As the rate of Heart Disease-related deaths continues to rise, it’s become more important than ever to look at the link between sugar-diabetes-and your heart.
In the Dietary Guidelines published by the U.S. government for 2015-2020, one of the top recommendations is that all Americans limit their intake of added sugars to no more than 10% of their daily calories.
However even getting just 10% of your daily calories from sugar is still far too high when it comes to heart health or diabetes.
For most people eating that amount of sugar would amount to a whopping 12 teaspoons of sugar a day! …And that doesn’t even include the consumption of white flour, such as in bread or pasta, which the body quickly converts to sugar…
You get the picture. We just cannot ignore the link between sugar-diabetes-and your heart.
But, besides the obvious repercussions for diabetics, just why is sugar so bad for you?
The problem with sugar is that it contributes to inflammation of the walls of your arteries.
It does that by generating an insulin spike, which is a normal function of the endocrine system that usually happens after eating…and it can prove deadly for a diabetic without emergency care. One of two things can happen:
And here’s how the link between sugar-diabetes-and your heart works:
The endocrine system is the collection of glands that secrete hormones (in this case, insulin), directly into the circulatory system to be carried towards other organs.
In a healthy person, the insulin spike does its job and then the levels return to normal.
- If something goes wrong and the insulin levels stay high, it can cause symptoms of dizziness before quickly becoming a medical emergency.
- Then, as the insulin continues to spike, it starts to ravage the fragile, but very important “endothelial lining” (the connective tissue) of blood vessels.
If the endothelial lining becomes damaged, all the well-known causes of heart disease problems become the new reality, creating the inflammatory swarm to the scene.
THIS creates the inflammatory disturbances that eventually leads to heart attack and stroke.
Adding insult to injury, even if you’re not a “diagnosed diabetic,” excessive sugar consumption can also cause weight gain…but you know that.
However, this is worse, because weight gain, combined with sustained high insulin levels, can lead to insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes—which is a highly researched and by now, well known established risk of cardiovascular disease.
So, here’s how to avoid all that…
- Beware of high fructose corn syrup
As its use has increased, so have levels of obesity and related health problems, such as Type 2 Diabetes.
Most of the sugar you eat is “hidden,” usually under the guise of high fructose corn syrup. This corn-based sweetener is used in thousands of foods, from ketchup and tomato sauce to soft drinks and crackers.
Do everything you can to avoid foods containing this sweetener.
Instead: Use natural sweeteners.
If you must sweeten foods:
- Add a little fruit juice or try some shredded raw or dried apples, coconut, raisins or dates.
- Use spices such as cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg.
***Artificial Sweeteners are NOT recommended. Find out why here.
Eat several small meals a day, rather than three large meals.
- By eating little portions spread throughout the day, you’ll feel more satisfied and be less inclined to overload on sweets that can contribute to heart disease.
Limit alcohol intake.
- This includes wine, beer, and liquor. Many people don’t realize that alcohol contains a large store of hidden sugar.
Eat an anti-inflammatory diet.
- The Mediterranean Diet is a heart-healthy diet, with so many other benefits, that it is highly and consistently recommended by nutritionists, heart experts, and Diabetes Educators. (Look for our upcoming profile on this diet.)
Restrict bread and bread products as much as you can, especially those containing wheat.
- Wheat is found in many processed foods, from bread to pasta, and manufacturers use it in abundance because it’s convenient, inexpensive, and long-lasting.
The problem with wheat, however, is that our modern-day wheat is grown from genes that have been spliced over 50,000 times to make it easier to grow and resistant to drought.
Unfortunately, that splicing has also resulted in wheat that has a higher glycemic index than table sugar…