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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ahem, comes the soapbox

I’m in my angry phase again. I feel like there is no good or valid reason that Andie had to die. It could have been prevented a thousand ways.

Allow me to step onto my soapbox for a moment. Heart disease is one of the number one causes of death in America; it is largely because of our terrible diets and lack of exercise. After talking with the coroner about his death I learned that what killed him was a combination of genetic factors (predisposition for high cholesterol and heart disease) combined with a poor diet and lifestyle factors that only contributed to more high cholesterol and heart disease. His official cause of death was not even a heart attack. It was severe blockage of his coronary arteries (a condition called atherosclerosis) that led to his heart not being able to get blood and oxygen as needed. Basically, the coronary artery became blocked over time due to cholesterol and eventually it closed up completely- and he died. Because he ate like crap for most of his life! At only 34!

My concern is that people don’t take their health, diets, and exercise seriously enough. Especially when we’re young and think stuff like this only happens to older people. It only takes small changes to make a big impact. One small change we can all make is to eat less sugar-refined sugar, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, all forms of it!

Here is something I found while looking into this issue. It’s from Not the most “medical” sight, but I liked the simple list they put together about the dangers of sugar. I’ve put asterisks by the conditions that Andie had; all things that contributed to his death according to the coroner. He ate a diet high in processed foods and sugar until he started dieting about 10 months before he died. I believe with all my heart that if he had made lifestyle changes a lot earlier if it would’ve been a different outcome.

Sugar can suppress the immune system.
Sugar can upset the body's mineral balance.
Sugar can contribute to hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, concentration difficulties, and crankiness in children.
***Sugar can produce a significant rise in triglycerides.
Sugar can cause drowsiness and decreased activity in children.
***Sugar can reduce helpful high density cholesterol (HDLs).
***Sugar can promote an elevation of harmful cholesterol (LDLs).

Sugar can cause hypoglycemia.
Sugar contributes to a weakened defense against bacterial infection.
Sugar can cause kidney damage.
***Sugar can increase the risk of coronary heart disease.
Sugar may lead to chromium deficiency.
Sugar can cause copper deficiency.
Sugar interferes with absorption of calcium and magnesium.
Sugar can increase fasting levels of blood glucose.
Sugar can promote tooth decay.
***Sugar can produce an acidic stomach.
Sugar can raise adrenaline levels in children.
Sugar can lead to periodontal disease.
Sugar can speed the aging process, causing wrinkles and grey hair.
***Sugar can increase total cholesterol.
***Sugar can contribute to weight gain and obesity.

High intake of sugar increases the risk of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
Sugar can contribute to diabetes.
Sugar can contribute to osteoporosis.
Sugar can cause a decrease in insulin sensitivity.
Sugar leads to decreased glucose tolerance.
***Sugar can cause cardiovascular disease.
***Sugar can increase systolic blood pressure.

Sugar causes food allergies.
Sugar can cause free radical formation in the bloodstream.
Sugar can cause toxemia during pregnancy.
Sugar can contribute to eczema in children.
Sugar can overstress the pancreas, causing damage.
***Sugar can cause atherosclerosis.
Sugar can compromise the lining of the capillaries.
Sugar can cause liver cells to divide, increasing the size of the liver.
***Sugar can increase the amount of fat in the liver.
Sugar can increase kidney size and produce pathological changes in the kidney.
Sugar can cause depression.
Sugar can increase the body's fluid retention.
Sugar can cause hormonal imbalance.
***Sugar can cause hypertension.
Sugar can cause headaches, including migraines.
Sugar can cause an increase in delta, alpha and theta brain waves, which can alter the mind's ability to think clearly.
Sugar can increase blood platelet adhesiveness which increases risk of blood clots and strokes.
Sugar can increase insulin responses in those consuming high-sugar diets compared to low sugar diets.
Sugar increases bacterial fermentation in the colon.

If this doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will. Decreasing the amount of sugar we take in is a very small step towards bettering our health. People look at me like I’m crazy around here when I say I don’t drink sweet tea. In Texas that’s almost like saying you don’t believe in God. And I also don’t allow my children to drink it- yes, there are parents who start their kids on sweet tea in Texas when they are still drinking out of sippy cups! I find it appalling. It is my job as a parent to make responsible, healthy food choices for my children while I still can. They will have all their adult lives to make unhealthy decisions on their own.

So when I don’t want my kids having tea, soda, or ice cream, or any number of other treats…don’t look at me like I’m a bad mom who deprives her children of life’s simple pleasures. Acknowledge the good choice I’m making for them while they’re young- they don’t’ know the difference now anyway. I’m not opposed to an occasional treat-I promise, I do l let them eat cake on their birthday!

They already have risk factors genetically speaking, given what happened to their father. I can’t control that, but what I can control is what they put in their sweet little mouths! And what I put in mine for that matter. It’s a struggle to make all the right food choices, but I’m doing my best to be a responsible parent.

So I’m starting my new year’s resolution now- less sugar for us all in the Simmons house! Think about your own diet and lifestyle and consider a small change you could make for the better- Push yourself to do it! Consider it a gift to those you love to better your own health.

We often say we’d die for the ones we love, instead why don’t we choose to really live for them…

(Stepping down from the soapbox now)

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