Holistic Approach to Wellness
Americans consume one hundred and fifty-six pounds of sugar per year according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). That’s 31 five-pound bags per person. Yikes!
Sugar is hidden in things like candy, soda, and junk food. But plenty of sugar is hiding in places where you might not expect it.
Some types of crackers, yogurt, ketchup, and some peanut butter, for instance, are loaded with sugar — often in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, or HFCS. Use of this sweetener has increased 3.5% per year in the last decade, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). That’s twice the rate at which the use of refined sugar has grown. It’s cheap to manufacture and is highly toxic and can contain the heavy metal mercury.
In the U.S. diet, the major source of “added sugar” — not including naturally occurring sugars, like the fructose in fruit — is soft drinks. They account for 33% of all added sugars consumed. To put it into perspective, a 12 fl oz can of Coca-Cola Classic has approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar or 39 grams of sugar (1 teaspoon of sugar is the equivalent of 4g of sugar).
It can have harmful effects on metabolism and contribute to all sorts of diseases.
Here are 10 reasons why you should avoid added sugar
Added sugars (like sucrose and high fructose corn syrup) contain a whole bunch of calories with NO essential nutrients.
For this reason, they are called “empty” calories.
There are no proteins, essential fats, vitamins or minerals in sugar… just pure energy but not in a good way as it quickly converts to fat in the body.
When people eat 10-20% of calories as sugar (or more), this can become a major problem and contribute to nutrient deficiencies as it depletes the important vitamins we need for optimal health.
Sugar is also very bad for the teeth, because it provides easily digestible energy for the bad bacteria in the mouth.
Bottom Line: Sugar contains a lot of calories, with no essential nutrients. It also causes tooth decay by feeding the harmful bacteria in the mouth. In the body sugar feeds candida.
Here is a breakdown of what sugar is:
Before sugar enters the bloodstream from the digestive tract, it is broken down into two simple sugars… glucose and fructose.
Glucose is found in every living cell on the planet. If we don’t get it from the diet, our bodies produce it.
Fructose is different. Our bodies do not produce it in any significant amount and there is no physiological need for it.
Fructose can only be metabolized by the liver in any amount.
This is not a problem if we eat a little bit (such as from fruit) or we eat a bit before an exercise session. In this case, the fructose will be turned into glycogen and stored in the liver until we need it. However, if the liver is full of glycogen (energy storage), eating a lot of fructose overloads the liver, forcing it to turn the fructose into fat.
When repeatedly eating large amounts of sugar, this process can lead to fatty liver amongst other systemic problems.
This does not apply to fruit. It is almost impossible to over eat fructose by eating fruit however you only need a few servings a day to keep candida at bay. Low glycemic super fruits like berries are your best choice.
Keep in mind everyone has a different disposition to sugar. People who eat healthy the majority of the time and are active can possibly tolerate more sugar than people who are inactive and eat the Standard American Diet (SAD) high-carb, high-calorie diet empty of functional ingredients.
Bottom Line: For people who are inactive and eat the SAD diet, large amounts of fructose from added sugars get turned into fat in the liver.
That’s right; you don’t have to be an alcoholic to get liver disease.
When fructose gets turned into fat in the liver, it is shipped out as VLDL cholesterol particles (enable fats and cholesterol to move within the water-based solution of the bloodstream).
However, not all of the fat gets out, some of it can lodge in the liver.
This can lead to Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), a growing problem in Western countries that is strongly associated with metabolic diseases.
Studies show that individuals with fatty liver consume up to 2-3 times as much fructose as the average person.
Bottom Line: Excess fructose gets turned into fat, which can lodge in the liver and cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Insulin is a very important hormone in the body. It allows glucose (blood sugar) to enter cells from the bloodstream and tells the cells to start burning glucose instead of fat.
Having too much glucose in the blood is highly toxic and one of the reasons for complications of diabetes, like blindness.
One feature of the metabolic dysfunction that is caused by poor food choices such as excess sugar and carbohydrates is that insulin stops working as it should. The cells become “resistant” to it.
This is also known as insulin resistance, which is believed to be a leading driver of many diseases including metabolic syndrome, obesity, cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes which is increasing in alarming numbers.
Many studies show that sugar consumption is associated with insulin resistance, especially when it is consumed in large amounts.
Bottom Line: When people eat a lot of sugar, it can cause resistance to the hormone insulin, which can contribute to many diseases.
When our cells become resistant to the effects of insulin (insulin resistant), the beta cells in our pancreas make more of it. Chronically elevated blood sugars can cause severe harm to the pancreas. Eventually, the pancreas cannot keep up with the demand of producing enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels down and levels skyrocket. We then have type II Diabetes.
Given that sugar can cause insulin resistance, it is not surprising to see that people who drink sugar-sweetened beverages have up to an 83% higher risk of Type II diabetes. Good reason to break the soda habit.
Bottom Line: Because of the harmful effects of sugar on the function of insulin, it is a leading driver of type II diabetes.
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide and is characterized by uncontrolled growth and multiplication of cells. In the Cancer Summit I was just part of, we talk about just how toxic sugar is and how it does play a role in cancer.
Insulin is one of the key hormones in regulating this sort of growth.
For this reason, many scientists believe that having constantly elevated insulin levels from sugar consumption can contribute to cancer.
In addition, the metabolic problems associated with sugar consumption are a known driver of inflammation, another potential cause of cancer. In fact, 80% of disease is caused by inflammation. Read more on inflammation.
Bottom Line: There is considerable evidence that sugar, due to its harmful effects on metabolism, can contribute to cancer and be a key contributor to inflammation.
Is sugar worse for you than, say, cocaine? According to a 2012 article in the journal Nature, it’s a toxic substance that should be regulated like tobacco and alcohol. Researchers point to studies that show that too much sugar (both in the form of natural sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup) not only makes us fat, it also impairs brain function.
Studies show that fructose doesn’t have the same kind of effect on satiety as glucose.
In one study, people drank either a fructose-sweetened drink or a glucose-sweetened drink.
Afterwards, the fructose drinkers had much less activity in the satiety centers of the brain and felt hungrier.
Over time, because the calories from sugar are “empty”, this can translate into an increased calorie intake.
Bottom Line: Fructose doesn’t cause satiety in the brain or lower the hunger hormone ghrelin nearly as much as glucose.
Sugar can be addictive for a lot of people because it causes massive dopamine release in the brain. The same as what happens with drugs such as cocaine.
The problem with sugar and many junk foods is that they can cause massive dopamine release… much more than we were ever exposed to from foods found in nature. I always say if it isn’t from God don’t eat it. The body has no idea how to process it optimally.
For this reason, people who have a susceptibility to addiction can become strongly addicted to sugar and other junk foods. That’s one of the reasons why people who quit smoking gain weight. They replace their addiction with sugary foods. If you are dealing with any addiction including sugar work with a professional who can help.
Bottom Line: Because sugar causes a large release of dopamine in the brain, it can cause addiction in a lot of people.
The way sugar affects hormones and the brain is a recipe for disaster.
It leads to decreased satiety… and can get people addicted so that they lose control over their consumption.
Not surprisingly, people who consume the most sugar are by far the most likely to become overweight or obese. This applies to all age groups.
Many studies have examined the link between sugar consumption and obesity and found a strong statistical association.
The link is especially strong in children, where each daily serving of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with a 60% increased risk of obesity. That’s an alarming statistic.
Work with a professional to create a wellness plan for optimal health.
Bottom Line: Because of the effects of sugar on hormones and the brain, sugar dramatically increases the risk of becoming overweight or obese
10. It’s SUGAR not Fat That Raises Your Cholesterol
For many decades, people have blamed saturated fat for heart disease which is the number one killer next to cancer.
Saturated fats do not cause heart disease. Read more on choosing good fats.
The evidence is mounting that sugar, NOT fat, may be one of the leading drivers of heart disease via the harmful effects of fructose on metabolism.
Studies show that large amounts of fructose can raise triglycerides, small, dense LDL and oxidized LDL (very, very bad), raise blood glucose and insulin levels and increase abdominal obesity in just a few months.
These are all major risk factors for heart disease.
Not surprisingly, many observational studies find a strong statistical association between sugar consumption and the risk of heart disease.
Take Home Message
Consider reducing your sugar intake to 25 grams per day. This is a great exercise in which you will be blown away at the hidden amounts in our processed, packaged and restaurant foods.