We all know too much sugar isn’t good for us. It makes us fat and rots our teeth. But sugar and its brothers, syrup and high-fructose corn syrup (or as sciency types call it, HCFS) hurts our health in other ways too. And we Americans get way too much of it.
Sugar is associated with Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is 20% greater in countries with a high
intake of sugar than in countries with a low intake. Isn’t that ironic? If you eat too much sugar, you eventually develop a disease where you aren’t allowed to eat any at all? Diabetes is a truly difficult disease. Insulin, which is used to treat it, must be given by injection. Sugar testing is done with fingersticks. And diabetes leads to many serious complications such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, and circulation and nerve disease that can eventually lead to loss of limb. Bottom line, you don’t want to get it.
Sugar and obesity can result in a prediabetic condition called insulin resistance. This isn’t as bad as diabetes, and is reversible with weight loss. But this isn’t a walk in the park either. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is an increasingly common problem among young women and in many cases stems from obesity and insulin resistance. PCOS is associated with continued weight gain (insulin is a growth hormone), irregular periods, infertility, and excessive facial hair. It is also associated with skin changes such as skin tags and dark patches of skin in the armpits and groin.
If that’s not enough to get you away from soda and Christmas candy, here’s a partial list of other conditions that may be associated with excess sugar in your diet.
Asthma in kids
Elevated fats in the blood such as cholesterol and tryglycerides
Early aging of the skin
Yikes! The good news is that stevia and aspartame are not associated with these diseases and can satisfy a little of your sweet tooth during the holidays. At parties, aim for nuts, cheeses, veggies, pretzels, and dips like salsa and hummus instead of butter cookies and homemade fudge. Be careful of the drinks too. Unless you’re making a skinny cocktail, wine or spritzers are the better choice.