Yes, sugar is delicious; however, the bottom line about sugar and laying it out straight; sugar is highly addictive, nutrient-depleting, immune-suppressing food for bacteria, viruses, and tumors.
Years ago, I read an article from a doctor speaking about sugar addiction with a patient. He broached the subject of why she craved so many sweets. She had no response. He decided to dig a little deeper and discovered, along with her, that she was craving sweets because she did not have enough sweetness in her life. This revelation allowed pushed for some big changes in her life; she got off her sugar high and more on a life high.
What is sugar’s history?
Many believe sugar cane was first discovered in India and was described as the: “reed which gives honey without bees.”
The sugar cane was kept secret for close to 1000 years until it traveled to Europe and North Africa. Christopher Columbus stumbled upon the sugar cane and later brought it to America.
Sugars were quite expensive to produce, and only affluent people were able to afford it. Interestingly, these affluent people had a higher rate of disease than those who could not afford the sugar. Sugar was referred to as the “evil” as they determined that sugar contributed to many health conditions.
The Processing of Sugar
Sugar, or more specifically sucrose, is a carbohydrate that occurs naturally in every fruit and vegetable. The sugar cane and sugar beets have the most significant quantities of sugar and are primarily used.
In the first stage of processing, the natural sugar stored in the cane stalk or beetroot is separated from the rest of the plant material by physical methods. For sugar cane, this is accomplished by:
a) pressing the cane to extract the juice containing the sugar
b) boiling the juice until it begins to thicken and sugar begins to crystallize
c) spinning the sugar crystals in a centrifuge to remove the syrup, producing raw sugar; the raw sugar still contains many impurities
d) shipping the raw sugar to a refinery where it is washed and filtered to remove remaining non-sugar ingredients and color crystallizing, drying, and packaging the refined sugar.
Beet sugar processing is similar but is one continuous process but without the raw sugar stage.
Important note! All this processing strips away all the nutrients – fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein, fat – that the original plant had to offer. To me, this is a crime.
As you can see from the last post (the making of sugar), most to all nutrients are destroyed. No nutrients mean no nourishment for the body. However, the worse crime is that sugar robs the body of nutrients to be processed in the body. The mineral magnesium is one of the nutrients that are robbed.
An interesting side note: side effects from magnesium depletion are muscle cramps, high blood pressure, insomnia, osteoporosis, depression – all very common modern-day problems.
Other nutrients affected are the b vitamins., specifically B1 or thiamine. Thiamine is aids in glucose metabolism and has an essential job of blocking pathways in which excess blood sugar may cause tissue damage – in your blood vessels, kidneys, eyes, and nerves. If we have extra blood sugar, then we have a greater risk of depleting our thiamine storage.
A sugar side note: The endocrine system in the body regulates hormones and is reliant on nutrients ( minerals like magnesium) to function optimally.
Sugar will Suppress the Immune System
Bacteria, viruses, germs, and tumors ( think cancer) thrive on sugar. Good for them as it makes them strong, reproduce quickly, and very powerful. This is tough on the immune system’s army of white blood cells.
A HBD side note: Battle with the Bugs ( the second case in the Human Body Detectives kids’ book series) writes about this. Check it out here: Amazon.
A sugar study: Loma Linda University studied the effect on the white blood cell’s behavior – neutrophil – after a subject ingested sugar. The subject’s blood was drawn before and after the study. After the initial blood draw, subjects were given a dose of 100 grams of glucose and fructose. Their blood was drawn again to determine the reactions of the neutrophils. It was noted that sugar eating didn’t decrease the number of neutrophils but decreased their responsiveness ( not so good!). Ultimately, every time you eat sugar, your white blood cells cannot optimally perform, which makes you vulnerable to many illnesses from bacteria, viruses, parasites, and diseases.
A worthy side note: Dr. Sears mentions that sugar will depress the immune system for up to 5 hours!
Inflammation will occur in the body from a rapid rise in blood sugar, and this may cause biochemical changes ( glycosylation) in the cell. Staying away from sugar and high-glycemic (simple) carbohydrates, which the body rapidly converts to sugar, is one of the best ways to decrease inflammation.
Hypoglycemia occurs when there is an abrupt drop in blood sugar levels. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include fatigue, dizziness, and even seizures. This can occur after a high sugar meal, which results in a peak of blood sugar and then a rapid decline. Many people will feel this “sugar high'” and then once the sugar levels drop, it will create a craving for more sugar—a very viscous ( and potentially dangerous ) cycle.
The Adrenal Glands
Each time there is a spike in blood sugar, the adrenals glands will release adrenaline. This adrenaline rush will raise your blood pressure, increase respiration, slow down digestion, and dilate the pupils. If the adrenals glands are constantly in this state, long-term effects on the body can lead to quite serious complications.
The BIG take home:
- Carefully choose foods that may contain sugar, but have protein and fiber. Both will help slow down the absorption of sugar, thus giving the body time to optimally to its job.
- Also, spiking of sugar highs and lows will decrease
- Fiber packed foods usually are nutrient-packed; therefore the body will not be robbed of its own reserves to metabolize the sugar.
Hidden sources of sugar:
Solution: Do not keep in your fridge. It’s loaded with sugar, all types, so save it for treats. Or better yet, find a healthier alternative (Perrier with sliced oranges?)
Solution: I am amazed at how many kids eat cereal. My first thought is to check the label and choose cereal wisely. Second, add some extra color like blueberries, and lastly, add some protein, like nuts, which will help stabilize blood sugar.
Ketchup and spaghetti sauce
Solution: Again, check the labels, as the brands will vary. Ketchup, in particular, is loaded with sugar. If you are up for it, try to make your own. Make big batches and freeze them.
Solution: Pizza is the most common frozen food. It’s quick, easy, and usually satisfying, so I get it. However, making pizza dough requires very little time, and it easily freezes. I like to have frozen dough available because it allows everyone to design their pizza or, if preferred, make a calzone.
Store-bought baked goods
Solution: There is nothing better than having a homemade cookie or muffin straight out of the oven. Make a plan and spend a rainy day inside your kitchen and bake away. Once done, you can freeze all your goodies!
PS CrAzY! Sugar Trivia: the average person eats about 2 to 3 pounds of sugar a week.
PSS Weaning off from sugar? Try raw honey and dark maple syrup; both are sweet yet have nutrients in them ( sugar does not!)