestinal tract are damaged by the growth of pathogenic microorganisms, they become inflamed. This inflammation can cause the ‘tight junctions’ between the cells to loosen, resulting in a more permeable gut lining. This is referred to as Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Small Intestinal Bowel Overgrowth (SIBO): The bacteria that develop in SIBO are often fed on fermentable carbohydrates such as those found in fruit, milk and other ‘natural’ sugars, as well as refined sugars.
Parasites: One of the best food sources for intestinal parasites is sugar! In fact, sugar cravings are often a sign of parasites. To treat for parasites, it’s essential to remove all sources of sugar from your diet, including fruit, honey, dairy, carbohydrates, and starchy vegetables.
How Less Sugar Can Restore Your Gut Health
The surface area of your gastrointestinal tract is actually quite huge. If was spread out, it would almost cover a tennis court! Now, imagine this area being covered in billions of special cells. These cells are known as enterocytes, and they’re constantly regenerating. This means your gut lining is technically ‘renewed’ every two to three weeks.
When you’re healthy and eating a wholesome diet, your gut lining is able to renew itself quickly and efficiently – just as it should. But when you’re constantly pouring sugar into your gut, it has to contend with all the inflammation that goes along with it. It also has to fight the harmful yeasts and bacteria that thrive on the sugar.
While we’re on the subject of gut health, don’t forget to add probiotic bacteria to your diet too! Whether in the form of fermented foods or probiotic supplements, probiotics have a host of benefits for your overall health.
Quitting Sugar Can Restore Gut Health In 10 Days
A study conducted by the University of California investigated the effects of sugar restriction in children. After just ten days without sugar, the children’s risk of diabetes was significantly reduced thanks to a much lower blood sugar and insulin levels.
The researchers also showed that the children’s triglyceride levels had decreased by around 33 points, while their LDL (bad cholesterol) was down by 5 points. Their diastolic blood pressure was also lower.
When you remove sugar from your diet, you are also removing a major source of inflammation. Inflammation is one of the biggest causes of chronic disease due to the damage caused to sensitive cells.
Researchers have suggested that reactivities such as gluten sensitivity are just the beginning stage of serious inflammatory disorders such as food sensitivities and even autoimmune conditions. Healing from this kind of damage can take months – which is why quitting sugar is important to do as soon as possible.
Eliminate Added Sugars And Start Healing
Sugar may be the number one obstacle between you and a healthy gut! Restricting your sugar intake could be the healthiest thing you do for yourself.
The first step is to check all the ingredients labels on everything you eat! There are many different names for sugar – more than 50, in fact. And not all of them are obvious. Look out for sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, barley malt, dextrose, maltose, and rice syrup.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends men eat fewer than 38 grams of added sugar per day and women 25 grams. However – because there are plenty of natural sugars in fruits and other whole foods – eating even less than this should be your goal.
Ditch all the processed sugars: fizzy drinks, cakes, cookies, candy and other foods that come in a packet. If you REALLY need a sweet hit, stick to fresh fruits (not dried: these are also high in sugar!) Stevia is also a fantastic natural sweetener that contains zero sugars and zero calories.
The great thing about quitting sugar is that the unhealthy bacteria in your gut will begin to die off – which means you’ll actually have fewer sugar cravings. Yes, it’s possible to not even want sugar. But you have to do the hard work first! Try it for 10 days, and see what happens.