Sugar from Head-to-Toe
What the Sweet Stuff Does to Your Body
Sugar is so delicious that it can be easy to forget it is essentially a drug http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22231826
that acts on every system in our body. Scientists have consistently found that
eating too much of the sweet stuff is not only bad for our waistlines
and teeth but can actually harm our bodies from head to toe.
Consider this the next time the cookies in the break room are calling your name.
Our brains are the most complex organ in our body and keep everything else in line,
so it makes sense to keep them in top form. A 2013 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine
found a significant link between high blood sugar and dementia http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1215740. The researchers examined 2,067 older adults and found that
the higher a person’s blood sugar levels, the greater the risk of dementia.
A separate study published in the Journal of Neurology
found that even people whose blood sugar was on the higher end of normal still showed memory loss and cognitive impairment compared
to their less-sugared-up counterparts http://goo.gl/tOlrYi. When they looked at brain scans of the participants, the scientists found shrinkage in the
hippocampus and the amygdala – areas of the brain associated with memory and cognitive function.
Did you know your eye doctor may be able to spot the early signs of diabetes? According to Brian Francis, an ophthalmologist at the Doheny Eye Center,
high blood sugar causes retinal vascular changes and can cause
blood vessels in your eyes to hemorrhage. Left untreated long enough,
it could cause you to go blind.
Too many slices of birthday cake can make you
look far older than the number of candles on the cake,
according to a surprising 2011 study from the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands. Pictures of 600 people were shown to independent observers and those who had higher blood sugar levels were
consistently marked as looking older – even when factors like sun exposure and smoking were taken into account.
The researchers said it was because sugar inhibits the production of collagen and elastin, the stuff that gives our faces that youthful glow.
No matter how many miles you run to burn off last night’s dessert,
the sugar is still taking a toll on your heart. “Studies suggest that sugar
causes the liver to produce more uric acid, and this leads to high blood pressure –
the leading cause of death globally because it raises the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Sugar also seems to raise cholesterol,” explains cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgegpakWYVE.
“What people don’t realize is that you can develop these problems and have a normal body mass index (BMI).
I see it all in the time in my clinic – people aren’t overweight and don’t
have diabetes, yet they’ve had a heart attack. I think sugar is one of the main culprits.”
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) may sound like
an obscure illness but thanks to rising consumption of sugar and refined
carbohydrates, it now accounts for
over 75 percent of all chronic liver disease http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20110402/non-alcoholic-fatty-liver-disease-rates-rising-in-us
and affects about 25 percent of people in the U.S. According to Malhotra, if
left untreated the liver can become damaged to the point where cirrhosis –
irreversible liver damage – begins. Not only can liver failure be fatal,
but having NAFLD also increases the risk of dying from cardiovascular causes http://www.liverfoundation.org/abouttheliver/info/nafld/.
Diets high in sugar-sweetened beverages and snacks were found to
be a risk factor in developing bowel cancer, said researchers in a 2012 study
the University of Edinburgh http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130715105427.htm/. In addition, that pint of ice cream may be the cause
of your constipation, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal issues as sugar has been shown
to worsen the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddISeases/pubs/ibs/.
Answering the call of nature more times than is, well, natural?
If you haven’t upped your water intake, you might want to get your blood sugar
levels checked, says Muhammad Shamim Khan, MD, a urologist at Guy’s and
St Thomas’ Hospital. “If a patient consumes more sugar than the body can
handle, it will be passed out in the urine and it may affect their
frequency.” He adds that it is one of the first symptoms of diabetes.
A yeast infection won’t kill you but it can definitely ruin your day,
and high sugar intake has been shown
to increase your susceptibility to the
itchy infection http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=21373. Just like brownies make the perfect welcome gift for your new
neighbors, eating a brownie creates the perfect welcoming environment for
the bacteria that cause yeast infections.
Gout, that the painful condition caused by uric
acid build-up in joints, isn’t just for the elderly anymore.
A 2009 study
published in the British Medical Journal found that the illness,
which can lead to full-blown arthritis, is linked to sugar consumption.
The researchers found that even a few sodas a week was associated
with an increasing risk of gout http://www.bmj.com/content/336/7639/309.