How to reduce sugar intake without drastic changes

Senior Online Magazine How to reduce sugar intake without drastic changes

Sugars are sweet, caloric compounds that occur naturally in fruits, vegetables, milk and honey, and are one of three main types of carbohydrates which include starches and fibers. Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients found in foods and drinks along with proteins and fats. Carbohydrates are an essential part of a person’s diet because they are broken down glucose and provide the main source of energy for a person’s cells, tissues, and organs. They are particularly important for red blood cells, the central nervous system and the brain.

It’s estimated that an average person in the U.S. consumes about 270 calories per day from added sugars. Added sugars are used to provide sweetness, color and flavor, body, bulk, volume and texture in many foods. They do not have a different caloric value than naturally occurring sugars and metabolize at the same rate. Still, added sugars should be something to look out for because according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 – 2020 and our senior magazine, people should consume less than 10% of calories per day from added sugars to aid in maintaining a healthy eating pattern.

Hidden Dangers of Sugar Intake

The extra number of calories that one consumes with moderately high to high sugar intake can lead to weight gain and a subsequent downward energy spiral as sugar calories are metabolized and depleted over a few hours. Here is a list of hidden dangers seniors should be aware of with unchecked sugar consumption:

Negative Effects Worsen with Age – A person’s metabolism slows down with age, and seniors particularly need fewer calories per day to maintain a healthy functioning body. Added sugars take up a bigger chunk of the number of calories one needs, and it can quickly lead to an imbalanced Body Mass Index-(BMI).
Can Increase Risk for Several Diseases – Research suggests that sugar increases health risks leading to type-2 diabetes, heart diseases, and certain types of cancer in seniors. High sugar intake is also linked to inflammation that can make arthritis or joint pain symptoms worse.
It’s Linked to a Shorter Lifespan – Regardless of a person’s physical activity, weight, or healthy diet choices, a person that consumes more than 20% of calories from added sugars is more likely to die from heart disease than people who consume less than 10% of calories from added sugars.
Possible Increase in “Senior Moments” – As we age, people become less adept at metabolizing glucose levels in the bloodstream which is associated with several health issues. Recent studies show that higher glucose levels in people over 50 are linked with momentary forgetfulness and point to where the aging process acts in the brain.

Simple Steps to Reduce Sugar Intake

If you have an uncontrollable sweet tooth and have personal or health reasons to cut the amount of sugar you consume, there are numerous things you can do to reduce the amount of sugar intake per day without having to sacrifice flavor or pleasure to lead a healthier life.

Examine Food Nutritional Labels – People tend to look at calories, fat content, sodium levels, and carbs when reading nutritional levels. This is a great start but often people forget to look at ingredients to find instances where sugars have been added for taste. Anything from tomato sauce to salad dressing to bread may contain added sugars you can cut off.
Buy Individually Wrapped Sweets – Most of us have heard the phrase “you can’t stop at just one” and associate it with snack foods like chips or sweets. For anyone who has a sweet tooth, having just one piece of candy triggers your brain’s reward system. This can be curtailed, somewhat, by buying individually wrapped desserts so that you can keep track of the amount of sugar you consume.
Beware of So-Called “Health” Foods – In the last decade, many people have been convinced to purchase so-called healthier snacks including yogurts, granola bars, and energy bars. But a lot of these options may pack as much sugar (and sodium) like candy bars and potato chips. Be sure to check those labels and don’t assume something is healthy because it is labeled as such.
Prepare and Eat a Healthier Breakfast – Avoid sugary breakfasts as much as possible. They lead to all-day sugar cravings that can wreak havoc on your health. Think about your breakfast options ahead of time and think about using natural sugar sources instead of substitutes to add flavor.
Incorporate More Natural Sugars – Numerous senior living resources suggest swapping smarter sweeteners like stevia in recipes for your favorite foods and drinks. We recommend you go a step further and use natural sugar foods like dates, bananas, beets or cinnamon to sweeten your recipes.

Any dietary changes you are considering should be discussed with a qualified medical professional. There are numerous pros and cons to reducing sugar intake in your diet and need to be carefully monitored to ensure you remain healthy. At, we aim to bring helpful information to enhance the quality of life of our senior community. Check out our website, Facebook page, and senior living magazine for great content to help you and your loved ones lead happier and fuller lives.

Disclaimer: The information provided in our Magazine or on our website is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be construed as a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult your physician or healthcare provider for medical advice. For additional Disclaimer information please visit