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Sugar, an ingredient that makes most everything taste great, is a guilty pleasure that we enjoy, even though we know it can help us pack on the pounds. But were you aware of the negative effects it can have on your body? I had no idea of how easily the effects of sugar, weight gain and obesity can creep up and how devastating it can be to your health.
You probably know that eating too much sugar can lead to obesity and weight gain. But did you know it can also contribute to high blood pressure?
You've probably heard messages that make the connection between eating and drinking our favorite sugary foods and negative effects our health. Even foods that don't taste sweet, like crackers, breads, ketchup and teriyaki sauce have added sugar. And of course interacting with elements in our environment like stress and certain chemicals can lead to weight gain, obesity and diseases like heart attack and stroke.
The thing you may not know is why these diseases that used to be prevalent only among older people are now also prevalent among children and young adults. You may not know how subtle changes like a little added sugar in everything we eat, can have a negative impact on our health. Too much sugar in our diet, gives new meaning to the term "getting too much of a good thing".
How Blood Pressure is Measured
Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and is written systolic over diastolic (for example, 120/80 mm Hg, or "120 over 80"). According to the most recent guidelines, a normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg. Hypertension is blood pressure that is greater than 140/90. For people over age 60, high blood pressure is defined as 150/90 or greater. Prehypertension consists of blood pressure that is 120 to 139/80 to 89.
How My Own Sugar Cravings Left Me Speechless
I found myself (like many others in my circle) downplaying my sugar cravings as something that's totally harmless. Who cares about those harmless packs of gum I buy when going through the grocery check out line, or the extra half teaspoon of sugar I add to my morning coffee. Right? Wrong...
When I looked into the effects of sugar on the human body, I found that not only does it help pack on the pounds, but it independently impacts blood pressure and lipids! And it has an effect on things like joint pain (inflammation), mood and depression. It can affect your arteries, pancreas, liver, kidneys and last but not least your heart.
When I evaluated all the added sugar in my diet, those "little" cravings and the amount of sugar I was consuming on a daily basis became a big deal. If you've ever wondered why you're gaining weight even though you're working out, or why you have high blood pressure, or even why you have high cholesterol, the culprit just might be the amount of sugar you consume on a daily basis. The little things we do on a daily basis can add up to really big things if we're unaware. I found that I was totally unaware.
If you've ever wondered WHY you have high blood pressure, check the added sugar in your diet
The More You Consume, The More You Want
Sugar is known to give your body a one, two punch when it comes to energy, but because the taste is so good, it's easy to become dependent on it. Like caffeine, it can cause you to go through a withdrawal of sorts when you don't have it.
We use the term sugar craving casually, and we may even joke about it. But there's nothing casual about it because of how much it impacts our health. Especially if heart disease or diabetes is in your family history. Sugar cravings have become a way of life for so many people who have no idea that there is so much at stake when it comes to their health.
When you have that donut or candy bar, there is usually an associated boost of energy that goes along with it. When your body has used the sugar, you may experience a calm, relaxing feeling or the crash that is also associated with coming off the "sugar high". It's the highs and lows that we come to know as "sugar cravings", or even sugar addiction. Before we know it, these cravings are part of our daily routine. One thing leads to another and before you know if you've packed on 10, 20, even 30 pounds or more.
How to Get Around Sugar Cravings
So... if you find that you’re having frequent sugar cravings here is what you can do. Recognize that carbohydrates (including sugar), weight gain, obesity, and diseases like high blood pressure, insulin resistance, diabetes and heart disease (pretty much in that order) can create a snowball effect that may lead to serious health issues and death.
If you find that you're overweight, or obese take action to lose weight. Lose as much weight as possible. Even a loss of 10 pounds can make a difference in your health.
Reishi mushrooms, like Gano have been known to have a blood pressure lowering effect. Make sure to check with your doctor, especially if you're already on medications for blood pressure. For more information on Reishi mushrooms, read this article.
Understand how carbohydrates work to stimulate in the release of serotonin (the feel good chemical) in the brain. Sugar is a carbohydrate, but carbs come in many other forms like whole grains, fruits and vegatables. To reduce your sugar cravings, try replacing sugar with more of the other carbs.
Quench your need for sugar with fruits that provide a naturally sweet taste with the added benefit of fiber. Fiber helps food pass through your system and helps to control your blood sugar.
The best thing you can do to kick your sugar cravings is to stop buying it. If it's not around you will be forced to go cold turkey. The next thing you can do to avoid sugar cravings is avoid processed foods. Processed foods are filled with both sugar and salt, that are not good for your blood pressure
Prepare meals at home as much as possible, adding more vegetables and berries. Drink more water, and add spirulina to your diet as a non meat source of protein. Protein is harder to digest and helps you to feel full longer.
Americans average about 20 tablespoons of added sugar per day, compared to the recommended 6 tablespoons for women and 9 tablespoons for men.
Recognize Sugar in All Its Forms
Sugar goes by many different names including agave nectar, sucrose, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, maltose, rice syrup and more. There are actually about 57 different names for sugar. This makes it more important than ever to read food labels.
When you eat too much sugar, the extra insulin in your bloodstream can affect your arteries, causing their walls to grow faster than normal and get tense. This adds stress to your heart and damages it over time. This can lead to heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
Plus, people who eat a lot of added sugar (where at least 25% of their calories comes from added sugar) are twice as likely to die of heart disease as those whose diets include less than 10% of total calories from added sugar.
One of the First Studies to Make the Connection
Research shows that sugar can affect blood pressure in an entirely different way that’s different from its effect on weight. In 2014, scientists from University of Otago in New Zealand reviewed several randomized controlled trials that looked at sugar's effect on blood pressure, and concluded that not only does sugar help pack on the pounds, but it independently impacts blood pressure and lipids.
The study is one of the first to connect the effects of sugar among people eating average diets—the participants were not provided measured amounts of sugar by the researchers but rather reported on how much sugar they consumed as part of their daily diet. It's easy to underestimate how much sugar we eat, since it can hide in processed foods and add up. So of course, more studies are needed to make a definitive decision on the relationship of sugar and blood pressure.
When you think of how many foods and drinks have sugar, it becomes clear that cutting back is required for good health. If you have a family history of high blood pressure and heart disease, it's also important to monitor your blood pressure on a regular basis.
Eliminate sugar from your diet completely or reduce the amount of sugar you ingest on a daily basis to improve your over health, including you blood pressure. Reading food labels you know how much sugar is in the food you’re eating.
Finally, for another idea on leaving sugar behind and ridding your body of the harmful elements in the environment, take a look at this quick video.
Read food labels to make sure you're aware of the sugar (and the many names) in your favorite foods. Find different substitutes for sugar or avoid it altogether.
Dr. Lisa Te Morenga, the lead study author said "Although the effects of sugars on blood pressure and lipids are relatively modest, our findings support public health recommendations to reduce added sugar in our diets as one of the measures which might be expected to reduce the global burden of cardiovascular diseases". The findings are published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
If you're a tea lover, try this herbal tea that tastes great and will help to detox your body and gain balance. You can drink it hot or cold two times per day to reduce your cravings for sugar and lose weight.
It’s amazing how sugar cravings can affect your body. Sugar makes our favorite foods taste better, but the amount found in many foods is concerning. Did you know that not only does sugar help pack on the pounds, but it independently impacts blood pressure and lipids?