The average person consumes over 100 lbs. of sugar a year. Just what are the consequences for our health?
By Michael Clark – Almost everyone on the planet loves “sweet foods” or “dessert”. The sweet taste in these foods comes from sugar. Sugar, or table sugar, as we know it, is the white crystalline substance produced by industrial processes (mostly from sugar cane or sugar beets) by refining it down to pure sucrose, after taking away all the vitamins, minerals, proteins, enzymes and other beneficial nutrients. Its true name is sucrose and its chemical formula is C12 H22 O11. It has 12 carbon atoms, 22 hydrogen atoms, 11 oxygen atoms, and absolutely nothing else to offer. Simply put, sugar is a concentrated unnatural substance, which the human body is not able to handle, at least not in the kind of quantities that are ingested in today’s lifestyle.
Most of the products we consume daily are loaded with sugar! The average healthy digestive system can digest and eliminate from two to four teaspoons of sugar daily, usually without noticeable problems (if damage is not already present). Check out if your children are getting addicted to sweet fizzy drinks!
One 12 oz. can of Cola contains 11 teaspoons of sugar, and that’s besides the caffeine. High sugar products give instant energy and a feeling of “high” which is why they are now being consumed to the level of addiction by the younger generation. Sugar need not be consumed as “table sugar” alone.
Beware of the bottled destroyer!
You may not bite into biscuits and candies, yet you could be eating sugar, or its constituents, in foods where you didn’t know it existed. Tomato sauce has 23.6% sugar, corn cereal 8%. Hidden sugars can also be found in fruit juice drinks, processed food like peanut butter, flavoured yogurt, salad dressings, etc.
When sucrose is ingested, it reacts with water to generate glucose and fructose in equal amounts. Each 100 grams of sucrose produces 53 grams of glucose and 53 grams of fructose. Sucrose is called a disaccharide for this reason. The ingestion of 45.4kg of sugar (sucrose) per year translates into 125 grams per day and 66 grams of fructose. With about 8 grams added on from fruits and honey, the total average intake per day now becomes 74 grams. Our body is used to metabolizing only eight grams of fructose a day. The nearly 10-fold overload is the cause of many health problems.
|“ Much of the fatigue many of us regularly experience is thanks to sugar. It's a subtle poison that's part of our daily lives. So innocuous, it can be found in everything from baby food to toothpaste, and its effects are as rampant as its sources.”|
Processed sugar has many harmful effects throughout the body and can cause major imbalances in the body’s organ systems. You could say that sugar tends to throw off the homeostatic balance of the whole body by increasing the production of adrenaline by many times. In essence, sugar stimulates the nervous system by inducing a flight or fight response.
Too much sugar can adversely affect body weight and hormones; it may also cause fatigue, increased hyperactivity and tooth decay. Do we really know the harm being done by loading the body with sugar?
Refined sugar provides empty calories, and if a lot of your food contains sugar, there’s no room for the nutrients you need to stay healthy. When sugar isn’t needed, it’s stored as fat, and by eating sugar, you’re also raising levels of the hormone insulin in your blood. Insulin stores fat, a risk factor of diabetes, and can damage artery walls, making it easier for cholesterol and fat to build up and cause heart disease. Too much sugar affects immune systems by causing white blood cells to be sluggish, thus lowering resistance to disease.
High sugar consumption leads to an overly acidic body and in turn will cause the body to strip nutrients from its reserves to counterbalance this effect. This can eventually cause the body to take calcium from the bones and teeth since calcium is the primary mineral used to neutralize high acid in the cells. This can lead to arthritis or osteoporosis.
Refined sugar is devoid of all nutrients, which leads to the body getting depleted of its stores of various vitamins, minerals and enzymes. If sugar consumption is continued, an over-acid condition results, and more minerals are needed from deep in the body to correct the imbalance. If the body is lacking the nutrients used to metabolize sugar, it will not be able to properly handle and rid itself of the poisonous residues. These wastes accumulate through the brain and nervous system, which speeds up cellular death. The bloodstream becomes over-loaded with waste products, and symptoms of carbonic poisoning result.
Diabetes is a very commonly known disease caused by sugar as well as a high-fat diet. Diabetes is caused by the failure of the pancreas to produce adequate insulin when the blood sugar rises. A concentrated amount of sugar introduced into the system sends the body into shock from the rapid rise in the blood sugar level. Diabetes (high blood sugar) is caused when the pancreas fails because of overwork and the blood sugar levels are not under the control of normal metabolism.
Diabetics must monitor their blood sugar (glucose) levels very strictly to determine how far above or below normal their glucose is and to determine what oral medications or insulin(s) they may need to lower the blood sugar level. The “gold standard” for diagnosing diabetes is an elevated fasting blood sugar level after an overnight fast (not eating anything after midnight). A value above 140 mg/dl on at least two occasions typically means a person has diabetes. Normal people have fasting sugar levels that generally run between 70-110 mg/dl.
The symptoms of high blood sugar include:
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Increased risk of cancer
- Increased free radical formation
- Increased in advanced glycation end products (AGEs)
- Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
Research has also shown that refined sugar may be one of the major dietary risk factors in gallstone disease. Gallstones are composed of fats and calcium. Sugar can disturb the natural mineral balance in the body, and one of the minerals, calcium, can become toxic or non-functioning, depositing itself anywhere in the body, including the gallbladder.
The escalating aggressive behavioural pattern in adolescents is of concern to everyone today. While many believe that the violence shown on television and cinemas is to be blamed, there is one hidden cause for this. Refined sugar is now being linked to various mental problems. Our brains are very sensitive and react to quick chemical changes within the body. As sugar is consumed, our cells are robbed of their B vitamin, which destroys them, and insulin production is inhibited. Low insulin production means a high sugar (glucose) level in the bloodstream, which can lead to a confused mental state or unsound mind, and has also been linked with juvenile criminal behaviour.
It is advised to use a healthy sugar alternative that is Jaggery. Jaggery, or Jaggeree, is a traditional unrefined non-centrifugal whole cane sugar that has a mineral content of approximately 60 times that of refined white sugar. One teaspoon of jaggery contains approximately 4-5 mg calcium, 2-3 mg phosphorus, 8 mg magnesium, 48 mg potassium, 0.5 mg iron, as well as trace amounts of zinc, copper, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin. The corresponding values for refined white sugar are all essentially zero.
Many nutritionists believe that sugar can be addictive and it is difficult to break the habit of excess sugar intake. In fact, sugar does more damage than any other poison, drug or narcotic because:
- It is considered a “food” and ingested in such massive quantities
- The damaging effects begin early, from the day a baby is born and is fed sugar in its formula. Even breast milk is contaminated with it if the mother eats sugar
- Practically 95% of people are addicted to it to some degree or other
In addition to throwing off the body's homeostasis, excess sugar may result in a number of other significant consequences. The following is a listing of some of sugar's metabolic consequences from a variety of medical journals and other scientific publications.
Much of the fatigue many of us regularly experience is thanks to sugar. It's a subtle poison that's part of our daily lives. So innocuous, it can be found in everything from baby food to toothpaste, and its effects are as rampant as its sources. We're exposed to it from infancy, even encouraged to have it.
Concentrated sugars were essentially absent from human diets until the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that each American currently ingests about 28.5kg of refined sugar and 26.7kg of high fructose corn syrup (the worst kind of sugar!) a year with the UK not far behind. That's 55.3kg of added refined sugars.
The adverse effects of sugar are well known. Nearly all simple sugars are metabolized quickly and disrupt insulin levels, contributing to most chronic illness. Sugar suppresses the immune system, is addictive, a common allergen, and a significant cause of obesity.
In foods, hidden sugars may appear under a variety of names on a label. Ingredients are listed in order of volume. Look for the following ingredients. If any of these appear at the top of the list, the food is most likely high in sugar:
- Ingredients that end in "ose"
- Brown sugar
- Corn syrup, corn syrup solids
- Grape juice
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Malt syrup
- Maple syrup
- Raw sugar
- Turbinado Xylitol