Let's face it, we all know how bad white sugar is for us. But do we really know how harmful it could be on us after years of ingesting it? Here are a few startling facts for you:
· Americans consume approximately 150 lbs. of sugar per person in a single year!
· One out of every three Americans is obese
· Diabetes is the 5th leading cause of death today, whereas 100 years ago, the disease was unheard of.
What does this really tell us? In a nutshell, that sugar is in virtually everything we eat and drink today. It is the most common ingredient used in food products today and very difficult to eliminate or decrease from our regular diets because of its addicting nature.
Let's begin with the different types of sugars, starting with natural fructose which is found in most fruits and vegetables. This is the type of sugar that will not deplete our mineral stores or cause our blood sugars to rise dramatically. There is also brown sugar, raw sugar, corn sugar, milk sugar, beet sugar, alcohol and of course, white or refined sugar. Let's not forget the most dangerous of all, high fructose corn syrup, which we will discuss shortly.With refined sugar (white), you are talking about a product that has lost all its sources of vitamins, minerals and nutrients from the original plant through the art of processing. The original plant was at one point a complex carbohydrate, which means it contained all the enzymes, vitamins and minerals to make a whole food. Remember the big media hype about low carb, no carb diets? Well, they were kind of right. The other type of carbohydrate, simple, is the one that we need to stay away from. A good example of a simple carbohydrate would be white bread or a soft drink. Back to complex carbohydrates, which is a complete food, you would think of something like a potato which when broken down, becomes a usable form of glucose that is used for energy stores and cell function. All sugars break down into glucose, which then goes directly into the bloodstream. Now obviously, if there is too much or too little, then we have some potential problems. But on a diet of natural and raw foods, the body does a wonderful balancing act of maintaining the blood glucose levels where they need to be (90-140mg). But how about a diet made up of synthetic and man-made foods? Then we have the body in a constant state of fluctuation and distress due to the "foreign" objects the body is taking in.
Back to high fructose corn syrup. This is as bad as it gets. This came around in the mid to late 70's, when manufacturers found that there was a cheaper source of refined sugar: corn. Basically, they took the natural fructose in corn and converted it into glucose. After
that, they added synthetic ingredients and converted it back into a "fake" fructose product. The final product is found in most grocery store aisles, loaded up in soft drinks, ice creams, baked goods, candy, and so much more. Next time you're bored, look at some products you have in the fridge or your pantry and look closely at the ingredients. If HFCS is in there, be prepared to eat a non-food, a non-digestible, artificial, highly processed item. Yummy!
What are some major effects that refined sugar has on the body? Let's see, where should we start?
· suppression of the immune system
· kidney damage
· mineral deficiencies
· blood acidity
· tooth decay
· digestive disorders
· advanced aging
· food allergies
· blood clots
This is just a partial list, by the way.
Let's talk about the impact it has on our immune system for a minute. If the blood is toxic due to the high content of sugar, this will cause the red blood cells in the body to get "clumped", which will cause circulatory problems. Circulation of the blood is the only way the body can get oxygen. If it is disrupted, this will dramatically reduce the amount of oxygen to the tissues of the body. What does this all mean? Do you or anybody you know suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Does this rationale make sense?
Mineral deficiencies or imbalances are another major effect of sugar due to the depletion of the body of the minerals. Many cell functions of the body are dependent on mineral function. Chromium is a common mineral that a lot of Americans are deficient and this is crucial due to the major effect it has on our insulin function. This, of course, is where Diabetes comes in. Some people are being diagnosed with Diabetes, when in fact they may just be deficient in some key minerals like chromium. Combine that with eliminating white sugar from their diet, blood sugars will stabilize a lot of the time.
How does prolonged sugar consumption cause Osteoporosis? Many people do not realize that for the body to be able to absorb calcium there must also be phosphorous present. If the ratio is incorrect, the calcium intake actually becomes harmful to the body and forms stones in the kidney, gallbladder, etc. Sugar completely eats up our phosphorous stores, especially soft drinks which contain phosphoric acid. This will further disrupt the ratio of calcium to phosphorous. Here is the key: without the right form of calcium in the blood, the body will "borrow" calcium from our teeth and bones, causing the Osteoporosis. You won't hear that on the next Pepsi ad!
Excess sugar will also cause obesity. But as Americans, we don't really need to worry, do we? Ok, just a little sarcasm there. You know the statistics on obesity and how we lead the world in the category and that 1 in 3 are now considered obese. It is an epidemic, no doubt. Remember, sugar easily converts to fat. Any excess glucose (sugar) is changed to fatty acids and then triglycerides. It is the n stored as adipose tissue (fat tissue). These fatty acids are the terrible kind-the kind that clogs arteries and kills us over time.
You know those flabby arms you just can't seem to get rid of? You know, you do 34 sets of triceps extensions 6 days a week at the gym but still cannot get rid of them. Eliminate sugar! Remember we talked about being chromium deficient? A high sugar diet will cause this deficiency. But chromium is needed to activate insulin and insulin regulates cortisol. What is cortisol? It is a hormone in our body whose main job is muscle breakdown. A-ha! Get it now? With no chromium or not enough, cortisol is allowed to run wild and tear down the muscle and eventually cause destruction.
How about alcohol? Is this considered a sugar? Not only is it considered a sugar, but it is a fermented sugar and refined to the max! There have been numerous links between alcohol and various types of cancer (especially breast). A lot of this is due to the fermentation of alcohol. Cancer loves an environment with little or no oxygen and fermentation occurs in an anaerobic environment, meaning no oxygen. Alcohol goes straight into the bloodstream and starts attacking all the crucial minerals, vitamins and enzymes of the body. But wait, how about all the studies that say drinking a couple of drinks a day is actually good for us? Mainly due to the pycogenols ingredients in red wine, but sorry to say you can get that in supplement form or from drinking grape juice. That's like saying you eat 3 Almond Joy candy bars for the benefits of the almonds. Let's be real, if you are having chronic health issues, alcohol should be marked off the list right away.
Energy drinks? Don't get me started! The initial energy burst is because of the adrenal shock (adrenaline) reacting to the highly refined, artificial poison that you just put into your system. But usually what happens after this is the body trying to overcome what just happened. So it goes into override (fight or flight) and completely exhausts the system trying to get back to normal. That is why you get that crash and burn reaction after high sugar foods or drinks. Don't waste your money-they don't give you energy! When's the last time you saw Kobe, Lebron or the Manning brothers drinking Red Bull on the sidelines?
Let's also not forget the devastating effects it has on our teeth. The tooth decay that comes with a high sugar diet can dissolve the enamel off of our teeth. This has a lot to do with the pH balance but we won't get too deep into that. Basically, if the pH balances gets too low, the saliva will take the enamel off your teeth. Just make sure to at least rinse your mouth out with water if you are unable to brush after eating sweets. Also, the demineralization of our teeth (and bones) from a high refined diet become more apparent after calcium, magnesium and chromium are used up as the body tries to make up for the ingestion of artificial food.
Now, you may be frustrated at this point because you need your sweets and you cannot possibly go without your sugar fix. What can you do? Well, the pharmaceutical industry knew you would ask that. So they came up with a really neat idea. Yes, you guessed it- Aspartame. Look online and Google "aspartame side effects" and you will probably come up with lovely things such as: nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, weight gain, depression, rashes, insomnia, anxiety, rapid heartbeat and plenty more. Aspartame is made up of Aspartic acid (neurotoxin), which can cause many neurological conditions; phenylalanine, which can cause decreased levels of serotonin (depression), and methanol which actually changes into formaldehyde in the body (carcinogen). Want some Equal in that coffee? How about some diet soda? What's a carcinogen and neurotoxin going to hurt anybody? Attention soft drink lovers: if you need your high fructose corn syrup fix, have the regular soda. At least you are only getting the harmful effects of this artificial, non-digestible garbage. It's a double whammy with diet sodas, not only do you get the artificial, fake garbage but you also get a powerful neurotoxin included! Two for the price of one! Look for Aspartame in these products as well: gum, candy, baked goods, cereals, teas, fruit juice concentrates, and chewable vitamins!
Again, this is just a partial list.
In conclusion, it's obvious that refined substances are not a good idea at all. To completely eliminate white sugar from your diet will be extremely difficult, to say the least. But if it is properly done, even in baby steps, the end result could be nearly miraculous. If you are over 40 and you have some chronic conditions or unexplainable health symptoms, try eliminating sugar from your diet.
Some good alternatives if you absolutely need some natural sweeteners are Stevia and Agave.