I try to keep these letters as short as I can, but this one is a bit longer. If you still want more details, see references below. First a little statistics.
The average American eats 2 pounds of processed sugar a week, on average! At one time, sugar was considered an occasional treat, and out side of raw organic fruit, most of the population had a little desert once a week if that. This was in the good old days when there was no processed sugar like today.
The body has no problem with small amounts of sugar, especially from whole food, but today processed sugar is hidden in so many things and most refined, foods (foods that are processed by man) turn into sugar rapidly in the bloodstream.
So what’s so bad about sugar? Well for starters, sugar and vitamin C compete with each other to enter the cells of our body. If there is too much sugar, less vitamin C will be able to enter the cell. Thus, our immunity is compromised. This is particularly significant for the White Blood Cells, (WBCs). One kind of WBC, the macrophage, needs vitamin C to move around in our bloodstream and devour viruses, bacteria and cancer cells. So when you eat a sugary snack, (even one teaspoon), it slows the movement of macrophages by seventy five percent. These effects can last up to 5 hours! Sugar also decreases the production of these important cells, so less soldiers in the army of defense.
Small amounts of natural sugar found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other whole foods contain minerals, enzymes, and fiber to minimize the negative effects. The trouble is today, most of the sweeteners in packaged or premade food are processed with high fructose corn syrup. This fructose is made primarily from Genetically Modified corn. We have only scratched the surface on the hazards of GMO’s.
Since there are no minerals, enzymes or nutrition, in processed sugar, the body has to draw from it’s resources to utilize it. So mineral deficiencies are very common in people with high sugar diets. Not to different from the synthetic vitamins we covered in the vitamin article!
Artificial chemical sweeteners are NOT the solution to the over consumption of processed sugars because they pose health hazards, like brain tumors, obesity, and neurological disorders, (especially in children). They also make you feel hungrier because the body thinks it is getting sugar and releases insulin. When it does not get any, it creates hunger so you will eat something to keep you from going into a coma from low blood sugar.
Glucose, (what the body makes from natural sources of whole food), is the basic energy source of our cells, and 30-40% of glucose is used for brain function. Twenty percent goes to the liver to be stored as glycogen. That way, if we need energy right away, the liver can release glycogen and give us an extra boost. The rest of the glucose goes to the other organs and cells to be used for energy and food.
When processed Fructose/sugar is ingested, 100% goes to the liver, which causes the production of uric acid, (high levels cause gout). This blocks nitrous oxide, which is the blood pressure regulator of the body.
In addition, (simply put), processed fructose also causes fat to be deposited in the tissues because 100% of processed fructose is stored as fat if not burned off! In addition, since insulin is the escort that takes glucose to feed the cells, the pancreas has to produce more of it when there is a lot of sugar in the bloodstream. At some point the body starts resisting the copious amounts of insulin the body has to produce to get the sugar out of the blood and into the cells. Then our bodies get resistant to the insulin, and glucose just stays in the blood. When this happens the cells are not fed, especially the cells in our brain!!
Exercise and Glucose, (from whole foods), decrease the hunger hormone, ghrelin. Ghrelin keeps us from feeling satisfied after a meal just like Processed Fructose.
Fruits, vegetables, and whole unprocessed grains have a lower Glycemic Index, (GI). This means it takes longer for the sugar to reach the blood stream and does not raise the blood sugar significantly. That is because whole, unprocessed foods have their own innate fiber and minerals. With a slower release of sugar, the body does not need to produce insulin as much.
Simple Carbohydrates, (like pasta, bagels, bread, potatoes, sodas, rice, corn), and refined sugars, break down quickly during digestion and release sugar into the bloodstream. These have a high GI. When you eat them, the body is forced to produce insulin because of the rapid increase in blood sugar.
Sugar in the blood stream causes inflammation, because surplus sugar attaches to proteins, (the body’s building blocks) and causes cellular free-radical damage. Sort of like what happens when metal starts to rust. Once this happens, free-radicals continue to be produced like a chain reaction, which cause more inflammation. When this occurs in the skin, it causes wrinkles. When it occurs in the joints, the inflammation can instigate arthritis and joint destruction. Eventually organs start to degrade and the body starts to break down. Consider that in addition to all this, most of us are deficient in valuable trace minerals, and nutrients from real food, and it makes sense that illness is on the rise. No wonder the body wants to get that sugar out of the blood stream as soon as possible!
The FDA tells us to avoid saturated fats to minimize heart disease but, the only study that lead to this conclusion was flawed. They did not separate out dietary sugar from fats, so they were not able to distinguish if sugar, or if fats contributed to cholesterol!
Actually aside from Partially hydrogenated oils, saturated fats and dietary cholesterol effect less then 10% of blood cholesterol levels. Processed sugar is a big factor in our diet that contributes to most disease.
For example, when they came out with cholesterol medication, in the 1960’s, they wanted to try it out on rats, but the rats did not have high cholesterol. So they gave them a diet high in saturated fats and cholesterol. The rat’s cholesterol levels did not change. Then, they gave the same rats a low fat, high sugar diet. Sound familiar? Well, guess what! The cholesterol went way up. Now they could test their cholesterol medication.
The government subsidizes the corn that processed fructose comes from, to make it cheaper for producers. That is why junk food is so cheep! This is defiantly a case where you get what you pay for.
So what can we do? Instead of a candy bar, eat an apple, or any organic fruit! Instead of white rice, eat wild rice. Replace all breads/cereals with ‘Ezekiel sprouted grain’ variety products. ‘Food for Life’ and ‘La Tortilla Factory’ also offer low charb, high fiber options as well. Have a nice vegetable omelet for breakfast instead of cereal or oatmeal.
Read labels and avoid high fructose of any kind. Look at the Carbohydrate content of packaged foods and try to keep it under 120 grams a day. A good of thumb is; For every 10 grams of carbohydrates, there should be at least 1 gram of fiber. Three grams is even better. Fiber is the antidote to sugar!
Substitute Stevia, Xylitol, or Lankanto for sugar. These are healthier alternatives to sugar that don’t significantly raise the GI. Small amounts of honey or molasses are OK too. The book, ‘How to Lick the Sugar Habit’ by Nancy Appleton, has 146 reasons why sugar is bad for your health.
Once you stop eating processed sugar and refined carbohydrates, the cravings will stop. It may feel like you are withdrawing from a drug at first, but after 1-2 weeks, you will see a BIG difference. You will help your immune system get stronger, energy levels will increase, and most joint pain will decrease along with incidents of colds. Did I mention processed sugar contributes to mood swings?
It doesn’t matter what disease we are talking about, whether it’s a common cold, cardiovascular disease, cancer or osteoporosis, the root is always going to be at the cellular and molecular level. Everything we put into our mouth has either a negative or positive effect on our entire body.
When I see our children living on Big Gulps, candy bars, and French fries, I can’t help but wonder where they will be, 10 years from now.
By the way, if you Google High fructose corn syrup, you will find at the very top of the list, the praises of High Fructose from the ‘Corn Refiners Association’! Isn’t that interesting?
Please feel free to forward this, in it’s entirety to those who may benefit from it.
In health and awareness,
Jill Coleman RN
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston Price,
Book-“Lick The Sugar Habit” by Nancy Appleton