On some level most of us know that sugar is not healthy, but I don’t think the majority of us have any idea truly how devastating sugar is. And reducing one’s sugar consumption is challenging as it is highly addictive, causing withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, depression, fatigue, and cravings.
Even as early as the 60s, the research of Alfred Lopez repeatedly pointed to sugar as being a significant player in the development of heart disease, and then Ahrens’ work in the 70s found the same thing. Sugar causes an increase in the adhesiveness of the blood platelets, which may be the reason for its role in heart disease.
Sugar is also implicated as a causative factor in type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, kidney disease, liver disease, obesity, and depression, and is important in the growth of cancerous tumors, as cancer cells love sugar.
Every tablespoon of sugar depresses the immune system for up to 6 hours. If you find that you are constantly sick, sugar may be a large part of the reason.
Sugar also encourages candida albicans overgrowth, a fungus that starts in the digestive tract and can spread to the internal organs and the respiratory system. Common symptoms may include yeast infections, digestive problems, or asthma.
Sugar is far more fattening for most people than fat is. The leading source of calories for kids and teens is from carbonated soft drinks and juice containing high-fructose corn syrup and sugar, and as a result they are becoming obese and developing type 2 diabetes at an alarming rate. In liquid form, sugars are very problematic as usually they are consumed as extra calories as opposed to substituting for solid foods.
High fructose corn syrup (often listed as "fructose glucose" on labels in Canada) is a crystalline fructose or hydrolized fructose product that is manufactured in the lab (genetically modified corn) that came onto the market in about 1970, and because it is so inexpensive, it is used as a preservative in all kinds of foods one would not expect.
I have even noticed it as an ingredient in those touted-as-healthy low-calorie frozen dinners! It is now everywhere in processed foods, including crackers, baked goods, salad dressings, ketchup, medications, and obviously, soft drinks.
High-fructose corn syrup is particularly dangerous, because unlike sucrose which raises blood-glucose levels, HFC syrup converts into triglycerides and adipose tissue within an hour of ingestion. Interestingly, the rise in obesity rates correlate very well to the introduction of this destructive product.
When I am feeling particularly cynical, I wonder why the term "sugar diabetes" has all but disappeared from the lexicon. Is it because it is more profitable to treat disease rather than to encourage the removal of HFC syrup and other forms of processed sugar from the marketplace?
So read labels carefully. No form of sugar is healthy, so know that any word that ends in "ose" is a form of sugar, such as glucose, sucrose, fructose, maltose, lactose, dextrose, galactose etc. Also watch for "monosaccharides" or "disaccharides", or various "syrups" which are also fancy names for sugar.
Almost all sugar on the market is highly processed, and as such the nutrient-dense molasses of the sugar-cane plant has been stripped away. The only sugar on the market that is a whole food is from Brazil, and is called Rapadura which literally means, "unseparated sugar". If you must use sugar, this is the only one that can be recommended.
"Sucanat", "turbinado", "raw sugar", "demerara", "muscovado", and "evaporated cane juice", are all examples of separated sugar and should be avoided.
To wean yourself off sugar, you may find it helpful to take a gram or two a day of omega 3 fish oils, to reduce the cravings.
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copyright: Vreni Gurd 2006