Tag Archives: sugar

Sugar Consumption and Cognitive Health

SugarCognitiveHealthJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

While an occasional sweet treat is a pleasurable experience, daily overindulgence of added sugar is a major contributor to poor dental heath, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Moreover, many health professionals view sugars as toxic to cognitive health and function. Scientists now refer to Alzheimer’s disease as “diabetes of the brain” or type 3 diabetes. Glucose, a form of sugar, is the primary fuel source for our energy-demanding brains. This may lead one to wonder how a simple carbohydrate necessary for brain function can wreak havoc on mental, physical and psychological wellbeing. However, supplying the brain with energy is a delicate balancing act that doesn’t require the consumption of added sugars.

Proper glucose levels and efficient use of this energy source are closely linked to valuable brain functions such as thinking, memory and learning. Low glucose levels are linked to decreased production of neurochemicals, as well as poor cognitive function. High glucose levels are linked to memory problems and cognitive deficiencies. Science shows that our bodies don’t need added sugar for proper function, as sophisticated bodily functions break down complex carbohydrates into the simple sugars essential for cell and organ functioning. A whole food largely plant-based diet replete with vitamins, minerals, omega-3’s, fiber, good quality proteins, and healthy fats, provides sufficient brain fuel and supports overall health.

We know that type 2 diabetes accelerates brain aging, and that high glucose levels can negatively affect the brain’s functional connectivity, accelerating the progression of functional decline. Long term type 1 and type 2 diabetes can cause brain atrophy, and can lead to small vessel disease, resulting in cognitive difficulties and hastening the development of vascular dementia. An observational study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that higher blood glucose levels are associated with a greater risk of dementia, even among those not diagnosed with diabetes. The seven-year study, which adjusted data for cardiovascular factors already linked to dementia, such as high blood pressure and smoking, found that over the course of the study, approximately 25 percent of participants developed Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia.

The results showed a direct correlation between higher blood sugar levels and increased dementia risk, providing more evidence that the brain is a target for damage by high blood sugar. The typical American diet, high in refined carbohydrates, added sugars and industrial food toxins, is linked to inflammation, a major driver of chronic disease. Neuroinflammation is believed to be a cause of depression and other mental health disorders. Per board certified women’s holistic health psychiatrist, Kelly Brogan, MD., “Sugar has direct inflammatory effects on the body that may be related to its influence on gut microflora, its associated insulin spike or the glycation effects of circulating sugar on proteins. The more days of your life you engage in a pattern of sugar and refined carb consumption, the more your brain suffers, potentially putting you at risk for Alzheimer’s dementia down the line.”

Brain neurons are very sensitive cells and those with diabetes and high blood sugar are at risk of neuronal damage. Data shows that type 2 diabetes causes brain insulin resistance, oxidative stress and cognitive impairment. Persuasive evidence supports the hypothesis that Alzheimer’s represents a form of diabetes that selectively afflicts the brain. Although type 2 diabetes itself may not cause Alzheimer’s, it may serve as a cofactor in its pathogenesis or progression. Additionally, the strong link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease is seen to support the claim that sugar toxicity may be destroying mental health. While correlated with mild cognitive impairment in seniors, high sugar consumption has negative effects on children’s cognitive function as well.

While there are no simple answers, common sense actions that promote health throughout life may help to avoid or delay cognitive decline. There’s no single medication or action that has been found to preserve brain health. Currently, a mixed approach of healthy lifestyle choices is recommended to help maintain brain resiliency and function. Factors that play a role in supporting cognitive and overall health include controlling blood sugar and hypertension, maintaining a healthy diet and weight, engaging in regular physical and cognitively stimulating activities, and avoiding smoking and social isolation. Making a broad overall effort to reduce sugar and refined carbohydrate consumption, as well as a commitment to a healthier lifestyle is good advice for supporting cardiac, brain and overall health. Don’t delay, start today.

Professional Supplement Center carries many high quality products to support overall heath and healthy glucose levels:

Vanadium Complex...Vanadium Complex with Cinnulin PF® by Progressive™ Laboratories: This scientifically designed complex provides nutritional support for glucose metabolism, normal blood sugar levels, and pancreatic health, as well as insulin production and sensitivity. Natural ingredients help to manage sugar and carbohydrate cravings.  

 

Sweet Defense™Sweet Defense™ by Enzymatic Therapy®: This vitamin, mineral, botanical and glandular product provides nutrients for blood glucose, carbohydrate and energy metabolism. Sweet Defense™ may help with weight management by helping to reduce sugar cravings. Gluten, wheat, soy, dairy, yeast, preservative and artificial ingredient free.

 

Chromium (picolinate...Chromium Picolinate 500 mcg by Pure Encapsulations®: This hypoallergenic supplement provides a highly usable form of chromium essential for proper glucose and lipid metabolism. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.

 

Glyco StressGlyco Stress by Biospec Nutritionals: This unique formula provides vitamins, minerals, and botanicals to nutritionally support the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, as well as promote healthy glucose levels.

 

Glucose Support...Glucose Support Formula by Pure Encapsulations®: This hypoallergenic complex contains highly recognized ingredients that provide specific support for optimal pancreatic function, as well as   healthy glucose and fat metabolism. Ingredients include traditional botanicals, adaptogens, chromium and maitake medicinal mushroom. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.

References:
Sugar and the Brain. http://neuro.hms.harvard.edu/harvard-mahoney-neuroscience-institute/brain-newsletter/and-brain-series/sugar-and-brain
High Blood Sugar Linked to Dementia. https://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/09/high-blood-sugar-linked-to-dementia/
Dietary Sugar and Mental Illness: A Surprising Link. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-depression-cure/200907/dietary-sugar-and-mental-illness-surprising-link
Alzheimer’s Disease is Type 3 Diabetes-Evidence Reviewed. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2769828/

 

Sugar Consumption and Cardiovascular Health

SugarHealthJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

For decades the tobacco industry misled consumers by withholding revealing scientific data on the deadly health risks of smoking. Today, the sugar industry is in the spotlight for its role in downplaying the damaging health risks of excessive sugar consumption on cardiovascular health. According to a newly published article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine, the early signs of the relationship between sugar consumption and coronary heart disease first emerged in the 1950’s. The journal researchers found that a group known as the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) funded research executed by a team of Harvard scientists. Without disclosing their funding, the SRF set the objective, and contributed articles for inclusion. Their goal was to cast doubt about the health hazards of sugar, while promoting fat as the dietary cause of heart disease. The Harvard researchers concluded that cutting out fat, not sugar, was “no doubt” the best dietary intervention to prevent coronary heart disease.

JAMA researchers found that SRF’s internal documents revealed the sugar industry’s successful attempt to influence scientific study and debate. Circumstantial evidence indicates SRF shaped the conclusions of the Harvard review published in 1967. The review, led by the chairman of Harvard’s Public Health Nutrition Department, who was also an ad hoc board member of the SRF, minimized the significance of research that implicated sugar as a coronary health risk, while also influencing public health recommendations for reduced dietary fat consumption. Consequently, as people followed recommendations to eat less dietary fat, sugar consumption rose, along with obesity, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

Well into the 1970’s, the sugar industry continued to fund similar research surreptitiously. When asked to comment on the recent findings, the SRF admitted they should have exercised “greater transparency” of its industry funded studies, and added that “funding disclosures and transparency standards were not the norm they are today.” Though the documents that were examined are five decades old, this practice persists. The food industry continues to spend millions on nutrition research, while policy making committees continue to base dietary recommendations on food industry-funded studies. New York University Nutrition scholar, Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, who spent a year informally tracking these studies found that approximately “90 percent of studies funded by the food industry resulted in outcomes that favored the sponsor’s interest.” It appears that when the food industry funds research, it often gets the pro-industry desired conclusion that it paid for.

“The longstanding influence of food industry funding on nutrition research, researchers, and professional societies threatens the credibility of nutrition science,” says Nestle. During a seven-month period, Nestle identified 76 industry-funded studies. Of these, 70 reported results favorable to the sponsor’s interest. Independently funded studies have found correlations between sugary drinks, obesity and poor health, while studies funded by the soda industry did not. Research funded by the National Confectioners Association concluded that children who eat sweets have healthier body weights than those who don’t. Coca-Cola, the world’s largest producer of sugary drinks, backed a “science-based” solution to the obesity crisis. Coke has provided financial and logistical support to a new nonprofit organization called the Global Energy Balance Network, which works to convince weight conscious Americans that they simply need to exercise more rather than be overly concerned about how much fast food and soda they consume.

In truth, many Americans do need to be more physically active. However, they also need to eat smarter, as exercise expends far fewer calories than most people realize. Independent scientific research indicates that limiting intake of high glycemic foods, such as refined carbohydrates and sugary foods and drinks, greatly impacts weight management. Sugar sweetened drinks are the largest source of added sugar in the average American diet. Sugar not only delivers empty calories, devoid of fiber, vitamins, minerals and other health promoting nutrients, it may also crowd healthier foods from the diet. Studies show that those with high sugar consumption have a higher risk of cardiovascular mortality, even when they also consume heart healthy vegetables and fruits.

How does sugar harm the heart? Cardiovascular disease is mainly associated with atherosclerosis, a condition in which fatty plaque deposits build up in the linings of blood vessels and restrict blood flow. A 15-year study on added sugar and heart disease found participants who consumed 25% or more of their daily calories as sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease than those whose diets included less than 10% added sugar. This major study published in JAMA found that a sugar-laden diet raised the risk of cardiac morality even in those who were not overweight.  A high sugar diet has been shown to cause abnormalities including high total cholesterol, high triglycerides, insulin resistance, oxidized LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, and abnormal glucose tolerance, all of which are implicated in heart disease.

Sugar’s overall effect on these numerous health markers is likely more detrimental to overall health than consumption of saturated fat, which can increase LDL, but at the same time raise HDL. Sugar contributes to insulin spikes and the inflammation that harms the fragile endothelial lining of blood vessels, and promotes obesity, prediabetes and diabetes type 2, putting those with these conditions at greater risk of atherosclerotic coronary heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons or 100 calories a day of added sugar for women, and no more than 9 teaspoons or 150 calories a day for men. Along with decreased sugar and ultra-processed food consumption, a diet of whole foods, as well as increased exercise is highly recommended for cardiovascular and overall good health.

Professional Supplement Center carries these and other high quality products to support overall wellness:

PGX DailyPGX® Daily by Bioclinic Naturals: This proprietary highly viscous fiber blend is formulated to support healthy glucose metabolism by lowering the glycemic index of meals. Fiber viscosity is associated with increased satiety, reduced appetite, improved regularity and healthy weight maintenance. Gluten, wheat, dairy, yeast, and artificial sweetener free.

Cinnamon Biotin...Cinnamon Biotin Chromium Complex by Natrol®: The 100% vegetarian antioxidant complex provides support for sugar, protein, and fat metabolism, and helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels already within the normal range. Gluten, wheat, dairy, egg, sugar, and artificial ingredient free.

Chromium SynergyChromium Synergy™ by Designs for Health®: This synergistic blend of chelated minerals provides highly absorbable nutrients to assist blood sugar control. Ingredients include zinc, manganese, chromium, taurine and vanadium. Gluten, wheat, yeast, dairy, soy, sugar, preservative, and artificial ingredient free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.

Alpha Lipoic Acid...Alpha Lipoic Acid 400 mg by Pure Encapsulations®: This exceptionally versatile nutrient provides antioxidant protection, as well as support for nerve health, cardiovascular function, and glucose metabolism. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.

Sweet Defense™Sweet Defense™ by Enzymatic Therapy®: This vitamin, mineral, botanical and glandular supplement provides support for glucose, carbohydrate, and energy metabolism. Along with a healthy diet and exercise, Sweet Defense™ may help manage weight and reduce sugar cravings. Gluten, wheat, soy, dairy, yeast, sugar, and preservative free formulation.

References:
Sugar Industry and Coronary Heart Disease Research. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2548255?redirect=true
The Food Industry’s Influence In Nutrition Research. https://www.npr.org/2016/09/17/494360187/industry-influence-in-nutrition-research
Corporate Funding of Food and Nutrition Research. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2471609
Coca-Cola Funds Scientists Who Shift Blame for Obesity Away From Bad Diets. https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/08/09/coca-cola-funds-scientists-who-shift-blame-for-obesity-away-from-bad-diets/
Eating too much added sugar increases the risk of dying of heart disease. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/eating-too-much-added-sugar-increases-the-risk-of-dying-with-heart-disease-201402067021
Sugar consumption plays greater role in heart disease than saturated fat. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160113103318.htm

Sugar Consumption and Your Health – Part 1

SugarSusanBiconBy Susan Brown
Health & Wellness Editor

Everyone, it seems, has a natural primeval urge to seek out high energy dense or high calorie foods, as one type of sugar called glucose is literally our brain food. Our bodies make glucose by breaking down the carbohydrates, proteins and fats that we consume, so it’s actually unnecessary to add glucose to our diets. Science has shown that sugar is addictive and has a powerful effect on the reward centers of the brain. Sugar is pervasive in the standard American diet and the high level of consumption is a major contributing factor to the alarming state of unhealth of our citizens. The big sugar industry has known since the early 1970’s that excess sugar could be damaging to public health. And to protect their own corporate interests, the sugar industry set out to undermine science and subvert sensible regulation, an all too familiar tactic.

Back in 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that people limit their added sugar intake to 10% of daily calories. The sugar industry had no trouble taking their complaint to the U.S. Congress, which consequently threatened to pull WHO funding. Unsurprisingly, only 5 months later, the recommendation just simply disappeared. Politics aside, denial of the deleterious health effects of added sugars has become not only a health issue, but a moral issue as well. A food and beverage corporation recently attempted to blame the obesity epidemic on consumers’ failure to exercise, causing an uproar from scientists who say that exercise is good for you, but if you want to lose or maintain weight, you’ll need to cut back on sugar and processed food and opt for healthy nutritious whole foods.

As the FDA prepares to refine nutrition labels to reduce confusion and make it easier for consumers to keep track of exactly how much added sugar they are consuming daily, groups such as the American Bakers Association and the Sugar Association are challenging the changes every step of the way. Even though more people are reading labels and attempting to decipher them as they currently stand, it’s time for us to take control of exactly what we are feeding our bodies. Knowing how much sugar is added to our food is a good step in the right direction. One thing we do know is, we can’t go on ignoring sugar consumption and good nutrition if we want to live longer and have healthier lives.

While a recent Gallup poll reports that 63% of Americans say they actively avoid drinking soda and other sugary drinks, nearly half of Americans drink at least one soda per day. Just one can of cola for example, contains 44 grams or 10 teaspoons of sugar, surpassing the American Heart Association’s recommendation of a maximum of 6 teaspoons of added sugar daily for women and 9 teaspoons daily for men. Alarmingly, one sugary beverage per day equates to 50 lbs of excess added sugars a year, way more than our bodies are designed to handle. And that is only what we consume in our drinks. Annually, the average American consumes 130 lbs of refined sugars that contain no essential vitamins, minerals, enzymes or fiber. Processed, packaged and fast foods all contain hidden sugars, which can have harmful effects on metabolic processes. Proposed label improvements are imperative, as the current nutritional label is designed to keep us in the dark, and what we don’t know can be seriously detrimental to our overall health and longevity.

American attitudes are changing, as more people become aware that consuming excess sugar raises the risk factors for developing chronic diseases. The new nutrition facts label is designed to make servings sizes, calories and daily values of the various nutrients easier to understand. The proposed listing of added sugars, separately from the natural sugar the food may contain, has been the most controversial change. While the food and beverage industry opposes this modification, the added sugar labeling recommendations are necessary, as only a well informed consumer can make healthy dietary changes once they decide to improve their health and longevity and reduce their risks of developing chronic disease.  

A reckoning is not far off. Should the obesity and diabetes epidemics continue to escalate, 1 in 3 Americans will have diabetes by 2050. The impact on health care costs will be all consuming and unsustainable, as diabetes has a deleterious effect on the entire body and as such is a very costly chronic disease. As we struggle to contain obesity, diabetes and the alarming rise of other chronic diseases, our desire to change our diets or lose weight far exceeds our efforts. Ideally, the average American would like to weigh 15 pounds less than they do, yet many are not making the dietary changes that are necessary for weight control.  

And, while 7 of 10 Americans report eating fast food weekly, only 25% believe it has some degree of nutritional value. It appears that the appeal of sugary drinks and the convenience, taste and low cost of fast food products considerably outweigh the health concerns. The question remains, do you trust food and beverage corporations with your health? If your answer is no, opting for water in lieu of sugary drinks, and nutrition-rich whole foods in lieu of fast and processed foods are good ways to get started on a better path to a healthier life.

Up next: Part 2 – The Deleterious Health Effects of a High Sugar Diet

References:
How Sugars and Sweeteners Affect Your Health. http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/oct2014/feature1
Daily Intake of Sugar – How Much Sugar Should You Eat Per Day. http://authoritynutrition.com/how-much-sugar-per-day/
Americans More Likely to Avoid Drinking Soda Than Before. http://www.gallup.com/poll/174137/americans-likely-avoid-drinking-soda.aspx?utm_source=alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=syndication&utm_content=morelink&utm_term=All%20Gallup%20Headlines%20-%20Well-Being