By now, most of us have heard that sugar is bad for you. But why? The evidence I have read to support why is staggering. We have all heard that sugar promotes tooth decay. However, this is only one of the tens of health problems sugar is linked to.
A hundred years ago, people consumed an average of 15 grams of sugar a day. Today the average person consumes 73 grams of sugar, most of which is in the form of high fructose corn syrup – which is in most processed foods we buy.
Commonly used white sugar is bleached with chlorine bleach – which is an obvious dangerous substance to ingest.
Sugar has no essential nutrients. In fact, people who consume lots of sugar don’t have important nutrients they need, especially vitamins A, C, B12, folic acid, calcium, phosphorus, chromium, copper, magnesium and iron. It also interferes in the absorption of minerals.
One of sugar’s main components is fructose, of which there is no physiological need. We can eat it in moderation – in fruit, for example, and our liver can metabolize it properly into glycogen. However, eating too much of it will result in it being stored as fat. This overload on the liver can result in fatty liver disease.
Diseases and Conditions Sugar is Linked to and Why:
High Blood Pressure: Sugar causes elevated uric acid levels which ultimately raise blood pressure (systolic/high number).
High Cholesterol: Sugar raises total cholesterol and triglycerides, increasing the bad cholesterol (LDLs) and decreasing the good cholesterol (HDLs) which can lead to heart attacks, strokes and cancer.
Inflammation: Sugar causes free radicals to form that cause inflammation in the body at the cellular level. This leads to changes in skin tone and appearance. Common effects include deep wrinkles, saggy skin, and dark circles under the eyes.
Immune system deficiency (arthritis, asthma and MS): Our immune functions are reduced after eating high sugar foods which makes the body more susceptible to infections. Sugar consumption lowers the white blood cell count, which in turn weakens your immune system.
Obesity: By its rapid absorption, sugar promotes excessive food intake. The body changes sugar into fat at much greater rates than it does starches.
Cancer: Many studies have shown that people who eat a lot of sugar are at a much higher risk of getting cancer. Having constantly elevated insulin levels (a consequence of sugar consumption) can contribute to cancer. Diets high in sugar will increase free radicals and oxidative stress, basically setting the stage for the disease. Cancer cells feed on sugar and need it to survive as cancer is uncontrolled growth and multiplication of cells.
Additional Problems and Effects:
- reactive hypoglycemia, Crohn’s Disease, and ulcerative colitis
- food allergies
- cataracts and nearsightedness
- gallstones, appendicitis, hemorrhoids, varicose veins
- epileptic seizures
- emphysema, varicose veins, hormonal imbalance, kidney disease
How much is too much?
We all need some sugar to feed our body cells. However we need to limit our consumption of real sugar to less than 10 grams a day (over and above that which we normally get from fruits & vegetables). As mentioned above, with the development and overload of processed foods, most people’s intake of sugar is far above what is should be.
It can be argued that sugar is only one of the culprits of many of the aforementioned health issues. However this is one that we can do something about. It isn’t about uncontrollable environmental poison, heredity, or lifestyle. We can all afford to eat less sugar. We need to do this and ensure we help our children do this in order to prevent diseases and conditions and lead healthier lives.