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In the first part of this series, we discussed sugar addiction. The science community doesn’t yet recognize sugar as an addictive substance, but based on the research I have done, and my own personal experience, I can attest to the addictive nature of sugar. Please note that just like narcotics, not everyone is, or will be, addicted to sugar. It depends on each individual.
Over consumption of sugar, and in turn, most of our modern diseases were never an issue until we started processing our food in factories. Once machines and chemists got their hands on food, it’s never been the same. We moved away from fresh, local, real foods and into the era of convenience where we can’t be bothered to make our own dinners. Most Americans stop at a fast food restaurant or open up a microwave meal when they need to eat. Once our society shifted to this manner of food prep, the disease started moving in. According to MedicineNet.com, the average American eats 156 pounds of sugar per year. That’s 3 pounds a week, or almost 1/2 pounds of sugar day! No wonder we have the health problems we do! Prior to the 1900’s, the average amount of sugar consumer per person was 5 pounds per year!
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Sugar Feeds Disease
Sugar comes in two forms – monosaccharides and disaccharides. The disaccharides include the sucrose that is found in honey, corn syrup, and cane sugar, as well as the lactose in milk and maltose in malt. The monosaccharides are the types of sugars that are found in vegetables and fruits, called fructose.
In an article composed by Nancy Appleton, Ph.D., she lists 146 reasons why sugar is ruining your health. Her list is comprehensive and I agree with everything she says. I would recommend taking a few minutes at some point and reading through her list. While there is a long laundry list of ailments that sugar can cause, I am going to touch on the following points, in an effort to keep this one blog post from turning into a book:
- Sugar suppresses the immune system
- Sugar contributes to obesity
- Sugar produces a significant rise in triglycerides
- Sugar can cause heart disease
- Sugar can cause an increase in blood pressure
- Sugar contributes to diabetes onset
- Sugar can cause cancer
- Sugar contributes to Candida
- Sugar causes fatty liver disease
The problems above are probably some of the most common healthy issues we have in America – obesity, heart disease, diabetes, etc. Every time you turn on the TV, there’s either a news report on one of the diseases or a drug commercial selling something to “treat” the disease.
Sugar and the Immune System
The devastation of sugar on our bodies really starts at the top, with suppressing the immune system. When the immune system is suppressed, disease can set in. Our immune systems are our body’s first line of attack against germs and other foreign bodies. When the immune system is weakened, it cannot operate at its optimum level, and therefore leaves us more susceptible to sickness.
Vitamin C is needed in order for the white blood cells to eat viruses and bacteria. The blood cells have to accumulate vitamin C over time because they require 50 times more vitamin C on the inside of the cell than on the outside. It is because of this that vitamin C is known as one of the best immune system boosters. Everyone should make sure they are getting adequate amounts of vitamin C, whether through their food or through a supplement. I am a firm believer that it’s pretty much impossible to get all of our nutrients through our food, so supplementation of vitamin C is a great idea.
So, how exactly does sugar affect the immune system? Well, it turns out that vitamin C and glucose both have similar chemical structures. So, they end up fighting each other to enter the cells that need the vitamin C. If there is more glucose, then that’s what enters the cell and you end up being deficient in vitamin C. Over time, your immune system becomes suppressed and disease sets in. Since sugar does not contain any vitamins or minerals, it leeches nutrients from your body’s stockpile in order for it to be metabolized. When this happens, it depletes your reserves and further diminishes your immune system’s strength. The American Dietetic Association and the American Diabetic Association both agree that sugar consumption is “one of the three major causes of degenerative disease.”
Sugar and Obesity
As I have pointed out before, the obesity statistics in America are horrific. And, it’s not just adults who are being affected. It’s children and babies. Babies! The very individuals who should be coming into this world with a clean slate and the potential to do, and be, anything they want are coming out of the womb overweight and addicted to sugar. And, as they get older, their weight issues continue. We, as a society are setting our future generations up for failure from the moment of conception. When I see a pregnant woman in the grocery store, I can’t help but check out her shopping cart. Nine times out of ten, her cart is full of processed, pre-packaged food, soda, microwave dinners, candy, etc. This is the nourishment that many babies are receiving in vitro. It breaks my heart at how such a progressive nation can be so lacking in nutrition education.
The reason that sugar contributes to obesity is because of the cycle it creates. Not only does sugar increase fat storage, it also makes the brain think it’s hungry. So, you end up eating sugary, fatty food that gets stored as fat, and then your brain thinks it’s hungry again, which leads you to eat more sugary, fatty food and the cycle begins all over again.
Sugar and Cardiovascular Disease
This is something that most doctors recognize – the link between sugar and cardiovascular disease. Statistically, women have a higher incidence of this than men. Women who eat diets high in sugar have twice the chance of heart disease over a ten year period. Many factors go into this, however, the chain of events usually happens like this:
increased sugar intake –> weight gain and weakened immune system –> increase of bad fats in the blood –> increased risk of heart disease (and diabetes, stroke, etc.).
While doctors have always known the relationship between sugar intake and diabetes, it is now becoming more important to recognize the relationship between sugar intake and heart disease. Approximately 62 million Americans have a form of heart disease, which is the number one killer in our country. These forms of heart disease include high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, birth defects and heart failure. Even though I disagree with a lot of mainstream medicine and the American Heart Association’s dietary recommendations, I don’t disagree with their statement that “a third of the deaths caused by heart disease could have been prevented with exercise and better diets including those with reduced amounts of sugar.”
Studies have shown that consuming increased amounts of added sugar leads to lower ratios of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C, the good stuff) and higher low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C, the “bad” stuff). These ratios have been shown to increased risk for heart disease and obesity. Dr. Norris Chumley states:
We have seen a gigantic increase in the addition of sugar, from sugar cane, beets, or high-fructose corn syrup. Food manufacturers have trained us to get addicted to these sugars; we think food tastes better when it is sweet. It’s frightening to me to see how many foods have added sugar. It’s in almost everything that’s boxed, wrapped or manufactured. Also, studies have shown that once addicted to high amounts of sugar (and fats) our brains actually get rewired to constantly crave it.
In a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, it was found that people who received at least 25% of their daily calories from added sugar (of any kind) were three times more likely to have low levels of the good cholesterol in their blood stream. In addition, people who ate more than 17% of their calories from sugar (of any kind) also were more likely to have higher levels of triglycerides (the fat in your blood).
The key here is added sugar. There is naturally a certain amount of sugar that you will consume even in a healthy, real food diet. All fruits and veggies are going to have sugar in them, as well as any carbohydrate, even if it’s complex. Those sugars should not really be of concern, though you really shouldn’t consume tons and tons of starchy carbohydrates, fruit, or high-sugar vegetables. The key to get a balance of vegetables, fruit, dairy, complex carbohydrates, and protein. The more variety you have in your diet, the healthier you will be.
Sugar and Cancer
Cancer loves sugar. Plain and simple. The most basic explanation I have found of how cancer works was on the International Wellness Directory’s article “Cancer Loves Sugar“, where they describe Dr. Otto Warburg’s cancer findings:
First off, it tells us that cancer metabolizes much differently than normal cells. Normal cells need oxygen. Cancer cells despise oxygen. In fact, oxygen therapy is a favorite among many of the alternative clinics we’ve researched.
Another thing this tells us is that cancer metabolizes through a process of fermentation.
If you’ve ever made wine, you’ll know that fermentation requires sugar.
The metabolism of cancer is approximately 8 times greater than the metabolism of normal cells.
Okay, so here is what we can put together knowing the above: The body is constantly overworked trying to feed this cancer. The cancer is constantly on the verge starvation and thus constantly asking the body to feed it. When the food supply is cut off, the cancer begins to starve unless it can make the body produce sugar to feed itself.
The wasting syndrome, cachexia, is the body producing sugar from proteins (you heard it right, not from carbohydrates or fats, but from proteins) in a process called glycogenesis. This sugar feeds the cancer. The body finally dies of starvation, trying to feed the cancer.
Now, knowing that one’s cancer needs sugar, does it make sense to feed it sugar? Does it make sense to have a high carbohydrate diet?“
That’s it. Pretty simple. Cancer cells love sugar (carbohydrates). They need sugar to replicate and grow. If they don’t get enough sugar, they starve. I know there are other things to consider with cancer, including his mention of the wasting disease called cachexia, where your body will start producing sugar from protein, but in its simplest form, cancer needs sugar to feed on.
One thing to remember is that the human body is an amazing machine. It was designed to function at optimal levels and to ward of illness with its natural medicine cabinet – the immune system. However, when the immune system is suppressed with too much sugar, then our body no longer has the ability to fight off disease. If we can keep our immune system in tip-top shape, then we have a much higher chance of warding off disease.
Now, Dr. Warburg is pretty controversial and many people will say that the “cancer loves sugar” concept was taken out of context from his original work. It is up to you to decide if you agree with the statement that sugar feeds cancer, but my personal opinion is that it does.
Sugar and Candida
How many of you have heard of Candida? Candida is in the fungus kingdom and is a form of yeast. It is naturally present in animals and humans. While there are numerous strains of Candida, some species of Candida can cause infections and disease. Alternative medical doctors will tell you that Candida overgrowth can lead to serious health problems, however, your mainstream medical doctor will not support this theory.
Sugar can lead to an overgrowth of yeasts in the body,which can lead to infection in some people. It is suspected that Candida overgrowth is a lot more common than people realize and that it causes a lot more problems than we know. Candida lives mainly in the gut and the gut is where your true health begins. If you gut is unhealthy, the rest of your body will be unhealthy.
Candida Albicans is the form of Candida that typically causes illness. According to Dr. Cynthia Perkins, it naturally occurs in the body and is typically kept in check by all of the different kinds of bacteria in the body. However, it can be allowed to run rampant if the normal balance of bacteria is upset. It usually resides in the gut, mouth, throat, and genitals, but if it overgrows, then it can actually create holes in the intestinal tract and can enter the bloodstream. Once it does, it is on its way to all of your organs. It also has been shown to release over 70 different types of toxins.
There are many symptoms of Candida overgrowth, from gas and bloating to migraines to mood swings to itching and acne. However, one interesting symptom is a craving for sweets. Sugar feeds the yeasts, which in turn create cravings more for more sugar. Another main cause of Candida overgrowth is the overuse of antibiotics, which is yet another major problem in American society.
Sugar and Fatty Liver Disease
The liver is one of your body’s filters. One of the primary functions of the liver is that it helps to regulate the metabolism of fat you eat and it helps burn the fat off. It also filters out excess fat in the diet and empties it into your gut in the form of bile. This helps eliminate it from your body and prevents it from being stored. When these functions slow down or cease then the liver starts storing the fat and over time will just become a big glob of fat. This, as you can imagine, is devastating to your long-term health.
Like diabetes, fatty liver disease is a disease that is caused by improper sugar metabolism. With fatty liver, a chronically high level of blood sugar will cause fat to deposit on the liver. Fructose is especially hard on the liver.
In the U.S., fatty liver is becoming more and more common. In the past, it typically showed up in people who drank too much alcohol and in those over 30 who are overweight or obese. However, sadly, it is becoming more and more common among children. In 1980, only one case of fatty liver was reported in a child in America. Now, it is estimated that between 2 and 5 percent of children have fatty liver disease. That’s approximately 3.7 million children. Most of these cases are due to the child being overweight.
The good news is that most of the time, fatty liver disease can be reversed. The liver is an amazing organ and is the only organ in the body with the capabilities to regenerate. As a matter of fact, an entire liver can regenerate from as little as 25% of a liver. So, this fact makes it very promising that fatty liver disease can be reversed if caught in time. It will take time, but proper diet and exercise makes it possible.
Ow, My Head Hurts
This is a long blog post. Probably the longest I’ve ever written and the amazing thing is that I have barely scratched the surface of the relationship between the over consumption of sugar and disease. I’m sure your head is aching and you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. Don’t be. Just remember that knowledge is power and when you are armed with knowledge, you can make the best possible decisions for you and your family.
In part 3 of this series, I will discuss how you can recover from sugar addiction and what you can do to pump up your immune system and decrease your chances of serious illness. I also want you to remember that I am not saying that you can’t ever have any sweet treats. Just remember that a treat is just that, a treat, and should be something that you eat in moderation, not something you have every day.
Hopefully, this post will also make you a little more aware of what you eat each day. You may be consuming too much sugar without even realizing it. Many people assume that just because they don’t drink soda or sit around eating cookies that they are fine on their sugar consumption,However, that is often not the case because of all of the hidden sugars that you might not be aware of. Take a little time to read the labels of products or track what you eat over a week’s time and you may be surprised just how easy it is to consume too much sugar.
Sugar’s Effect on Your Health | HealingDaily.com
146 Reasons Why Sugar Is Ruining Your Health | Nancy Appleton, Ph.D.
Sugar and Cardiovascular Disease | American Heart Association
Sugar and Heart Disease | Dr. Norris J.Chumley
Diets high in added sugar raise heart disease risk | Los Angeles Times
Sugar & Heart Disease | eHow Health
Identifying Candida Symptoms | Dr. Cynthia Perkins
Cancer Loves Sugar | International Wellness Directory
Quick-Burning Carbs May Cause Fatty Liver | Science Daily
Fatty Liver | The Liver Doctor
Max Learns About Fatty Liver. And Fructose | ETF Wellness Corp.
The Hidden Ingredient That Can Sabotage Your Diet | MedicineNet.com
What a fascinating article! It’s so well researched, informative and easy to read. Thank you for this series and all of the hard work. Definitely sharing. I’ll have to print this so I can refer back to it. I have a terrible memory (and too many old mercury fillings).
My mind is churning now about the cancer and sugar. I never knew that if you didn’t feed it sugar the cancer would convert your protein to sugar, hence the person dying from “malnutrition” which I hear that’s how most cancer victims die. So what to do?? While not feeding the cancer, should you focus on greatly increasing the oxygen and alkaline foods, raw veggies??
Always more and more to learn and relearn as science changes.
Hi Lori! Thanks for reading and sharing.
You know, I’ve only touched the surface of the cancer/sugar relationship, so I am a little unsure of some of it. I do know that some scientists and doctors say that the “sugar feeds cancer” theory is taken out of context. However, I think the key is to not allow your immune system to weaken to the point where the cancer cells can mutate. I remember reading one time that every human, no matter how healthy they are, have some sort of cancer cells in them. It’s just that the immune system keeps them suppressed and they never have a chance to “come out and play”. So, I think the best thing to do is focus on building your immune system from the gut out and then your chances of these other diseases dramatically diminish. I think there is going to be a certain number of cancers that arise from environmental toxins, like living by power lines or a power plant, or near a nuclear plant that may not necessarily be preventable through diet.
These are all just some of my assumptions for now. I do plan on continuing my research and I will share whatever new info I find! Thanks again for reading! I’m glad it was informative! 🙂
Jess – thanks for the info! I wonder if the full documentary “Death by Sugar” is out yet? I’d love to see it. I witnessed proof of your comment about the medical profession not acknowledging the relationship between sugar and cancer. A close friend was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer. He was unable to eat for a day or two in the hospital due to tests they were running. We were in his room when the nurse came in and announced that he could start to eat small amounts. She gave him a Sunny Delight and a small container of blue Jello. I was stunned! Neither of those items is “food!” They fed him almost pure HFCS! I’m sure this “meal” to break his fast was approved by a registered dietitian. Thanks so much for spreading the word that sugar is not FOOD!
Hi Anne – thanks for commenting! I don’t know if the documentary is out yet. I’m hoping it will show up on Netflix some day … that is pretty much our source of TV anymore, which is a-ok with me. I don’t watch nearly as much as I used to. I’m too busy working!!! 🙂 It’s pretty disgusting what people consider food, huh? For a country that considers itself so progressive, our food industry is horrific! It’s hard to believe actually!
Great post, Jessica!
Thanks Carol! I’m glad you liked it!