Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sugar- the Real Villain

Sugar Is Costing Us Our Health

We’ve been trained for decades by the medical/pharmaceutical industry as well as the government to believe that fat is the evil lurking in food that will bring on chronic disease.  Only recently is information coming out that indicates that fat is not the evil we’ve been led to believe.  [For more information about the fat/cholesterol issue, see Cholesterol- Mother of All Scams.]

The real danger is now believed to be sugar in the form of refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup that is in almost all processed foods, as well as carbs in general.  More and more information is coming out about the role sugar consumption plays in heart disease, diabetes and cancer.  Refined flour is also a huge part of the problem in that it is converted almost immediately to glucose in your body.

According to the USDA:
In 2000, each American consumed an average 152 pounds of caloric sweeteners, 3 pounds below 1999’s record average 155 pounds. That amounted to more than 2/5ths  of a pound—or 52 teaspoonfuls—of added sugars per person per day in 2000.  USDA Factbook
There are the obvious sources of sugar- soft drinks, cookies, cakes, candy.  But sugar is hidden in just about every kind of processed food- salad dressings, barbeque sauce, ketchup, breakfast cereals, spaghetti sauce, even peanut butter.  I looked at the label of one major brand's "natural" peanut butter and found they'd added sugar.  Not exactly natural.  Real the labels and you will see how much we rely on sugars to flavor what we eat.  Honestly, it’s not that teaspoon of sugar you put in your coffee that is the danger; it’s the soft drinks and the sugar hidden in everything else.

What is the impact on our health?  It is huge.  What follows is a summary of what I’ve found about the role sugar plays in chronic disease.

Sugar cubes image is free clip art from clker.com.


According to a Reuters article posted April 30, 2012, the medical costs of obesity in this country annually are $190 billion; an overweight person will pay $1850 more per year in medical expenses than someone who is not overweight.  And if you add in the costs of heart disease, diabetes and cancer that can all be triggered by sugar consumption and resulting obesity, the figure would be astronomical. Our addiction to sugar is draining us financially as well as physically.
Sugar triggers insulin, and insulin is what moves fat into fat cells.  Jorge Cruise has turned this whole concept into a weight loss industry, and I have proven it out. Limit sugar in all its forms, and weight WILL come off.  It’s not rocket science- consume too much sugar, and you will gain weight.  And the ironic part is that so-called “health” foods that line grocery store shelves are anything but healthy- they limit fat, but add sweetener (generally high fructose corn syrup) to add flavor. So you go to the cookie aisle and find the packages that have the green packaging labeled “fat-free” and you think you’re getting something that won’t kill you.  Think again.

To lose weight, you have to limit carbohydrate intake, and that covers sugars as well as starches.  Jorge Cruise has a program that makes it easy to watch what you are consuming.  I highly recommend his book The Belly Fat Cure in which he explains how the diet works, and includes lots of recipes and menus.  A couple tips- you have to limit fruit as long as you are trying to lose weight because of its fructose content, and carbohydrates also need to be limited and switched from refined flour to whole grain products.  Whole grains take longer to be processed, and will not cause the spike in blood sugar levels that refined flour products cause. But beware that whole grain products are still carbs and will still convert to glucose that will be moved to fat cells if too much is consumed. There are many that are now advocating limiting grain products altogether.

Feet on scales is free image from freestockphotos.biz.


I always thought that the diabetes link was pretty obvious- sugar puts on weight, and overweight people are at risk to develop diabetes.  [Here I’m referring to adult-onset type II.] Not wanting to get into technical medical explanations, I’ll point you to a great site I just discovered-  McVitamins.com.  Here you will find lots of great articles covering a wide range of subjects.  This one explains the whole glucose/insulin concept.  Basically, too many carbohydrates, sugar in particular, leads to insulin resistance.  They cause blood sugar spikes that will eventually overload the pancreas- it will not be able to keep up with the demand for insulin.  Diabetes is a direct result of a diet overloaded with simple carbohydrates- sugar, high fructose corn syrup and refined flour products. And don't think that if you're not overweight you are immune- you aren't. The guy that wrote Sugar Nation (link below) will attest to that.

Years ago while researching nutrition and prevention, I had found another factor that comes into play. Chromium is a mineral that is necessary for sugar metabolism:
. . . adequate chromium is necessary in the diet for normal carbohydrate metabolism.  Animal studies have confirmed that a deficiency of this mineral results in glucose intolerance. . . chromium supplementation improves glucose tolerance, increases cell sensitivity to insulin, and reduces circulating insulin levels, while reducing the amount of insulin required to maintain optimal blood glucose levels.  Nutrition Desk Reference. Robert Garrison, Jr., M.A., R.Ph., and Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D.  New Caanan, CT: Keats Publishing, 1995, pp. 183-185.
Then I found that sugar actually depletes chromium from your body.  Sugar contains none of the nutrients necessary for its digestion so sugar actually depletes your body of a whole list of nutrients, including chromium in particular.  Chromium as well as vanadium supplements are used to treat glucose intolerance, though this must be done under a doctor’s care and blood sugar levels must be monitored carefully.

Insulin syringe is free image from freestockphotos.biz.

Heart Disease and Gout

Sugar in the form of fructose as found in high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has been the sweetener of choice since the '70's.  HFCS, in many of the processed foods on the grocery shelves, is used by manufacturers because it is sweeter than sugar so less is required, and it is cheap.  Soft drinks account for the lion's share of HFCS consumed.

According to mercola.com, consumption of HFCS increases uric acid levels in the bloodstream, and uric acid results in low-level inflammation of blood vessels.  It is this inflammation that damages arteries and triggers the accumulation of cholesterol to repair that damage.  Gout is another result of high uric acid levels.  Studies are proving a connection between fructose consumption and uric acid levels. (See Sugar Can Also Increase Uric Acid.)

Connections are being made that show how uric acid may be responsible not only for heart disease but also for high blood pressure, stroke, kidney disease and other conditions.  Dr. Mercola has a wealth of information and links at his site.

A new article, Sugar Hurts Heart Health More Than Salt, in Medical Daily summarizes a report published in the British Medical Journal that targets sugar, specifically fructose, as the primary dietary issue in high blood pressure and heart disease in general.

Heart diagram is free image from Wikimedia Commons.

Sugar Feeds Cancer
When patients were put on low-carb diets in 2007, their cancers reversed spontaneously. In Würzburg, Germany, researchers concluded that cancer cells have a different metabolism, the so-called Warburg hypothesis, or Warburg Effect, first described in 1924 by Otto Warburg. He concluded that "the prime cause of cancer is the replacement of the respiration of oxygen in normal body cells by a fermentation of sugar."  The Warburg Effect
Cancer cells feed on sugar.  Eat sugar, feed cancer.  This discovery has given rise to cancer diets that limit or eliminate carbohydrates. (Just do an internet search for "cancer diet" and you will find quite a few.)  And connections are being made that show sugar as a cause of some kinds of cancer.  The connection appears to be with insulin.  As insulin levels increase with increased sugar consumption, that insulin promotes tumor growth.  Of course, the process is quite complicated, but that seems to be the bottom line.  I found this in a New York Times article printed in April of 2011 called Is Sugar Toxic?

Update: 5 Reasons Cancer and Sugar Are Best Friends-  recent post at beatcancer.org that explains the relationship between sugar and cancer.

Sugar- Addictive and Toxic as Well as Deadly

Sugar binges, sugar cravings, sugar highs- all are part of the picture of our dependence on the stuff. 60 Minutes ran a piece awhile back on the toxicity of sugar, raising the awareness of the problem. Here is the clip "Is Sugar Toxic?" as found on YouTube.com:

The Alternatives
Beware of the Sugar Substitutes


Sugar substitutes abound; aspartame is widely used in diet products but has received an enormous number of complaints filed with the FDA and is believed to cause headaches and even seizures. Aspartame turns to phenylalanine and either methanol or formaldehyde, depending on which article you read. Phenylalanine in particular seems to be the problem, resulting in seizures in some people. And I recall reading several years ago that aspartame will actually stimulate your appetite. For more information, see Scientific Abuse in Seizure Research Related to Aspartame and Aspartame Promotes Grand Mal Seizures.  It should be rather revealing that it is Monsanto, a chemical company, that makes the stuff.

Sucralose, aka Splenda

As for sucralose, or Splenda, this stuff is also produced in a laboratory, not in nature, and it turns to chlorine when ingested.  Chlorine will clean out your gut, allowing yeast to run unchecked, not a good thing.  Do you really want to be ingesting chlorine?

It took months for me to make the connection between my symptoms and Splenda.  I was experiencing all kinds of digestive tract issues including gas and diarrhea, not full-blown runny, but loose enough. And when I found out that Splenda will make your stool acid, I am assuming that is why I was so irritated in the nether regions to the point of bleeding. This may also be why I have had several bladder infections during this time, but I'm not sure on that point.

Another aspect that is apparently connected includes feelings of anxiety and depression. It seemed like my circumstances were absolutely going to overwhelm me for several months. I fought feelings of fear and upset, and I was unable to sleep well.  All of this can be attributed to Splenda use, and honestly, who would make a connection there?  This is why it is imperative that you check into this for yourself if you are a Splenda user, look at the links I have here and see the ridiculously long list of side effects that people have experienced.

Try Splenda SicknessStop Using Splenda or any of innumerable websites I found when searching for Splenda side effects. That first one in particular is packed with reported issues from people who have experienced the nasty backlash from using Splenda. And what is absolutely appalling is that the FDA has approved both of these chemical sugar substitutes to infect our food supply, and is to date pretty much ignoring reports of side effects. Money talks.


Our sweet tooth is a problem. We have become so accustomed to having our food sweetened that we expect it and won't eat it if it's not. The best course of action is to un-accustom ourselves to sweet altogether.

I had started using stevia, thinking it was the safest way to get the sweetness I wanted. But I have since found out that it is suspected of being a hormone disruptor since its molecules have a hormone structure, and have shown contraceptive effects in rats. I found this at Why I Quit Stevia. With hormone balance an issue anyway, I have decided to stop using the sweetener altogether.

In looking for information about xylitol, I found xylitol.org, a site that answers questions about the product.  Health food stores carry the sweetener. I am not aware of any side effects of xylitol, but will continue to check into it.

Ultimately, it looks like it would be wise to just get used to less sweetness altogether.

Stevia is free image from Wikimedia Commons.

The Real Cost of Sugar

The effects of sugar on our system is profound.  If you want to take charge of your health, limiting sugar is an absolute must.  More and more evidence is coming to light that makes a clear connection between sugar and chronic disease.  Just looking around at the general public makes the point; the majority of people I see are at least some overweight, and an alarmingly large percentage are obese.  The fountain soda machines are always busy, cranking out HFCS's by the truckload, and America's health is paying the price.

If you consider the rising costs of healthcare, the obscene profits pulled in by drug companies, and the high cost of health insurance (for those of us that have to pay for our own), it seems obvious that sugar is feeding the medical/pharmaceutical industry and not your body. Eliminating sugar is an absolutely vital part of changing your lifestyle to take charge of your health.

Money is free image from Wikimedia Commons.

"SugarScience is the authoritative source for evidence-based, scientific information about sugar and its impact on health."

Great list of research links by Zoe Harcombe linking sugar to  chronic disease of all types.

Sugar: The Bitter Truth
Youtube video 
by Robert Lustig, author of Fat Chance

We Need

Pinterest Boards

I am collecting useful websites that can help you in your journey to taking control of your own health. See them here:

Healthcare Watchdog Groups
Functional/Integrative Medicine
Nutrition, Prevention and Staying Healthy
Great Books- Health

Books at Amazon

More and more books are coming out all the time on the dangers of sugar. All summaries have been lifted from Amazon.

The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes

Among Americans, diabetes is more prevalent today than ever; obesity is at epidemic proportions; nearly 10% of children are thought to have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. And sugar is at the root of these, and other, critical society-wide, health-related problems. With his signature command of both science and straight talk, Gary Taubes delves into Americans' history with sugar: its uses as a preservative, as an additive in cigarettes, the contemporary overuse of high-fructose corn syrup. He explains what research has shown about our addiction to sweets. He clarifies the arguments against sugar, corrects misconceptions about the relationship between sugar and weight loss; and provides the perspective necessary to make informed decisions about sugar as individuals and as a society.

Sugar Blues- It's a prime ingredient in countless substances from cereal to soup, from cola to coffee. Consumed at the rate of one hundred pounds for every American every year, it's as addictive as nicotine -- and as poisonous. It's sugar. And "Sugar Blues", inspired by the crusade of Hollywood legend Gloria Swanson, is the classic, bestselling expose that unmasks our generation's greatest medical killer and shows how a revitalizing, sugar-free diet can not only change lives, but quite possibly save them.

Suicide by Sugar-  It is a dangerous, addictive white powder that can be found in abundance throughout this country. It is not illegal. In fact, it is available near playgrounds, schools, and workplaces. It is in practically everything we eat and drink, and once we are hooked on it, the cravings can be overwhelming. This white substance of abuse is sugar.  Over two decades ago, Nancy Appleton’s Lick the Sugar Habit exposed the health dangers of America’s high-sugar diet. Now, in Suicide by Sugar, Appleton, along with journalist G.N. Jacobs, presents a broader view of the problems caused by our favorite ingredient. The authors offer startling facts that link a range of disorders—from dementia and hypoglycemia to obesity and cancer—to our growing sugar addiction. Rounding out the book is a sound diet plan along with a number of recipes for sweet, easy-to prepare dishes—all made without sugar or fruit.  Suicide by Sugar shines a bright light on our nation’s addiction and helps us begin the journey toward health.

Sugar Shock- A provocative expose of the negative effects of sugars and simple carbs-and how to break the addiction. Most readers already know that succumbing to sweets too often can lead to obesity and diabetes. What many don't know, however, is that too many "quickie carbs" can bring on a host of other maladies-such as "brain fog," fatigue, mood swings, heart disease, and even cancer-from which millions may be suffering because of their sugar or carbohydrate habits. Once besieged by 44 seemingly unconnected symptoms, former "sugar addict" Connie Bennett, an experienced journalist, managed to kick sweets and simple carbs in 1998. She improved her health-and uncovered extensive medical research that substantiated her theory: people who eat too many low-caliber culprit carbs could be in sugar shock. Based on the insights of thousands of physicians, nutritionists, researchers, and "sugar sufferers" worldwide, SUGAR SHOCK!(tm) not only addresses how badly sugar affects the body, it demonstrates how everyone can kick the sugar habit.

Sugar Nation: The Hidden Truth Behind America's Deadliest Habit- Amazon does not have a synopsis of this book, so I found one written by Johnny Bowden:  In the course of this story- which is as compelling as a beach read and just as impossible to put down- you learn facts about the food industry, the idiotic and nonsensical advice of the American Diabetes Association, the politics of sugar, and the connection of diabetes to heart disease, cancer and Alzheimers. You actually follow Jeff on his journey to understand what went wrong and in the course of understanding what happened to him, you learn how diabetes really develops– and what happens to the body under the toxic burden of the Standard American Diet.  But this is not a book about facts, figures and statistics. It’s a deeply personal story that is all the more engaging because you actually come to care about the characters.  O’Connell had access to some of the best researchers in the country; their ideas and quotes are woven into the fabric of the story seamlessly, and contrasted with the advice routinely given by the dozens of doctors he visited around the country who are treating diabetic patients in a way that’s so boneheadedly wrong it borders on medical malpractice. His sources read like a “who’s who” of low-carb researchers as well as plenty of “establishment” sources like the American Diabetes Association and the aforementioned doctors. The contrast is telling- and O’Connell lets you make up your own mind about who’s right.  Written in a friendly, breezy style- O’Connell’s best writing ever, by the way—the book is just plain impossible to put down. In a weird way, the book reminds me of Sesame Street in that it makes learning fun. You’re so entertained and engaged, you barely notice that you’re being educated.  Put Sugar Nation on your must-read list. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Blog Posts

A Healthcare Revolution-  Science and research are making advances in diet and health, but the medical institution isn't. We need a revolution.

Challenging the Concept of White Coat Authority- Your medical treatment is based on a system fraught with bias and flaws. Assuming your doctor knows what he's doing may not be smart.

Real Food Creates Real Health- Change WHAT you eat, not how much, and change your health.

The Science of Weight Loss- Find out why the standard advice won't work and what will.

Breakfast Cereal Diets- Really??- Why eating cereal can't possibly help you lose weight for the long term.

"Healthy" Foods That Aren't- Several foods that are perceived as healthy but really aren't.

They Told Me He's a Quack- Several people I have found out about that have gone against the tide of public opinion and "expert" advice and have given thousands of people help and hope.

Alzheimer's, Dementia and Statins- Statins are dangerous drugs that cause memory loss and muscle damage.

Cholesterol- Mother of All Scams- The whole cholesterol scare has been based on faulty research and has been exploited by pharmaceutical companies to keep an otherwise healthy population on their drugs.

Why You Can't Trust the Medical Industry- The entire medical industry has been corrupted by greed.  It pays to be skeptical.

Hormone Balance and Estrogen Dominance- Regularly prescribed HRT has serious side effects; there is an alternative.

Restless Leg Syndrome- Treat the Cause, Not the Symptoms- My experience with RLS and what has helped me.

Phonics and Dyslexia- Information that can help dyslexic adults as well as children, and a post about the phonics-whole language wars and why phonics wins every time hands-down.

Quill pen is free image from Wikimedia Commons.

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