We know sugar can leave us feeling tired, sluggish and moody, but did you know it can cause long-lasting damage to your gut microbiome? Inflammation, poor digestion and constipation are the trifecta of signs something’s amiss – we’ll be unpacking how sugar affects gut health and what you can do to prevent or reduce the severity of symptoms.
Sugar and the gut microbiome
The gut microbiome is a structure of trillions of bacteria, all of which influence our gut health, we’ve even got studies showing our gut bacteria can influence the kinds of cravings we have. Luckily, we have some control over the balance of these bacteria and what eat plays a massive role in promoting the growth of good bacteria.
How sugar promotes the growth of bad bacteria
The research shows that sugar promotes the growth of a number of bad bacteria and reduces the ability of the good guys to thrive. It also reduces the diversity of gut bacteria, causing the scale to tip in favour of gut-damaging bacteria. Studies show higher levels of Proteobacteria exist in those with high-sugar diets, and this is a known indication of dysbiosis – an unbalanced microbiome. On top of affecting gut health, this can also lead to mental health issues and autoimmune conditions.
How sugar causes bloating and constipation
A whopping 50% of Aussies deal with disruptive gut issues like bloating, wind and constipation, with 1 in 7 of us battling more severe cases – so it’s no wonder so many are keen to hack their microbiome to find some relief. Bloating describes an excessively full or stretched feeling in the stomach that may also be accompanied by cramping, burping, wind, diarrhoea and constipation. The reason behind this common ailment comes down to the organs of the digestive system being stretched themselves, often as a result of gas, liquids or solids building up in the gut. But there are a few other internal workings that can cause this uncomfortable feeling, including a slow movement of food through the digestive system.
You’re more likely to experience bloating if you’ve eaten a sugary or fatty meal, along with eating too fast – this can lead to swallowing air, resulting in gas and bloating. We know sugar affects the gut microbiome, and in turn, this dysregulation can also be to blame for long-term bloating. Diarrhoea and indigestion are also commonly experienced for those with a haywire microbiome.
What you can do to improve gut health
The first thing you’ll want to do is limit or cut out inflammatory foods like added sugars, deep-fried foods and alcohol – but it’s also important to replace these foods with nourishing ingredients too:
- Whole foods: Fruits, veggies and grains in their whole form are loaded with fibre for bowel movement regularity and good digestion, helping to prevent constipation and bloating. They also slow the metabolisation of sugar, reducing the risk for blood-sugar spikes that come with ultra-processed foods. Around 83% of Aussies aren’t meeting their fibre intake needs, with research showing we need to boost our intake by 30% to meet the daily target of 28 grams.
- Healthy fats: These fats not only promote gut health, they also help us process nutrients like vitamins A, D and E, along with maintaining healthy blood-sugar levels and healthy digestion. Avocados, olive oil and walnuts are your friends here!
- Probiotics: It’s all about gut bacteria! Probiotics are a great way to introduce healthy bacteria to your gut, but remember the whole grains and veggies are also essential to ensure those probiotics thrive. It’s a group effort! Tempeh, yoghurt and sauerkraut are all great options.
- Protein: Getting enough protein is important to keep us feeling satiated and to reduce those sugar cravings that are sure to crop up when we go cold turkey on the sweet stuff. Foods like egg, tofu, natto and legumes are all great choices to keep your protein intake up.
Keen for more quick and easy lunch ideas? We’ve got a host of exclusive no-sugar recipes here on the 8-Week Program. If you’ve been struggling to get your sugar habit under control, we’re here to help. It’s no secret that a sugar addiction is a tough one to beat – wherever you go, sugar is there. Unlike with ditching alcohol, there are few places where sugar is unwelcome. From birthday parties and functions to the office pantry, Sunday markets and the supermarket. Is it any wonder that so many of us find it hard to quit the stuff? That’s why it can help to join a program like ours – our 8-Week Program is based on accountability, support and providing the essential resources to set you up for success. We’ll help you change the way you look at food – and that doesn’t mean you have to follow restrictive diets or miss out on your favourite foods; we believe you can still enjoy delicious food without jeopardising your health. With celebrity chef Sarah Glover on our panel of experts, you’ll have an array of fun recipes at your fingertips, along with our own exclusive armoury of simple, tasty and healthy recipes for everything from daily meals to impressive entertaining. We’ve also got nutritionists, personal trainers and naturopaths in our team of experts, and they understand what our bodies need and how to best arm ourselves against those cravings. So, if you’ve been having a little trouble keeping that sugar addiction at bay, we’re here to help. We know it can be hard to stick to your health goals – especially when you’re trying to manage it alone. When you sign up with us, you’ll have access to clear-cut meal plans, community support and exclusive access to our sugar-free content. Here’s what’s on offer:
- 8 weeks of meal plans and shopping lists.
- 90+ member-only recipes.
- Community forums to share your journey.
- Support and guidance from the I Quit Sugar team.
- Exclusive content from our panel of experts.
So, if you’re ready to ditch sugar and the host of maladies that come with it, it’s not too late to join. We’d love to help you get started on your health journey. Sign up HERE today!