The Not-So-Sweet Side of Sugar

ImageWe all know that excess sugar in our diet can cause weight gain and lead to diabetes.  But the latest research now reveals more serious effects of added sugar.  Here’s the latest article by IDEA Health & Fitness Magazine

Now there’s another reason to encourage clients to limit their sugar intake: Eating added sugar is associated with increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to a study published February 3 online in JAMA Internal Medicine. The study focuses on sugar added in the processing or preparing of foods, not naturally occurring sugars in fruits and fruit juices.

Recommendations for added sugar consumption vary, and there is no universally accepted threshold for unhealthy levels. For example, the Institute of Medicine recommends that added sugar make up less than 25% of total calories, the World Health Organization recommends less than 10% (but in March 2014 proposed a further reduction to below 5% for additional benefits), and the American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to less than 100 calories daily for women and 150 calories daily for men, according to the study background.

Quanhe Yang, PhD, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta, and colleagues used national health survey data to examine added sugar consumption as a percentage of daily calories and to estimate association between consumption and CVD.

How Much Sugar Are We Eating?

Study results indicate that the average percentage of daily calories from added sugar increased from 15.7% in 1988–1994 to 16.8% in 1999–2004, but decreased to 14.9% in 2005–2010.

In 2005–2010, most adults (71.4%) consumed 10% or more of their calories from added sugar, but for about 10% of adults it made up 25% or more of their calories.

The Risks of Too Much Sweetness

The risk of heart-related death increases 18% for people consuming an average American diet with about 15% of daily calories from added sugar, compared with those whose diets contain little to no added sugar, the study authors found.

The risk is 38% higher for people who receive 17%–21% of their calories from added sugar, and more than double for people who get more than 21% of their daily diet from added sugar, Yang said.

Laura A. Schmidt, PhD, who wrote commentary on the published research, says, “Yang . . . shows that the risk of CVD mortality becomes elevated once sugar intake surpasses 15% of daily calories—equivalent to drinking one 20-ounce Mountain Dew soda in a 2,000 calorie diet. From there, the risk rises exponentially as a function of increased sugar intake, peaking with a [400% higher] risk of CVD death for individuals who consume one-third or more calories in added sugar.”

Another key point: The study found that the added sugar that Americans consume as part of their daily diet can—on its own, regardless of other health problems—more than double the risk of death from heart disease.

“[This] new paradigm [that Yang’s research falls within] hypothesizes that sugar has adverse health effects above any purported role as ’empty calories’ promoting obesity,” notes Schmidt. “Too much sugar does not just make us fat; it can also make us sick.”

Guideline for Better Health

So what is a good general guideline for sugar consumption? “Until federal guidelines are forthcoming, physicians may want to caution patients that, to support cardiovascular health, it is safest to consume less than 15% of total calories as added sugar,” says Schmidt.

IDEA Fit Tips, Volume 12, Number 3
March 2014
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Weight Training is a Must for Women

There are still so many misconceptions about women and weight training.  Many women are still weary of weight training in fear of bulking up like a man, but this cannot be further from the truth.  It is genetically impossible for women to build bulky muscle mass like that of men for the simple fact that we do not have the same hormonal composition.  Women do not possess enough natural testosterone to build big bulging muscles, this is only possible by supplementing with steroids (synthetic testosterone), and only then does it start to look unnatural.  Testosterone, however, is only one factor, genetics plays a larger role.  Our DNA predetermines what type of muscle fibers we have and where on the body they are distributed, how we respond to exercise, and our body type.

As women, weight training is one of the best things we can do for our bodies, especially as we age.  Here are some reasons why women must consider weight training:

  • Reverse the loss of muscle mass.  After the age of 35, we typically lose 5% of our muscle mass every 10 years if we do nothing.  With strength training, we can reverse the loss of muscle mass by building toned, lean muscles.
  •   Stimulate fat loss.  As we age we our metabolism starts to slow down causing an increase in body fat, this typically starts around the age of 30.  How much body fat we gain depends greatly on our level of activity and lifestyle.  Weight training will increase lean muscle mass.  Lean muscle mass burns ten times more calories than fat mass and it continues to torch calories all day long.
  •  Prevent osteoporosis.  Regular weight training can significantly decrease your risk of developing osteoporosis and osteopenia by increasing bone density.  In order for bone to continue to renew itself, it requires regular overloading, otherwise, bone starts to lose minerals and becomes brittle and fragile. This is one of the main reasons why older adults are so susceptible to bone fractures.  Weight training can provide the bones with necessary overload for the generation of new bone tissue.
  • Prevent many chronic diseases.  Regular weight training can decrease your chances of developing heart disease by lowering your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and increasing your HDL (“good”) cholesterol.  Diabetes can be prevented or controlled with weight training by improving your body’s utilization of sugar.  The prevention and management of arthritis (osteoarthritis) is better possible by including weight training in your regular routine.  Weight training not only strengthens the muscles, but it also strengthens the connective tissues (tendons, ligaments) that surround and support the joints.  By increasing the integrity of your joints, you will also be preventing injury.
  • Become physically stronger.  Stronger muscles can greatly increase your quality of life and prevent injuries.  Even strength training 2-3 times a week can increase your overall strength by 30-50%This will make the activities of daily life requiring bending, lifting, climbing a lot easier and safer by reducing the risk of injury.
  • Stay positive and focused.  Exercise in general, has a mood altering effect.  The release of “feel good hormones” called endorphins, can help fight off depression and increase mental focus and clarity.
  • Look younger longer.  The anti-aging effects of weight training has been documented in numerous research studies.  The combination of all the other positive effects of weight training gives way to a more youthful body and mind.  People that are physically fit, healthy, happy, and active always seem younger.