Friday, November 9, 2012

Is Sugar Toxic?

In an episode of 60 Minutes, Dr. Sanjay Gupta did a special that I found to be very interesting.  The topic of this episode was, Is sugar toxic?  I found this some time ago and it was very profound in my view.  While I personally have tried to reduce sugar intake and most likely consume far less than many people, it is something I struggle with in my diet.  Sugar tastes so good and it is addictive.  If you combine the addictiveness of it with emotional turmoil, it can really increase your desire and consumption in my life.

I personally never drink most sugared drinks.  If I go to a restaurant, I may have soft drinks, but I limit how much I drink.   The remainder of the time I drink water.   We don't have sugar or sweetened drinks in our house.  Most of the time I try to cut down on sugar in every way possible and in fact also we read the labels of the stuff we buy to determine just how much sugar is in a product.  It will surprise you at how many things you buy in the store that have large amounts of sugar in them.  In fact, you will be surprised at some of the stuff that has sugar added into it.

I remember not long ago buying a can of peas from the store.  To me, peas do not need any added sugar.  Yet, every can on the shelf that I could find has added sugar in the peas.  When I wrote several of the manufacturers, they claimed that this was done to enhance the flavor after processing.  I about laughed at that response and thought what kind of Koo-laid are you trying to sell!

According to Dr. Robert Lustig in the 60 Minutes special with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, sugar is a toxin and it is a driving force behind heart disease.  He states in his lecture, "Sugar The Bitter Truth", that sugar is directly linked to an increase in obesity, type II diabetes, hypertension and heart disease and that it is 75% preventable.  Toxic sugar includes table sugar, honey, syrup, sugary drinks and deserts but also includes processed foods where sugar is hidden such as yogurt, bread, and peanut butter.

In this report, it is explained that High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is the same as table sugar.  Both of these substances are equally toxic.  While sugar consumption has gone down by 40%, High Fructose Corn Syrup has more than made up the difference.

Fructose makes food sweet.  At one time, we used to get our fructose through fruits.  In fruit, there is plenty of fiber which slows down the absorption of sugar into our blood stream.  High Fructose Corn Syrup became cheaper to manufacture and so it became the ingredient of choice.  Today, about 130 pounds of High Fructose Corn Syrup are consumed per person each year.  This equals about one-third pound of sugar per day per person. 

Studies and research currently being done are seeing strong evidence of an increase in risk factors for heart disease and stroke from High Fructose Corn Syrup.  The more HFCS that is consumed, the more it increases LDL cholesterol and other risk factors within just two weeks.  They are finding that it does not take very long for the effects to show up.

In past years there was a campaign to reduce fat in the diets of Americans.  As we began to reduce the intake of fat, the food industry started replacing it with sugar.  Food without fat or sugar in it, tastes much like cardboard and most people will not eat it.  The food industry knows this and so they did what they needed to do in order to keep consumption at the levels of profitability for their companies.

In cancer research, sugar is a major focus.  When you have less sugar in your diet, it reduces your chances of getting cancer.  Cancer has insulin receptors that use insulin to grow.  So as the glucose is going by in the blood stream, the cancer cells have learned how to hijack the glucose and use it to grow.

The recommendation is to not eat sugar or if you do, keep it to a minimum.

Sugar is much more addictive than we ever thought it was.  Studies involving an MRI, researchers can see just how sugar activates our brain just like drugs or alcohol does in the body.  When you consume sugar, it takes very little time for Dopamine to be released which brings about a pleasure or an euphoric effect.  The reward regions in our brain fire and respond to the consumption of sugar.

The more sugar we eat, the more we may be building up a tolerance to it.  So in order to feel the effects of the sugar, it requires that you eat more and more.  Of course, the more you eat, the more it blunts the rewards regions of the brain which causes you to consume even greater quantities to get the same satisfaction you felt originally.

In the video, the sugar industry likes to put any blame back on exercise and overall diets of the general public.  They call for balance rather than any public regulation of sugar and claim that science is wrongly vilifying them.  While this is honorable, their idea of balance with sugar and that of Dr. Robert Lustig are worlds apart as indicated by this video.

Dr. Robert Lustig states that men should consume no more than 150 calories of added sugar in a day and women should consume no more than 100 calories.  Unfortunately in one can of soda or sugary drinks, it is nearly the total amount of sugar one should consume in a day.

One thing that the 60 minutes video does not go into is emotional health.  If people are stressed and numb to experiences in life, they feel much less than what they should be able to feel.  Sugar is an addictive substances that makes us feel good.  It gives a high to people just like drugs.  So if the emotional health is not in good working order, the sugar will tend to make up for these deficiencies.  Without addressing what is going on in a person's life, we really are doing nothing more than a cat chasing its tail.

For even if you are successful at stopping or reducing sugar intake in your life, but you have not dealt with your emotional health and stress level, you will end up finding another harmful habit for your life.  While it may not be as toxic as sugar, it may just be detrimental.  So, my advice is to focus on sugar intake and your diet, but don't avoid your stress level and emotional health.  You need balance in all areas of your life to function properly and if you do not do this, at some point the physical body or mind will suffer and breakdown.

Blog Post And Images (c) 10/30/12 by Don Shetterly

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