Surprise health benefits when you cut out sugar

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- For 30 years, Mt. Airy mom Patricia Draughn worked a desk job. Slowly, the pounds piled on. So when she retired, she threw herself into losing them.

"I had been just sitting, constantly sitting," said Draughn. "I worked out, really cut back on eating, nothing worked. It was almost depressing. It was like I was getting bigger, like my thyroid or my metabolism died."

Then she heard about Novant Health's Weigh For You program. Draughn gave up sugar for the very most part and in three months has dropped 15 pounds. "It's amazing. I couldn't believe how much sugar is in everything! My hands, joints used to be really stiff. Not anymore. My fingers were puffy, my rings hard to get off. They don't do that anymore."

Researchers say there is mounting evidence sugar contributes to much more than weight gain and say too much sugar causes inflammation, which contributes to heart disease, cancer, skin damage and mood disorders.

"A lot of sugar just puts you at risk for metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, stroke; it contributes to so many health issues," said Novant Health Dietician Alice Smith. "And the average American consumes 160 pounds of sugar a year."

The problem is, sugar is sneaky. It shows up in foods that may surprise you. Your favorite yogurt that you think is really good for you may have up to 20 grams of added sugars.

"Read the labels. Really know how much sugar is in the foods you're eating. I guarantee you, you will be surprised," said Smith. "Make small changes. Instead of the sweetened yogurt, have plain yogurt and top it with nuts or fruit. The less sugar you eat, the less you want."

The next free Weigh For You class begins in early September. For more information, call (336) 277-1880.