Our sugar consumption has hit the roof. Americans are eating more sugar than their ancestors. The exact figure is not known but it is estimated that it is over 120 pounds per person per year and that is an awful lot.
Among carbohydrates, there are simple carbohydrates and there are complex carbohydrates that are found in starches. In nature, sugars are found in an unrefined state in foods such as cane sugar, sugar beets, fruits, in corn and rice.
Even most vegetables have fair amounts of natural sugar and there is little problem in eating them; as they are totally digestible unless you suffer from food allergies.
The real problem lies in refining the sugar
Man has tampered with sugar by refining it. Refined sugar is bereft of essential vitamins and micronutrients such as B-1, B-2, biotin, niacin, pantothenic acid, magnesium and others. The body is now forced to burn this fuel without the help of the vitamins and micronutrients and this causes a strain on the body, as it has to depend on its own store of vitamins and micronutrients, which get depleted. Thus, long-term intake of refined or ‘naked’ sugar causes stress on the body by sapping it of its internal resources of nutrients and sub-clinical deficiencies occur. Refined sugar also lacks water and fiber.
When refined sugar enters our system, the blood sugar rises and the body stores this sugar in the muscle cells and brain cells. It is converted into FAT. That is why refined sugar intake is associated with obesity. In addition, the body overreacts to refined sugar causing your blood sugar to drop too quickly. Then you feel bad, with symptoms such as headache, irritability, fatigue, and abdominal pains, muddled thinking, even blurred vision, depression and other symptoms suggestive of low blood sugar. This is the root cause for sugar craving or sugar addiction.
Refined sugar is dangerous:
- Sugar has been proven to destroy the germ-killing ability of white blood cells for up to five hours after ingestion.
- It reduces the production of antibodies, proteins that combine with and inactivate foreign invaders in the body.
- It interferes with the transport of vitamin C, one of the most important nutrients for all facets of immune function.
- It causes mineral imbalances and sometimes it causes allergic reactions, which weaken the immune system.
- It neutralizes the action of essential fatty acids, thus making cells more permeable to invasion by allergens and microorganisms.
Sugar Related Health Problems
When I first read the list, I almost fell out of my chair. Even if refined sugar were responsible for half of the listed diseases, it would be a huge number.
- Addiction to drugs, caffeine & food, Anxiety, Alcoholism, Behavior problems, Emotional problems, Binge eating, Difficulty concentrating, Mental illness, Mood swings
- Allergies and Asthma
- Arthritis, Bone loss, Gout and Osteoporosis
- Cancer (cancer cells feed on sugar)
- Candidiasis, Eczema, Vaginal yeast infections and Psoriasis
- Cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure
- Colitis. Constipation, diverticulosis, Impaired digestion of all foods
- Diabetes, Endocrine gland dysfunction
- High blood cholesterol, high estrogen levels and hormonal problems and Menstrual difficulties
- Kidney stones
- Liver dysfunction
- Shortened life span
- Tooth decay
Some of the artificial sweeteners are Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal), Saccharin (Sweet’N Low, SugarTwin), Acesulfame K (Sunett, Sweet One), Sucralose (Splenda) and Neotame. They are not totally safe.
Natural Sugar Substitutes
They are safer and natural and one can make great sweets with them.
Stevia: is a very sweet herb from South America that’s available in powder and liquid form at health-food stores. Stevia with FOS is a non-nutritive powder found at health-food stores or in the health-food section of your grocery store. FOS stands for fruit ogiliosaccharides, which are beneficial for and support healthy intestinal bacteria, or flora.
Single blossom honey: such as red clover honey, or orange blossom honey is low-glycemic. You can comfortably use this to sweeten your beverages.
Xylitol: is birch sugar and can be used for baking and sweetening beverages. Xylitol is low-glycemic and healthy for you. It doesn’t cause blood sugar imbalances or yeast overgrowth like table sugar. It’s thought to promote bone health and prevent tooth decay and plaque buildup. The only drawback is that if you eat too much, you could experience gastrointestinal discomfort and diarrhea.
Fructose: is a natural low-glycemic sugar that’s found in fruit. Fructose is sweeter than regular table sugar, so you need less. The high fructose corn syrup can elevate the lipid levels and increase the risk of heart disease.
Sucrose: is regular table sugar and it is medium-glycemic and fine for most people if you consume small amounts, as in sweetening your coffee.
The saying below sums it all up:
“If only a small fraction of what is already known about the effects of sugar were to be revealed in relation to any other material used as a food additive, that material would promptly be banned.”
— John Yudkin MD, Ph.D., F.R.C.P., F.R.S.C., F.I. Biol., Prof of Nutrition at London University.
Dr. Rajesh Vishwanathan, MBBS, became disillusioned with the impersonal and aggressive allopathic system and trained and qualified in Yoga, meditation, Naturopathy and Homeopathy. He dreams of Integrating Allopathic medicine with the Alternative systems of healing.