August 2, 2016 | Categories: Other
The amount of sugar we consume daily has increased drastically over the last 30 years. Manufacturers add sugar as a cheap way to make foods tasty and desirable; so even if you avoid sweets, you can still easily exceed the recommended daily limits. That’s right! Even your salad dressing, soup and favorite dairy foods have probably been “enhanced” with added sugars.
We consume an estimated 33 tsp. of sugar daily (550 calories). That’s well over the 100-150 calorie recommendation by the American Heart Association (AHA). Eating too much sugar can cause weight gain, but are you aware of the other effects it has on your body – both inside and out?
Appearance. Believe it or not, sugar can affect your looks. It contributes to aging in general, but most noticeable are the extra pounds and wrinkles. Too much sugar can damage collagen and elastin (which keep skin youthful, firm and elastic). Sugar also sends your blood sugar levels on a raging rollercoaster ride that leaves you ravenous. All those extra calories tip the scales of obesity, putting you at increased risk for diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illnesses.
Heart. Consumption of too much sugar causes insulin levels to be elevated in the bloodstream. This can cause tense artery walls, increasing your risk for high blood pressure and making stroke and heart attack more likely. Heart disease and stroke are the No. 1 causes of death for people with diabetes. Consumption of added sugars has been associated with measures of cardiovascular disease risk, including adverse cholesterol concentrations, according to the CDC.
Liver. Excess sugar intake can force fat buildup around the liver and cause the pancreas to produce extra insulin, leading to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease – a condition that was rarely seen before 1980.
Brain. Sugar triggers the brain’s pleasure center. Many experts agree that sugar fits the criteria of addiction for several reasons: It stimulates the brain; People continue to consume it despite its harmful effects and a desire to quit; a tolerance to it can be developed; and many experience withdrawal symptoms which can be quite intense if sugar is immediately omitted from the diet.
Mood. We’re all guilty of reaching for comfort foods now and then, but regularly relying on this type of food to feel better can actually have the opposite effect. Eating too much junk food has been linked to an increased risk of depression. It might be because the brain releases less dopamine due to excess sugar intake. Weight gain and chronic disease have also been linked to depression.
Sweet Relief. Just like with any addiction, the effects are physical and emotional. Breaking free will not be easy at first. Withdrawals typically last only a few days, so remind yourself that it will get easier.
Here are ten helpful tips to help you remove excess sugar from your diet:
• Remove junk food from your environment.
• Stay hydrated. Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger.
• Eat healthy balanced meals slowly and mindfully to satisfy hunger and fight blood sugar swings.
• Eat before going out and before grocery shopping.
• Read food labels and know the variety of names used for sugar, such as high fructose corn syrup, corn sugar, and evaporated cane juice.
• Find healthy alternatives such as eating fruit for sweetness instead of candy or baked goods.
• Choose high fiber foods, which tend to mainly consist of unprocessed foods, increase a feeling of fullness and help fight cravings.
• Acknowledge the importance of regular exercise and sleep.
• Identify emotional triggers and find an alternative to eating (go for walk, read, talk to someone).
• If you slip up, acknowledge it and get right back on track. No one is perfect.
Rowe Hudson, RD, LD, CDE, is the Director of Lee Health Solutions. Lee Health Solutions helps people manage chronic health conditions. For more information, please call 239-424-3120.
Rowe Hudson, RD, LD, CDE,
Director of Lee Health Solutions