The Secret Dangers of Sugar

Sugar.  It makes life a little sweeter.  Unfortunately, it could also make life a little shorter or just less healthy.
We all know that too much sugar is not healthy, but few know how dangerous it really is.  It affects our body in many ways, some of which could be potentially fatal over time.  So if you need a reason to put down the Valentine’s chocolate, here are four body parts on which sugar wreaks havoc.

Your heart.  Although doctors aren’t exactly sure how sugar leads to deadly heart problems, they know it causes many changes in the cardiovascular system.  Sugar can increase blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.  It may also increase inflammation of the heart.  Studies show that people who get 25% or more of their calories from sugar are twice as likely to die from heart problems than those who get less than 7% from sugar.  That’s a scary fact, especially during Heart Month.

Your belly.  Sugar (specifically fructose) is more likely to become belly fat when eaten in excess.  But belly fat is much more than a cosmetic problem.   It releases hormone-like chemicals that promote inflammation.  This inflammation can lead to heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.

Your liver.  According to a 2012 study, sugar may have a toxic effect on the liver, very similar to alcohol.  Sugar has also been linked to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, an inflammation and malfunction of the liver.  Since the liver has functions that affect everything from digestion to the blood, it needs to be working well if we want to stay healthy.

Your brain.  Sugar can increase a body’s aging process, and that can unfortunately mean a quickly aging brain too.  It can affect memory and slow synaptic connections.  A study found that rats that were giving a diet high in sugar were quickly less able to navigate simple mazes, forgetting how they had completed the maze earlier.  The good news is that the rats showed improvements once the sugar was removed from their diet.

Staying healthy means avoiding high amounts of sugar.  But sugar not only lurks in sweet candy and soda.  Often it hides in seemingly innocent items such as tomato sauce, bread, and marinades.  Luckily, everything comes with labels, so keeping track of sugar is easier than ever.
So, while sugar is a nice treat occasionally, taking it out of your daily life can give your health a boost and keep you living longer.  And that’s definitely worth the cost of avoiding a few cookies.
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