How To Quit Sugar For A Healthier Microbiome
Learn how to quit sugar to develop a healthy microbiome and to improve overall health.
RELATED: How Stress Impacts Your Gut Health
In this article:
- Benefits of the No-Sugar Diet
- What is the Microbiome?
- Feeding Your Microbiome
- The Many Names of Sugar
- How to Quit Sugar
- Promote a Healthy Microbiome
How to Quit Sugar for a Healthy Gut
Benefits of the No-Sugar Diet
The no-sugar diet is popular for many reasons, including avoiding empty calories, stopping cravings, and cutting an addiction.
Sugars leave you hungry and craving more, while a diet high in fiber and nutrients leaves you full and fueled.
People who embark on the no-sugar diet often don’t realize that cutting sugar out of their diets can positively affect their gut health.
Many find improved microbiome health as an added bonus once they pump the breaks on their sugar intake. But due to the enormous benefits, it’s reason enough to cut back on sugar simply to improve your gut.
One of the best and fastest ways to begin healing your microbiome is to dial back the sugar.
What is the Microbiome?
The microbiome is home to all of the beneficial bacteria and fungi in the body. A healthy gut is responsible for various body functions such as:
- Regulating the immune system
- Balancing blood sugar
- Helping the body absorb nutrients
- Calming stress and emotional responses.
A weakened gut hinders its ability to carry out these essential tasks. Quitting sugar will help strengthen your microbiome and help you avoid other health complications.
Feeding Your Microbiome
In order for probiotics to thrive, they must feed on prebiotics, or plant-based fibers from whole foods. It’s no surprise then that the bad bacteria and fungi in the microbiome feed off sugar!
A high-sugar diet allows harmful bacteria and fungi to grow while decreasing the number of good bacteria and fungi.
You may have also heard the gut coined as the “second brain.” When your microbiome isn’t in optimal shape, your cognitive function may suffer.
Some doctors even refer to Alzheimer’s disease as “Type 3 diabetes” because of the effect elevated blood sugar levels and insulin resistance have on cognitive decline.
Cognitive Decline Definition: This is the gradual degradation in a person’s communication skills, memory, overall understanding, and other cognitive abilities.
Cutting back on sugar does not mean you should turn to artificial sweeteners. Regular consumption of artificial sweeteners may also have negative effects on the microbiome, like metabolic disorders and obesity.
The Many Names of Sugar
In order to maintain your microbiome health, avoid added sugars like sucrose, fructose, or glucose. While these sugars occur naturally in fruits and vegetables, they are also added as sweeteners to processed foods.
In general, sticking to a whole foods diet will help you avoid too much sugar.
You may not be able to avoid natural sugars in your whole foods, but you can be a label-reading expert to make sure you don’t consume unnecessary sugar.
- High-fructose corn syrup is a corn-based liquid sweetener made of fructose and some glucose. Given its ubiquity in processed foods, this sweetener is a common culprit behind weight gain and poor heart health.
- Common artificial sweeteners include aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin. These are non-caloric, but they may have drawbacks.
- Sugar alcohols, like sorbitol, xylitol, or mannitol, won’t cause dental issues like most sugars, but they can cause bloating and diarrhea in some people.
If you must have sweetener in your coffee or healthy treats, opt for these options instead:
- Maple syrup
- Coconut sugar
- Fruit juice
But everything in moderation!
Even “healthy” alternatives can have consequences if you overindulge.
How to Quit Sugar
Quitting sugar cravings can be a bit of a challenge, but the fastest way to stop reaching for sugary foods is to go on a no-sugar challenge.
Here’s how to quit sugar and improve your microbiome health:
- For ten days, avoid added sugars and naturally occurring sugars in fruits. This type of detox will have you craving fewer sweets and, instead, craving more natural, whole foods.
- Swap your fruit smoothies for green smoothies made with dark, leafy greens, beets, and water or nut milk. You’ll have sugar cravings but try to substitute sugar with vegetables.
- Once you’ve begun cutting back on sugar, try pumping the brakes on refined carbohydrates and processed foods, too. If you can cut back in all three of these areas, you’ll have improved gut health.
Promote a Healthy Microbiome
Support your microbiome from the overconsumption of sugar by pairing your sugar detox with a prebiotic and probiotic. Eat a diet high in plant-based foods to increase your fiber intake.
Lastly, take time for relaxation and exercise—two essentials for a healthy gut.
And to help you with your sugar craving, try this easy BIOHM Super Greens Triple Greens Almond Butter Smoothie from BIOHM Health:
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on November 20, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy