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Sugar Addiction

– Symptoms, Causes, and How to Break Free

This article first appeared on Sweetdefeat.

 

The latest health and fitness trends all seem to relate to some kind of a cleanse in order to change something about your diet. Typically, a cleanse is used to assist in purging sugar or other so-called toxins from the body, but how effective are these cleanses? When it comes to sugar addiction, the body is under constant pressure to consume something sweet or sweet-tasting, which can cause a myriad of symptoms and cravings.

While many tend to ignore the symptoms of a sugar addiction, a sugar addiction can have similar effects on the brain that illicit drugs do, thus suggesting that adults ought to take this addiction seriously. Listed below is a complete list of what you need to know about sugar addiction, its causes, and how to fight the addiction.

What is Sugar Addiction?

The big question in the debate of sugar addiction is to first define what sugar addiction is. When thinking about what effects sugar has on your body, it should be noted that your brain depends on glucose (sugar) for immediate energy. Without glucose, the brain would struggle to work properly. In particular, it appears that the hypothalamus plays a role in sugar cravings and addiction. For some people, the cravings may cause them to eat or crave certain foods more than they should, and it could encourage them to make poor dietary choices.

In contrast to simply craving sugar throughout the day, there are instances when your sugar addiction shows itself in certain meals in which you overeat. Overeating in any meal or snack can be a quick sign that you may have some addiction. Usually, overeating sweet foods, beverages, or treats is the route people take. For some, this is not a big deal, but it could be an issue that masks a sugar addiction. Here are some of the most significant symptoms of sugar addiction that you should be aware of.

Sugar Addiction Symptoms

Sugar addiction shows itself in subtle and obvious ways and this can vary for each individual. Paying close attention to the symptoms of sugar addiction is important if you want a better understanding of your energy levels as well as your health. Let’s take a closer look at the symptoms of sugar addiction.

You Crave Comfort Foods at Dinner

One of the first signs that you have a sugar addiction is when you crave comfort foods at dinner time. For some people, the idea of heading home or out to dinner with friends and enjoying a big bowl of pasta, bread, or other simple-carbohydrate-rich foods can be enticing, especially if you have a sugar addiction.

For starters here, carbohydrates are not necessarily to blame for your sugar addiction, but your brain may be craving the glucose that is processed from the carbs you eat. Similarly, addiction may be apparent when you crave salty and fatty foods as well. Keeping a close eye on these subtle signs may help you to recognize what form your sugar addiction takes.

You Crave Soda and Other Sweet Beverages

Soda has long been under fire for causing ill health, and usually sodas and sugar-laden beverages contain high amounts of sugar (in the form of high-fructose corn syrup). Are you drinking diet soda instead? Well, the sweetened sodas you consume throughout the day contain high amounts of artificial sweeteners that are estimated to be about 600 times sweeter than regular table sugar (sometimes even sweeter).

At this point, consuming a beverage that is much stronger than sugar can trick your mind into thinking you’re eating sugar, but actually it is causing you to crave more of the sweet stuff. Sodas are not the only kinds of beverages to look out for: most coffee shops add sweeteners and sugar to drinks as a way to enhance the flavor. Also, many flavored teas and calorie-free products contain sweeteners, so you need to pay attention to all of these possible sources.

Making Excuses for Your Sugar Habit

You may notice that you come up with reasons why it’s ok to eat or a drink a specific food to justify consuming it. For some people, this may be as simple as saying “it’s calorie-free” or “it’s organic.” The excuses you make for consuming sugar could be your way of trying to ignore how much your brain wants the white stuff, not to mention, it helps to cover up that perhaps there might be an addictive part of your personality. Regardless of what kind of excuses you make about sugar, chances are you may have a sugar addiction if you notice that you are making excuses at all for eating or drinking sugary foods.

Rewarding With Sugary Foods

Your brain is a smart organ. One sign that you may have a sugar addiction is if you make a bargain with yourself to reward yourself with sugar for completing something. The best example of this is going to the gym. Deciding that if you complete a challenging workout, you can have a sugary treat, is perhaps the single most common pattern. While it is good to reward yourself with something as a way to motivate you throughout a workout or something you have been meaning to do, using sugar as the reward is only reinforcing a good habit with a bad habit.

You Have Tried to Kick Sugar and Failed

This is a common sign that you could have a sugar addiction. Similar to how drug users and alcoholics struggle with kicking the habit, cutting out sugar from your diet only to fail and increase your intake again is a symptom that you have an addiction to the sweet stuff. Considering the amount of sugar that is around in daily life, fighting the urge to eat sugar is certainly a difficult challenge.

You Eat or Binge on Sugar When Alone

The last symptom in this list is comparable to other addictions. A sugar addiction can present itself for many when others are not around. If you live alone, have a night alone away from a spouse, or simply have some time to yourself, you may find yourself craving sweet foods and drinks. Ice cream, cakes, and cookies are commonly the sugary food of choice when adults are alone for a given time and have a sugar addiction.

What Causes Our Sugar Addiction to Sugar?

So what exactly causes us to get addicted to sugar? After all, sugar is not an illicit drug, but the brain acts in a similar manner to other substance abuse and addictions. One of the first and most noticeable causes of sugar addiction is that the brain wants sugar. The brain needs sugar (glucose) as a fuel source and your brain will continuously attempt to get glucose as a way to prevent a potential shortage of this nutrient. If you notice that you have a sugar addiction, the primary culprit is your brain controlling your movements and thoughts.

Sugar Rush

Another reason you could be craving sugar regularly is due to how it makes you feel after consuming it. Generally, a sugary treat causes a rush of both glucose and endorphins in your blood, which initially causes a short burst of energy. However, the euphoria you get from eating sugar does not usually last for too long. It can cause a fast crash in your energy levels, which can cause you to feel lethargic, weak, and potentially even depressed, all due to a sharp decrease in your blood sugar levels. This leads to a vicious cycle that may have you craving sugary foods. Consider taking a look at our guide discussing in greater depth the causes of sugar cravings.

The Taste

Let’s face it, sugar tastes great, and this is part of the reason why you may be hooked on it as well. Your taste buds are small receptors located on your tongue and inside your mouth, and they respond to various substances that you consume. Interestingly, if your taste buds are not working properly, you could have a stronger affinity towards sugar and sugar addiction.

Smoking

It seems that smoking pops up in virtually every health issue. Smoking has been linked strongly to lung cancer, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), among  others, and now it appears that smoking may have an effect on your taste buds as well. A recent study of more than 60 smokers found that taste buds are greatly diminished as a result of regular smoking. It appears that the diminished taste buds may be due to a reduced blood circulation to the taste buds or tongue.

So if you have been fighting sugar addiction or have noticed that you may be addicted to sugar, it is important to find ways to quit smoking. Smoking can affect your health in various ways, and regardless of how long you have smoked, quitting is the best thing for your health. Consider seeking professional help when you decide to quit as a way to make the process more successful.

The Price of Convenience

One of the downsides to a sugar addiction is that you may have never had a choice in the first place. The truth is that sugar is added in high amounts to virtually every food you can find in the grocery store, including bread, pasta sauce, and foods that have no reason to have sugar. As a result, purchasing foods that contain sugar is a far too easy thing to do. If you take a look at the price of certain foods in the store, you may notice that healthier foods, organic, or sugar-free foods have a higher cost.

Why is this? A big reason is that corn is subsidized in the U.S., which means manufacturers include high-fructose corn syrup in foods because of their lower cost. Also, adding sugar to foods increases the chances that you, the consumer, will continue to purchase that food because it tastes great and it is cheaper for your budget. The price of this convenience probably has had a major impact in your life, and sugar addiction is likely not something you could have controlled in the first place.

How Sugar Addiction Negatively Affects Your Body

Now that you have a bit of information of what causes sugar addiction, now is the time to take a look at its consequences. As described above, sugar addiction is similar to drug or alcohol addiction in the sense that your desire to consume sugar is aggressive. In addition, breaking the habit is a lifestyle change that certainly takes time and effort (there will be further explanation below).

There are many consequences to sugar addiction that may not be obvious to the layperson, and these consequences may have serious implications for your health. Before getting started on how sugar can harm your body and health, consider checking out our article on how eating too much sugar affects your body.

1. Potential Heart Problems

A recent study outlined the negative effects of sugar on your health and its relation to premature death. This study, which looked at subjects over the course of 15 years, found that individuals who consumed 25% or more  of their calories each day from sugar were twice as likely to die from heart disease as those who got less than 10% of their calories from sugar. The takeaway here is that sugar can have a harmful effect on your health, and while it may not directly cause a heart attack, it is linked to heart disease and other conditions.

2. Increased Fat Storage

Too much sugar—or any nutrient, for that matter—can increase the amount of fat your body stores. Even though sugar is not in itself fatty, the excess you eat is converted to fat and stored for future energy needs. The body will continue to do this practically forever; it is capable of storing virtually endless amounts of fat.

Excess body fat is associated with cancer, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other health conditions, so regulating fat accumulation in the body is important. So even though you may have switched to a low-fat diet in the past in an attempt to shed  weight, it is important to keep an eye on your sugar consumption.

3. Sugar Addiction Can Contribute to Depression

Your mental health can be greatly affected by sugar addiction. Consuming regular amounts of sugar due to addiction can cause your blood sugar to drastically fluctuate throughout the day. In addition, the highs and lows associated with that fluctuation can cause your mood to swing all over the place.

Recent studies have shown that consuming high amounts of sugar can lead to an increase in depression, and the effects may be worse among individuals with schizophrenia. This effect on depression has to do with certain hormones in the blood, and the suppression of a hormone known as BDNF seems to be affected by high amounts of sugar in the diet.

4. Inflammation

One of the biggest influences on  chronic health conditions is inflammation. Inflammation is a natural process that is caused by your body’s reaction when fighting infection or during the healing process; however, your diet can drastically contribute to inflammation as well, and that can be harmful to your health.

Certain foods, including sugar, can cause your body to be in a constant state of inflammation that can cause your entire body to act as if it’s sick. It can affect your arterial walls, heart function, stroke risk, cancer risk, as well as contribute to arthritis and other debilitating conditions. Inflammation is not something that you can see with your naked eye, but it’s a major consequence of sugar addiction.

5. Reduced Immune System Function

Your immune system is the main line of defense against invading organisms in your body, and it is always working hard to keep you healthy. However, there is a link between sugar addiction and reduced immune system function.

High sugar consumption can have multiple impacts on your immune system; it can prevent you from getting adequate sleep at night as well as increase inflammation (which can negatively impact your immune system). If you are struggling with sugar addiction and have noticed that you have been ill more frequently, chances are you could be feeling the negative effects of sugar addiction on your immune system.

6. Insulin Resistance

A lot of people are quick to state that sugar can cause diabetes. While there is a bit of truth to this, sugar addiction may have other consequences. Your body releases insulin in response to sugar in your blood, which occurs shortly after a meal (this is why you may feel sluggish after eating). As the day goes on, your body becomes less sensitive to the insulin your body releases. This is true even in people who are not diabetic, but it’s As a result, you become insulin resistant, which is associated with type 2 diabetes and obesity.

7. Diabetes and Amputation

Wait a minute, how can a simple sugar addiction lead to amputation of a limb? Amputation is the severing of a body part, usually to preserve health and prevent future health issues, and it’s a possible consequence of diabetes. In the case of sugar addiction, there is a chance that excess consumption of sugar can lead to type 2 diabetes.

With the continuing consumption of sugar (because addiction isn’t allowing you to stop) in the setting of type 2 diabetes, there is a chance that your peripheral areas stop receiving blood in adequate amounts. When blood supply is reduced to areas (usually the legs and feet), your cells can die and cause infections. When this occurs, an amputation may be needed—and that’s how it could be a major consequence of sugar addiction.

8. Hypertension

Approximately 34 percent of adults over the age of 20 years in the U.S. have hypertension, and this may be vastly underestimated since many adults have no clue they have hypertension. Defined as a blood pressure of at least 130/80 mmHg, hypertension can cause increased pressure in your heart chamber walls, which can lead to  the heart muscle to thicken (this process is called hypertrophy), which can then result in a life threatening condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. While not every individual responds in this manner, there is a risk for individuals to be diagnosed with hypertension, especially if the sugar you consume is combined with caffeinated beverages such as coffee and sodas.

9. Decreased Fitness Levels

High amounts of sugar consumption and sugar addiction can make you less likely to exercise. How does this happen? Sugar addiction can cause such drastic fluctuations in your blood sugar levels that you get a quick sugar high followed by a harsh crash later in the day.

Typically, this crash can occur prior to dinner time, which is when many adults hit the gym for a workout. As a result, many adults tend to skip the gym, since fatigue or lethargy sets in. The more you skip on the gym, the quicker your fitness levels will dip, which ultimately has an impact on your health.

How to Break Sugar Addiction

There are many health consequences to sugar addiction and while it may seem like it should be easy to just stop eating sugar, remember that sugar is as addictive as illicit drugs. With that said, there are some things you can do to break sugar addiction.

Some of the most challenging parts that adults face when trying to break the addiction is when cravings set in. Cravings can be a major challenge in the fight against addiction, but there are ways to fight them. For starters, consider reading our article on what to eat when craving sugar. In addition to those foods, read on for some helpful tips to help in your successful journey to breaking a sugar addiction.

1. Choose Healthy Alternatives

One of the best things you can do to fight your sugar addiction is to start by swapping sweet foods for healthy alternatives like vegetables. Yes, vegetables can be sweet, but the natural sugars you find in carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, and peas are so much lower than what you’ll find in treats such as gummies, cookies, or donuts. At the same time, they’ll satisfy your craving for sweetness and you can train yourself to eat these healthier choices over addictive sugary desserts.

2. Clean Your Pantry

In order to succeed in your fight against sugar addiction, it is important to eliminate any and all temptations in your home. Your home is where you are likely to cave in to a craving before bed or after a long day at work, so keeping  tempting foods out of reach can make it much harder to succumb.

Consider ditching all cookies, crackers (yes there is sugar in crackers), candy, chocolate (sorry, it is for the best), fruit snacks, dried fruit, and cereals that have any added sugar in them. This is not meant to be a punishment or a way to completely change your diet; rather, it is meant to give you every opportunity to succeed against your sugar addiction so that you can be as healthy as possible.

3. Cut Back on Alcohol

There are a few reasons to reduce alcohol consumption, and generally it relates to the fact that it’s harder to make healthy decisions when you drink. Many alcoholic drinks, especially mixed drinks, contain sugar as a way to enhance the flavor. And having something sweet makes you crave more sweets. That means when if you drink a few too many, your inhibitions are lowered and you’ll likely be tempted to eat sweets and other foods you shouldn’t.  Consider drinking in moderation, and if you are having a drink to be social, have a beer, a glass of red wine, or a spritzer as preferable options.

4. Be Aware of Sugar Substitutes and Alternative Names

Cutting sugar addiction is a challenge, and the first thing people cling to is “sugar-free” products. However, be aware of marketing ploys such as “no sugar added,” or “sugar free” because they artificial sweeteners in them. The best example of this is a sugar-free dessert. If you see this in a grocery store, chances are that cupcake is not sugar-free, but rather made with a sugar substitute. The rule of thumb is to read all food labels and  take extra care when you see foods labeled as sugar-free.

5. Have a Food Plan

The last small tip for fighting your sugar addiction is to generate a plan for how you will eat. You can write this plan out, post it somewhere, or simply keep a mental note of it, but a plan can help you to succeed in various situations.

For example, keep carrot sticks cut up in your fridge so that  after work, you can plan to snack on those instead of cookies. Or if you’re going out to brunch, decide that your plan is to order an omelette with vegetables so that pancakes (basically, a maple syrup delivery device) is not an option. The idea here is to have a plan for how you will succeed in various scenarios that typically create problems for you.

Bottom Line

The information presented here is a guide on what sugar addiction is, how it affects you and your health, and some helpful tips for success. While every situation may vary, many with a sugar addiction struggle in similar ways. While it appears that simply cutting sugar from your diet should be  easy to do, there are some barriers that can prevent you from meeting your goals.

Consider taking a look at what happens when you stop eating sugar altogether for more information on how to cut it from your diet. The best chance you have to quit sugar  and fight sugar addiction is to take it day by day and to make baby steps. The will is within you to improve your health, and the results will be amazing once you achieve success.

Sugar and Weight Loss: How Sugar Affects Your Weight Loss Goals

This article first appeared on Sweetdefeat.

Perhaps the biggest topic in health and wellness these days is sugar and how to cut back on consuming it. For ages, the average adult would add a spoonful of sugar here and there to food— it never seemed like a big deal. But over time, food manufacturers started adding sugar to just about everything in the grocery store, even foods that you don’t think of as sweet, like crackers and spaghetti sauce.

Today it’s clear that  sugar is linked to various illnesses and conditions, and it is likely a major culprit connected to the rise in obesity and weight gain in this country. The information below will  give some background on the sugar debate and suggest ways in which you can cut it out for good.

Does Sugar Make You Fat?

Obesity has been a hot topic in recent years, and with good reason. Roughly 38 percent of adults over the age of 19 in the U.S. are obese. What’s more staggering is that more than 70 percent of adults over the age of 19 are overweight or obese, suggesting that most people in this country have weight problems.

Just think about these statistics a bit: seven out of every 10 adults are overweight or obese. From a public health standpoint, effective weight loss programs are important, and it seems that sugar may play a role. Let’s take a look at how sugar is associated with weight gain.

Sugar’s Calorie Content

One of the first things with any body weight management program is to consider how much you eat and to cut out whatever is unnecessary. Sugar is a major culprit in weight gain since it contains calories, but not much else in the way of vitamins, minerals, or anything else that’s good for you. You can find a detailed description of the amount of calories in our calories in sugar guide, but overall, if you eat more than what you need, you will store the extra energy as fat. Some weight loss programs suggest that eating fat is the path to gaining fat, but in reality, it does not matter what nutrient you over consume; the more you eat, the more you gain.

Excess Sugar May Lead to Obesity

Considering the difference between how much sugar we should be eating  and how much we’re actually eating, that excess sugar consumption might be one of the key factors in the rise in obesity levels in this country. If the recommended amount of sugar is at most 150 calories each day and the average adult is consuming more than double this value, perhaps the increase in overweight or obese adults is caused by this excess.

If a pound of fat equates to roughly 3,500 calories, and men consume 180 calories (at least) in excess and women consume 230 calories (at least) in excess, this could add up over the years. If you do the math on the extra amount men eat, 180 calories of sugar in excess from what is recommended each day, for a total of 365 days over an entire year, and this amounts to about 19 pounds of fat per year. Do the same math for women and this equates to 24 pounds of fat added each year. Doing the math, it seems clear  how sugar can contribute to obesity across the nation.

Cutting Sugar to Lose Weight

One of the first rules in any weight loss program is to burn more calories than what you eat. This method suggests that for every 3,500 calorie deficit, you lose roughly one pound of fat. This is not an exact science, but it is a good way to estimate weight loss. In contrast, if you eat more than what your body needs, then you will gain weight. Figuring out the balance between the energy in and the  energy out can be a challenge, but cutting sugar may be one of the best ways to reduce your excessive caloric intake.

If you use the figure of 82 grams of sugar consumed by the average adult each day, it should be no surprise that you could lose some serious weight from sugar alone. Consider this: if you eat a standard 2,000 calorie diet (men or women) each day and you immediately cut all sources of sugar from your usual food and drink, you would reduce your caloric load by 330 calories each day, assuming you eat the average of 82 grams of sugar each day. Reducing your caloric load by 330 calories in sugar each day would translate to about 34 pounds of fat loss each year, or close to three pounds per month.

If you are like many adults out there and you feel your diet is impeccable and that sugar is not an issue, consider this: one medium apple contains about 19 grams of sugar, a banana has 12 grams, one orange has 17 grams, and 1 cup of grapes has 15 grams. You can see that sugar is everywhere, even if you have a healthy diet. It is easy to hit the average 82 grams of sugar each day from fruits alone, but considering a plethora of other foods have sugar in them, it would be easy to consume this much without even touching a candy bar.

Cutting out Sugar Completely Can Be Challenging

One of the biggest issues in any weight loss plan is avoiding things that your brain wants. This is where many adults have issues when it comes to cutting sugar from the diet. The brain has a strong desire to obtain sugar as a way to boost dopamine (known as the happiness hormone), which can be a major sign of sugar addiction. Sugar also provides a quick burst of energy that also floods the brain with compounds that make you feel euphoric. This craving for euphoria is hard to defeat, and it is one of the biggest challenges people have when they’re trying to cut out sugar for good.

9 Effective Ways to Cut Sugar From Your Diet

Now that you have some information on how sugar impacts your weight management, some of the names that it goes by, and the difference between natural and added sugars, you will want to learn about some effective ways to cut sugar out for good. Consider the following tips to aid in your journey to successfully avoid sugar in your daily eating habits.

1.  Substitute sugary beverages for water.

It may taste  boring when you first make this switch, but beverages are the primary source of added sugars in the adult diet. Consider drinking your coffee black without sweetener or sugars and avoid all forms of soda, including ones with artificial sweeteners.

2.  Be mindful of sugar substitutes.

Avoiding sugar is something that adults on diets aim to do,  and many switch to artificial sweeteners as an alternative. While they may be calorie-free, artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes can be up to 600 times sweeter than regular sugar, which means your brain thinks you are consuming enormous amounts of sugar at one time. This strategy often leads to you having intense sugar cravings throughout the day.

3.  Avoid fruit juices.

An orange has plenty of sugar, and a cup of orange juice has the juice of five oranges in there—so it has five times the amount of sugar.  And that’s if you make the juice yourself. Orange juice found in cartons in the grocery store—even the ones that say they’re not from concentrate— are highly processed, and many brands have added sugar.

4.  Limit fruit.

If you are serious about cutting sugar from your diet, you should pay attention to how much sugar is in the fruit you’re eating. Fruit can be healthy for you, but you need to limit your intake to 2-3 pieces at most a day—and count that as part of your sugar consumption.

5.  Avoid jams, jellies, honey, or other preserves.

American breakfasts are often sweet, and jams, jellies, and other options are a source of sugar  that you may not think about.

6.  Eat plain Greek yogurt.

You may be surprised that yogurt is a common source of added sugar—sometimes up to 30 or 40 grams in a serving! Choose plain Greek yogurt, which only has the natural sugars in dairy and no added sugars.  Make sure to read the food label to double-check.

7.  Consider products that help lessen sugar cravings.

One amazing way to cut back on sugar and to fight some of the associated sugar cravings is to consider getting a little help. There are products such as lozenges that help fight sugar cravings so that you can effectively eliminate it from your diet.

  1. Get used to reading grocery labels.

Even if the ingredient list on your favorite food items doesn’t specifically list “sugar” as an ingredient, there’s still a chance that it could have a high sugar content under the veil of a different name. There are at least 60 other names for sugar out there, with the most common being high fructose corn syrup.

9. Know the difference between natural and added sugar.

Not all sugar is created equal and it’s important to know the difference between natural vs added sugar. While it may be difficult to avoid all forms of natural sugar, avoiding added sugars that are refined or processed can be a realistic goal to strive for.

Helpful Weight Loss Tips

If you have ever been on a diet plan only to see it work briefly and then go south from there, then you should consider a lifestyle change to make your plan more effective. Consider the tips below as some of the most effective ways to boost your weight loss journey so that your previous frustrations turn into successes.

Adjust your exercise routine.

One way to boost your weight loss success is to adjust your exercise routine. Many adults hit the gym, perform endless amount of cardio exercise day after day, only to see minimal results. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, your cardio intensity may not be high enough. Consider high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for better results. Second, add a resistance training program—lifting weights, for example—which will help build muscle. Muscle burns more energy than fat, so this will help with weight loss. Changing your workouts to include high intensity interval training as well as resistance training is a great way to boost your metabolism and add lean muscle mass.

Avoid long periods of sitting.

One of the biggest issues with weight loss is that adults go all-out at the gym, only to lose all of the benefits directly afterwards. Studies have shown that sitting for long periods of time can lead to weight gain, suggesting that changing this  habit may help with n your weight loss goals. Avoid sitting for longer than 30-60 minutes at a time throughout the day for best results. Taking standing breaks can help to circulate your blood, and it increases your heart rate and metabolism just enough to where your body is not in continuous fat storage mode.

Be mindful of alcohol.

Another factor that adults should watch when attempting to lose weight is alcohol consumption. Alcohol may have some health benefits, but consuming it often can lead to increased fat production as well as inflammation. Consider cutting alcohol from your diet any time you are looking to lose weight and only drink amounts that current health guidelines suggest you consume.

Make a Habit of Walking.

One effective way to control your body weight is to take a brisk walk after each meal. Research has shown that brisk walking after a meal for about 15-45 minutes can lead to an improvement in overall glycemic control in older adults. An improvement in glycemic control could cause better usage of insulin, which could lead to a reduction of fat in your body. Consider making a brisk walk a habit after each meal and you may see great benefits in both weight and in mood.

Bottom Line

Sugar consumption is linked to a number of health concerns. Perhaps the most concerning one is obesity. Obesity is a highly prevalent issue in the U.S.: seven out of every 10 adults are overweight or obese. And  sugar plays a major role in this statistic.

The average American consumes twice as much sugar as what’s recommended. That excess sugar adds up to about 330 calories each day, which means the average adult could be gaining close to 20 pounds a year simply from eating too much sugar. Sugar consumption is likely a major element contributing to obesity levels in this country.

Consider finding healthy ways to cut sugar from your life to help you lose weight.

Maintain Healthy Blood Pressure Levels

7 Things Adults Can Do To Maintain Healthy Blood Pressure Levels

It is good to care for your skin and even invest heavily if you have the means. But for you to enjoy a healthy aging process and remain in good health, you must ensure everything is well with you in the inside. Your blood pressure and other internal organs should be functioning well.

As you age, consider setting up a plan to maintain your blood pressure levels. High blood pressure can damage vital organs in the body such as the heart, kidney. That is why you should show more concern now that everything seems fine. Let’s take a look at simple ways you can maintain a healthy blood pressure levels as you age.

  1. Monitor your blood pressure regularly

High blood pressure or hypertension is called a “silent killer” because it doesn’t give obvious signs. But regularly checkup will enable you to spot any irregularity in your blood pressure level and take the best action. And the good thing is you can check to know your blood pressure levels at home even when you consult a blood pressure chart.

However, you can arrange for a medical pressure to come to your home. You do not need to rely on doctor’s appointment all the time. In fact, some scientists from the University of Oxford discovered that individuals who had hypertension that were able to check their blood pressure at home, got theirs reduced by over 3.2mmHg than those who relied only on appointments.

  1. Don’t joke with high-fiber foods

Being overweight is one of the culprits of high blood pressure. So, losing weight and keeping fit shouldn’t be all about looking good for your spouse. You need to ensure your blood pressure is kept in healthy levels always. Consume high fiber foods such as raspberries, pears, chickpeas and black beans every single day. These foods may not lower your blood pressure directly, but can make you feel full for a long time when consumed, thus helping you to prevent being overweight.

Other high fiber foods:

  • Lentils
  • Avocado
  • Guava
  • Barley
  • Almonds
  • Broccoli
  • Chia seeds
  • Swiss chard
  • Brussels sprouts

Note: Use these high fiber diets to fill every meal you eat. But also remember to take enough water so you can maximize the benefits.

 

  1. Eat more potassium rich foods

Whether you have high blood pressure or not, you can still benefit from eating foods rich in potassium like sweet potatoes, spinach and avocado. Report from a study conducted in USC explains these foods are capable of releasing enough potassium into the system which prompts both kidneys to discard more salts.

Other benefits potassium rich foods offer

  • Prevents muscle cramping
  • Relaxes blood vessels walls

Other potassium rich foods

  • Banana
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe
  • Water chestnut
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Nectarines

 

 

  1. Make the Switch to herbal tea

Researchers at Tufts University discovered that herbal teas, especially those that have some hibiscus in them, can lower blood pressure levels. They believe the presence of phytochemicals which the ingredients contain, helps to reduce inflammation of the blood vessels.

All that is required of you is to take at least three cups of herbal tea daily. You can even replace coffee with herbal tea. You might also want to reduce coffee consumption because it contains caffeine which is capable of causing a little spike in blood pressure.

  1. Develop more interest in watermelon

Watermelon contains a lot of goodies that can help make your body healthier. It contains several minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. Watermelons also contain arginine and citruline, two amino acids that can reduce the blood pressure of healthy adults, according to studies from the Florida State University.

 

  1. Do yoga and cardio workouts together

Even if you are already used to doing yoga, adding cardio will give your workout effort that extra punch according to reports from India researchers. Combining these two exercises can also help to lower your cholesterol levels and body mass.

Powerful yoga poses that reduces blood pressure

  • Sukhasana – A pose for meditation that helps to calm the body and mind. It helps to regulate the action of the nervous system.
  • Uttanasana – A simple anti-gravity pose that causes blood to follow towards the head. It promotes blood circulation which stabilizes heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana – It is basically an inversion with head down. It stretches both shoulders and spine and improves blood circulation.
  • Virasana – Helps to normalize blood pressure by ensuring proper blood flow.
  • Shavasana – A resting pose that relaxes the body and mind.

 

  1. Lower your salt consumption

Don’t let your taste bud to define your health. And if you have been consuming too much salt, now is the time to reduce it. At the age of 40, your salt intake should not even exceed 2,300 (one tablespoon). So start taking the appropriate measures to lower sodium consumption.

Work with the mindset that taking too much salt can increase your blood pressure, give rise to heart diseases and stiff arteries.

You can also use the following tips to keep your salt intake in check.

  • Check the labels on any processed foods to know the salt content before consumption.
  • Ensure all your foods are cooked with less amount of salt.
  • Never leave the salt shaker on the table. You might get tempted to use it.
  • Go for processed foods with the info “low sodium” on the product label.

 

Conclusion

It is good for adults to set a clear blood pressure goal. It could be as simple as achieving a designed weight loss, reducing salt intake, and eating healthy or all the tips we mentioned in this post. Blood pressure which gives rise to hypertension is a silent killer. It is also responsible for the deaths of many. However, the tips above can help you keep your blood pressure in good state.

 

Author Bio
Clement is a passionate writer with great concern for issues regarding blood pressure. As an outreach for healthiack.com, Clement wishes to create more awareness about blood pressure and educate people on the importance of taking care of their blood pressure.

Men Improve Your Health Today

1. Give Your Heart Some TLC

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death for men.  You can give your heart some TLC by making sure to eat fresh fruits and vegetables daily.  An easy way to ensure you are getting balanced nutrition is choose foods that are a variety of colors.  A heart healthy diet doesn’t have to be boring or bland.  Find out which foods are a part of a heart healthy diet.

2. Move Your Body

Indiana ranks as one of most obese states in the U.S. not just for adults, but for children as well.  The good news is that research shows that just 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise can help improve your health.  Click the graphic below to discover 8 easy ways you can make time for a 7 minutes of exercise from the American College of Sports Medicine.

3. Make An Appointment with Your Doctor

The life expectancy for men is 5 years less than women, and men are 100% less likely to visit their doctor for preventative health exams.  Why is preventive care so important?  Preventative care can help you keep up good health, and detect any health issues early before they become a major challenge, which can help you have a better quality of life for you and your family.  Find a doctor you are comfortable with so you can openly discuss all aspects of your health from your mental health to sexual health and your overall wellness.

 

4.  Quit Smoking

Whether you smoke cigarettes, vape, or chew tobacco, you already know that tobacco and the additional chemicals in cigarettes can lead to diseases such has high blood pressure, cancer, and more. Did you also know that tobacco can also contribute to poor mental health?  Research studies show that people who stop smoking have less depression, anxiety, and stress and have improved positive mood and quality of life compared with those who continue to smoke. Although smoking rates have went down across the U.S., 21% of Hoosiers still smoke which is higher than the national average.  You can improve your own health and help boost Indiana’s health ratings by giving tobacco the boot. Check out these resources to live tobacco free!

 

5.  Take Care of Your Mental Health

Your mental health is inseperable from your physical health so it’s important to make sure you are taking care of your mental and emotional well-being.  Over 6 million men report struggling with depression, and over 3 million men report struggling with anxiety.  Many times, men are more reluctant to seek help for depression, anxiety and other mental health issues for fear it it makes them look weak or because they feel they should be able to handle it on their own.  More recently, famous male athletes and entertainers have been sharing their struggles with mental health to help other men feel comfortable to share their stories and seek help.  The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kevin Love wrote an article called “Everyone Is Going Through Something,” to share his struggle with panic attacks and NFL player Brandon Marshall has also shared his journey with Boderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

Recently, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson shared his battle with depression:

“[It] took me a long time to realize it but the key is to not be afraid to open up. Especially us dudes have a tendency to keep it in. You’re not alone.”

If you are feeling overwhelmed or struggling with depression, anxiety or substance abuse talk to a mental health professional who can help you.

For more information on mental health and to locate treatment services in your area, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Treatment Referral Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).