While it’s been widely noted that excess sugar can increase the overall risk for heart disease, a 2013 study in the Journal of the American Heart Association displayed evidence that sugar can actually affect the pumping mechanism of your heart and could increase the risk for heart failure.
Adolescent obesity rates have tripled in the past 30 years and childhood obesity rates have doubled. One factor that seems to inflict obese children is fat accumulation in the trunk area of the body. Why? One cause may be the increase in fructose-laden beverages. A 2010 study in children found that excess fructose intake (but not glucose intake) actually caused visceral fat cells to mature.
Move over salt and hypertension, you’ve got competition. Sugar, as it turns out, is just as much of a silent killer. A 2008 study found that excess fructose consumption was linked to an increase in a condition called leptin resistance. Why the silent killer? Because it all happens without symptoms or warning bells.
It’s hard to talk about sugar without talking about insulin. That’s because insulin is sugar’s little chaperone to the cells, and when too much of it is consumed, or our insulin does not work (probably because we’re eating too much sugar) and the body revolts.
A recent study of 579 individuals showed that those who had genetic changes in a hormone called ghrelin consumed more sugar (and alcohol) than those that had no gene variation. Ghrelin is a hormone that tells the brain you’re hungry. Researchers think that the genetic components that effect your ghrelin release may have a lot to do with seeking a neurological reward system through your sweet tooth.
Evidence shows that fructose and glucose in excess can have a toxic effect on the liver, as the metabolism of ethanol — the alcohol contained in alcoholic beverages — had similarities to the metabolic pathways that fructose took. Further, sugar increased the risk for several of the same chronic conditions that alcohol was responsible for.
A 2009 study found a positive relationship between glucose consumption and the aging of our cells. A 2012 study found that excess sugar consumption was linked to deficiencies in memory and overall cognitive health.
While many people strive to avoid the “normal” sugary culprits (candy, cookies, cake, etc.), they often are duped when they discover some of their favourite foods also contain lots of sugar. Examples include tomato sauce, fat-free dressing, tonic water, marinades, crackers and even bread.
A 2013 study estimated that 180,000 deaths worldwide may be attributed to sweetened beverage consumption. The United States alone accounted for 25,000 deaths in 2010. The authors summarize that deaths occurred due to the association with sugar-sweetened beverages and chronic disease risk such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.