7 Reasons to Kick Sugar
7 Reasons to Kick Sugar

7 Reasons to Kick Sugar

There’s nothing sweet about what too much sugar does to your diet and your health. Sugar has been linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, acne, wrinkles and other signs of accelerated aging. But did you know that sugar is as addictive as cocaine, and it’s also damaging to your liver and your brain? What’s more, cancers use sugar to fuel their growth. National surveys show that sugar intake has drastically increased over the past few decades. The average American now consumes 100 pounds of sugar each year. Americans’ daily sugar intake is about 20 teaspoons each — more than 300 calories from added sugars alone. Read on for 7 important reasons why you should decrease the sugar in your diet starting today.

1 SUGAR MAY BE ADDICTIVE

Have you ever noticed that the more sweets you eat, the more you crave? According to brain scans, sugar is as addictive as cocaine, California-based endocrinologist Dr. Robert Lustig told CBS News’ “60 Minutes.” Dr. Mehmet Oz recently wrote in the Huffington Post “When you eat sugar, it stimulates the release of dopamine in your brain, which makes you feel pleasure…It may startle you to learn that heroin, morphine and sugar all stimulate the same receptors in your brain.” In his book “Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us,” New York Times reporter Michael Moss takes a detailed look at how the food industry has contributed to America’s obesity epidemic by infusing processed foods with sugar, salt and fat to make it more addictive and pleasing.

2 EXCESSIVE SUGAR INCREASES RISK OF CANCER

In its “Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention” the American Cancer Society wrote “By promoting obesity and elevating insulin levels, high sugar intake may indirectly increase cancer risk.” Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University found that elevated blood sugar levels were associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer after studying 5,000 women for 12 years. A 2010 study by researchers at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center found that pancreatic cancers use the sugar fructose to activate a key cellular pathway that drives cell division, helping the cancer grow more quickly.

3 SUGAR IS HARD ON YOUR HEART

You may think that you need to focus on reducing sodium, trans fats and saturated fats for your heart’s sake, but it’s the sweet stuff in your diet that may be just as bad for your heart. Studies suggest that diets rich in sugar or a high glycemic load are associated with increased risk for heart disease. Too much sugar elevates blood triglycerides (a type of fat that stores extra sugar calories) and lowers protective HDL-cholesterol levels. Since all risk factors for heart disease are associated with eating excess added sugars, the American Heart Association (AHA) has recommended that Americans drastically cut back on added sugar, to help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease. The AHA’s suggested added sugar threshold is no more than 6 teaspoons per day (100 calories) for women and 9 teaspoons per day (150 calories) for men.

4 SUGAR MAKES YOU FAT

All added sweeteners provide calories but lack important vitamins, minerals and fiber. As diets get higher in sugar content, the nutritional quality of the diet goes down while the calories go up. In addition, research associates high-glycemic (i.e. high sugar) diets with increased waistlines. Carrying extra weight in your belly is one of the riskiest propositions for your health, as it’s linked to heart disease and diabetes.

5 SUGAR MAY RUIN YOUR LIVER

If you haven’t heard of fatty liver, think of human foie gras. Just as force feeding and fattening a duck creates a liver with a buttery rich texture that is a well-known (and now controversial) delicacy in French cuisine, research shows that high sugar diets will change the texture of YOUR liver. The liver is one of our largest and most complex organs and it also happens to be one of the major storage houses for glucose in the form of glycogen. When you eat sugary foods or beverages, blood sugar rises, insulin is secreted and the liver answers to insulin by pulling sugar from the blood to make glycogen. The liver will then process all the glycogen storage into fat. It’s the overconsumption of sugars, risk for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease increases. Fatty liver may lead to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease or other chronic health-related problems.

There’s nothing sweet about what too much sugar does to your diet and your health. Sugar has been linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, acne, wrinkles and other signs of accelerated aging. But did you know that sugar is as addictive as cocaine, and it’s also damaging to your liver and your brain? What’s more, cancers use sugar to fuel their growth. National surveys show that sugar intake has drastically increased over the past few decades. The average American now consumes 100 pounds of sugar each year. Americans’ daily sugar intake is about 20 teaspoons each — more than 300 calories from added sugars alone. Read on for 15 important reasons why you should decrease the sugar in your diet starting today.

1 SUGAR MAY BE ADDICTIVE

Have you ever noticed that the more sweets you eat, the more you crave? According to brain scans, sugar is as addictive as cocaine, California-based endocrinologist Dr. Robert Lustig told CBS News’ “60 Minutes.” Dr. Mehmet Oz recently wrote in the Huffington Post “When you eat sugar, it stimulates the release of dopamine in your brain, which makes you feel pleasure…It may startle you to learn that heroin, morphine and sugar all stimulate the same receptors in your brain.” In his book “Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us,” New York Times reporter Michael Moss takes a detailed look at how the food industry has contributed to America’s obesity epidemic by infusing processed foods with sugar, salt and fat to make it more addictive and pleasing.

2 EXCESSIVE SUGAR INCREASES RISK OF CANCER

In its “Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention” the American Cancer Society wrote “By promoting obesity and elevating insulin levels, high sugar intake may indirectly increase cancer risk.” Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University found that elevated blood sugar levels were associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer after studying 5,000 women for 12 years. A 2010 study by researchers at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center found that pancreatic cancers use the sugar fructose to activate a key cellular pathway that drives cell division, helping the cancer grow more quickly.

3 SUGAR IS HARD ON YOUR HEART

You may think that you need to focus on reducing sodium, trans fats and saturated fats for your heart’s sake, but it’s the sweet stuff in your diet that may be just as bad for your heart. Studies suggest that diets rich in sugar or a high glycemic load are associated with increased risk for heart disease. Too much sugar elevates blood triglycerides (a type of fat that stores extra sugar calories) and lowers protective HDL-cholesterol levels. Since all risk factors for heart disease are associated with eating excess added sugars, the American Heart Association (AHA) has recommended that Americans drastically cut back on added sugar, to help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease. The AHA’s suggested added sugar threshold is no more than 6 teaspoons per day (100 calories) for women and 9 teaspoons per day (150 calories) for men.

4 SUGAR MAKES YOU FAT

All added sweeteners provide calories but lack important vitamins, minerals and fiber. As diets get higher in sugar content, the nutritional quality of the diet goes down while the calories go up. In addition, research associates high-glycemic (i.e. high sugar) diets with increased waistlines. Carrying extra weight in your belly is one of the riskiest propositions for your health, as it’s linked to heart disease and diabetes.

5 SUGAR MAY RUIN YOUR LIVER

If you haven’t heard of fatty liver, think of human foie gras. Just as force feeding and fattening a duck creates a liver with a buttery rich texture that is a well-known (and now controversial) delicacy in French cuisine, research shows that high sugar diets will change the texture of YOUR liver. The liver is one of our largest and most complex organs and it also happens to be one of the major storage houses for glucose in the form of glycogen. When you eat sugary foods or beverages, blood sugar rises, insulin is secreted and the liver answers to insulin by pulling sugar from the blood to make glycogen. The liver will then process all the glycogen storage into fat. It’s the overconsumption of sugars, risk for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease increases. Fatty liver may lead to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease or other chronic health-related problems.

6 SUGAR INCREASES YOUR RISK OF KIDNEY STONES

Since sugary beverages are a significant source of added sugars, here’s another reason to limit them in your diet: kidney stones. According to research, drinking just one sugary beverage per day increases the risk for kidney stones by nearly 25 percent. What’s more, consuming a sugary non-cola beverage, such as fruit punch, upped the risk to 33 percent. Researchers followed nearly 200,000 nurses for more than eight years and tracked their diet and history of kidney stones. Other beverages such as coffee, tea, orange juice and wine were associated with a reduced risk for developing the mineral stones. While the best advice for the prevention of the development and passing of these mineral stones is to increase fluid intake, focus on drinking water to get most of your daily fluid needs.

7 SUGAR IS BAD FOR YOUR SMILE

You may recall your parents telling you that too many sweets can harm your teeth. They were right! When sugar mixes with bacteria that are naturally present in the mouth, acid is produced. According to the American Dental Association, this acid can attack teeth for 20 minutes or longer. So unless you are brushing your teeth continually, a high sugar intake can have serious adverse effects on dental health. Sugary soft drinks have come under particular scrutiny when it comes to tooth decay, because not only do they have a lot of sugar (a can of Coke for instance has about 10 teaspoons of sugar!) they’re also full of citric and phosphoric acid. Sugar in any form has been linked to tooth decay – so whether you’re eating it or drinking it – less is better.