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Added Sugar

Sugar is an integral part of life in many cultures. Seasonal confections and candy are made with sugar. Sugar is added to coffee, tea, soft drinks, sports drinks, and other beverages. Even songs euphemistically equate sex and love with "sugar". Yet the pleasure of sugar is deceptive. Sugar consumption is one of the leading causes of poor health today, damaging to all aspects of health especially to the hormonal and immunological health of the endocrine system.

We've all heard that too much sugar is bad for us and yet refined sugar consumption in Canada rose two years in a row from 2007 to 2009, and although the data is not yet available, it is likely that our consumption continues to rise.

So it looks like it is time to once again remind people why exactly it is that they should reduce their consumption of refined sugars.

Refined sugars come in many forms (high fructose corn syrup, refined sugar cane, refined beet sugar, fructose, sucrose, glucose, etc.) and interfere with essential fatty acid function in the body, inhibit immune system function, and encourage unhealthy intestinal flora (harmful bacteria and fungi). It also seriously inhibits the utilization of vitamin C, which is critical for liver, adrenal, and immune function among many other things. Over-consumption of refined sugars (greater than ½ tsp per day) is linked to Type II Diabetes, infertility, and Metabolic Syndrome, which increases risk for coronary artery disease and stroke.

Still planning on having a couple of chocolate bars for lunch?

Consuming sugar on a regular basis causes the body to increase its production of triglycerides and cholesterol, making platelets stickier and increasing the risk of atherosclerosis (blocked arteries). Sugar is also linked to behavioural problems and hyperactivity in children, overgrowth of candida albicans, cancer, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, premenstrual syndrome, and hypoglycemia.

Maybe just one more Twinkie...

Because sugar, whether made from sugar cane, beets or corn, is so highly purified, people often become addicted to it in a similar fashion to alcohol, caffeine, cocaine, or other drugs that have a psychotropic effect. Sugar causes the brain to release both endorphins and serotonin, which make us feel good and contributes to sugar’s addictive power.

If you are struggling with a sugar addiction, I recommend the following books:

The Diet Cure by Julia Ross

Sugar Blues by William Duffy

But sugar is natural and comes from the earth, how can it be so bad for me?

Sugar cane taken fresh from the ground is naturally rich in the B vitamins and minerals needed for its own metabolism. However, the refining process that creates table sugar strips all of the naturally occurring nutrients from the cane. All that remains is pure sucrose (glucose and fructose), which causes profound disruption to the liver, pancreatic and endocrine (hormone) systems, and immune function.

Ingestion of such a concentrated form of sugar causes a rapid spike in blood sugar levels, followed by an equally rapid crash. In response to such a rapid increase in blood glucose, the pancreas secretes a large amount of insulin. Elevated insulin causes constriction of the blood vessels, increased production of triglycerides and cholesterol by the liver and eventually leads to Type II Diabetes. In addition, the circulating glucose binds to the amino acids that form structural proteins throughout the body, creating what’s called advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). Amino acids bound as AGE’s are then not available for cell maintenance, repair, and creation.

Well at least it won't make me fat like eating lots of greasy foods, right?

Actually, Sugar is also a leading cause of obesity. When you consume large amounts of sugar, the body can't handle it and much of the sugar is rapidly converted to fat and stored in the adipose tissues of the body in anticipation of a famine state. Because a famine state never arrives, the fat stays and you get fatter. So drop the colas and the chocolate bars and grab a carrot and a glass of water.


Relation between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity: a prospective, observational analysis
The Lancet, Volume 357, Issue 9255, Pages 505-508
D.Ludwig, K.Peterson, S.Gortmaker

Potential role of sugar (fructose) in the epidemic of hypertension, obesity and the metabolic syndrome, diabetes, kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease
Richard J Johnson, Mark S Segal, Yuri Sautin, Takahiko Nakagawa, Daniel I Feig, Duk-Hee Kang, Michael S Gersch, Steven Benner and Laura G Sánchez-Lozada
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 86, No. 4, 899-906, October 2007

Statistics Canada Food Consumption Statistics accessed 11/03/2011.

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