How Sugar Affects Your Health
Sugar And Other Health Conditions
Sugar Causes Wrinkles
Sugar And White Blood Cells
Sugar Is Toxic To The Body
Heart Disease And Stroke
Is Sugar Addictive?
Sugar And Cancer
In the last 20 years, we have increased sugar consumption in the U.S. from 26 lbs. to 135 lbs. of sugar per person per year! Prior to the turn of this century (1887-1890), the average consumption was only 5 lbs. per person per year! Cardiovascular disease and cancer was virtually unknown in the early 1900's.
One of sugar's major drawbacks is that it raises the insulin level, which inhibits the release of growth hormones, which in turn depresses the immune system. This is not something you want to take place if you want to avoid disease.
Sugar consumption has also been indicated in raising bad cholesterol while lowering good cholesterol. Weight gain from sugar is indicated in hardening of the arteries which directly contributes to heart disease. Further, sugar definitely plays a role in developing some types of diabetes.
Sugar plays a role in how we behave as well. It has been suggested that excess sugar may cause depression. It may also result in hyperactivity or mood swings as one drops from sugar highs to sugar lows.
Recent studies also suggest that too much sugar can lower the body's natural immune response. People who consume a lot of sugar are more likely to get bacterial infections than are people who avoid sugar. Sugar is also indicated in digestive problems, because too much sugar can cause higher acid amounts in the stomach. This can lead to diarrhea, particularly in those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome.
Pregnant women who eat too much sugar raise their risks for developing preeclampsia. In fact, pregnant women have their urine levels monitored for high sugar levels as part of their routine prenatal care. Many pregnant women benefit from eating a low to no sugar diet.
Some other health conditions in which sugar may play a role include:
With so many health risks associated with sugar, it helps to have a guide on how to avoid excess sugar. A few things can help. Eat sugary treats only occasionally. Avoid simple carbohydrates like white rice and white flour. Do not eat packaged foods, especially cereals. Read labels on foods to see which contain sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Especially avoid soda, as this is like drinking liquid sugar.
Experts now believe that a lifetime of overeating sugar can make skin dull and wrinkled. A natural process that's known as glycation, is where the sugar in your bloodstream attaches to proteins to form harmful new molecules called Advanced Glycation End products (or, appropriately, AGEs for short). The more sugar you eat, the more AGEs you develop. "As AGEs accumulate, they damage adjacent proteins in a domino-like fashion," explains Fredric Brandt, MD, a dermatologist in private practice in Miami and New York City and author of "10 Minutes 10 Years." Most vulnerable to damage: collagen and elastin, the protein fibers that keep skin firm and elastic. In fact, collagen is the most prevalent protein in the body. Once damaged, springy and resilient collagen and elastin become dry and brittle, leading to wrinkles and sagging. These aging effects start at about age 35 and increase rapidly after that, according to a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology.
The immune system is the body's protective force against foreign invaders including viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi, toxins, pollutants and even cancer.
A study from the journal Dental Survey investigated sugar's effect on bacteria-hungry white blood cells called neutrophils. This experiment found that consuming 24 ounces of cola depresses neutrophil activity by 50 percent. This occurs thirty minutes after ingestion and lasts for five hours--possibly longer. Other parts of the immune system may be similarly affected by sugar.
This is particularly distressing news considering how hospital patients are fed. It is routine to serve operation candidates pop, jello, ice cream and custard. The hospital dietitians rationalize that surgical patients needed easy-to-digest foods. They don't know that large doses of sugar could lower their patient's immunity at a time when they need it the most. There are many other examples of the sick being nursed back to health with sweets. How many times did your mother offer you 7-Up and ginger ale for an upset stomach? And isn't ice cream the favorite soother after a tonsillectomy?
We've all been taught to drink orange juice for it's vitamin C, which is great for the sniffles. Unfortunately, most orange juice brands are sorely lacking in this nutrient due to processing and packaging. And the juice itself can actually lower your resistance because of its high fructose content. In a study published in a 1973 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, A. Sanchez showed that 100 carbohydrate grams worth of orange juice (equal to about 32 ounces) lowers white blood cell activity for at least five hours (honey and table sugar, Sanchez found, had similar effects).
In 1957, Dr William Coda Martin tried to answer the question: When is a food a food and when is it a poison? His working definition of "poison" was: "Medically: Any substance applied to the body, ingested or developed within the body, which causes or may cause disease.
Dr Martin classified refined sugar as a poison because it has been depleted of its life forces, vitamins and minerals."What is left consists of pure, refined carbohydrates. The body cannot utilize this refined starch and carbohydrate unless the depleted proteins, vitamins and minerals are present.
Nature supplies these in each plant in quantities sufficient to metabolize the carbohydrate in that particular plant. Incomplete carbohydrate metabolism results in the formation of 'toxic metabolite' such as pyruvic acid and abnormal sugars containing five carbon atoms.
Pyruvic acid accumulates in the brain and nervous system and the abnormal sugars in the red blood cells. These toxic metabolites interfere with the 'respiration' of the cells. They cannot get sufficient oxygen to survive and function normally. In time, some of the cells die. This interferes with the function of a part of the body and is the beginning of degenerative disease."
Refined sugar is lethal when ingested by humans because it provides only that which nutritionists describe as "empty" or "naked" calories. It lacks the natural minerals which are present in the sugar beet or cane. In addition, sugar is worse than nothing because it "drains" and leaches the body of precious vitamins and minerals through the demand its digestion, detoxification and elimination make upon one's entire system.
So essential is balance to our bodies that we have many ways to provide against the sudden shock of a heavy intake of sugar. Minerals such as sodium (from salt), potassium and magnesium (from vegetables), and calcium (from the bones) are mobilized and used in chemical transmutation; neutral acids are produced which attempt to return the acid-alkaline balance factor of the blood to a more normal state. Sugar taken every day produces a continuously 'over-acid' condition, and more and more minerals are required from deep in the body in the attempt to rectify the imbalance. Finally, in order to protect the blood, so much calcium is taken from the bones and teeth that decay and general weakening begin.
Excess sugar eventually affects every organ in the body. Initially, it is stored in the liver in the form of glucose (glycogen). Since the liver's capacity is limited, a daily intake of refined sugar (above the required amount of natural sugar) soon makes the liver expand like a balloon. When the liver is filled to its maximum capacity, the excess glycogen is returned to the blood in the form of fatty acids. These are taken to every part of the body and stored in the most inactive areas: the belly, the buttocks, the breasts and the thighs.
When these comparatively harmless places are completely filled, fatty acids are then distributed among active organs, such as the heart and kidneys. These begin to slow down; finally their tissues degenerate and turn to fat. The whole body is affected by their reduced ability, and abnormal blood pressure is created. The circulatory and lymphatic systems are invaded, and the quality of the red corpuscles starts to change.
An overabundance of white cells occurs, and the creation of tissue becomes slower. Our body's tolerance
and immunizing power becomes more limited, so we cannot respond properly to extreme attacks, whether they be
cold, heat, mosquitoes or microbes.
Excessive sugar has a strong "mal-effect" on the "functioning" of the brain. The key to orderly brain function is glutamic acid, a vital compound found in many vegetables. The B vitamins play a major role in dividing glutamic acid into antagonistic-complementary compounds which produce a "proceed" or "control" response in the brain.
B vitamins are also manufactured by symbiotic bacteria which live in our intestines. When refined sugar is taken daily, these bacteria wither and die, and our stock of B vitamins gets very low. Too much sugar makes one sleepy; our ability to calculate and remember is lost.
For reasons we don't fully understand, high blood glucose makes it more likely a person will develop atherosclerosis - the 'gumming up' of the arteries that causes heart disease and stroke, the major worldwide killers.
The researchers calculated that raised blood glucose accounts for 21 per cent of ischaemic heart disease and 13 per cent of stroke mortality worldwide - 3.16 million deaths a year. They say deaths from high blood sugar are three times higher than those caused by full-blown diabetes - the condition we usually associate with high blood sugar.
What we call a "sweet tooth" has its basis in brain chemistry. Endorphins are the feel-good chemicals responsible for the well-known "runner's high." In particular, alcoholics, women, and obese individuals may share similar disadvantageous brain chemistry that gives them a "sugar high" from eating sweets. Women tend to have more sugar cravings (often before menstruation or during menopause) than men.
People with lower than normal levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter whose deficiency is seen in depression, insomnia, and migraines, may experience a euphoric rush when they eat sugary foods, different from the mildly pleasant feeling experienced by people who have normal serotonin levels. Measuring neurotransmitter levels in the urine can reveal imbalances of these powerful determinants of mood and behavior and also suggest actions to take to help restore balanced brain chemistry.
Cancer cells have a big appetite for sugar to fuel their rapid growth. These rapidly growing cells have ten times more insulin receptors than non-cancerous cells, allowing them to readily utilize glucose for energy even in the absence of oxygen (anaerobic glycolysis), a metabolic situation that results in an unhealthy accumulation of lactic acid. Animal studies suggest that normal or, optimally, low-normal blood sugar levels result in improved cancer treatment outcomes and boost immune function.
Of the over 4 million cancer patients being treated in the U.S. today, almost none are offered any scientifically guided nutrition therapy other than being told to "just eat good foods." Many cancer patients would have a major improvement in their conditions if they controlled the supply of cancer's preferred fuel: GLUCOSE. By slowing the cancer's growth, patients make it possible for their immune systems to catch up to the disease. Controlling one's blood-glucose levels through diet, exercise, supplements, meditation and prescription drugs - when necessary - can be one of the most crucial components to a cancer treatment program. The saying "Sugar feeds cancer" is simple. The explanation is a little more involved.
Sugar production in 2000 topped $3.5 billion, according to the Agriculture Department. Americans consume more sugar than any other nation and also spend more on healthcare than any other nation. Sugar manufacturers would have the public believe that sedentary lifestyles and overeating are necessary for consumers of sugar to succumb to poor health. While this rhetoric may contain seeds of truth, it takes focus away from what is likely the most effective strategy to improve health while reducing risk of chronic degenerative diseases through dietary manipulation: limiting the amount of sugar in the diet, the same pragmatic approach that Dr. Gould used successfully in 1910.