SUGAR’S 7 DEADLY SINS
It's not a secret that we as a society, (and most of us as individuals), consume far too much sugar for our own good. According to the National Cancer institute, we consume an average of 1/2 cup of sugar per day. That is approximately five times more than the recommended maximum allowance. Sugar infiltrates everything from bread, to soups, yogurts, sauces, and the obvious foods such as cakes, cookies, and processed foods.
WHAT ARE THE GHASTLY EFFECTS OF TOO MUCH SUGAR?
According to M.D. Don Colbert, “The primary source of food for cancer is sugar.” Most cancers are glycolytic and feed off sugar. Cancer cells thrive, grow, and spread due to the sugar we have in our bodies from what we eat. Cancer cells exponentially break down sugar for energy and use sugar to fuel rapid growth. Cancer cells multiply faster than normal cells and require more energy, that’s why they need the rapid sugar breakdown. Vrije University in Brussels, found that a compound in sugar stimulates aggressive cancer cells and helps them to grow faster.
Dr. Colbert has had enormous success with even stage 3 and 4 cancer patients by cutting out sugar and going on the ketogenic diet. This is where the body shifts from burning sugars to burning ketones or fats. Most cancers thrive on sugar but cannot thrive on ketones. Although a ketogenic diet does not eradicate cancer; without sugar, the primary supply source of fuel, cancer frequently cannot effectively continue to grow.
Extended high-sugar consumption can cause us to become resistant to insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates our blood sugar levels. By consuming high levels of sugar, either your body cannot produce enough insulin to keep up with the bombardment of sugar, or your cells become resistant to insulin causing your blood sugar levels to rise which drastically increases your risk for diabetes.
A few horrific health concerns that go hand in hand with diabetes are:
Eye issues that include cataracts, glaucoma, retinopathy, and blindness.
Foot issues including amputation of the foot.
Kidney disease which is often accompanied by lengthy dialysis treatments.
Nerve damage that can range from pain and numbness in your legs and feet, to problems with your digestive system, urinary tract, blood vessels and heart.
Stroke and heart disease.
3. HEART DISEASE
"Basically, the higher the intake of added sugar, the higher the risk for heart disease," says Dr. Hu, professor of nutrition at Harvard. Dr. Hu and his colleagues found an association between a high-sugar diet and a greater risk of dying from heart disease. Over the course of the 15-year study, people who got 17% - 21% of their calories from added sugar had a 38% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared with those who consumed only 8% of their calories from added sugar. Consuming too much added sugar can raise blood pressure and increase chronic inflammation, both of which are channels for heart disease.
Let’s face it, it’s pretty easy to pack on the pounds when you have too much sugar. However, it is not just the high caloric intake that can tip the scales, but sugar drastically alters our hunger hormones and our metabolism. The liver actually deals with body fat differently on a high-sugar diet than it does on a low-sugar diet. Bruce Griffin, professor of nutritional metabolism at the University of Surrey says, "Our findings provide new evidence that consuming high amounts of sugar can alter your fat metabolism in ways that could increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.”
Registered Dietitian, Darlene Zimmerman states, “Added (refined) sugars, known as simple carbohydrates, are broken down quickly by the body and cause a spike in blood sugar. This spike causes the body to release the fat storage hormone insulin. The more refined sugars you eat, the more insulin your body releases and the greater your risk of obesity – and in turn, cardiovascular disease.”
Excessive sugar consumption can cause resistance to leptin, the hormone that tells you that you are full and you can stop eating. Without your leptin working properly, the brakes don’t work for over-eating.
5. DEMENTIA & BRAIN DRAIN
The biggest contributors to memory loss are: sugar, wheat products, corn products, alcohol, processed meats and sausages, and polyunsaturated fats. High-sugar diets can lead to impaired memory and have been linked to an increased risk of dementia. Some scientists have referred dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as “Type 3 diabetes.” The same type of insulin resistance, (from eating too many carbs, too much sugar, and not enough of the good fats), is one of the major factors that starts the cascade of brain-damage.
Don’t put off starting your low sugar lifestyle until you are a senior. Dementia actually begins when you’re much younger and takes decades to develop and become worse. The facts are out: eating sugar and refined carbs can cause pre-dementia and dementia. However, by cutting out the sugar and refined carbs, and by adding lots of healthy fats, a person can prevent, and even reverse, pre-dementia and early dementia.
Sugar definitely has an affect on our moods. Researchers in London discovered that a diet rich in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and fish, can lower your risk for depression in middle age. Their study found that people who ate processed foods like sweetened desserts, fried foods, and processed meats were more likely to be diagnosed with depression than people who mainly consumed unprocessed, whole foods. The results showed that women who ate High-Glycemic Index foods had a higher risk of depression than those who ate lower-GI foods. Women who ate a higher amount of low-GI foods, such as vegetables and non-juiced fruit, had a lower risk for depression.
Sugar and other refined carbs also cause inflammation in the body. Many of the symptoms of inflammation and depression are the same, such as: mood swings, low energy, changes in sleep patterns, and heightened perceptions of pain. Sugar furthermore diverts the supply of another nutrient involved in our mood – chromium. Blood sugar swings, and inflammation can be factors for sugar’s detrimental impact on mental health.
7. INFILTRATION & ADDICTION
Sugar is in almost everything! Who would think sugar would be in salsa or soup? It also comes in surprisingly great quantities. Have you ever read how much sugar is in your “healthy” yogurt? Our processed and store bought foods are permeated with sugar. Sports drinks, smoothies, energy bars, yogurt, sauces, salad dressings, soups and sandwiches.
The ugly truth is that most of our sugar flies under the radar. According to Global News, manufacturers do not have to put added sugar on their nutrition labels in Canada. For the techies out there, “One Sweet App” was created so that consumers can know how much sugar is in the foods that they buy. This includes sugar under its various other names: brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, fruit juice concentrates, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, malt sugar, molasses, syrup sugar molecules ending in "ose" (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose).
Not only is our food being infiltrated with sugar, it is also highly addictive. Sugar’s intense sweetness can stimulate rewards in the brain. Experts say that sugar can be more pleasurable than cocaine, and eight times more addictive. The compulsions and cravings can be difficult to break, although not impossible.
WHAT ARE SOME SIMPLE LIFESTYLE CHANGES TO LOWER OUR SUGAR INTAKE?
Focus on eating whole, natural, and unprocessed foods. This will automatically decrease the amount of sugar in your diet.
Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, focusing on fresh, whole ingredients.
Replace sodas, juices, and other sugary drinks with carbonated water and add in a wedge of lemon or lime. Research has consistently shown that people who drink sugary beverages, such as soda and juice, weigh more than people who don’t.
Use Stevia in your coffee instead of sugar.
Use olive oil and vinegar instead of the store bought, sweeter salad dressings.
Consume whole fruits instead of sugar-sweetened fruit smoothies.
Eat plain yogurt and sweeten it using fresh or frozen berries instead of buying the flavored, sugar-loaded yogurt.
Eat foods that lower blood sugar such as: steel cut oats; legumes – beans, peas, lentils, hummus; seeds such as chia, flax; olive oil; avocados; nuts - almonds, walnuts, cashews; colourful vegetables; and dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale.
Swap your morning cereal for a bowl of rolled oats topped with nut butter and fresh berries, or make an omelet loaded with veggies.
Choose the low or no sugar sauces, marinades, and soups.
When looking for no or low sugar options avoid nutra-sweet and equal which can also be extremely detrimental to your health.