Halloween and Thanksgiving are over, and with Christmas just around the corner, you may be finding yourself enjoying more sweets than usual. Rich, sweet food may make us feel good, but they can have damaging effects on our bodies.
In a recent episode of On Point, an NPR radio show hosted by Tom Ashbrook, Samira Kawash, a.k.a. the “Candy Professor,” discussed the history of candy and how unhealthy, refined sugars have made their way into our diets in larger-than-ever quantities. David Kessler, a pediatrician and former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, also discussed our unhealthy and addictive love for sugary and fatty foods.
Sugar can have extremely adverse effects on our health. Although doctors debate about whether it’s possible to be physically addictive to sugar, there is no doubt that consuming excessive amounts of sugar is habit-forming. Sugar, once an expensive commodity, tastes good to us and can even release natural analgesics in our bodies. Because it feels good to eat sugar, our bodies naturally want to eat it, even if it makes us fat.
A recent study published in Journal of the American Medical Association has found a link between sugar in take and high cholesterol levels. The study found that those who eat high amounts of sugar are more than three times more likely to have high triglycerides and the low amounts of good cholesterol levels.
Sugar intake makes it easy to gain weight—often very quickly—and excessive weight gain can lead to a variety of health complications, including diabetes type II. Type II diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or the body becomes insulin resistant. This type of diabetes is becoming more common among Americans—including children—and can lead to serious complications including blindness, limb amputations, skin infections, heart disease, deafness, and hypertension.
In addition to disease, sugar can depress the immune system, leach vitamins and minerals form the body, contribute to depression, and cause kidney and liver damage.
As the holidays arrive, remember to keep you sugar intake in check, and your body will thank you for it!