Natural Health Tips

The Dangers of Sugar

Sugar is found in all kinds of foods and drinks, in many different forms. But sugar is actually an artificial, harmful substance, devoid of all nutrients, in fact it robs the body of nutrients, and the body cannot digest it. Sugar rots your teeth, piles on the calories, it can weaken the pancreas and liver, upset the levels of glucose in your blood, increasing the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and has also been linked to conditions like flu, allergies, obesity, and degenerative diseases.

What Is sugar?

White sugar is made by refining sugar cane, which involves multiple chemical processing of the juice of the sugar cane or sugar beet, by filtering and boiling the liquid extracted from the sugar cane or beet into crystals, using gases such as sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide. This results in removal of all its fiber, protein and minerals, which amounted to 90 percent of the natural plant. The original plant was a complex carbohydrate, which means it contained all the properties of a whole food: vitamins, minerals and enzymes.

Brown sugar and raw sugar are also refined, simple sugars (either single or double molecules: monosaccharides or disaccharides)- white sugar is 99.9 percent sucrose, whilst brown and raw sugar are 96 percent sucrose. Brown sugar is usually just white sugar with molasses and/or caramel coloring added. Raw sugar, also called turbinado sugar or unrefined sugar, is slightly less refined and contains a trace amount of a few minerals.

Sweeteners like molasses, syrups, and other concentrated sweeteners like dextrose, glucose and fructose are also examples of simple sugars. All these sweeteners share one thing in common- they are concentrated and composed of simple sugars. Simple sugars are also called rapid sugars because they do not need digestion and are absorbed rapidly in our bloodstream, which causes problems, as explained later.

High fructose corn Syrup

Refined sugar from beets and cane is called sucrose, but this is not the only form of sugar found in our food and drink. Another form of refined sugar is made from corn. It is made from a process that changes the natural fructose in corn to glucose, and then by adding synthetic chemicals, changes the glucose back into an artificial, synthetic type of fructose called high fructose. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is the main form of sugar used in most soft drinks and processed foods in the US.

Natural fructose is contained in most raw fruits and vegetables and is a natural food. Moderate amounts of natural fructose can be easily digested by the body with no stresses or depleting of minerals, and does not cause rises and falls in blood sugar levels. High fructose corn syrup, by contrast, cannot be well digested, it actually inhibits digestion, is addictive, and causes many biochemical imbalances, it is artificial; a non-food.

The most harmful physical effects on the body are from these forms of refined, synthetic sugar from beets, cane, and high fructose corn syrup. The harmful physical effects are essentially the same from all three.

Complex Vs Simple Sugars

Fruit contains natural sugar: fructose. It also contains vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, and is an example of a complex carbohydrate, meaning that it is a complete food. Processed sugar, on the other hand, contains no nutrients. It is called a simple carbohydrate, because even when it is broken down into individual glucose molecules by digestion, it is completely different from the glucose end-product of a digested apple, for example. That's because apples don't simply break down into isolated glucose molecules. Other nutrients and co-factors are present, which are necessary for the body to make use of the glucose: enzymes, minerals, vitamins.

White sugar and other simple sugars require enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and insulin from the body in order to be broken down and removed from the body.

In other words, when complex carbohydrates are broken down, the result is a usable glucose molecule. When simple (refined) carbohydrates are allowed to ferment in the digestive tract because they can't be broken down, the results are putrefaction and by-products such as alcohol, acetic acid, water, and carbon dioxide.

In addition to these by-products, simple carbohydrates increase blood glucose by an unregulated, unnatural amount, which is the real problem with refined sugar: the quantity of pure glucose suddenly taken in.

Sugar Absorption

The simplest sugar of all is glucose. Both natural and processed sugars ultimately break down into glucose, which is a single molecule. Glucose is readily absorbed through the digestive tract and goes immediately into the bloodstream.

Glucose is required for cell function, especially brain function. The level of glucose in the blood is important because if there is too much the body can become diabetic; too little and we pass out. The body has an in-built mechanism for balancing blood sugar, with a diet of natural foods.

The pancreas and the adrenal glands work together to fine-tune blood sugar levels at all times. As the blood flows by, the pancreas senses the high glucose content and puts out insulin. Insulin gets rid of the glucose either into the cells or by storing it in the liver, in the form of glycogen.

The adrenals do the opposite; when blood sugar is too low, they send a hormone called cortisol to the liver to get some of the stored glucose out of storage.

When manmade sugar enters the body, it is a new chemical, providing a surge of refined glucose to the bloodstream without the benefit of the usual accompanying fiber, minerals, vitamins and enzymes. The body must dip into its stores of nutrients to deal with this foreign food.

A diet rich in sugars overworks the pancreas and adrenal glands, resulting in a biochemical see-saw. Over time, this weakens the pancreas and can result in diabetes and other cardiovascular complications that follow excess glucose or fats being stored in the body cells.

What Does Refined sugar Do to the Body?

Numerous studies have linked the consumption of refined sugar with a whole list of symptoms and illnesses, including:

  • suppresses the immune system
  • makes the blood acidic
  • mineral deficiencies
  • tooth decay
  • advances aging
  • digestive disorders
  • kidney damage
  • causes hyperactivity in children
  • obesity
  • depression
and many more.

These symptoms are all various manifestations of one main mechanism: sugar cannot be digested. Sugar inactivates digestive enzymes and remains in the tract, fermenting. Some of this toxic mass gradually seeps into the bloodstream where it acidifies the blood. Many of the following conditions are the result of the body trying to maintain the normal pH of the blood.

One effect of an over-acidic digestive tract is that the good bacteria, the intestinal flora, are destroyed. These are required in the final stages of digestion and without them, rotting and stagnation of food is promoted, instead of digestion. The half-digested carbohydrates leak into the bloodstream intact and cause problems in the joints, muscles and organs, and can cause or contribute to diseases such as osteoarthritis, kidney disease, irritable bowel syndrome, candida albicans, reflux/heartburn and chronic allergies.

Sugar and mineral Depletion

Besides enzyme destruction and acidifying the blood, sugar depletes the body of minerals. Many functions of cells and tissues are dependent on the presence of minerals and the actions of many vitamins are dependent on the presence of minerals.

For example, chromium has to be present for insulin to operate. But chromium is depleted as the body attempts to metabolize and remove white sugar, and as the stores are used up, there won't be enough chromium left to allow the available insulin to work.

Sugar also depletes levels of phosphorus in the body, and in order for calcium to be used by cells, there must be a proper amount of phosphorus also present in the blood. Without the correct ratio of calcium to phosphorus, the calcium is in the wrong form - a harmful form, and could result in osteoporosis, and stones in the gallbladder, kidneys, and liver. Also, without the right form of calcium in the blood, the body borrows calcium from the bones and teeth.

Sugar and diabetes

Excess consumption of indigestible sugar over the years can wear out the pancreas, and eventually lead to diabetes.

When sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream, it causes blood glucose levels to rise, and continual sugar intake can result in these levels becoming too high. This condition is called hyperglycemia. If the pancreas functions as it should, it will produce enough insulin to remove excess glucose from the bloodstream efficiency.

However, a huge production of insulin cannot be stopped at the same time that sugar stops coming in the bloodstream. This excess insulin will then cause a rapid fall of glucose levels in the blood, a condition called hypoglycemia. Symptoms may include depression, dizziness, aggression, insomnia, weakness, and loss of consciousness. Also, when blood glucose falls too low, our adrenal glands will mobilize the body's stores of glycogen (a starch-like carbohydrate) and will also stimulate the synthesis of glucose from proteins and other substances present in our body.

A diet rich in sugars will overwork the pancreas and adrenal glands, weakening them and eventually resulting in cardiovascular complications and diabetes. If the body is unable to use all of the extra fats and cholesterol produced from these sugars, it must dump the additional load. Fats can be deposited in the cells of our liver, heart, arteries, fat tissues, kidneys, muscles, and other organs, which is the beginning of fatty degeneration.

Sugar and the immune system

Sugar suppresses the function of the immune system, and increases the likelihood of diseases caused by poor immune function, such as frequent colds, flu, fatigue, allergies, and infections.

It does this in several ways. Firstly, sugar blocks digestion, allowing undigested food to get into the bloodstream, thus slowing circulation down, and reducing the activity of white blood cells.

Secondly, the immune system gets sensitized to refined sugar. That means after while, the immune system adapts to the abnormal levels of sugar, and no longer triggers such a violent response. This results in a decline of overall health.

A third way sugar depresses the immune system is by sticking to protein. Studies have shown that refined sugar has a particular capability for sticking to protein foods, like meat, and forming a new complex called glycenated protein. The body lacks enzymes to digest these proteins, so they don't get broken down very well in the digestive tract, and the immune system tries to attack them, since they are foreign material.

Sugar and obesity

Excess sugar consumption is one of the factors responsible for obesity. This is because sugar becomes converted into fat in the body. Excess glucose is changed to fatty acids, then triglycerides, then stored as adipose tissue, or body fat.

Also, the types of fatty acids produced from refined sugar are not essential fatty acids, which are necessary for complete health, but it has been found that they actually interfere with normal operation of the good, essential fatty acids.

And Finally

It's not advisable to replace sugar with artificial sweeteners like saccharin or aspartame (packaged as Nutrasweet, Equal, and other brand names), becasue these are just as bad for your health, if not worse.

For better health, try to minimize your consumption of sugar in all forms. Instead, choose natural sweeteners such as raw honey, real maple syrup and Stevia (an all-natural sweetener made from a herb).