With Halloween falling at the end of the month, it is inevitable that sugar is going to come up in the conversation. While it is understandable that your child will be consuming sugary treats this month, it is crucial to be aware of how sugar takes its toll on your health. Understanding sugar’s devastating effects can inform healthier choices for you and your family moving forward.
We have gathered the main ones for you to consider before you delve deeper into the more intricate research. Remember, education is always your best defense!
1) Sugar causes blood sugar to rapidly spike and drop, fueling sugar addictions
Poor blood sugar levels can yield irritability, mood swings, headaches, fatigues and lead to even more sugar cravings. Unfortunately, cravings prompt the addiction cycle where each sugar fix lasts temporarily and leads to more cravings.
2) Sugar increases the risk for obesity, diabetes and heart disease
Many large scale studies have revealed that the excess consumption of high glycemic foods (ones that affect blood sugar quickly) increase one’s risk for becoming obese, developing diabetes, and heart disease. Excess sugar is linked with dyslipidemia, which is a lipid profile known to increase heart disease risk. Further, sugar consumption leads to gum disease and many periodontal issues are linked to coronary artery disease. A recent study in the open journal Plos One, discovered that countries where people had greater access to sugar had higher levels of diabetes –rates of diabetes increased by 1.1% for every 150 kcal of sugar available for each person each day.
3) Sugar suppresses immune function
Many animal studies have been conducted to reveal how sugar impairs immune response, so more studies on human subjects are required. What we do know is that harmful bacteria, yeast and candida feed on sugar and these imbalances lead to increased infections and illnesses.
4) Sugar accelerates aging
Believe it or not, sugar can actually cause you to age at a faster rate. This is explained through glycation, a process in which some sugars attach themselves to proteins after travelling through the bloodstream, post-consumption. These new molecular structures promote loss of elasticity in aging body tissues such as your skin, organs and arteries.
5) Sugar can compromise learning and memory
Sugar can also impair your cognitive functions such as learning and memory. A six week UCLA animal study discovered that rats who had consumed a fructose solution (close to pop) forgot their way out of the maze. Rats who had consumed a nutritious diet and others those consumed a high-fructose diet that contained Omega 3 Fatty Acids were able to find their way out of the maze successfully.
6) Sugar dominates the essential nutrients
With so much hidden sugar in a lot of the foods we eat, it’s no wonder we are missing out on the key nutrients. USDA data reveals that people with the highest sugar consumption had the lowest intakes of essential nutrients, particularly, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B-12, folate, magnesium, iron, calcium, and phosphorous.
Tips on Managing Sugar:
• Don’t eradicate sugar completely, but rather reduce intake to non-toxic levels
• DO AVOID sugary beverages like pops and juices; don’t drink the fruit but eat it
• Stick to water which is always the best beverage
• Watch out for added sugars in foods you wouldn’t expect such as breads
• Limit your alcohol intake, which similar to sugar, increases the body’s insulin levels prompting the liver to store energy in fat cells
• Stick natural sugar alternatives like pure maple syrup, stevia, apple sauce, raw honey, sucanat & coconut sugar
• Bake cookies and cakes yourself using natural sweeter alternatives
10 Ways Sugar Harms Your Health. Retrieved from: http://www.atkins.com/how-it-works/library/articles/10-ways-sugar-harms-your-health
Boseley, S. (2013, March 20). Sugar, not fat, exposed as deadly villain in obesity epidemic. Retrieved from: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/mar/20/sugar-deadly-obesity-epidemic
Sack, D. (2013, September 2). 4 Ways Sugar Could Be Harming Your Mental Health. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/where-science-meets-the-steps/201309/4-ways-sugar-could-be-harming-your-mental-health
The Dangers of Sugar: Is it Really that Bad? Retrieved from: http://www.cncahealth.com/explore/learn/nutrition-food/the-dangers-of-sugar-is-it-really-that-bad#.VNzJ6S58kQs