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February Heart Health Month

February is American Heart month and many people are taking the time to asses their well-being.

Windber Care Surgical Associates & Bariatrics center led a presentation about the negative impact of dietary sugar intake on overall health, including obesity, heart health, and diabetes.

Heart disease is the number 1 killer of Americans according to the American Heart Association. Harvard Medical school states that ‘even though sugar occurs naturally in many foods such as carbohydrates, fruits and even vegetables, it is the added sugar that poses a problem. Sugar that is added by food manufacturers to products to increase flavor or extend shelf life.’

“There’s a lot of health problems that have been studied to be associated with excess sugar intake Some of them more obvious than others like obesity and diabetes, along with that high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease and even some that you might not think about like migraines, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease.”

There are however some simple lifestyle changes that you can implement in order to curb added sugar’s adverse effects.

“A really simple thing that you can do is eliminate sugar from the beverages that you drink, About 24 percent of the excess sugar intake that we get in our diet is actually from beverages and that can be eliminated just by replacing things like soda and juices with water, seltzers, unsweetened teas.”

There are a lot of misconceptions about which diet is the best for your heart.

“Following a lower-carb higher-protein diet is what’s best because it’s going to help you consume less calories, There’s a lot of confusion about what type of diet to follow but really what it comes down to is your calorie intake. If you’re eating good quality foods that help you feel full longer and limiting sugar intake which causes us to feel hungry more often then you’re going to eat less calories and that’s going to help you maintain your weight better.”

Though lowering your sugar intake may seem like a daunting task, experts recommend some simple solutions.

“I recommend at minimum setting yourself realistic targets, even small goals, I encourage people not to have to feel like they have to do something super drastic. So, even if that means you’re just setting yourself a goal to walk 15 minutes three times a week or cut back your soda intake from 4 cans a day to 2 cans a day. Those things are going to make a difference.”

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