Added sugars from foods and beverages have many health consequences, including weight gain and increasing the risk for many chronic diseases. For example, Type 2 diabetes and heart diseases are both linked to overconsumption of added sugars.
Eating healthy and staying active can also affect your insurance rates. Life insurance is cheaper when you are young and healthy. Medical issues and your health history can affect your life insurance rates.
If you have health issues that affect your driving record or driving abilities, that can also influence your auto insurance rates. Health conditions like diabetes or heart disease can cause an auto accident if you don’t take care of your health and manage your medical conditions. For example, you can get auto insurance with diabetes, but it’s critical to manage your blood glucose levels so they don’t cause an accident.
We will discuss diabetes and the recommendations for added sugar. We will also discuss the consequences of extra added sugar in our diet and how diabetes can affect your insurance rates and coverage.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects how your body regulates blood glucose levels. Type 2 diabetes is more common and can affect any age group. There is no cure for diabetes, and it requires daily self management to stay healthy.
When you eat carbohydrates or sugar, your body breaks them down into a substance called glucose. You can think of glucose as fuel for your body. Your brain, heart, and muscles need glucose for energy.
Insulin is a hormone that is needed to unlock cells so that glucose circulating in our bloodstream can enter the cells to be used for energy. In Type 2 diabetes, the cells are not sensitive to insulin and glucose can build up in the bloodstream. This leads to blood glucose levels that are higher than normal.
The main risk factors for Type 2 diabetes are being overweight, being obese, or having a lack of physical activity. Our risk for Type 2 diabetes also increases as we age. The best thing we can do to lower our risk or manage diabetes is to eat a healthy diet and stay active.
Components of a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet should include a variety of foods from all the food groups to give your body the nutrients it needs. You should eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy products.
Processed foods, packaged foods, high-calorie desserts, and unhealthy restaurant foods should be limited because these foods have higher amounts of calories with little nutritional value. They can also be high in sodium, trans fat, saturated fat, and added sugar.
Most of the added sugar in Americans’ diets comes from sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, and coffee beverages. Another big source of added sugar is desserts and sugary snacks like cookies, cakes, and ice cream. We can cut back on these foods and beverages to lower the amount of added sugar we are consuming in our diet.
Recommendations for Added Sugar
Added sugars are those that are added during processing or packaging. They just add extra calories without any additional nutrients. One common added sugar used in foods is high-fructose corn syrup.
There are recommendations on the amount of added sugar from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Heart Association. They are similar, but the American Heart Association’s recommendations are more strict.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend you consume less than 10% of your total calories from added sugars. This recommendation is for ages 2 and up. That means if you eat 1,500 calories, you should have no more than 150 calories from added sugars.
The American Heart Association also has recommendations for added sugar. Women should consume less than 6 teaspoons of added sugar, which equals 100 calories or 25 grams per day. For men, the recommendation is 9 teaspoons of added sugar, which equals 150 calories or 36 grams per day.
If you are using the nutrition facts food label, you can convert grams of added sugar to calories and vice versa. You can multiply the grams of added sugar by 4 to convert to calories from added sugar.
An easy way to visualize the amount of added sugar in a food is to use the nutrition facts food label. Take the amount of sugar in grams and divide it by 4. This is how many teaspoons of added sugar this food has which can give you a better visual idea of how much sugar you are eating or drinking.
There are no recommendations for natural sugar. This is the sugar you find that occurs naturally in foods like fruits and dairy products. Foods with natural sugar also contain many vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
What happens if you eat too much sugar?
First and foremost, added sugar is a source of extra calories in the diet. One 12-ounce regular soda has 65 grams of sugar and 240 calories with very few nutrients. If you consume one regular soda per day, it could lead to a weight gain of about 0.5 pounds per week.
These extra calories not only lead to weight gain and an unhealthy height-to-weight ratio but can also put you at higher risk for many chronic diseases and health issues. Too much sugar can create more inflammation in the body. This inflammatory response is linked to health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer.
Extra added sugar in the diet can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke by clogging your arteries and increasing blood pressure. Research has also shown that a diet high in added sugar can be linked to heart disease death.
The Connection Between Insurance and Health
The foundation for living a healthy lifestyle and managing your health conditions is choosing a healthy diet and staying active. Life and auto insurance can both be affected if you have medical or health issues. A healthy diet also gives you energy and promotes optimal wellness.
Cut Back on Added Sugar
It’s natural to crave sugar, especially if you are used to consuming it. There are ways to cut back on sugar cravings such as planning meals and eating plenty of protein.
You can use the nutrition facts food label to find out how much added sugar is in the foods you are eating. You can visualize this amount or compare it to the daily recommendations from the American Heart Association or the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Cutting back on added sugar can lower your risk for many chronic health issues and help you save money on insurance.