Most mornings Marla hits the ground running, grabs a Danish and scurries out the door, sugar-filled coffee sloshing on her dress as her car whines its way to work. Midday she inhales a taco at her desk or skips lunch altogether, digging through the piles of work on her desk. Evenings she rushes home, throws a frozen dinner in the oven and helps her two children with their homework before bedtime. The next morning, she hops on the (not so merry) merry-go-round and repeats the same routine until week’s end.
With Halloween fast approaching, you might catch yourself munching on candy to manage work stress. But you could be feeding your stress instead of managing it. Sugar acts like a natural tranquilizer that calms you down under stress. But research shows that glucose—natural body sugars that are released from your liver and muscles—must be replenished after stressors have passed. So the more glucose you release in reacting to job stress, the hungrier you’ll be after stress at work. Halloween candy, anyone?
Let’s take a look at a few reasons why excess sugar can be particularly harmful to our health, job performance and career trajectory. Most of us love sugar, but is it good for us and our performance? In the long run, stress eating sugar for comfort traps you in a hard-to-break eating cycle that adds to your stress level and causes us to crash and burn. Plus, it can result in serious health problems. So what feels like a satisfying stress solution in the moment, becomes a bigger problem later on. “As yummy as it tastes, sugar is ‘the devil,’” according to Dr. Vikki Petersen, certified clinical nutritionist, chiropractor and certified functional practitioner. “If you’ve been a parent for a while you’ve likely experienced your child ‘high’ on sugar only to crash and burn later. It isn’t fun for you or them. But did you also know that sugar is devastating to your immune system? It opens the door for infections, and no one enjoys getting sick,” she says.
Top 6 Reasons To Avoid Excess Sugar Consumption
Dr. Peterson listed 6 reasons why it’s important to avoid excessive sugary foods:
Reason #1: Obesity
Obesity has become an epidemic in the United States. Sugar is most definitely a culprit in weight gain, but the sad facts are that overweight kids most always maintain their overweight status into adulthood. Add to that the association of obesity to diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver and cancer, and you begin to see how sugar is not the friend to you or your children.
Reason #2: Higher Cholesterol
It is interesting to note that excess sugar leads to heart disease. Sugar lowers the “good” HDL cholesterol while raising your triglycerides. Sugar also alters the function of the “bad” LDL cholesterol, causing rapid clogging of your arteries. If you think your children are “too young” to worry about heart disease, that sadly is not the case in the United States. Evidence of early plaquing in arteries occurs in young children.
Reason #3: Increased Cancer Risk
The preferred source of fuel for cancer cells is sugar. For that matter, it is what bacteria and viruses prefer to eat as well. Therefore, the “sweetness” of sugar belies its evil side in its attack on your immune system’s strength.
Reason #4: Imbalanced Gut Flora
The balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut dictates a great deal about your health. Your immune system’s strength or weakness, your hormonal balance (think mood and comprehension in kids), your tendency toward developing autoimmune diseases along with heart disease, diabetes and more, are all very much dictated by the population of bacteria in your gut. Sadly, sugar feeds and promotes the increase of bad bacteria, leading to the issues stated above.
Reason #5: Narrow Airways Leading to Asthma
Research has shown that a diet rich in sugar may set up the immune system of the airways to experience allergic inflammation. Such inflammation can cause a narrowing of the airways, excess mucus production and result in asthma symptoms, including wheezing and shortness of breath.
Reason #6: Immune Strength
Eating or drinking sugar reduces the strength of your immune cells. These immune cells, called natural killer cells, defend you against the ravages of bacteria, viruses and cancer cells. When you consume sugar the negative effect and weakening of your immune system last several hours (up to five hours). If you want to make bacteria, viruses and cancer cells “happy,” eat sugar. It is their preferred source of fuel. Needless to say, we do not want to empower them.
“Sugar, or blood sugar, is vital to deliver fuel to your cells,” Dr. Petersen concludes. “Blood sugar is maintained from all foods, not just sugar; and, in that way, the terminology blood sugar is a bit confusing.”
Here’s to a safe, healthy and happy Halloween!