Let’s settle this once and for all. These days, the saying "everything in moderation" has become a battle cry for healthy eaters everywhere—but when it comes to sugar and salt, many of us just can't help ourselves. Even though both play several essential roles in our health (the brain needs sugar for energy, and muscles need salt to contract, for example), they can also cause a wide variety of health problems when consumed in excess, says Niket Sonpal, D.O., assistant professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York. So which of these vices have a greater impact on our health, and why? Let's investigate. Sugar It's not so much naturally-occurring sugars (like those found in fruit) that experts have a problem with as it is refined and added sugars. "Milk and 100 percent fruit juice, for example, contain natural sugars and calories, but they also provide nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, protein (in milk), and polyphenols (in juice)," says Texas-based registered dietitian Kaleigh McMordie. Sugary beverages like soda and sweet tea, on the other hand, provide sugar and calories with little nutrition. The same goes for the majority of grab-and-go snack foods that surround us on the regular—they don't provide any nutritional benefits (like fiber, protein, or vitamins and minerals) unless they're stripped and then added back in later. Not surprisingly, overconsumption of these products can lead to obesity and nutrient deficiencies in one fell swoop, says McMordie. "All sugars, regardless of how they're labeled—white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, evaporated cane sugar, brown sugar—have a similar effect on the body in raising blood sugar levels, causing the production of insulin," says Murdoc Khaleghi, M.D., medical director of WellnessFX. The body releases insulin in order to move sugar out of the blood and into the cells to use it as energy. Generally, this process is pretty seamless, but when you're consuming excess amounts of sugar, your body's fat storage skills go into overdrive. The uptick in insulin production can lead to insulin resistance, forcing the body to create more insulin, which then stores more fat, according to Khaleghi. Over time, insulin resistance and the subsequent weight gain from excessive sugar consumption can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, which can increase your risk for glaucoma, is a leading cause of kidney failure, and a is major risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Worse, consumption of excess sugar, particularly refined sugars, can lead to changes in the body's metabolism and excessive inflammation, which can eventually segue into a variety of chronic diseases. "Certain kinds of sugar molecules, called fructose, are only processed by the liver," says Rachel Head, R.D., certified diabetes educator for One Drop. "When the liver is overwhelmed by processing too much fructose, a metabolic chain reaction can occur, with several studies linking this reaction to increased risks of abnormal cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, fatty liver disease, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease." Salt The human body needs salt to regulate fluids and carry electrical charges between cells. However, "while the effects of sugar are becoming increasingly understood, how salt affects our health is more debated," says Khaleghi. "For most healthy people, a moderate amount of salt is easily processed, and actually required by the body, while excess amounts may contribute to long-term health issues." Current dietary guidelines recommend that Americans consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily (one teaspoon). However, most people take in an average of 3,400 milligrams of sodium (the difference of one-third of a teaspoon, to put it into context), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For many years, experts believed sodium caused fluid retention in the body, and a buildup of pressure in blood vessels, leading to high blood pressure. Uncontrolled blood pressure can lead to major health problems, such as heart attack and stroke, as well as kidney and vision problems. However, the link between salt and high blood pressure has been under increased scrutiny. A 2014 study of over 8,000 French adults found that salt consumption wasn’t associated with systolic blood pressure in men or women. The study writers said that the link we assume exists between salt and blood pressure is “overstated” and “more complex than once thought.” A 2016 Women’s Health story on salt reported that there is no reliable proof that sodium actually contributes to blood pressure or the cardiac issues associated with it—rather, studies over the years have shown conflicting results about the mineral’s connection with cardiac problems. “For a regular healthy person, salt isn't necessarily detrimental when consumed in moderation,” McMordie says. She however adds that some populations are more sensitive to salt—such as people over 50 and people who already have high blood pressure—making a change in sodium affects them more than others. A big problem with excess salt, McMordie says, is that the majority of it comes from processed and restaurant foods rather than the salt shaker. "These foods are typically also higher in fat and calories, and provide fewer nutrients than fresh foods prepared at home," says McMordie. This can lead to weight gain, among other health issues besides high blood pressure. Ok So...Which Is Worse? Neither are particularly dangerous so long as they're consumed in moderation, but head-to-head, excess sugar has more of a negative impact on your overall health, says Head. McMordie agrees: “Salt is essential for the body to function properly. Sugar is not.” A 2014 review in the journal Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome also found that sugar can increase the negative affects of salt, too. Insulin orders your kidneys to retain sodium—and the more insulin the body produces, the more water and sodium the kidneys retain. The result? High blood pressure. To keep your sugar and salt intakes in check, focus on nutritious sources of carbs, such as whole grains, milk products, and fruit, says McMordie, and steer clear of foods that contain refined sugars and processed ingredients. Case closed. By Krissy Brady via MSN Health
The reality is you have more control over your lifespan than you may think. Genetics only play a small role in how long you live. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average life expectancy is 78.8 years. If you want to live to the average, or surpass it, you should start making changes in your life now. The secrets to living longer go far beyond the obvious acts of eating healthy and reducing stress. Simple things such as improving your oral hygiene, making new friends and getting enough sleep all play a role in how long you will live. Did you know that having a positive attitude can actually add years to your life? It’s true, individuals with that have positive emotions encounter more happiness in their lives and happiness is strongly related to how long you will live. Start today and take action; use these tricks to make positive changes to your life and further your longevity.
‘Tis the season for delicious wintery drinks at your favorite local coffee stop. From lattes to espressos, the options are endless and can make your mouth water. Unfortunately, these drinks have huge prices to pay for your body and health. As we rapidly approach Christmas Day, you may be more tempted than ever to indulge in one of these beverages. But it might not be worth it. The numbers don’t lie and they’re definitely shocking. Vocativ studied holiday drinks from multiple popular food chains in America. The analysis included such celebrated coffee suppliers as Wawa, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, McDonald’s and Panera Bread. What they found was an unworldly number of calories and a down-right scary amount of sugar. Sadly, even the least sugary of the drinks sampled turned out to be loaded with sugar. It had 60 grams to be exact. That’s 14 teaspoons or 17 packets of sugar. Yes,seventeen. Remember, I’m describing the LEAST sugary drink on the list. So what’s the worst offender? That would be the Mint White Chocolate Hot Chocolate from Wawa. This 16 oz drink checks in with a ridiculous 140 grams of sugar. That’s 33 teaspoons of sugar. You’re better off chugging sugar straight out of the container! As far as packing the most fat, that award goes to the Starbucks’ Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha. That baby weighs in with 26 grams of fat. On a normal 2,000 calorie-a-day diet, that equates to 85% of your daily suggested amount of fat. Basically, with this drink, you shouldn’t have anything with a trace of fat for the rest of the day. Is it really worth it? That’s up to you! Here’s a list of the caloric content of some of the most popular holiday beverages, courtesy of Vocativ. 16 oz. Mint White Chocolate Hot Chocolate – Wawa: 760 calories 20 oz. Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha – Starbucks: 710 calories 20 oz. McCafe Hot Chocolate McDonald’s: 540 calories 16 oz. Signature Hot Chocolate Panera Bread: 480 calories 20 oz. Snickerdoodle Latte Dunkin' Donuts: 460 calories Those calorie counts really are eye-opening. So beware. It is okay to treat yourself, but be sure to do so sparingly. Making these drinks a habit will be detrimental to your health and weight goals. Just stop and ask yourself, “Is it worth it?” It’s a much smarter option to grab a coffee with low-fat milk or a tea. You can still feel the warmth from these beverages and hold your head high knowing you made a healthy choice! By Pat DeRiso Sources: yahoo.com, vocative.com, authoritynutrition.com
With Halloween in the rear-view mirror and the holiday season right around the corner, the sugar temptations are in full force. The leftover candy bowls at home and at the office are surely calling your name. Couple this with the enormous amount of holiday cookies that are about to invade and we have a serious sugar epidemic on our hands! Thankfully, there are ways to help fight these sugar cravings. But let’s first look at why our bodies seem to cry out for sweets in the first place. Sugar makes you feel good. It’s that simple. Sugar releases serotonin which helps your brain achieve a bit of a natural high. Sugar also acts a catalyst to release endorphins that further relax you. And let’s not forget that sugar also happens to absolutely delicious! We know all too well that this “high” is extremely short lived. You are bound to crash and feel even lower than before. So the easy fix is to get more sugar, right!? Wrong. Here are 5 ways to avoid the temptation and stay on a healthy track this holiday season. 1. Keep Fruit Close By Fruit is the number one way to combat your cravings for sweets. With fruit, you get natural sweetness combined with essential fiber, nutrients, and anti-oxidants. The key here is to make sure you always have some fruit handy. Make sure candy and treats are far from reach and replace them with nature’s candy instead! 2. Run Away From Your Cravings Seriously. When you feel the need for a donut or candy, get up and change the scenery! Walk around the block or the office to get your mind off the craving and onto something else. The common thought of eating just because you’re bored is not a myth. Stay active and focused on tasks to keep your mind right and steer clear of temptation. 3. H2Over Sugar Many times you are sure your body is calling out to you and begging for sugar. The reality is that you may very well be thirsty. Dehydration is often confused with sugar cravings. Like fruit, keep water close-by at all times. This way, you’ll be sure to keep sipping and fight the sugar urge before it even happens. 4. Naturally Raise Your Serotonin Sugar isn’t the only way to boost your serotonin levels. Healthy lifestyles can raise them too! A strong diet, regular exercise and an effective sleep schedule can all naturally lift you up in the same way sugar does. With increased serotonin in your body, you are much less likely to crave sugar in the first place! 5. Grab Some Sugarless Gum Sugarless Gum is a great way to combat sugar cravings on two fronts. Its sweet taste can satisfy your sugar desires. Also the act of chewing and generating saliva is a great way to fight hunger. There are many ways to fight sugar. But it all starts in your head. Make a conscious effort to use these tips to fight your cravings and you are sure to have a much healthier and happier holiday season this year! By Pat DeRiso Sources: webmd, body ecology
Counting calories and watching what you eat in regards to your waistline is one thing. It’s also obviously in your best interest to avoid foods that will negatively affect your heart and cardiovascular health. But, are you aware that many foods of the foods you put into your body are directly upsetting your brain? The head on your shoulders is arguably your most prized possession. So here’s a list of foods that you’ll want to watch out for. TUNA Yes. Sorry. But tuna tops the list. While many health experts have stressed tuna as a very smart and healthy food choice, and for the most part, it really is, the problem lies in the amount of mercury in the fish. Having a high-level of mercury in your bloodstream can cause a decrease in cognitive brain function. You don’t have to stop eating tuna altogether, but it should be consumed in moderation. Need your seafood fix? Salmon, sardines and many types of white fish are low in mercury and still boast the same essential omega-3s that tuna offers. SUGAR Looking for a quick boost of energy from sugar? Look elsewhere. The immediate effect of sugar may seem great, but you will crash very quickly. Sugar can cause insulin levels to spike and inflammation that can lead to vascular and neuronal damage in your brain. A study from Brain, Behavior, and Immunity cited that sugar can promote inflammation of the memory control center of your brain, known as the hippocampus. This means it can’t function at 100%. Try your best to avoid unnecessary sugar in your diet.