Many of us often find it difficult to resist the sweetness of sugar. However, it is no secret that sugar has a bad reputation when it comes to our health. While its immediate gratification is undeniable, the long-term effects of regular high sugar consumption are concerning, especially when considering our health.
Consuming too much sugar increases our risk of tooth decay, weight gain and diabetes. However, sugar is often overlooked when it comes to our heart health. It not only increases the risk of premature heart disease, heart attacks and stroke but can also reduce life expectancy.
Research consistently shows a direct correlation between excessive sugar intake and key risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels.
Understanding what sugar does to our bodies can help us make better choices that lead to longer, healthier lives.
Before recognising the effects of sugar on the heart, it is essential to understand what sugar is. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that the body uses for energy.
There are two primary types of sugar: naturally occurring sugars found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy and added sugars. Added sugars are introduced to foods during processing, cooking, or at the table.
Consuming whole foods that contain natural sugar is okay. Fruits and vegetables also have high amounts of fibre, essential minerals and antioxidants. Since our bodies digest these foods slowly, the sugar in them offers a steady supply of energy to our body.
What Are Free Sugars?
Free sugars refer to all sugars that are added to foods and drink, as well as sugars naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juices. This term does not include sugars found naturally in fruits, vegetables and milk because these foods do not have the same negative health effects as foods and drinks with added sugars.
The NHS and other health organisations recommend limiting the intake of free sugars to reduce the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, tooth decay, and other health issues. The NHS recommends that free sugars contribute to no more than 5% of the energy (calories) you get from food and drink each day. This is equivalent to 30g of free sugars each day (7 teaspoons).
The consumption of added sugars has been rising globally, paralleling an increase in heart disease rates. Figures show that the average adult in the UK is consuming twice the recommended amount of free sugars daily. Most of which comes from soft drinks, jam and chocolate spread, biscuits, pastries and cakes.
While sugar itself is not inherently bad, excessive intake can lead to various health issues, including heart disease.
We all know that excessive sugar intake can lead to weight gain and obesity. Obesity is a significant risk factor for heart disease.
Everyone needs some body fat to stay healthy. But too much, particularly around the waist, puts your health at risk. Visceral fat is the type of fat that sits around the organs such as our liver and heart and it is associated with increased blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. All of these conditions strain the heart and can lead to cardiovascular complications.
Weight gain and obesity can be influenced by:
- Medical conditions
- Genetic make-up
- Lack of sleep
Insulin is the hormone that controls your blood sugar. Consuming large amounts of sugar can lead to insulin resistance, a condition where the body's cells become less responsive to insulin. This causes the liver to store more fat and can lead to the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes can cause elevated blood sugar levels as glucose accumulates in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy. Type 2 diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease, as it accelerates the development of the condition, atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is where your arteries become narrowed due to a build-up of plaque, making it difficult for blood to flow through them and increasing the risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke.
High sugar intake can trigger inflammation in the body. Inflammation is another key player in the development of atherosclerosis.
Lipids are fat-like substances found in our blood and body tissues. Our body needs small amounts of lipids to work normally. Cholesterol is the main lipid found in our bodies and it is made up of different parts such as:
- LDL (bad) cholesterol, is the main lipid that causes damaging build-up and blockage in our arteries.
- HDL (good) cholesterol helps to remove the extra LDL cholesterol and prevent cholesterol from building up in your arteries.
- Triglyceride is another lipid that may increase your risk for heart disease.
Consuming too much sugar can lead to increased levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides while decreasing HDL levels. This lipid profile is associated with an elevated risk of heart disease.
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)
Sugar is broken down by the liver, where it is converted into fat through a process called lipogenesis. Excess dietary sugar can lead to an accumulation of fat in the liver cells, contributing to the development of NAFLD.
Causes Of High Blood Pressure
Although salt intake is more commonly associated with high blood pressure, chronic high sugar levels can also contribute to raised blood pressure. High sugar intake can lead to weight gain and inflammation, both of which can increase blood pressure.
Do You Know What Health Targets You Should Be Aiming For?
We often judge our health based on our weight and the numbers we see on a scale.
However, the journey to a healthier heart (and body) starts by reviewing our body composition and understanding how excessive sugar consumption can affect us on the inside and not only focus on how we look and feel on the outside.
What Is Body Mass Index?
The body mass index is a measure that uses your height and weight to calculate if your weight is healthy.
LDL cholesterol used to be the main measure of harmful types of cholesterol, but we now know that other forms of non-HDL cholesterol is also bad for our health, and this is what the healthcare professionals test for.
The more one's energy comes from sugar, the higher the risk of cardiovascular disease.*
Heart and circulatory diseases cause a quarter of all deaths in the uk.*
Preventing High Sugar Levels: A Healthy (Heart) Choice
As highlighted above, the effects of high sugar levels can trigger high blood pressure, cholesterol, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. All of these factors can contribute to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
The relationship between sugar and heart health is complex, but the evidence is clear: excessive sugar intake poses a significant risk to heart health. So, what can you do to reduce your risk factors?
Read Food Labels
Look for added sugars under names like sucrose, fructose, dextrose, and maltose. Choose products with little to no added sugars.
Limit Sugary Drinks
Sugary drinks, including soft drinks, juices, and sweetened teas, are major sources of added sugars. Opt for water, unsweetened teas, or sparkling water as healthier alternatives.
Choose Natures Sweet Treats
When you need a sweet fix, select natural sources like fruits. Fruits not only provide natural sugars but also come packed with fibre, vitamins, and minerals.
Cook At Home
Cooking at home allows you to control the amount and type of sugar in your meals. Experiment with reducing the sugar in recipes and using spices like cinnamon and vanilla to add sweetness.
Metabolic Gold is our natural supplement formulated by expert pharmacists using high-strength bergamot fruit extract and artichoke leaf extract. These two botanical ingredients work harmoniously together to improve sugar control, balance cholesterol, support weight management and optimise liver health.
Both of these ingredients are rich in naturally occurring polyphenols that have been proven to change the way our bodies process, bind and store fats. We have also incorporated organic baobab (a natural prebiotic) to help promote gut health.
Taking one capsule twice a day with food will help to reduce your cardiovascular risk factors and support your metabolic health.
Shop Metabolic Gold Now
Call Our Pharmacist If You Have Concerns
If you have any concerns about your cardiovascular health or your health risks in general, please call our pharmacists for free advice. (+44) 01483 685 630
Dimple is a pharmacist with 12 years of experience working in retail and general practice and now specialises in providing education and advice on natural supplements.
She believes in the power of nature and using natural existing compounds to enhance our health, whether that’s treating pain or helping to prevent long term conditions. Mum of 1, living a busy life, loves reading and baking if she has the time.
Poor metabolic health affects one in four UK adults in the UK and is the leading cause of an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
The risk factors for poor metabolic health are:
- high sugar levels
- Insulin resistance
- abnormal cholesterol levels
- excess fat around the waistline
- fatty liver
- elevated blood pressure
Most of the conditions associated with metabolic health don't have obvious signs or symptoms and require a blood test to determine (such as cholesterol levels). However, a large waist circumference is something that you would visibly notice and if your sugar levels are high, you might notice the signs and symptoms of diabetes — such as increased thirst and urination, fatigue, and blurred vision.
Preventing or reversing poor metabolic health
The risk factors listed above are all modifiable with adopting a healthy lifestyle which should include:
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet consisting of fruits and vegetables, whole grains (brown rice), proteins (pulses such as lentil) and avoiding over processed and refined foods such as microwave meals and sugary treats is key.
- Exercising regularly. Undertaking a minimum of 30 mins of physical activity a day 5 days a week.
- Cutting back on alcohol and smoking can be a really effective way to improve your metabolic health, boost your energy, lose weight and save money.
How can Metabolic Gold help?
Metabolic Gold contains Bergamot fruit extract and Artichoke leaf extract. It is the perfect blend of naturally sourced, high strength ingredients that work together synergistically to help reduce sugar levels, improve insulin resistance, balance cholesterol, reduce fat around the waistline and improve fatty liver.
In a recent trial of 60 patients who were overweight and had high cholesterol, subjects were treated with a combination of bergamot extract and artichoke leaf extract for 2 months and compared to a group that received a placebo for the same amount of time. The results showed a significant decrease in total and LDL cholesterol as well as a significant reduction in waist circumference.
When combined with lifestyle efforts focusing on diet, exercise, sleep and stress, the combination of bergamot fruit and artichoke leaf extracts can provide significant health benefits.
We recommend this supplement is taken for at least 3-4 months at a dose of one capsule twice a day after food
Introducing our new formula containing pharmaceutical strength bergamot and artichoke extracts. Metabolic Gold has been over two years in research and developement.
Bergamot may sound familiar as the peel of this unique citrus fruit is used for teas, perfumes and essential oils.
However, we only utilise the fruit sourced from trees found in the coastal areas of Calabria, Southern Italy as it's unique combination of five polyphenol bioactives reduce the levels of unhealthy fats in a similar manner to statin medications, without the side effects.
Bergamot fruit polyphenols have been scientifically proven to improve levels of good cholesterol, reduce inflammation and improve blood vessel elasticity.
Bergamot fruit extract
Bergamot polyphenols improve the way fats are processed in the liver thereby balancing cholesterol and protecting cardiovascular health.
Artichoke leaf extract
It boosts your liver’s production of bile. Bile is a natural compound that digests and uses fats so they don’t accumulate in your liver or in your body.
How do you take Metabolic Gold?
A randomized placebo-controlled study with 60 overweight adults showed that supplementing with 600mg bergamot and 100mg artichoke leaf resulted in a reduction in LDL cholesterol, significant reduction in waist circumference and visceral adipose tissue in 2 months – even in participants who did not follow a low-calorie diet.
Concerned about side effects?
The natural formulation of Metabolic Gold means that you can take it alongside most medications, however we recommend that you take a few minutes to call us, or write to us and get some friendly pharmacist advice if you have any questions about your current regime.
Founder of The Naked Pharmacy
Chief Pharmacist and Formulator