Red beetroot (Beta vulgaris rubra) has been gaining popularity as a functional food that has potential to prevent disease and promote health. Beets belong to the chenopod family along with other foods such as chard, spinach, and quinoa. They have been used throughout history as a treatment for numerous ailments, and still evoke an emotional response from people who either love them or have an intense dislike for them. According to research, beetroot is being considered in the treatment of pathologies related to oxidative stress, inflammation, detoxification, cognition, and endothelial function. The betalains are not only what give beets their red color but also function as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory molecules. Beets are a great source of fiber, folate, manganese, potassium, Vitamin C, and nitrates. Unlike nitrites found in processed meats which are not healthy, nitrates found in beets are responsible for the health promoting benefits they provide. When beets are consumed, oral microbiota reduce dietary nitrate (NO3-) to nitrite (NO2-) where some of it is reduced to Nitric Oxide (NO) in the stomach and absorbed into circulation. Interestingly, spitting out saliva or using oral anti-bacterial mouthwash reduced the nitrate-nitrite conversion.
By increasing beetroot consumption, the body has a natural means to increase in vivo NO availability which relaxes and widen blood vessels, supporting blood pressure regulation.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), high blood pressure increased the risk for heart disease, stroke, chronic kidney disease, and is associated with more than 1,100 deaths per day. While hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, it is also one of the leading preventable causes of premature death and disability. Numerous studies have suggested the beneficial effects of beetroot for cardiovascular health. A 2013 Meta Analysis reported that inorganic nitrate and beetroot juice supplementation was associated with a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure. Since hypertension accounts for $48.6 billion each year from medications, missed days or work, and health care services, beetroot should be considered as an easy and inexpensive dietary intervention and component of healthy lifestyle interventions to control blood pressure levels. Based on the results of a study at the British Heart Foundation, researchers suggested that daily intake of inorganic nitrate can be as effective as medical intervention in reducing blood pressure. Betaine supplementation has also been shown to be effective in reducing plasma homocysteine levels. This is important since a high level of homocysteine is a risk factor for heart disease. According to researchers, “The homocysteine-lowering effects of betaine can most likely be ascribed to an increase in betaine- dependent methylation of homocysteine into methionine due to increased betaine availability and enhanced activity of the enzyme BHMT in both the liver and kidney.”
Research also points to numerous other benefits of using beets to improve the following:
Estrogen alone is not the issue when it comes to increasing the risk of breast cancer. The real issue is how is your estrogen being metabolized. You want to have your doctor order a test that evaluates the estrogen metabolites. **I recommend the Dutch Test (https://dutchtest.com)
The liver converts estrogens into estrogen metabolites. Three of estrogen's metabolites, the breakdown products of this hormone, are 2-hydroxyestrone, 4-hydroxyestrone, and 16-alpha-hydroxyestrone.
Since the 1980s, 2-hydroxyestrone has been considered a "good" or chemoprotective form of estrogen, while 16-alpha-hydroxyestrone has been associated with the development of cancer. It can fuel the growth and division of hormone-dependent and other cancer cells more than the 2-hydroxyestrones can.
The 2-hydroxyestrones, in contrast, have almost no estrogenic effect. Prevailing evidence has shown that the ratio of 2-hydroxyestrone to 16-alpha-hydroxyestrone is relevant as a risk factor for estrogen-sensitive cancers, including breast and cervical cancers. Simply put, when it comes to estrogen metabolites, you want more 2s than 16s. And guess what can help the body do that? Cruciferous vegetables.
Two components in cruciferous vegetables are indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and diindolylmethane (DIM). Studies have found that these compounds can inhibit the formation of the "bad" 16-alpha-hydroxyestrone estrogen metabolite. One study found that DIM had the ability to decrease its production by 50 percent while increasing production of the "good" 2-hydroxyestrone metabolite by 75 percent.
I3C is found in a number of cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, radish, rutabaga, and turnip. The highest concentrations are found in garden cress (different from watercress) and mustard greens.
Ronald Grisanti D.C., D.A.B.C.O., D.A.C.B.N., M.S.
Winters Nasha, Kelley Jess, The Metabolic Approach to Cancer, Chelsea Green Publishing, 2017
Michelle Whirl-Carrillo, Ellen M. McDonagh, J. M. Hebert, H Chun Gong, K. Sangkuhl, C. F. Thorn, Russ B. Altman, and T. E. Klein, "Pharmacogenomics Knowledge for Personalized Medicine," Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics 92, no. 4 (October 2012): 414-17
Heather Greenlee, Yu Chen, Geoffrey C. Kabat, Qiao Wang, Muhammad G. Kibriya, Irina Gurvich, Daniel W Sepkovic, et al., "Variants in Estrogen Metabolism and Biosynthesis Genes and Urinary Estrogen Metabolites in Women with a Family History of Breast Cancer," Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 102, no. 1 (March 2007): 111-17
The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Grisanti and his functional medicine community. Dr. Grisanti encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional. Visit www.FunctionalMedicineUniversity.com for more information on our training in functional medicine.
From marinara sauce to peanut butter, added sugar can be found in even the most unexpected products.
Many people rely on quick, processed foods for meals and snacks. Since these products often contain added sugar, it makes up a large proportion of their daily calorie intake.
In the US, added sugars account for up to 17% of the total calorie intake of adults and up to 14% for children (1 Trusted Source).
Dietary guidelines suggest limiting calories from added sugar to less than 10% per day (2 Trusted Source).
Experts believe that sugar consumption is a major cause of obesity and many chronic diseases, such as diabetes.
Here are 11 reasons why eating too much sugar is bad for your health.
1. Can Cause Weight Gain
Share on PinterestRates of obesity are rising worldwide and added sugar, especially from sugar-sweetened beverages, is thought to be one of the main culprits.
Sugar-sweetened drinks like sodas, juices and sweet teas are loaded with fructose, a type of simple sugar.
Consuming fructose increases your hunger and desire for food more than glucose, the main type of sugar found in starchy foods (3 Trusted Source).
Additionally, excessive fructose consumption may cause resistance to leptin, an important hormone that regulates hunger and tells your body to stop eating (4 Trusted Source).
In other words, sugary beverages don’t curb your hunger, making it easy to quickly consume a high number of liquid calories. This can lead to weight gain.
Research has consistently shown that people who drink sugary beverages, such as soda and juice, weigh more than people who don’t (5 Trusted Source).
Also, drinking a lot of sugar-sweetened beverages is linked to an increased amount of visceral fat, a kind of deep belly fat associated with conditions like diabetes and heart disease (6 Trusted Source).
SUMMARYConsuming too much added sugar, especially from sugary beverages, increases your risk of weight gain and can lead to visceral fat accumulation.
2. May Increase Your Risk of Heart DiseaseHigh-sugar diets have been associated with an increased risk of many diseases, including heart disease, the number one cause of death worldwide (7 Trusted Source).
Evidence suggests that high-sugar diets can lead to obesity, inflammation and high triglyceride, blood sugar and blood pressure levels — all risk factors for heart disease (8 Trusted Source).
Additionally, consuming too much sugar, especially from sugar-sweetened drinks, has been linked to atherosclerosis, a disease characterized by fatty, artery-clogging deposits (9 Trusted Source).
A study in over 30,000 people found that those who consumed 17–21% of calories from added sugar had a 38% greater risk of dying from heart disease, compared to those consuming only 8% of calories from added sugar (10 Trusted Source).
Just one 16-ounce (473-ml) can of soda contains 52 grams of sugar, which equates to more than 10% of your daily calorie consumption, based on a 2,000-calorie diet (11).
This means that one sugary drink a day can already put you over the recommended daily limitfor added sugar.
SUMMARYConsuming too much added sugar increases heart disease risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure and inflammation. High-sugar diets have been linked to an increased risk of dying from heart disease.
3. Has Been Linked to AcneA diet high in refined carbs, including sugary foods and drinks, has been associated with a higher risk of developing acne.
Foods with a high glycemic index, such as processed sweets, raise your blood sugar more rapidly than foods with a lower glycemic index.
Sugary foods quickly spike blood sugar and insulin levels, causing increased androgen secretion, oil production and inflammation, all of which play a role in acne development (12 Trusted Source).
Studies have shown that low-glycemic diets are associated with a reduced acne risk, while high-glycemic diets are linked to a greater risk (13 Trusted Source).
For example, a study in 2,300 teens demonstrated that those who frequently consumed added sugar had a 30% greater risk of developing acne (14 Trusted Source).
Also, many population studies have shown that rural communities that consume traditional, non-processed foods have almost non-existent rates of acne, compared to more urban, high-income areas (15 Trusted Source).
These findings coincide with the theory that diets high in processed, sugar-laden foods contribute to the development of acne.
SUMMARYHigh-sugar diets can increase androgen secretion, oil production and inflammation, all of which can raise your risk of developing acne.
4. Increases Your Risk of DiabetesThe worldwide prevalence of diabetes has more than doubled over the past 30 years (16 Trusted Source).
Though there are many reasons for this, there is a clear link between excessive sugar consumption and diabetes risk.
Obesity, which is often caused by consuming too much sugar, is considered the strongest risk factor for diabetes (17 Trusted Source).
What’s more, prolonged high-sugar consumption drives resistance to insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates blood sugar levels.
Insulin resistance causes blood sugar levels to rise and strongly increases your risk of diabetes.
A population study comprising over 175 countries found that the risk of developing diabetes grew by 1.1% for every 150 calories of sugar, or about one can of soda, consumed per day (18 Trusted Source).
Other studies have also shown that people who drink sugar-sweetened beverages, including fruit juice, are more likely to develop diabetes (19 Trusted Source, 20 Trusted Source).
SUMMARYA high-sugar diet may lead to obesity and insulin resistance, both of which are risk factors for diabetes.
5. May Increase Your Risk of CancerEating excessive amounts of sugar may increase your risk of developing certain cancers.
First, a diet rich in sugary foods and beverages can lead to obesity, which significantly raises your risk of cancer (21 Trusted Source).
Furthermore, diets high in sugar increase inflammation in your body and may cause insulin resistance, both of which increase cancer risk (22 Trusted Source).
A study in over 430,000 people found that added sugar consumption was positively associated with an increased risk of esophageal cancer, pleural cancer and cancer of the small intestine (23 Trusted Source).
Another study showed that women who consumed sweet buns and cookies more than three times per week were 1.42 times more likely to develop endometrial cancer than women who consumed these foods less than 0.5 times per week (24 Trusted Source).
Research on the link between added sugar intake and cancer is ongoing, and more studies are needed to fully understand this complex relationship.
SUMMARYToo much sugar can lead to obesity, insulin resistance and inflammation, all of which are risk factors for cancer.
6. May Increase Your Risk of DepressionWhile a healthy diet can help improve your mood, a diet high in added sugar and processed foods may increase your chances of developing depression.
Consuming a lot of processed foods, including high-sugar products such as cakes and sugary drinks, has been associated with a higher risk of depression (25 Trusted Source, 26 Trusted Source).
Researchers believe that blood sugar swings, neurotransmitter dysregulation and inflammation may all be reasons for sugar’s detrimental impact on mental health (27 Trusted Source).
A study following 8,000 people for 22 years showed that men who consumed 67 grams or more of sugar per day were 23% more likely to develop depression than men who ate less than 40 grams per day (28 Trusted Source).
Another study in over 69,000 women demonstrated that those with the highest intakes of added sugars had a significantly greater risk of depression, compared to those with the lowest intakes (29 Trusted Source).
SUMMARYA diet rich in added sugar and processed foods may increase depression risk in both men and women.
7. May Accelerate the Skin Aging ProcessWrinkles are a natural sign of aging. They appear eventually, regardless of your health.
However, poor food choices can worsen wrinkles and speed the skin aging process.
Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are compounds formed by reactions between sugar and protein in your body. They are suspected to play a key role in skin aging (30 Trusted Source).
Consuming a diet high in refined carbs and sugar leads to the production of AGEs, which may cause your skin to age prematurely (31 Trusted Source).
AGEs damage collagen and elastin, which are proteins that help the skin stretch and keep its youthful appearance.
When collagen and elastin become damaged, the skin loses its firmness and begins to sag.
In one study, women who consumed more carbs, including added sugars, had a more wrinkled appearance than women on a high-protein, lower-carb diet (32 Trusted Source).
The researchers concluded that a lower intake of carbs was associated with better skin-aging appearance (32 Trusted Source).
SUMMARYSugary foods can increase the production of AGEs, which can accelerate skin aging and wrinkle formation.
8. Can Increase Cellular AgingTelomeres are structures found at the end of chromosomes, which are molecules that hold part or all of your genetic information.
Telomeres act as protective caps, preventing chromosomes from deteriorating or fusing together.
As you grow older, telomeres naturally shorten, which causes cells to age and malfunction (33 Trusted Source).
Although the shortening of telomeres is a normal part of aging, unhealthy lifestyle choices can speed up the process.
Consuming high amounts of sugar has been shown to accelerate telomere shortening, which increases cellular aging (34 Trusted Source).
A study in 5,309 adults showed that regularly drinking sugar-sweetened beverages was associated with shorter telomere length and premature cellular aging (35 Trusted Source).
In fact, each daily 20-ounce (591-ml) serving of sugar-sweetened soda equated to 4.6 additional years of aging, independent of other variables (35 Trusted Source).
SUMMARYEating too much sugar can accelerate the shortening of telomeres, which increases cellular aging.
9. Drains Your EnergyFoods high in added sugar quickly spike blood sugar and insulin levels, leading to increased energy.
However, this rise in energy levels is fleeting.
Products that are loaded with sugar but lacking in protein, fiber or fat lead to a brief energy boost that’s quickly followed by a sharp drop in blood sugar, often referred to as a crash (36 Trusted Source).
Having constant blood sugar swings can lead to major fluctuations in energy levels (37 Trusted Source).
To avoid this energy-draining cycle, choose carb sources that are low in added sugar and rich in fiber.
Pairing carbs with protein or fat is another great way to keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable.
For example, eating an apple along with a small handful of almonds is an excellent snack for prolonged, consistent energy levels.
SUMMARY High-sugar foods can negatively impact your energy levels by causing a spike in blood sugar followed by a crash.
10. Can Lead to Fatty LiverA high intake of fructose has been consistently linked to an increased risk of fatty liver.
Unlike glucose and other types of sugar, which are taken up by many cells throughout the body, fructose is almost exclusively broken down by the liver.
In the liver, fructose is converted into energy or stored as glycogen.
However, the liver can only store so much glycogen before excess amounts are turned into fat.
Large amounts of added sugar in the form of fructose overload your liver, leading to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition characterized by excessive fat buildup in the liver (38 Trusted Source).
A study in over 5,900 adults showed that people who drank sugar-sweetened beverages daily had a 56% higher risk of developing NAFLD, compared to people who did not (39 Trusted Source).
SUMMARYEating too much sugar may lead to NAFLD, a condition in which excessive fat builds up in the liver.
11. Other Health RisksAside from the risks listed above, sugar can harm your body in countless other ways.
Research shows that too much added sugar can:
SUMMARYConsuming too much sugar may worsen cognitive decline, increase gout risk, harm your kidneys and cause cavities.
Written by Jillian Kubala, MS, RD
6 Ways to Practice Mindful EatingInformal mindfulness practices for those of us who don’t have five minutes to contemplate a raisin.
BY CHRISTOPHER WILLARD JANUARY 17, 2019 PHYSICAL HEALTH
Eating as mindfully as we do on retreat or in a mindfulness course is not realistic for many of us, especially with families, jobs, and the myriad distractions around us. This is not to mention that our friends, family and colleagues might not have the patience to eat with us as we take five minutes with each bite. So have some self-compassion, and consider formal mindful eating on retreat and special occasions, as well as informal mindful eating in your daily life.
What I want to offer in this piece is what I call more mindful eating, perhaps “informal” mindful eating as opposed to formal mindful eating. Especially during the craziness and stress and extra food of the holidays, that Halloween to New Years stretch in which are more likely to eat mindlessly than mindfully. Here are six simple guidelines to keep in mind to discern between mindless and (more) mindful eating, and bring our bodies and minds back together.
6 ways to practice mindful eating.
1) Let your body catch up to your brain
Eating rapidly past full and ignoring your body’s signals vs. slowing down and eating and stopping when your body says its full.
Slowing down is one of the best ways we can get our mind and body to communicate what we really need for nutrition. The body actually sends its satiation signal about 20 minutes after the brain, which is why we often unconsciously overeat. But, if we slow down, you can give your body a chance to catch up to your brain and hear the signals to eat the right amount. Simple ways to slow down might just include follow many of your grandmother’s manners, like sitting down to eat, chewing each bite 25 times (or more), setting your fork down between bites, and all those old manners that are maybe not as pointless as they seemed. What are some ways you can slow down eating and listen more deeply to your body’s signals
2) Know your body’s personal hunger signals
Are you responding to an emotional want or responding to your body’s needs?
Often we listen first to our minds, but like many mindfulness practices, we might discover more wisdom by tuning into our bodies first. Rather than just eating when we get emotional signals, which may be different for each of us, be they stress, sadness, frustration, loneliness or even just boredom, we can listen to our bodies. Is your stomach growling, energy low, or feeling a little lightheaded? Too often, we eat when our mind tells us to, rather than our bodies. True mindful eating is actually listening deeply to our body’s signals for hunger. Ask yourself: What are your body’s hunger signals, and what are your emotional hunger triggers?
3) Develop healthy eating environments
Eating alone and randomly vs. eating with others at set times and places.
Another way that we eat mindlessly is by wandering around looking through cabinets, eating at random times and places, rather than just thinking proactively about our meals and snacks. This slows us down for one thing, but prevents us from developing healthy environmental cues about what and how much to eat, and wires our brains for new cues for eating that not always ideal. (do you really want to create a habit to eat every time you get in the car, or other situations?) Sure, we all snack from time to time, but it can boost both your mind and body’s health, not to mention greatly helping your mood and sleep schedule to eat at consistent times and places. Yes, that means sitting down (at a table!), putting food on a plate or bowl, not eating it out of the container, and using utensils not our hands. It also helps to eat with others, not only are you sharing and getting some healthy connection, but you also slow down and can enjoy the food and conversation more, and we take our cues from our dinner partner, not over or undereating out of emotion.
When we put our food away in cabinets and the fridge, we also are more likely to eat healthy amounts of healthy food, so consider what’s around, where it is and whether it’s in sight. If we limit eating to kitchen and dining room, we are also less likely to eat mindlessly or eat while multitasking. When food is around, we eat it. And food, not always the healthiest, is often around at the holidays.
There are many reasons that the raisin eating it is such a powerful exercise, but one is that when we slow down and eat healthy foods like raisins, we often enjoy them more than the story we tell ourselves about healthy foods.
You don’t have to plan your food down to each bite, and its important to be flexible especially at special occasions, but just be aware of the fact that you might be changing your eating habits at different times of year or for different occasions. And when you do plan ahead, you are also more likely to eat the amount your body needs in that moment than undereating and indulging later, or overeating and regretting it later.
Classic advice is to also not shop when hungry, but the middle path applies here as well. A psychological effect known as “moral licensing” has shown that shoppers who buy kale are more likely to then head to the alcohol or ice cream section than those who don’t. We seem to think that our karma will balance out and we can “spend” it on junk food, or other less than ideal behaviors.
4) Understand your motivations
Eating foods that are emotionally comforting vs. eating foods that are nutritionally healthy.
This is another tricky balance, and ideally we can find nourishing foods that are also satisfying and comforting. But think back to that first mindful raisin. Did that seem appealing before you tried it? There are many reasons that the raisin eating it is such a powerful exercise, but one is that when we slow down and eat healthy foods like raisins, we often enjoy them more than the story we tell ourselves about healthy foods. As we practice eating healthier and a greater variety foods, we are less inclined to binge on our comfort foods, and more inclined to enjoy healthy foods, ultimately finding many foods mentally and physically satisfying as opposed to just a few.
5) Connect more deeply with your food
Considering where food comes from vs. thinking of food as an end product.
Unless you are a hunter-gatherer or sustenance farmer, we have all become ever more disconnected from our food in recent years. Many of us don’t even consider where a meal comes from beyond the supermarket packaging. This is a loss, because eating offers an incredible opportunity to connect us more deeply to the natural world, the elements and to each other.
When we pause to consider all of the people involved in the meal that has arrived on your plate, from the loved ones (and yourself) who prepared it, to those who stocked the shelves, to those who planted and harvested the raw ingredients, to those who supported them, it is hard to not feel both grateful and interconnected. Be mindful of the water, soil, and other elements that were part of its creation as you sit down to eat whatever you are eating. You can reflect on the cultural traditions that brought you this food, the recipes generously shared from friends, or brought from a distant place and time to be a handed down in the family.
As you consider everything that went into the meal, it becomes effortless to experience and express gratitude to all of the people who gave their time and effort, the elements of the universe that contributed their share, our friends or ancestors who shared recipes and even the beings who may have given their lives to a part of creating this meal. With just a little more mindfulness like this, we may begin to make wiser choices about sustainability and health in our food, not just for us but for the whole planet.
6) Attend to your plate
Distracted eating vs. just eating
Multitasking and eating is a recipe for not being able to listen deeply to our body’s needs and wants. We’ve all had the experience of going to the movies with our bag full of popcorn, and before the coming attractions are over, we are asking who ate all of our popcorn. When we are distracted, it becomes harder to listen to our body’s signals about food and other needs. With your next meal, try single-tasking and just eating, with no screens or distractions besides enjoying the company you are sharing a meal and conversation with.
So while formal mindful eating practices may be what we think of when we look back on a mindfulness course or retreat we attended, the reality is that we do live, and eat, in the real world which is a busy place. But we can take the insights gained from our formal practice- slowing down, listening to our bodies, doing one thing at a time, making even small rituals, and considering all that went into our meal on a more regular basis and bring more informal mindfulness to our daily meals.