An enemy far more loathed than cholesterol and fat, SUGAR has become public enemy number one when in comes to health concerns in America.
In a recent report, the Dietary Guideline Advisory Committee cited sugar intake as one of the largest health concerns in the USA. It is recommended that sugar makes up 10 % or fewer of our calorie intake. The CDC reports that the average American eats between 13 to 20 teaspoons of added sugar daily. This would add up to approximately 230 calories for a woman and 335 calories for a man.
Sugar in its natural state is relatively harmless. We eat it each day in our fruits, veggies and dairy. The problem comes when sugar is added to foods during processing for added texture, flavor or color. Eating too many of these empty calories has many health effects, the most obvious being weight gain. Added sugar will drive your insulin level up, it will mess with your metabolism, and it causes those calories to turn right into belly fat.
While losing weight is a great benefit of cutting out sugar, here are some more legit reasons to tame that sweet tooth for good.
Obesity is one of the main results of excessive added sugar intake and is a major risk for high blood pressure. High blood pressure increases the workload of the heart and arteries and can cause damage over time on the whole circulatory system. This can eventually lead to heart disease, stroke, heart attack, kidney damage, artery disease and other serious coronary conditions.
Lower Bad Cholesterol
People who consume a lot of added sugar are more likely to have lower levels of HDL (Good Cholesterol), higher levels of LDL (Bad Cholesterol), and higher levels of triglycerides or blood fats. Bad cholesterol and blood fats clog up the arteries and blood vessels which will lead to heart disease.
Brain Stays Sharp
Sugar not only eats away at your teeth enamel but it can also eat away at your brain power. Research shows that eating too much sugar can cause impaired cognitive function and it can reduce the proteins necessary for memory and responsiveness. A high intake of sugar is associated with metabolic syndrome. This is a cluster of conditions associated not with just decreased cognitive function, but possibly even with changes to the brain structure.
A recent study found that people with higher sugar intakes had a noticeable increase in risk of heart attacks compared to those with lower intakes. One simple switch to decrease the risk of a heart attack is to cut out soda. Sugar-sweetened sodas are associated with increased coronary heart disease.
Less Likely to have Alzheimer’s Dementia
A diet high in added sugar reduces the production of a chemical known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which helps the brain form new memories and remember the past. Levels of BDNF are particularly low in people with am impaired glucose metabolism (diabetics and pre-diabetics) and low BDNF has been linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Less Risk of Depression
In one study, older adults who consumed more that 4 servings of soda per day were 30 % more likely to be diagnosed with depression that people who drank unsweetened water, tea or coffee. In order to function properly, the brain needs a steady supply of chemical (glucose and insulin). When glucose enters the body, insulin opens the cells doors and allows it inside. When the brain experiences a sugar spike, insulin becomes more immune to its effects and is less effective. This in turn leads to depression and anxiety.
A lifetime of eating too much added sugar can make your skin dull and wrinkled. This is due to a process called glycation, where sugar in your bloodstream attaches to proteins to form advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These AGEs damage elastin and collagen. Elastin and collagen are the protein fibers that keep skin firm and elastic. When they become damaged it it leads to the skin wrinkling or sagging. AGEs will also deactivate your body’s natural antioxidant enzymes. This leaves you more vulnerable to sun damage. You are what you eat, the proof is in the skin!
Sugary foods with a high glycemic index have been found to cause inflammation and hormone fluctuations that can effect the severity of acne. It has been linked to other skin conditions like psoriasis.
Lower the risk of Diabetes and Fatty Liver Disease
Research has shown that drinking one or more sugary drinks per day increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 26 %. Other forms of sugar cannot get into the cells and are stuck in the bloodstream due to the high insulin resistance. This high blood sugar leads to pre-diabetes and eventually will pose the threat of actual diabetes.
Research also has shown that a diet high in added sugar can exacerbate fatty liver disease. Fatty liver disease is not commonly spoken of but it is a common disease. The spike in insulin caused by sugar also drives fat into the liver cells that causes inflammation and scarring. This disease is a major risk factor for diabetes, heart attacks and even cancer.
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