Yet Another Reason to Cut Down on Sugar
New research at the University of Leicester, UK, has demonstrated a link between higher levels of sugar in the blood and higher blood pressure. This may not be enough to convince readers that eating sugar is a bad thing, but much earlier research has suggested many other reasons to cut down drastically on sugar intake. Let’s examine the elevated blood pressure findings first.
Blood vessels contract and relax to control blood pressure. The research shows stonger contraction with elevated glucose levels than at “normal physiological” levels.
Normally, the body’s insulin response to sugar will keep blood glucose levels within the normal range. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pacreas, and it enables the body to store extra sugar as glycogen in the liver, or convert it to fat for longer-term storage. But, according to the Leicester study, vascular contraction was altered by blood glucose levels “that could be reached after a large meal.”
The researchers pointed out that, in the event of a heart attack, higher levels of blood sugar create conditions that make the event more dangerous, and the outcome likely to be worse.
High blood pressure damages the body in many ways; the Mayo Clinic website tells us that high blood pressure over time causes stiffening and narrowing of artery walls, and can lead to kidney damage, dementia, heart attack, stroke, aneurism, and eye problems.
The cause of any given case of high blood pressure may not be identifiable, but many things can lead to elevated blood pressure — besides higher levels of blood sugar. Examples of causes include: obstructive sleep apnea, birth control pills, over-the-counter pain medications, adrenal gland tumors, alcohol over-use, cocaine and amphetamines.
Earlier research has shown that even among people with blood sugar levels within the normal range, those with the lower levels of blood sugar performed better on tests of memory than those with levels at the higher end of the normal range. The results of this study were published in the October 23, 2013, on-line issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Health experts have been telling us for many years, and for many reasons, to cut down on the amount of sugars we ingest. This new research adds to the reasons. And so many of us ingest so much of it in so many forms — “energy” drinks, soft drinks, sweetened tea and coffee, cookies, cakes, and puddings, granola, candy of all kinds, frozen treats such as ice cream and popsicles, even fruit juices … the list is very long.
In an article in the Uk publication “The Daily Mail” cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra is quoted as saying that sugar should be regulated like alcohol, because it is “toxic, unavoidable, capable of abuse, and has a negtive impact on society.” He points out that it damages the liver in the same way as alcohol, and some believe sugar to be addictive. It also creates conditions in the body enabling overgrowths of yeast to flourish.
Other studies have found that people who consume more sugar are also more likely to develop colorectal cancer. And one even proved that people with higher levels of blood sugar were percieved as looking older.
Perhaps we can look forward to day when nations unite in a “war on sugar” and sign treaties designed to limit its production and tax its consumption as heavliy as, say, tobacco.