Ok, I first have to make a disclosure – I love sugar! Arghhhhh. I know. Pastries, bagels, beer, etc. We all have our vices. That being said, let’s discuss why sugar is bad and what we can do about it.
Remember back in the day when fat was the culprit for people getting fat? Surprise! That was all wrong. (Of course, Natural Health people already knew that.) The main culprit turns out to be sugar. Sugar not only causes us to get fat, but it also creates an acidic environment in your system which could lead to heart disease. It also creates an insulin response which could ultimately lead to diabetes.
According to Dr. Robert Lustig from UC San Francisco, sugar is toxic. He has been studying sugar and its effects on people and weight. He thinks they’ve produced the “hard and fast data that sugar is toxic irrespective of its calories and irrespective of weight.” A problem always arises when studying sugar and weight loss, because it’s difficult to pinpoint the cause of the weight loss – is it the sugar or the calories? In Dr. Lustig’s study, he took a group of people and reduced their sugar by 10%. Just that amount caused their fasting blood sugar levels to drop by 53% along with the amount of insulin their bodies produced. Their triglycerides declined, their LDL levels declined, and they had less fat in their livers.
Obese people and people with diabetes often suffer from fatty liver. This is normally associated with alcohol abuse, but more and more, fatty liver is being found in people who gain excessive amount of weight. Dr. Lustig hopes that this new information will change the advice that doctors and government health officials give about eating sweets. That’s right – doctors and the government have it wrong (does that surprise anyone…?)
Sugar can cause Metabolic Syndrome. It contains no essential nutrients. This includes “added sugars” like sucrose and high fructose corn syrup. This is why we say sugar is considered “empty calories.” For a long time, high fructose corn syrup was used as a sweetener in many foods and drinks. As more people started shining a light on the detriments of this sugar, the immediate response was to attack and demonize the messenger. This is the way it usually goes. But, as the facts became clear, high fructose corn syrup has been quietly removed. As I’m sure you know, sugar is bad for the teeth. Not just from the outside, but from the inside, as well. Sugar creates bacteria in the mouth.
Sugars breaks down into glucose and fructose in your system. Our bodies can create glucose but not fructose. The liver metabolizes fructose (your liver is your body’s main detoxifier.) Fructose is stored in the liver as glycogen, but when the liver is “full”, the excess fructose turns to fat. This is why eating too much sugar can lead to fatty liver. Studies have shown that people with fatty liver eat up to 2-3 times as much fructose as the average person. Fruit contains fructose, but fructose from fruit is ok. There is a difference between “added sugar” fructose and fructose from fruit. I would say it’s almost impossible to eat too much fruit. Too much added fructose can become VLDL cholesterol.
I’m sure you all know that sugar causes insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that allows sugar (glucose) to enter the cells from the bloodstream. It also tells the cells to burn glucose rather than fat. Of course, sugar causes an insulin response, and too much sugar can either cause insulin resistance or create problems with your pancreas. Either of these can lead to diabetes which can lead to diabetic neuropathy and/or blindness. Studies have shown that people who drink sugar-sweetened (including packaged “fruit” drinks) have up to an 83% higher risk of Type 2 diabetes.
What you may not know is that sugar can give you cancer. The problem with cancer is that it multiplies so quickly. Insulin is one of the hormones that regulates cell growth. So, the more insulin you have, the more your cancer can multiply. Cancer feeds on sugar. This is why I tell people who have cancer to stop eating sugar. Sugar is also acidic and causes inflammation which can also lead to cancer (as well as such things as high cholesterol and atherosclerosis.)
You may have heard that sugar is more addicting than cocaine. Sugar is most definitely addicting. Sugar causes a release of dopamine in the reward center of the brain. We typically don’t get that much dopamine from our normal food. Therefore, sugar becomes addicting for certain people, no matter how much they eat. I’m a good example. When I am eating too much sugar, I tend to put on about ten pounds. I start to feel lethargic. I don’t think as clearly. I can feel that I’m on toxic overload. So, I’ll do a 3-day juice fast or a water fast to clear all the sugar (and caffeine and other toxins) out of my system. After a few days of withdrawals (usually headaches), I feel wonderful. And I’m good for about a month until I have something really sweet. Then, slowly but surely, I begin eating more and more bread and pastries and cookies, etc. until it’s time to repeat the procedure. Some people like salty foods and have no problem with sweets. Some people like sweets. You guys know what I’m talking about.
Sugar also leads to obesity. One of the reasons is that fructose, in particular, does not decrease satiety, so people tend to overeat when eating sweets. Of course, many studies have shown a link between sugar consumption and obesity. Children drinking sugary drinks increase their risk of obesity by 60%!
Here’s one that might shock you. It’s not the fat in your diet that raises your bad cholesterol. It’s the sugar! For years, heart disease has been blamed on fat. New studies are showing that dietary fat is not the problem. (That low-fat diet we’ve been told to eat by the medical community and government has been doing us more harm than good.) Studies show that large amounts of fructose can raise triglycerides, VLDL, and LDL, raise blood glucose, raise insulin levels, and increase abdominal obesity in as little as 10 weeks! All of these, of course, can lead to heart disease.
One good thing is that the Food and Drug Administration will be coming out with a new label that will show how much sugar has been added to each food. The amount of “added sugar” will be expressed in grams and as a percentage of Daily Value. This will be very helpful. I think you’ll be surprised how much sugar you’re eating (and drinking.) For example, how many of you have ever had one of those 20 ounce Cokes? Each bottle contains 65 grams of added sugar. That equals 130% of the Recommended Daily Intake! Look for the new labels in mid-2018.
That’s pretty crazy, right? So what can we do? Well, unfortunately, fake sugar isn’t really a good choice either. Aspartame turns to formaldehyde in your system. All of those fake sugars can give you cancer. If you need sweetness in your coffee, etc. you may want to try using stevia. A lot of health foods are now using sugar alcohols like xylitol and sorbitol. They have no calories. Another option would be to switch from coffee with cream and sugar to tea. Also, rather than drinking store-bought fruit juice, buy a juicer and make your own. It’s much healthier. Ditch the sodas – even the zero-calorie and sugar-free and diet sodas. They actually can make your craving for sugar worse, but that’s a whole separate discussion.
I hope that helps. It turns out sugar plays a huge role not only in weight gain and obesity but also acidity and inflammation which can lead to cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease. So, you can see how important it is to reduce the amount of sugar you consume. If you would like to get together and work on increasing your health, please give me a call, email, or text, and we’ll set up a program for you using various things like exercise, massage, diet, detox, and nutritional supplementation.
CNHP, CCN, CCH, CMT, CPT
Ultimate Health & Wellness