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Seriously, Trick or Treat?

This past Saturday I was lazing on my couch watching a plethora of scary horror films in commemoration of Halloween. After a long day I just wanted to kick back with a beer and question the creaks of my apartment, assuming a murderer was lurking around every corner. But then I heard a soft knock at the door. Perturbed I got up to investigate and found an adorable little girl dressed up like Sally from “A Nightmare before Christmas” waiting expectantly. Immediately I knew I was about to disappoint this girl as I had no Halloween candy, a poor assumption on my part. I looked helplessly at her father and then back at her, pillowcase held out wide and I panicked, offering the sweetest food I had in my apartment: carrot sticks.

 

Besides living the nightmare of becoming that house, I had to watch the disappointed little girl turn around and leave without any of my delicious carrot sticks. To soothe my weeping wounds I began to research other epic Halloween fails, from the dentist buying back candy from his patients to the pharmacy that gave out bi-polar medication. But as I continued to research, the age old argument kept popping up more and more, is sugar a trick or a treat?

As everyone knows, sugar is not necessarily “good” for you. Health-wise, synthesized sugar is mere empty calories and is omnipresent. When looking at a food pyramid, sugars are the very top of it—they’re supposed to be consumed sparingly, yet sugar is in almost everything we eat and drink. Soda, energy drinks, fruit snacks, smoothies, snacks, packaged meats, coffee, even condiments like ketchup and relish have sugar added to them.

 

Sugars are monosaccharides, and for those who can’t remember their high school chemistry class (thank you Wikipedia) these are simple carbohydrates. The problem with all sugar is that it is highly addictive, has no positive benefits to our bodies, and is in everything. It doesn’t matter if we’re consuming High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) or natural sucrose, sugar is sugar and it has terrible side effects:

  1. The Enabler

Sometimes when I’m watching 30 Rock and eating Oreos hours will pass by and I’ll realize I’ve eaten an entire box of cookies. How is that possible? I used to blame it on mindless snacking until I found out that sugar increases Leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone that informs the body when it is full. When we overindulge ourselves with excess sugar we are inhibiting our body’s natural ability to inform us when it is full. Sugar addictions can also be genetic and thus many people are born producing higher amounts of Ghrelin, the hormone that tells us we’re hungry, and lesser amounts of Leptin.

  1. Jelly Belly

Sugar targets areas prone to fat, the most notable being the stomach. With sugar present in drinks, condiments, and most foods it’s becoming increasingly impossible to combat the epidemic. One thing people can do is avoid “Low Fat” and “Low Sodium” options. These are often higher in sugars to maintain quality of flavor and thus do not offer any health benefits.

 

  1. The Big C Word

Sugar cannot be discussed without some mention of insulin. When we consume too much sugar, insulin, sugar’s chaperone to our cells, is greatly affected. Either too much insulin is produced or not enough insulin is produced. When the insulin in the body is over worked or over produced it heightens the chances for the pancreas, colon, and breasts to form cancerous growths, increasing your risk for cancer.

  1. Liver Let Die

A 2012 paper in the journal Nature, brought forth the idea that limitations and warnings should be placed on sugar similar to warnings we see on alcohol. The study showed that excess sugar intake mimics the toxicity of excess alcohol consumption in regards to your liver, and can permanently damage it.

 

  1. Brain Drain

Start buying vats of BB cream and playing those brain teasers, as sugar speeds up the aging of our cells. Aging of the cells consequently can be the cause of something as simple as wrinkles to something as dire as chronic disease. Aesthetics aside there is evidence that sugar may affect the aging of your brain as well. A 2012 study found that excess sugar consumption was linked to deficiencies in memory and overall cognitive health.

  1. Heart Hurting

It’s accepted by everyone that excess sugar increases the risk for heart disease, in 2013 a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association displayed strong evidence that sugar can actually affect the pumping mechanism of your heart and could increase the risk for heart failure.

While a sugar by any other name is just as sweet, there are tons of benefits to consuming natural sugar found in fruits and vegetables. First, unlike HFCS or other synthesized sugars which have no nutritional value and can be eaten by the gallons, regular, natural sugars found in veggies and fruits contain tons of fiber, vitamins, protein, and healthy fats. So unlike Oreos, you will feel full after one apple or a handful of carrots. It is also important to point out that simple sugars from milk (in the form of lactose) do not display the same negative health effects that we see in the literature when reviewing sugar’s effects on the body. Simple sugars coming from fruit are also less concerning given their high amounts of disease-fighting compounds and fiber.

 

So while it is painfully obvious that I am that house, the one that offers carrot sticks to trick or treaters, I feel a little better knowing that my ill-preparedness may have helped slow some of these mal-effects down. Anyway, carrot sticks are still better than anti-psychotic drugs.

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Thomas J. Curcio
Founder

Tom Curcio, the driving force behind Curcio Law, is a dedicated trial lawyer with more than 35 years of experience in Northern Virginia. He has dedicated his career to representing people who have been seriously injured through no fault of their own. He works tirelessly to obtain the compensation his clients are legally entitled to…

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Rakin Hamad
Associate

Rakin Hamad is a recent graduate of the George Mason Law School and joined Curcio Law as an associate in August 2018. Rakin works closely with Tom Curcio and staff in preparing cases from the initial client meeting through trial and has been a perfect fit for the firm. During law school, Rakin interned at…

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Julia Martinez
Paralegal

Julia Martinez, a Florida native, joined Curcio Law as a paralegal in 2013. She began her legal career in 1998 working at a personal injury firm that primarily handled automobile accidents, slip and falls, and products liability cases. Then, in 2008 she expanded her knowledge by working at two other law firms. She obtained her…

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Kathy McAfee
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As the firm’s office manager, Kathy McAfee is dedicated to making sure the office runs smoothly and that the team has what it needs by way of resources, technology, and supplies to best serve our clients. Kathy graduated with a B.A. in Sociology from Roanoke College in 1986 and afterward, returned to Alexandria. She began…

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Maureen Burke, RN, MSN
Nurse Consultant

Maureen Burke was born and raised in the Boston, Massachusetts area and relocated to the Alexandria area in 1984 where she and her husband raised their three children. Maureen graduated with a BS in Nursing from Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire and an MS in Nursing from George Mason University. Maureen has worked at…

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