The Sugar Dilemma In Older Adults Results From The Body’s Dependence On Sugar To Provide Energy For Cell Function, But Overconsumption Of Sugar Leads To Ill Health
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Pegasus skilled in-home caregivers in Toluca Lake and elsewhere know that their clients need sugar. They also understand that overconsumption is harmful, creating a sugar dilemma in older adults. Career home health care nurses explain why sugar is necessary and how it can also be detrimental.
People Can’t Survive Without Sugar
Human bodies require three types of nutrients to survive. These include carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Carbohydrates (carbs) include fiber, starches, and sugar.
Simple carbs are those that the body quickly breaks down and digests. They usually cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels. Complex carbs are digested slowly and typically don’t result in a blood sugar spike.
Fiber is a healthy complex carb. It’s usually not digested, but it helps stimulate digestion. Fiber makes individuals feel full longer, helps control cholesterol, and helps manage blood sugar levels.
Most starches are complex carbohydrates and contain vitamins and minerals. Sugar is a simple carb. Sugar may be naturally found in some foods, or it may be one or more kinds of added sugar.
The digestive system doesn’t distinguish between natural and added sugar. It processes both the same. However, foods with natural sugar contain nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
The Body Depends On Glucose For Energy
The digestive process breaks down the digestible carbs into glucose. Glucose is a single molecule, and it’s the basis of blood sugar. The bloodstream carries it to all parts of the body.
Glucose provides the energy that cells, muscles, neurons, and the rest of the body need to function. The brain is the biggest consumer of glucose, and it demands a steady supply. Individuals who don’t have adequate glucose over long periods of time may experience cognitive impairments.
Less seriously, if your patient skips a meal, they may temporarily have difficulty concentrating or remembering. Those who sporadically consume too much sugar may become dehydrated, fatigued, and develop headaches. Glucose that isn’t immediately used is stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles.
Glycogen from the liver helps keep the brain supplied. If the glycogen in the muscles isn’t used for exercise, it’s converted to body fat. Incidentally, storage of excess carbs causes more obesity than is caused by consuming fats.
Overconsumption Of Sugar Leads to Disease
You likely care for patients experiencing the consequences of frequently overeating sugar. As individuals age, their metabolism slows, and they often become less active.
Their bodies lose efficiency in regulating blood sugar levels. Consistently high blood sugar increases the risk of developing cancer, cardiovascular problems, and diabetes, among other health issues.
Excess sugar also accelerates aging. That includes damaging the skin, resulting in:
- Increase in skin conditions such as acne and dark spots
- Loss of ability to quickly heal wounds
What’s happening on the skin is an indication of the deterioration occurring inside the body. Cells lose their ability to function properly. You may be able to appeal to your patient’s vanity about their appearance to help them decrease their sugar consumption.
Few people consciously consume excess sugar. For many, overconsumption is usually due to a lack of awareness of the sugar content of what they’re eating. Individuals don’t always realize that nearly all food contains sugar, even if it doesn’t taste sweet.
Natural sugar occurs in foods like fruit, vegetables, and milk. Some sugars touted as natural, such as agave, are refined. Refined makes them so processed that they are classified as added sugars.
Hidden Sugars Are The Cause Of Overconsumption
Added sugars, also called hidden sugars, generally have no nutritional value. Processed foods billed as low-fat often include added sugars. Many people consume several times the healthy amounts of sugar through foods with hidden sugar.
Hidden sugars are in foods sweetened with any kind of syrup, such as rice syrup. Any ingredient ending with “ose” is an added sugar. Honey, molasses, nectars, and any ingredient with sugar as part of the name is an added sugar.
Soft drinks, fruit drinks, and sports or energy drinks contain huge amounts of sugar. Sweet treats and snacks also are full of added sugars. Teach your patients how to read nutrition labels rather than relying on the claims on the front of packages.
Join Us In Helping Improve The Lives Of Others
Pegasus expert in-home caregivers in Toluca Lake and our other locations teach clients how to follow healthy eating practices. They understand that small amounts of sugar are beneficial, but excessive amounts are detrimental to health. Career home health care nurses assist individuals in balancing all the nutrients their bodies need, including appropriate amounts of sugar.
Pegasus Home Health Care values and supports our nurses and team members. We offer the support and training each needs to advance their career. We’re hiring professionals dedicated to improving the lives of others.