Americans are eating and drinking entirely too much added sugar, and that can lead to some very serious health problems. Let’s face it, when it comes to added sugar ‘it’s not all sweet and light.’ The more you know about the health risks sugar poses, the better chance you have of successfully reducing your added sugar intake and living a longer, healthier life.
What you should know about the not-so-sweet effects of sugar on your health
• It can lead to diabetes: Over time when there is too much insulin in the blood, and your cells become insulin resistant, the pancreas loses its ability to generate more insulin to meet the demands of the body. This is when blood glucose levels go skyrocketing, and the obvious diagnosis is type II diabetes.
• It can lead to obesity: Sugar suppresses satiety and increases ghrelin, the hunger hormone. You wind up eating more, especially carbohydrate-rich foods that lead to abdominal obesity, a major contributing risk factor for metabolic disease, heart and kidney disease. Added sugar can also raise blood pressure, which increases the workload on the heart and arteries, potentially leading to heart attack, stroke, and other serious coronary conditions.
• It can set you up for heart disease: Sugar, even more than fats, can damage your heart and arteries, increasing your chances of developing cardiovascular disease. Even fructose, the type of sugar present in honey and fruit, can increase your LDL or bad cholesterol, constrict your arteries, increase blood glucose and insulin levels, worsening your risk for both heart disease and diabetes.
• It can raise your blood pressure: High blood pressure increases the workload of the heart and arteries and can cause damage over time to the whole circulatory system. Eventually, this can lead to heart disease, heart attacks, stroke, kidney damage, artery disease, and other coronary conditions.
• It may increase the risk of some cancers: Some studies indicate that elevated insulin resulting from the consumption of foods high in sugar could be a reason for prostate, pancreatic and breast cancer.
• It can be bad for your liver: Foods that we eat break down into sugars, mainly of two kinds – glucose and fructose. Fructose is metabolized by the liver and converted into glycogen to be used in the future when the body needs energy. When there is too much stored glycogen and a high level of fructose in the blood, the liver converts it into fat, leading to fatty liver syndrome and complications of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
• It can make you age faster: Excess sugar in your diet can reduce the collagen in your skin and lead to wrinkles that can make you look older than you are.
In a recent report, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee cited sugar as one of our biggest health concerns and recommended that sugar make up 10 percent or fewer of our daily calorie intake.
Cutting down on added sugar can be one of the best actions you can take to improve your health and weight. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it will take some time to break your ingrained sugar habits. Devise a strategy, stick to your plan and look forward to the sweet life…without the dietary baggage of all that extra sugar.
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