I’ve shared in previous posts the negative effects sugars can have on our health. Well, evidence of how harmful certain carbohydrates (‘bad carbs’) can be to our health keeps mounting, and a recent study adds even more motivation to cut out those sugars, i.e., carbs, that trigger the growth of cancer cells.
The study has shown a significant connection between ultra-processed food consumption and the risk of several cancers, including colorectal, breast, and pancreatic cancer. An earlier study has also demonstrated that consuming foods dense with unhealthy carbohydrates can significantly increase the risk of prostate cancer which is the second leading cause of death in men from cancer-related illnesses.
Sugary beverages and processed foods are the most detrimental bad carbs to eat
Bad carbs refer to processed foods and sugary beverages known for their sugar and processed grain content. These foods have now been found to markedly increase cancer risk. Conversely, healthy carbs found inside whole grains, fruits, and legumes are increasingly associated with cancer prevention.
A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition shows that those who drink sugary beverages such as sodas and sweetened juices are three times more likely to get prostate cancer. A higher intake of processed foods, like pizza and meat sandwiches, was found to double the risk of prostate cancer.
In contrast, eating healthy carbohydrates such as legumes, whole grains, non-starchy vegetables, and fruits seemed to help prevent cancer, reducing breast cancer risk by 67 percent.
Clearly, all carbs are not created equal
Part of the message here is that not all carbs are bad. In fact, the body needs carbohydrates for fuel and creates it when the cells and tissues convert glucose into usable energy. Carbohydrates help to fuel critical organs and systems like the brain, central nervous system, kidneys, heart, and muscles.
However, bad carbs cause the body to flood with too much glucose, which then needs to be stored as fat. It now appears that consuming these kinds of carbs also contributes to creating internal conditions conducive to cancer cell growth.
The study connecting bad carbs with prostate and other cancers was based on health records tracking over 3,000 people since the 1970s. Foods consumed by participants were organized by glycemic index and glycemic load, which are measures of carbohydrate quality related to their impact on blood sugar levels. The foods eaten were then compared with resultant cancer rates.
The researchers ultimately found that persons who ate the most high glycemic load foods were 88 percent more likely to have prostate cancer. The worst bad carb foods are sugary beverages like sodas and fruit juices, as well as processed lunch foods. The sugars in these beverages are already considered a major cause of the diabetes and obesity epidemics in this country and now they have been linked to an increased risk of cancer.
Sweet swaps for healthier eating
Reducing your intake of sugary foods is essential for managing diabetes and cancer risks, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor. Here are some smart swaps to satisfy your sweet tooth while making healthier choices:
Fresh, organic fruit for candy: When you’re craving something sweet, reach for organic fresh fruit like apples, berries, or citrus fruits. They offer natural sugars along with fiber and vitamins that are kinder to your blood sugar levels.
Whole grains for sugary cereals: Instead of sugary cereals choose organic, whole-grain options like oats, bran flakes, or muesli. Top them with fresh fruit or a sprinkle of cinnamon for extra flavor.
Organic nut butter for a delicious spread: Swap sugary spreads for natural nut butter like almond or peanut butter. They’re delicious on whole-grain toast or as a dip for apple slices.
Sparkling water for soda: If you enjoy fizzy drinks, replace sugary sodas with sparkling water. You can add a splash of fresh lemon or lime juice for a refreshing twist.
Homemade smoothies for store-bought: Skip store-bought smoothies laden with added sugars and make your own at home. Blend your favorite organic fruits with greens with almond, hazelnut, or hemp milk.
By making these substitutions, you can enjoy sweet flavors without the negative impact on your cancer risk. Implement these swaps gradually to help you transition to a healthier, lower-sugar lifestyle while still satisfying your cravings. Making these changes can have a tremendous impact on your health and put you on track to enjoy “the best performance of your life!”
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