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Sugar: The Enemy of All Ages

A baby boy sits to the left of a clear bowl filled with several traditionally flavored, ringed donuts covered in white glaze and blue sprinkles. The image reads: "Sugar is known to lead to heart disease, obesity, and high blood sugar in adults. However, the risk of these diseases  increases the more you eat sugar in your childhood and teenage years!"

Sugar is known to lead to heart disease, obesity, and high blood sugar in adults. But did you know the risk of these diseases increases the more you eat sugar in your childhood and teenage years?

Not only are you at a higher risk for these diseases, but sugar affects children and teenagers in more diverse ways than adults.

Sugar's Effects on Children

A natural part of eating, for all ages, is that your blood sugar levels spike as a result. This spike increases when the food consumed is high in carbohydrates and sugar. If the spike is too extreme, we experience the infamous "sugar crash".

Sugar crashes make us all irritable. But they are worse for children.

Studies show that sugar crashes in children lead to tantrums and other irritable behavior. Sugar crashes in children can also cause headaches, shakiness, fatigue, altered thinking and behavior, sweating, and… a craving for more sugar.

Often sugary foods are used as rewards for children, which feeds the sugar cravings. But constantly rewarding children with sugar can lead to a sugar addiction.

Additionally, the longer children consume an overload of sugar, the more negatively it will affect their taste buds. As a result, these children can also be less likely to vary their food choices, especially toward healthy food.

Training your children to enjoy healthy foods can be as simple as replacing sugar rewards with healthy foods, such as fruit and veggies.

Doing this will help you train your children to pay attention to what kind of food their body needs. Try letting them choose by giving them fat, protein, and carbohydrate options at every meal.

Additionally, try loosening up traditional meal schedules so you can train your children to eat when hungry and stop when they are feeling full. This will help them be disciplined and healthy eaters.

As you lessen your child’s intake of sugar, be sure to also keep an eye out for sneaky sugars.

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Sugar's Effects on Teenagers

The ever-increasing rate of obesity throughout the world is most dramatic in teenagers. Though they tend to have a highe rmetabolism due to their rapid growth, this faster metabolism can only do so much to prevent weight gain if their diets are high in carbohydrates and saturated fats.

Obese youth are shown to perform worse than healthy youth in many areas of schooling, particularly those that require mental flexibility such as math. 

This could be due to the fact that studies have shown obese teenagers have smaller hippocampi, the area of the brain primarily over learning and memory. 

The smaller hippocampus is a result of brain inflammation, a common side effect of sugar. Inflammation in the brain can lead to cognitive decline and mental problems such as depression.

Luckily, teenage brains are constantly changing in structure and function, so the earlier you intervene, the more likely your teen’s brain will be able to recuperate.

One trick to helping teenagers cut down on this damaging sugar is to look for sugar-free sweeteners. But not just any kind of sweetener. You'll want to look for a sugar-free sweetener that is all natural and that doesn't still cause a sugar spike.

Lakanto Monk Fruit Sweetener is a great choice because it contains monk fruit  extract and erythritol (a sugar alcohol). Both of these combined make a true to sugar taste while being zero glycemic. This means they won't cause a sugar spike, like other sugar substitutes.

Sugar's Effects on Adults

All the problems associated with over-consuming sugar as a child or teen will most likely be recognized as an issue in adulthood. Unfortunately, memory problems and brain inflammation are only some of the issues resulting from over-consuming sugar.

Sugar can lead to depression, tooth decay, weight gain, faster skin aging, insulin resistance, and a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Even though you are not as quick to heal as teenagers in adulthood, your body still has the miraculous ability to heal. If you are experiencing any of the issues above, you can significantly improve your health by significantly decreasing the amount of sugar and carbohydrates you consume every day.

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References

Children's Health Team. (2018, January 12). Sugar: How Bad Are Sweets for Your Kids? Retrieved October 10, 2018, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/sugar-how-bad-are-sweets-for-your-kids/

Corliss, J. (2016, November 30). Eating too much added sugar increases the risk of dying with heart disease. Retrieved October 10, 2018, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/eating-too-much-added-sugar-increases-the-risk-of-dying-with-heart-disease-201402067021

Holt, B. (2017, October 03). Sugar's Effects on Teens. Retrieved October 10, 2018, from https://www.livestrong.com/article/527538-sugars-effects-on-teens/

Holt, S. (2014, June 20). Teens Not Only Eat the Most Sugar-They're Affected More Intensely by It Too. Retrieved October 10, 2018, from http://www.takepart.com/article/2014/06/20/how-sugar-changes-teen-brain

Hughes, L. (2017, March 23). How Does Too Much Sugar Affect Your Body? Retrieved October 10, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/how-sugar-affects-your-body

Kubala, J., MS, RD. (2018, June 03). 11 Reasons Why Too Much Sugar Is Bad for You. Retrieved October 10, 2018, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/too-much-sugar

NHS. (2017, November 08). How does Sugar in our Diet Affect our Health? Retrieved October 10, 2018, from https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/how-does-sugar-in-our-diet-affect-our-health/

Perricone MD. (2017, February 06). Your Skin on Sugar: How it Impacts the Aging Process. Retrieved October 10, 2018, from https://foreveryoung.perriconemd.com/skin-sugar-impacts-aging-process.html

Reichelt, A. (2018, September 30). Why sugar is so much worse for teenagers' brains. Retrieved October 10, 2018, from https://theconversation.com/why-sugar-is-so-much-worse-for-teenagers-brains-67238

Salsberg, A., ND. (2017, July 24). How sugar affects children. Retrieved October 10, 2018, from https://www.kabritausa.com/blog/how-sugar-affects-children/

Zerbe, L., MS, NASM-CPT, NASM-CES. (2018, September 25). How Sugar Destroys Your Body. Retrieved October 10, 2018, from https://draxe.com/is-sugar-bad-for-you/

Zerbe, L., MS, NASM-CPT, NASM-CES. (2018, August 02). Your Brain on Sugar (It's Not Pretty). Retrieved October 10, 2018, from https://draxe.com/what-sugar-does-to-your-brain/