Is a Sugar Detox a Good Idea?


With juicing and detox cleanses all the rage today, it’s no surprise that one particular detox has left healthcare professionals divided. Many are using a sugar detox as a way to lose weight, lower cholesterol, and gain more energy throughout the day. Sounds like a good idea right? Well, many doctors believe that cutting out sugar can be very harmful, and in many cases lead to more health issues like fatigue, headaches, and a variety of other unpleasant symptoms. About 10 percent of the US population are true sugar addicts, according to Robert Lustig, professor of pediatrics and member of the Institute for Health Policy Studies at the University of California, San Francisco. What’s more, research suggests that sugar induces rewards and cravings that are similar in magnitude to those induced by addictive drugs.

However, an investigation performed by Sense about Science in 2009 examined 15 commercial detox products and not a single one could name specific toxins, agree on a definition of what a detox really is, or provide evidence for their claims. So is a sugar detox a good or bad idea? It’s up to healthcare professionals like you to decide, but below we’ve listed a few pros and cons that you should consider.

Is a Sugar Detox a Good Idea?

Yes, Sugar is Bad

The average American consumes about 152 pounds of sugar a year. That’s roughly 22 teaspoons every day for every person in America. And our kids consume about 34 teaspoons every day — that’s more than two 20-ounce sodas — making nearly one in four teenagers pre-diabetic or diabetic. Although ice cream cake is an obvious source of sugar, other foods that may not even taste sweet, such as salad dressings, tomato sauces, and bread, can be loaded with the white stuff. What your patients might consider healthy could actually be filled with various sugars and additives. Plus, research shows that not-so-innocent sweet tooth could be doing serious damage to your health. It can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure and cholesterol level, and an increased risk for diabetes.

sugar detox

No, Sugar is Not Always the Cause of Health Issues

If your patients are constantly giving in to his or her sweet tooth, it certainly could cause some health issues. However, sugar might not always be the culprit. Eating too much of anything can cause health problems, so it’s important to look at what your patient is eating. Sometimes it’s simply the number of calories that a person is ingesting. This is also why some people do lose weight during a sugar detox. For example, they’re eating fewer total calories since they removed foods from their daily eating habits — usually calorie-dense, hyper-palatable foods like desserts, fast food, etc.

Yes, It Can Help You Lose Weight

A sugar detox can, in fact, help you lose weight in many cases. Patients have seen extreme weight loss after cutting out sugar. Others have reported feeling healthier and having more energy. A sugar reduction can also help eyesight, clearer skin, and better sleep habits among other things. Getting less sleep drives sugar and carb cravings by affecting your appetite hormones. In human studies, depriving college students of just two hours of the recommended eight hours of sleep led to a rise in hunger hormones, a decrease in appetite-suppressing hormones and big cravings for sugar and refined carbs.

No, It’s Not Sustainable Long-Term

Sugar detoxes aren’t meant to be a substitute for a diet. Instead, they’re supposed to jumpstart your diet. Doing something difficult, stressful, and impractical in an effort to jump-start a healthier lifestyle can be counterproductive for many of your patients. If something doesn’t create a sustainable, long-term habit, why even waste your time or put yourself through the frustration? Avoiding sugar long-term is not going to happen for most people, so doing it for 7-10 days isn’t necessary. Some view the side effects as too much when it comes to a sugar detox.

We can’t tell you whether or not you should recommend a sugar detox to your patients, but it certainly looks like a trend that will stick around. Comment below and let us know what you think of the sugar detox trend!

Author: Troy Diffenderfer

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