There is so much buzz in the media these days about sugar. I often get asked questions like “how much is too much,” “is all sugar bad,” “is agave better than table sugar?” The answers really vary as widely as the people giving the analysis. The answer really lies somewhere in the middle. For the next few weeks, we are going to address sugar, what it does in the body, and how to consume it in a way that works for us individually.
For the purpose of this article, we are going to address some of the known and possible some unknown issues with overeating sugar.
Sugar promotes insulin resistance – most people know insulin resistance from the perspective of diabetes, but insulin resistance actually happens long before diabetes ever becomes a concern. Early warning signs can happen years before diabetic symptoms ever become apparent and include:
- Excess weight around the waist;
- High LDL (bad) blood cholesterol levels, low HDL (good) cholesterol levels, and high levels of triglycerides (a form fat in the blood);
- High blood pressure
- Sleep disturbance
- Rapid mood swings
- Infertility issues
–Sugar causes fat storage around your organs – High levels of fructose in the diet make it more likely for your body to store fat internally (as compared to subcutaneously or under the skin), especially around the liver. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, almost never seen before 1980, is on a steep incline due to the sharp increase of added sugars in the diet over the past 30 years.
A study presented to the International Liver Congress in Berlin analyzed 3 United States Nationwide studies that found that the prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease doubled from 5.51% to 11% from 1988-2008.
Clinicians found that from 1988-1994, 46.8% of all chronic liver disease was related to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. But by 2005-2008, this proportion had risen to 75.1%. This sharp rise follows the curve of increased sugar consumption by Americans.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease often has no symptoms, but when it does, symptoms may include:
- weight loss
- loss of appetite
- nausea, abdominal pain
- spider-like blood vessels
- yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
- itching, fluid buildup and swelling of the legs (edema) and abdomen
- mental confusion.
There are many other often unseen consequences of overdoing sugar which we will examine in the weeks to come. Knowing the “why” can often help you implement changes that you can live with.
STEP(S) FOR THIS WEEK:
- Take a look at how much sugar you are consuming on a daily basis. Guidelines for added sugar for women is a maximum of 6 teaspoons and 9 teaspoons for men. Look for sweet alternatives to help you cut down if you are eating over that limit like KIND Nut and Spice Bars (different than regular KIND bars) as they have less than 5 grams of sugar, or try a naturally sweet option like a Granny Smith apple (lowest in sugar) with some natural almond butter. The fiber in both the apple and the nuts in the KIND bar will help to offset the impact of the sugar on your system.