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Sugar is Making Us Fat and Sick..Risks of Sugar!

Sugar is in practically everything that is “processed” food. The food industry has a million different names for sugar

Excessive Sugar Use is Rampant

Everyone has known for years that refined sugar is a major contributor to the growing obesity epidemic and dangerous for those who are borderline diabetic or diabetic. There are many more health risks of sugar. However per medical studies sugar also raises your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, gallbladder and liver diseases (when in conjunction with high-fat diets), osteoarthritis (trigger the release of inflammatory messengers called cytokines), gynecological problems such as infertility, respiratory problems, sleep apnea and colon, breast and endometrial cancers. These are just the tip of the iceberg; the risks of sugar list goes on as the studies continue.

Risks of Sugar

Excessive sugar use is rampant in North America. Circulation published a study in 2011 (8), and it found added sugar accounted for 21.4 of daily calories among 2,157 teenagers in the 1999 to 2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Per Jean Welsh, the lead author of the study, people with maximum sugar consumption have the poorest lipid profiles and are the most likely to be obese. Sugar consumption in 2010 was almost 132 lbs. per person. Compare that with about 113 lbs. in 1966, 95 lbs. in 1915, 63 lbs. in 1985 and only around 12 lbs. in the early 1800s.

The problem comes in the fact that sugar is in practically everything that is “processed” food. The food industry has a million different names for sugar. Unless you know what you are looking for, you may not know it is even in your food.  It can be hard to reduce the risks of sugar if you don’t know what it is called. We all know some of the common names for sugar but how about the ones we may not be looking for such as; Anhydrous dextrose, Agave, Agave nectar, Beet Sugar, Cane Juice, Cane juice solids, Cane Syrup, Carob syrup, Corn syrup, Corn syrup solids, Crystalline Fructose, Dextran, Dextrose, Dehydrated cane juice, Evaporated cane syrup, Fructose Crystals, Fruit juice crystals, Fruit juice concentrate, Glucose syrup, Golden syrup, High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), King’s Syrup, Lactose, Maltose, Malt Syrup, Molasses, Muscovado, Nectar, Panocha, Sorghum syrup, Sucanat and Treacle.

How Sugar Makes You Fat & Sick (and can even lead to Cancer)

Sugar is simply toxic for the body. Our bodies have a hormone called insulin, and its job is to take sugar out of the bloodstream and put it into cells. The first cells to fill are muscle and liver cells; once they fill completely, the body starts storing the sugar in the fat cells which in turn increases fat cell development. Obviously, this is where insulin can create a problem with rapid weight gain and ends with obesity.

Another problem when we ingest too much sugar or starch is the body can’t remove it quickly enough causing a spike in blood sugar. Spikes in blood sugar are toxic to the body when combined with protein molecules, creating Advanced Glycolytic Enzymes (AGE’s). AGE’s are very inflammatory and cause damage to the tissue throughout the body including nerve fibers and blood vessels. This tissue damage is the reason for the neurological and cardiovascular complications involved with diabetes.

Increased amounts of processed sugar in the diet result in an increase in AGEs as already stated. AGEs damage certain proteins in the body and the body tries to break these AGEs apart by using cytokines. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition warns triggering cytokines causes the release of inflammatory messengers. Depending on where these enzymes occur, the result may be arthritis or other forms of inflammation.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, eating excessive amounts of refined sugar increases your risk of packing on the pounds. Research shows that being obese or even just “overweight” or in other words having too high of a body fat percentage, increases your risk of cancer. Moderate to extreme body fat levels may cause changes in hormone levels. Changes to reproductive hormones or insulin increase the risk of developing breast, colon or uterine cancer.

So, what is the answer to overuse and abuse of sugar in the North American food industry so we can get back to being a healthy species?

1) Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened drinks to keep you hydrated. This would include removing pop, and sports drink. You can replace electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade with unsweetened coconut water or one of the many homemade electrolyte recipes you can find on Google.

2) Don’t skip meals especially breakfast. Drops in blood sugar affect all the internal organs when you don’t fuel your engine. You will end up feeling fatigued and unwell. Your body will shift into starvation mode which slows your metabolism and will leave you craving sugary treats to replenish diminishing energy supplies.

3) Limit your risks of sugar and cut out processed foods. The food industry puts sugar in literally everything from sugary drinks to pasta sauce and salad dressing. Know what you are putting into your body by making it.

4)  Juice will spike your blood sugar because the fiber has been removed that you get when you eat fruit. One cup of apple juice has 24 gms of sugar and 0.2gm of dietary fiber whereas eating an apple has only 15 gms and sugar and 3.6 gm of dietary fiber. The fiber slows how quickly our body absorbs the naturally occurring sugars.

5) Get exercise and sleep! Increasing physical activity can help get over those mid-afternoon slumps, and a good night’s sleep can make almost anyone a morning person and contributes in rebalancing the hormones that sugar disrupts.

6) Choose your sweeteners carefully, many of the human-made chemical sweeteners are more harmful than sugar itself. Stevia is the best alternative now, however, read the ingredients on the box!!

Often manufacturers put extra ingredients such as maltodextrin and other hidden sugar products with their “healthy” sugar alternative products.

The bottom line is if you want to reduce the risks of sugar and increase the chances of maintaining a healthy body then stop eating sugar-laden processed foods. Read the ingredients on the foods you purchase, and if it contains more than 5 ingredients and includes a lot of unfamiliar, unpronounceable items you may want to reconsider before buying. Stick with whole foods that come right from the plants to the plate!

Learn more about nutrition and how to create a healthy plan for yourself by taking the Principles of Sports Nutrition(PSN). The PSN is a 24-hour online course that will teach 110 fundamental nutrition principles essential to achieving and maintaining optimum health, performance and longevity.

Cathie Glennon – BCRPA/SFL