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What’s the scariest thing about Halloween?

Halloween can be filled with goblins, ghouls and monsters, but the thing that is most monstrous to your health doesn’t even wear a costume. While it hangs around all year long, Halloween is when it makes an especially big splash - and then it usually doesn’t fade away until the New Year. 

What is this scariest of threats to your health? Dr. Tanquilut explains that it’s refined and added sugar!

Why is added sugar so ghastly?
Consuming food and drink with high amounts of added sugars raises the level of sugar in your bloodstream, which reduces the amount of nitric oxide in your veins and arteries and alters protein forms and functions. This impairs your vascular system’s ability to dilate. Your blood vessels begin to narrow, increasing your likelihood of high blood pressure, which raises your risk of stroke. 

"Sugar is, of course, the main driver of weight gain and obesity," says Dr. Tanquilut. "Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing Type II diabetes, which also impairs your vascular system."

High blood sugar levels cause atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque comprised of fats, cholesterol and more that narrows arteries and restricts blood flow. 

Where is added sugar found?
Added sugar and highly processed foods go hand in hand; it’s found in nearly all of them! In fact, over 75% of all packaged foods contain added sugars. You can find them by reading the label of every food you buy. You may find the word “sugar”, but manufactures can be sneaky. Look for these terms too:

Dr Tanquilut says, "If you’re not sure about an ingredient, give it a Google to find out if it's really sugar."

Are there good sugars?
Naturally occurring sugars, like those in cheeses, grains, fruits and vegetables do not cause the same health issues that added sugars do. That’s because natural sugars are surrounded by fiber, vitamins, minerals and nutrients in the foods they occur in. Added sugars are purely extra, empty calories. 

What can I do to cut back on added sugar?
Read those labels, advises Dr. Tanquilut, and don’t purchase products that have added sugar (Hint - most foods in boxes, bags or cans). Increase your intake of whole fruits and vegetables, flavored with herbs and salt-free spices. 

Give up soft drinks, energy drinks and all sweetened beverages including fruit juice. Accomplish this by tracking how many sweetened beverages you drink in a day. Replace one a day with water for one week, then two a day with water for one week and so on, until you’ve replaced all your fluids with delicious refreshing water. 

Cut back on processed starches like white bread, white pastas and white potatoes, which also contain a high level of sugar. 

How will my health improve if I cut back on added sugar?
Dr. Tanquilut says, "You’ll lose weight and so much of your good health depends upon maintaining a healthy weight! Your “bad” cholesterol will fall and good cholesterol will improve. You’ll lower your risk of diabetes, hypertension, atherosclerosis and other vascular diseases. Your immune system will get a huge boost and your inflammation levels will recede. You will feel so much better too."

If you have questions about how to cut sugar from your diet or how it affects your vascular system, call us at 815-824-4406, or click here. We are always happy to help!

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