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Managing Sugar Intake in Your Diet

September 7, 2017

Shaina Toomey, MSPT, Director of Rehabilitation Services, Fresh River Healthcare Center

(appeared in the Windsor Locks Journal, Windsor Journal and Bloomfield Messenger)

Recently I had a family member with medical issues and after multiple hospitalizations, doctor visits and tests - it was determined she had an intolerance to SUGAR.  Crazy right?  There is a difference between an intolerance and a true allergy.  A true food allergy is an immune system reaction that can lead to a life threatening reaction (anaphylaxis).  An intolerance is related to mal-absorption, it’s generally less serious and often presents as GI issues.  An intolerance can even allow a person to have small amounts of the substance without adverse affects.  Each persons body functions in the same way to sustain life, but each person has differences in how efficiently that body works and reacts to substances it consumes.  

Amazingly, but maybe not surprisingly, after having to cut down on sugar in her diet she felt great.  This prompted me to do more research on the effects of sugar on the body.   As you can imagine A LOT of foods have some form of sugar in it and reading labels is crucial.  There are many misleading names on packed food labels some aliases are: brown sugar, cane syrup, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, lactose, malt, maltose, malt syrup, maple syrup, molasses, raw sugar, rice syrup and sucrose.

Eating too much sugar causes a barrage of symptoms known as “classic metabolic syndrome”. These include weight gain, abdominal obesity, decreased HDL and increased LDL, elevated blood sugar, elevated triglycerides, high blood pressure, increased uric acid levels, tooth decay and gum-disease to list a few. Sugar has also been found to affect mood and behaviors. Most disturbing is that sugar is found to be addictive.  On a 60 Minutes episode in 2012, the program featured Eric Stice, Ph.D., a neuro-scientist at the Oregon Research Institute who has used MRI scans to conclude that sugar activates the same brain regions that are activated when a person consumes drugs such as cocaine. In addition, he found that heavy users of sugar develop tolerance which is a symptom of substance dependence.

TIP: Reading labels and following foods that are low on the glycemic index are keys for success to cut back on sugars.


http://www.heart.org – to learn how to read labels.