Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Did You Know ~ Sugar

Did you know that over indulging in sugar can cause many health problems, both in the short term and the long term?

The most common cause for disease outside of over consumption of animal protein and dead food is SUGAR!!! Eating excess amounts of sugar in all forms causes tooth decay and all kinds of physical, mental and emotional problems. The average American consumes 50 teaspoons of sugar per day. Eating refined sugar weakens your immune system and promotes yeast overgrowth. Candida shows up in many ways in our body, from skin conditions (eczema, dry skin, white spots that don’t tan, rough dry skin on elbows and feet), to the onset of diabetes as well as in promoting the growth of cancer cells in your body. Cancer cells thrive on sugar.

Did you know that all non-diet sodas have a minimum of 10 teaspoons of sugar in each can? That amount of sugar can immobilize the immune system by 30% for an entire day! A 12 ounce soda at a fast food chain has 18 teaspoons of sugar. I often put 18 teaspoons on a tray and show it to parents and their kids and ask, “Would you let your children sit down and eat that many teaspoons of sugar?” Most people find it hard to believe until they see it in front of them. Of course the answer is no! We would not let them eat that many teaspoons of sugar, yet we are doing it every day.

I see children as young as one year old, maybe younger being given soda from their parents at theme parks, at restaurants, and everywhere we go, and it makes me cry inside for that child. These very same parents are upset at their children for being too hyper or unable to concentrate. These are the same parents that wonder why their children develop diabetes, are overweight and have poor dental health at such a young age. The next time you go to a toddler or a first birthday party, watch how many kids are walking around with lollipops and candy all before they even eat lunch, which most likely is hot dogs or pizza.

In Chapter Six (Breaking Free - Truths for Healthy Living) I discuss how to feed our children. I touch on a subject very near and dear to me – teaching our youth how to be healthy and make healthy choices for themselves starting as young as you can. Kids don’t need sugar treats to be happy! None of us do! We can’t find happiness in food no matter how much we eat. The void inside of us can only be filled up when we deal with the root issues. This, too, will be discussed in length in Chapter Four. Yes, I was a kid and I survived after eating lemon heads and gobstoppers to no end. I survived; however, those “treats” were all part of what caused my digestive issues and health challenges. If you lead by example your kids will follow right along. Instead of store-bought cookies, we eat vegan cookies made with all organic ingredients and agave. There are many vegan recipes for delicious baked goods, and when you eat them yourself, you CANNOT taste the difference.

Most packaged cereals have sugar as their major ingredient. Avoid most natural sweeteners (including corn syrup, fructose, honey, sucrose, maltodextrin, dextrose, molasses, sweetened flavored milks, store bought fruit juice, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, date sugar, cane sugar, corn sugar, beet sugar, succanat and lactose). Raw honey in tiny amounts can actually be beneficial to the digestive tract and has many other health benefits. However, if you are dealing with any health challenges, it is best to avoid all sugars until symptoms go away. Yes, this means natural sugars from fruits as well.

When in doubt about the sugar content of a food you can always look at the list of ingredients and see how many grams of carbohydrates are listed. Unless the carbohydrates are from above-ground vegetables, you should be concerned that they represent sugars that could alter your insulin levels. A good rule of thumb is if there are more then 5 grams per serving, it is too much sugar. When you give your children fruit juice or almond/rice milk, water them down so they are not getting as much sugar throughout the day. Never give kids soda, coffee or store bought ice tea! Never give them anything that is diet!

The carbohydrate craze has told us to avoid carbs like the plague. While eating a variety of complex carbohydrates (carbs) is necessary for good health, eating refined (simple) carbohydrates is the cause for the bad association. Eating the simple carbs can place a drain on your energy, induce sleepiness when you want to be awake, and cause weight gain when you want to be slim.

It is NOT ironic that the carbs we like best are breads, potatoes, pastas, cookies, soft drinks and angel food cake. These all drive our blood sugar sky-high, a real problem as we age. More disturbing is that people still consume way too much white flour products. They are completely void of any nutritional value and have nothing to offer but health challenges. Simple carbs run you down and tire you out if their glycemic index (GI) is too high (range is 0-100). The GI is a measure of how much a carb affects our blood sugar levels, determining how fast they rise, how high they get and how long they stay there. A GI of 70 or more is high, and consumption of large amounts of these foods is associated with low nutritional intake, morbidity and early death. A GI of 56 to 69 is considered medium and these foods usually are nutritious. A GI of 55 or less is low, and these foods are often highly nutritious and associated with longevity. Bananas and oranges are high, whereas, apples, legumes and green vegetables are low.

What's worse is that high blood sugar can stimulate the formation of molecules called AGEs (advanced glycation end products), which are known to be reflective of how fast we age. Carbohydrates that are low on the glycemic index meaning they break down slowly and their glucose is gradually released into the bloodstream are fine. The theory is that if your blood sugar rises too quickly, inflammatory chemicals that contribute to the aging process will be released. Highly wrinkled skin is from dehydration and a diet rich in high GI foods. The more insulin we need to produce, the quicker we age.

One reason many people suffer from hypoglycemia is that grains and sugars cause us to have large amounts of insulin circulating in our blood, which heavily weight their diets. When you stop eating grains, your body will take several days to lower your insulin levels. In the meantime the high insulin levels will cause you to have many symptoms such as dizziness, confusion, headaches, and a generally miserable feeling.

If you eat every two hours for the first few days of your transition you will be able to avoid this temporary side effect. You will need to eat some protein, such as a piece of fish or some seeds along with a vegetable such as a piece of celery, cucumber or red pepper. This will help to prevent hypoglycemia and stabilize your blood sugar. Even after your system has adjusted, it will be wise to eat 4-6 meals a day. Eating more frequently has been shown to normalize cholesterol levels. It will also help your adrenal glands better regulate cortisol levels.

Some important facts about sugar consumption:

  1. Today’s Consumption: Today, an average American consumes 2-3 pounds of sugar each week. While at the end of the 19th century (1887-1890), the average American consumed only 5 lbs. per year.
  2. A Continual Rise: Over the last 20 years, sugar consumption in the U.S. has increased from 26 pounds to 135 lbs. of sugar per person per year.
  3. Hidden Culprits: Sugar consumption includes highly refined sugars that are incorporated into many of the foods we eat (bread, peanut butter, condiments, sauces, etc.). Some of these are better known as sucrose (table sugar), dextrose (corn sugar), and high-fructose corn syrup.
  4. 4 Classes: 4 classes of simple sugars (Sucrose, fructose, honey, and malts) are deemed “harmful” to optimal health when long-term consumption is over 15% of carbohydrate calories ingested. Hint…complex carbohydrates (veggies, beans, legumes, whole grains) are the way to keep this number below 15%.
  5. Health Issues: Simple sugars have been documented to contribute to and/or aggravate health problems, including: asthma, mood disorders, mental illness, nervous disorders, diabetes, heart disease, gallstones, hypertension, and arthritis.
  6. Insulin Impacts: Sugar raises insulin levels, inhibiting the release of growth hormones which depresses the immune system. Further, too much insulin promotes the storage of fat, so that when you eat foods that are high in sugar, you’re enabling rapid weight gain and elevated triglyceride levels, both of which have been linked to cardiovascular disease.
  7. Degenerative Disease: Sugar has no real nutritional value (minerals, vitamins and fiber) and as a result, has a deteriorating effect on the endocrine system, causing sugar consumption to be one of the 3 major causes of degenerative disease.
  8. Cancer Culprits: Turns out that cancer’s preferred fuel is none other than glucose. Controlling one’s blood-glucose levels through diet, exercise, supplements, meditation and prescription drugs – when necessary – can be extremely important to a cancer treatment program.
Test your sugar knowledge here.

To understand sugar's effect on your health - go here!

Hyperglycemia or high blood sugar occurs when levels of sugar in the blood go above range. The correct range for a normal person is to have blood sugar levels between 80-120 mg/dl. Doctors tend to try and keep their diabetic patients under 160 mg/dl. When blood sugar levels go above these ranges the result is hyperglycemia.

What is the cause for high blood sugar? Hyperglycemia can be attributed to various reasons.

* Too many carbohydrates or sugar in a meal. (ex. Pizza or spaghetti contain high amounts of carbohydrates) Carbohydrates turn into sugar after consumption.

There are warning signs for high blood sugar. The diagram below shows some of the common side effects that occur when experiencing hyperglycemia.

Here is a list of ways sugar can affect your health:

* Sugar can suppress the immune system.
* Sugar can upset the body's mineral balance.
* Sugar can contribute to hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, concentration difficulties, and crankiness in children.
* Sugar can produce a significant rise in triglycerides.
* Sugar can cause drowsiness and decreased activity in children.
* Sugar can reduce helpful high density cholesterol (HDLs).
* Sugar can promote an elevation of harmful cholesterol (LDLs).
* Sugar can cause hypoglycemia.
* Sugar contributes to a weakened defense against bacterial infection.
* Sugar can cause kidney damage.
* Sugar can increase the risk of coronary heart disease.
* Sugar may lead to chromium deficiency.
* Sugar can cause copper deficiency.
* Sugar interferes with absorption of calcium and magnesium.
* Sugar can increase fasting levels of blood glucose.
* Sugar can promote tooth decay.
* Sugar can produce an acidic stomach.
* Sugar can raise adrenaline levels in children.
* Sugar can lead to periodontal disease.
* Sugar can speed the aging process, causing wrinkles and grey hair.
* Sugar can increase total cholesterol.
* Sugar can contribute to weight gain and obesity.
* High intake of sugar increases the risk of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
* Sugar can contribute to diabetes.
* Sugar can contribute to osteoporosis.
* Sugar can cause a decrease in insulin sensitivity.
* Sugar leads to decreased glucose tolerance.
* Sugar can cause cardiovascular disease.
* Sugar can increase systolic blood pressure.
* Sugar causes food allergies.
* Sugar can cause free radical formation in the bloodstream.
* Sugar can cause toxemia during pregnancy.
* Sugar can contribute to eczema in children.
* Sugar can overstress the pancreas, causing damage.
* Sugar can cause atherosclerosis.
* Sugar can compromise the lining of the capillaries.
* Sugar can cause liver cells to divide, increasing the size of the liver.
* Sugar can increase the amount of fat in the liver.
* Sugar can increase kidney size and produce pathological changes in the kidney.
* Sugar can cause depression.
* Sugar can increase the body's fluid retention.
* Sugar can cause hormonal imbalance.
* Sugar can cause hypertension.
* Sugar can cause headaches, including migraines.
* Sugar can cause an increase in delta, alpha and theta brain waves, which can alter the mind's ability to think clearly.
* Sugar can increase blood platelet adhesiveness which increases risk of blood clots and strokes.
* Sugar can increase insulin responses in those consuming high-sugar diets compared to low sugar diets.
* Sugar increases bacterial fermentation in the colon.

Things you can do to lower your risk of sugar related illness and diseases:

Keep added sugar to no more than 10% of total calories. If you're a 45-year-old woman of average height (5-foot-4), that's 160 calories (or 10 teaspoons)from added sugar—about the number in one 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola or six Hershey's Kisses. By comparison, the average American consumes 31 teaspoons per day of added sugar, or the equivalent of 465 calories.

Watch for hidden sugar in food. Many prepared foods contain hefty amounts of sugar—but it's hidden under aliases—including barley malt, corn syrup, dextrose, fruit juice concentrate, maltose, maple syrup, molasses, and turbinado—on ingredient panels. The key is determining how many teaspoons of sugar each serving contains. Doing this is easy: Check the nutrition label for sugars, which are listed in grams under total carbohydrates, and then divide that number by 4 (each teaspoon of sugar is equal to 4 g) to convert it to teaspoons. For example, if sugars are listed as 12 g, you're getting 3 teaspoons of sugar per serving.

Avoid high fructose corn syrup. This type of sweetener, which is made by changing the sugar in cornstarch to fructose (another form of sugar), is believed to produce more AGEs than other types. Because HFCS extends the shelf life of foods and is sweeter and cheaper than other sugars, it's a popular ingredient in soda, fruit- flavored drinks, and packaged foods such as breads, crackers, and other snacks. You can spot it in ingredient lists on nutrition labels.

Employ an inside-outside approach to antioxidants. These free-radical fighters help keep sugar from attaching to proteins, so replenishing their supply—both by eating more antioxidant-rich fruits, nuts, and vegetables, such as cranberries, walnuts, and red bell peppers.

~written by Jill, author of Breaking Free - Truths for Healthy Living. To learn more about healthy living visit

1 comment:

Jen said...

Wow! So informative. I really try so hard to hold back on giving my daughter sugar. I think the biggest thing I can do is be a good example to her with my own consumption of sugar. I am going to print this out and re read it carefully. I have huge sugar cravings and I know it causes me problems.

I feel the same way you do when I see other little children being given so many sugary snacks all the time.

Again, thank you for this informative post.