Open Paths Integrative Medicine

Ronald Rosen MD PC

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How Sugar Affects Your Health

Posted by Robyn Harmon on May 2, 2017 at 2:50 PM

Sugar is a delicious and inexpensive ingredient that makes food taste even better, so it's no surprise that Americans eat far too much of it. In fact, the Public Health Journal reported that worldwide use of sugar has tripled in the past 50 years. Unfortunately, rates of obesity and its related diseases have increased as well. While most people understand that too much sugar can cause weight gain, few realize the full effects it can have on your health.


Candida Overgrowth

Candida is a yeast found in the gut, but when it becomes imbalanced it can cause complications like digestive problems, brain fog, rashes, fatigue, joint pain, sinus infections, headaches and mood changes. There are many reasons for overgrowth, but eating too much sugar is a well known culprit. Yeast thrives on sugar and needs a healthy amount to survive. Eating too much of the sweet stuff causes candida to grow. In addition, a healthy immune system is needed to keep the yeast levels in check, but too much sugar affects immunity. That combination of lowered resistence and overfed candida has caused overgrowth to become a significant problem. Treatment can be complicated and often includes diet modifications and supplements.


Type 2 Diabetes

The American Diabetes Association notes that 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes each year. Unhealthy diet, including excessive sugar consumption, is a major contributer to this epidemic. The empty calories in sugar provide energy without nutrition, which causes the body to fail to recognize over eating. In other words, calories without nutrients won't cause eaters to feel full. This flood of simple carbohydrates can raise blood sugar levels, which causes food to be digested too rapidly by the body. When levels return to normal, eaters become even hungrier than before the binge. Constant, fluctuating blood sugar levels can cause the pancreas to be unable to regulate insultin production, resulting in type 2 diabetes. 


Heart Disease

The link between diet and diabetes is well documented, but now researchers have determined that there is a strong correlation between sugar and coronary heart disease (CHD). The American Heart Association (AHA) determined that excessive sugar consumption can cause CHD, which is a leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. In fact, it is the most common type of heart disease, with an unhealthy diet and lifestyle noted as the top risk factor. The AHA is most concerned with sweetened beverages, which are the main source of added sugar in American diets. Added sugars are so overused that the AHA advocated for better nutritional labels and public awareness.


Liver Disease

While alcohol is well known for damaging the liver, studies have shown that sugar might be just as harmful. Both alcohol and sugar can cause the liver to store too much fat, leading to a condition called fatty liver disease, or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in non-drinkers. The American Liver Association (ALA) explained that too much stored fat can cause the liver to swell, which ultimately may cause cirrhosis. Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, nausea, abdominal pain, jaundice, fluid retention and mental confusion. Left untreated, this condition can lead to liver cancer or liver failure. Fortunately, NAFLD can be reversed with diet and lifestyle modifications, including the avoidance of sugar.


Addressing diet and lifestyle concerns is often the first step in treating disease. For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Rosen, please call (541) 388-3804

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