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To Optimize Your Performance Cut Out the Sugar The typical diet contains far more sugar than most people realize. The ROI for eating healthier is compelling.

By Neka Pasquale Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As a business owner, long days and packed schedules are a given. Bumps in the road occur on a daily basis, often with little or no notice. With all those daily challenges, entrepreneurs need to possess a level of drive, discipline and energy to focus all their energy on advancing a goal. One key, and often overlooked, factor you can easily change to improve all facets of your business is both strange to hear and obvious, once you look at the facts: eat less sugar.

It's a shocking and sobering truth that the average North American diet today consists of nearly 30 teaspoons of sugar each day, a fact that many are unaware of. That's 100 pounds of sugar every year. Sugar, when consumed in large amounts, derails your body from its natural balance, and as a result, affects your work performance.

Related: Prioritizing Health Can Help You and Your Business

The benefits of cutting out unnecessary sugar, as well as the healing benefits that healthy and organic foods offer, are transformative. Eating a clean, low-sugar diet equals eating powerfully, because what we put in our bodies is invariably linked to what our bodies and minds are capable of. Here are three ways you can optimize your daily performance and benefit from cutting out the sugar:

1. Optimize brain function.

When you need to make key decisions and judgment calls about your business, there's no room for error. However, reaching for those high glycemic foods like candy, cookies, popcorn, soda, and donuts can increase inflammation, causing free radical damage and stress on your nervous system (this includes your brain). Eating low-glycemic foods leads to a clear mind and optimal brain function, which will ultimately benefit all aspects of your business.

2. Look your best.

As the face of your company, it's important to put your best foot, and face, forward, and as uncomfortable as it may be, employees, potential investors and customers judge us by our appearance. Your sugar intake can have profound effects on your appearance, as it promotes dull, brittle skin through a process called glycation, and causes skin inflammation and wrinkles. Sugar also makes you age faster by contributing to the breakdown of elastin and collagen, which are both essential to a youthful appearance.

Related: How a Personal Health Crisis Led to Small-Business Success

3. Avoid the "crash."

We've all been here. In an effort to boost your energy level at work, you reach for that candy bar in your drawer, or head to the fridge for a cold soda. Sure, sugar will initially give you a surge of energy, but that inevitable crash always follows. This crash is called hypoglycemia, and it's your body's way of telling you that your blood sugar levels are peaking and dropping dramatically. If this is your constant routine, exhaustion will ensue. Break the cycle by eating a balanced diet that includes fat, protein and fiber, to ensure you have a constant and even flow of energy throughout the day.

It's actually easier than most people think to cut sugar and optimize performance. There are great alternatives to meals and snacks that are high in sugar. For balanced blood sugar levels, stick with snacks like raw almonds, cashews and hummus that give you sustained energy. Fresh vegetables, apples, berries and hard boiled eggs will keep you energized throughout the day without the crash. If you're looking for a pick-me-up beverage, green tea is a much better alternative to a sugary coffee drink.

The bottom line: If you want to improve your daily performance, cut out the sugar. You'll be surprised by how great you feel, and just how much your business can benefit.

Related: The Busy Entrepreneur's Guide to High-Performance Lunches

Neka Pasquale

Founder of Urban Remedy

Neka Pasquale is the founder of Urban Remedy, a Northern California-based, e-commerce food company offering certified organic, non-GMO and low-glycemic, cold-pressed juices, grab-and-go meals and snacks. She is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, certified Chinese nutritionist, and the author of Urban Remedy: The 4-Day Home Cleanse Retreat.

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