Early in your walk with Heart In Motion, we did a series on sugar, but it is important to occasionally go back and revisit the “why” behind our recommendations. It can be easy to go back to old habits and forget the reasons behind our changes. The biggest danger of overconsuming sugar is not the short term blood sugar spikes but rather in the long term cumulative effects. Read below to revisit a few of the many lurking consequences of overdoing sugar.
Heart Health – Because heart health is actually based on inflammation more than cholesterol (go back and read HIM articles on cholesterol for a refresher), decreasing inflammation can go a long way toward preventing arterial blockages. Studies show that people who get 20% of their calories from sugar (it’s not that hard) are 38% more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than those who get just 8% of their daily calories from sugar. That is a huge difference in longevity just from decreasing sugar consumption!
Alzheimer’s Risk – Because Alzheimer’s is a disease of inflammation, the role of sugar consumption throughout one’s lifespan is worth addressing. Longitudinal studies support the finding that those with chronically high blood sugar levels had faster rates of cognitive decline than those with lower sugar intake. Research is becoming so clear in this area that many medical circles have dubbed Alzheimers “type 3 diabetes.”
Sugar Fuels Cancer – This phenomenon has been proven over and over in studies on mice. Animal studies have shown as high as double the tumor rate in those who ate high sugar/starch diets compared to those who those who ate sugar/starch controlled diets. The most studied cancers are those of the digestive system and breast.
Immune System Dysfunction – 80-90% of our immune system is in our gut, so when we consume sugar, our immune system gets depleted. It is estimated that even a temporary spike in blood sugar can deplete the immune system by 75%. It takes 4-6 hours for the gut/immune function to fully recover every time we eat sugar, so you can see how regularly consuming sugar can lead you to get sick more often.
Leaky Gut– We have talked over the years about the dangers of leaky gut, and sugar is one of the major contributors. Sugar feeds yeast and other bad bacteria leading to damage in the gut wall. Leaky gut is a major player in everything from migraine headaches to mood issues and auto immune disorders.
Diabetes – This is one you probably are already well aware of, but it as you probably know, eating sugar on a regular basis leads to insulin resistance. This condition is reversible though if you catch it relatively early but you can prevent it entirely (yes, even if you have family history).
Hormonal Balance – Sugar causes an imbalance in your leptin (turns off hunger) and ghrelin (hunger) hormones causing “toxic hunger.” Toxic hunger is any hunger that is caused something other than the actual need for food. Because sugar causes such hormonal imbalances, it can make weight loss more of a challenge than it needs to be.
STEP(S) FOR THIS WEEK:
- Sugar is fun at birthdays, Christmas, and Thanksgiving. Making it a part of your regular diet can have both short term and definitely long term health consequences. Pay attention to how much sugar you consume on a regular basis and make purposeful changes over time. It can make such a difference in both the length of and quality of your life.