Sugar is *NOT* your friend. It may “feel like” your friend when it comforts you (due to the beta-endorphin rush in your brain), but sugar is actually your enemy. Truth be told, regular consumption of sugary foods is one of the worst things that you can do to your health. Modern scientific research has shown us, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that sugar in your food (in all its myriad of forms) is taking a devastating toll on your health. Just take a look at the sugar consumption trends of the past 300 years:
- In 1700, the average person consumed about 4 pounds of sugar per year.
- In 1800, the average person consumed about 18 pounds of sugar per year.
- In 1900, individual consumption had risen to 90 pounds of sugar per year.
- In 2012, more than 50% of all Americans consume 1/2 pound of sugar PER DAY“translating to a whopping 180 pounds of sugar per year!
In 1890, only 3 people out of 100,000 had diabetes. In 2012, diabetes strikes almost 8,000 out of every 100,000 people! The “sugar rush” has really been targeted at children. American children are consuming about TEN TIMES as much sugar as they were in 1900, especially in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is the average American’s largest source of calories! Highly addictive HFCS contains fructose and glucose, but they are NOT bound together (as they are in table sugar) so your body doesn’t need to break it down.
Therefore, the fructose is absorbed immediately, going straight to your liver, which turns it into FAT (VLDL and triglycerides). According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, “Fructose also tricks the body into gaining weight by fooling your metabolism (it turns off the appetite-control system. Fructose does not appropriately stimulate insulin, which in turn does not suppress ghrelin (the “hunger hormone”) and doesn’t stimulate leptin (the “satiety hormone”), which together result in your eating more and developing insulin resistance.” This process also depresses the immune system. But just because you avoid HFCS doesn’t mean that you’re in the clear. Excess intake of ALL processed sugars results in compromised immune function (decreasing the white blood cells’ ability to destroy bacteria), obesity, and diabetes.
And if that’s not enough, keep in mind that sugar is addictive! That’s right! Dr. Serge Ahmed, of Bordeaux, France, has been working with rats and giving them the choice between cocaine and sugar. Guess what wins, time and again? That’s right … sugar. The sweet taste of sugar is more rewarding than the high of cocaine. You see, sugar produces dopamine (a happy, feel-good chemical) in the brain. Folks actually get addicted to eating sugar, and they need sugar to feel “normal” and they undergo “withdrawal” if they cut sugar from their diets. If they go “cold turkey” for a few days, their brain will begin to produce dopamine on its own, but the discomfort of the withdrawal process keeps many “sugar addicts” trapped in their addiction. Please remember that sugar is cancer’s favorite food, due to the anaerobic respiratory mechanism exhibited by ALL cancer cells.
And since half of the white sugar in the USA comes from sugar beets, you should remember that most beets are now genetically modified. Yet another reason to stay away from the “White Death” isn’t it? I personally recommend that you avoid white sugar, brown sugar, agave, and all artificial sweeteners. If you have a sweet tooth, it’s best to stick with stevia, xylitol, raw honey/maple syrup, molasses, and coconut sugar. The bottom line: If you want to be healthy, you MUST take control of your sugar intake so that it doesn’t take control over you. It is easy to become confused by the various sugars and sweeteners, so here is a basic overview:
- Saccharide = sugar
- Glucose (aka “dextrose” or “grape sugar”), galactose (“milk sugar”), and fructose (“fruit sugar”) are all “monosaccharides” (i.e. single sugar molecules), known as “simple sugars.” The primary difference between them is how your body metabolizes them.
- Glucose is the form of energy you were designed to run on. Every cell in your body uses glucose for energy.
- High amounts of fructose are very damaging to the body, since if fructose isn’t burned immediately for energy, it travels directly to the liver, where it is converted to triglycerides (fats). Excess triglycerides increase insulin resistance (and insulin production), thus contributing to diabetes in a “back door” fashion.
- The simple sugars can combine to form more complex sugars, like sucrose (“table sugar”) which is a “disaccharide” comprised of 50% glucose and 50% fructose.
- “Refined” white sugar (pure sucrose) is washed with a syrup solution, then with hot water, clarified (usually chemically) to remove impurities, decolorized, concentrated, evaporated, re-boiled until crystals form, centrifuged again to separate, then dried. By this point, any remnants of “natural goodness” and “nutritional value” have completely disappeared! Quite frankly, white sugar should be considered to be an “industrial product” rather than a “food.”
- “Brown sugar” is just white sugar mixed with molasses.
- “Raw” sugar is not really raw – it has been cooked, and most of the minerals and vitamins are gone. But it’s probably a little better than refined white sugar because it has a little of the molasses remaining.
- Aspartame is a neurotoxic rat poison … need I say more?
- Splenda (sucralose) is NOT a sugar, despite its deceptive marketing slogan, “made from sugar.” It’s a chlorinated artificial sweetener in line with aspartame, though not quite as harmful.
- Honey is approximately 50% fructose, but in natural (raw) form contains many health benefits.
- Stevia is an extremely sweet herb derived from the leaf of the South American stevia plant, which is completely safe (in its natural form).
- Agave nectar is made from the agave plant, which is a cactus. Sound natural, right? Like maple syrup from a tree, or honey from a beehive. Only it isn’t. Agave is HIGHLY processed, and the end product does not even remotely resemble the original agave plant. And agave is approximately 80% fructose (much higher than honey and maple syrup).
- HFCS is 55% fructose and 45% glucose.
- Rapadura is the pure juice extracted from the sugar cane (using a press), which is then evaporated over low heats, whilst being stirred with paddles, then seive ground to produce a grainy sugar. It has not been cooked at high heats, and spun to change it into crystals, and the molasses has not been separated from the sugar. “Sucanat” is the USA trade name for Rapadura.
- Coconut sugar is made from the sweet watery sap that drips from the cut flower buds of fresh coconuts. It has a low glycemic index (GI) and is rich in amino acids. It is typically less than 10% fructose, with sucrose being the primary component.
- Xylitol is a sweetener known as a “sugar alcohol” (or polyol). Sugar alcohols are neither sugars nor alcohols – they are carbohydrates (with structures that happen to resemble sugar and alcohol). Xylitol is extracted from birch cellulose. Unlike sugar, Xylitol is slowly absorbed, does not cause a rapid blood sugar increase, and does not require an immediate insulin response from the body to be metabolized. And because Xylitol is anti-bacterial, many studies have shown that it actually helps prevent dental cavities, ear infections, and some evidence suggests that it helps prevent gum disease.