Monday, January 25, 2010

Sugar's effect on your health

The average American consumes an astounding 2-3 pounds of sugar each week, which is not surprising considering that highly refined sugars in the forms of sucrose (table sugar), dextrose (corn sugar), and high-fructose corn syrup are being processed into almost every convenience food on the market. Many foods such as bread, breakfast cereal, cereal bars, mayonnaise, peanut butter, ketchup, lunch meats, spaghetti sauce, and most microwave meals have some sugar. Then there are the obvious foods like bottled drinks(including juices), cookies, candies, yogurts, ice cream and all the desert products you see on the shelves.
In the last 20 years, we have increased sugar consumption in the U.S. 26 pounds to 135 lbs. of sugar per person per year! Prior to the turn of this century (1887-1890), the average consumption was only 5 lbs. per person per year and Cardiovascular disease and cancer was virtually unknown. Today they are the top two causes of death in the United States.

How Sugar plays a role in health
The "glycemic index" is a measure of how a given food affects blood-glucose levels, with each food being assigned a numbered rating. There are many diets on the market today touting the importance of eating low-glycemic foods. The lower the glycemic rating, the slower the absorption and digestion process, which provides a more gradual, increase of sugars into the bloodstream. On the other hand, a high rating means that blood-glucose levels are increased quickly, which stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin to drop blood-sugar levels. These rapid fluctuations of blood-sugar levels are not healthy because of the stress they place on the body. Insulin also promotes fat storage (rapid weight gain) and elevated triglyceride levels.

Sugar depresses the immune system
In the 1970's researcher Linus Pauling found that vitamin C was needed by white blood cells so that they could ingest viruses and bacteria(phagocytize). While studying the phagocytic index(a chart rating the speed of this process), he realized the high doses of vitamin c were directly related to how rapidly certain good cells could destroy virus, bacteria or cancer cells. He went so far as to say that high doses of up to 10 grams of vitamin C each day aided in anti-cancer activity within the body. Linus Pauling wrote the book, "How to Live Longer and Feel Better" and "Vitamin C and the Common Cold" and was at one time ridiculed for his theories, but today, Vitamin C is used by doctors treating cancer patients who are fighting the deadly disease.

White blood cells require a 50 times higher concentration inside the cell as outside so they have to accumulate vitamin C and since our bodies do not manufacture vitamin c so we must ingest it. We know that glucose and vitamin C have similar chemical structures, so when the sugar levels go up, they compete for entry into the cells. The thing that mediates the entry of glucose into the cells is the same thing that mediates the entry of vitamin C into the cells. If there is more glucose around, there is going to be less vitamin C allowed into the cell. It doesn't take much: a blood sugar value of 120 reduces the rate the good cells “phagocytize” by 75%. This affect lasts for several hours. So when you eat sugar, think of your immune system slowing down to a crawl.
Now we are getting a little bit closer to the roots of disease. It doesn't matter what disease we are talking about, whether it’s a common cold or cardiovascular disease, or cancer or osteoporosis, the root is always going to be at the cellular and molecular level, and more often than not insulin is going to be involved.

The health dangers frequent use of sugar causes are certain. Simple sugars have been observed to aggravate asthma, move mood swings, provoke personality changes, aggravate nervous disorders, cause diabetes and hypertension, speed up heart disease and hypertension, and aggravate arthritis. Because refined dietary sugars lack minerals and vitamins(unlike raw sugars), our bodies must draw upon its own micro-nutrient stores for it to be metabolized into the system. When these storehouses are depleted, the body’s ability to process cholesterol and fatty acid is impeded, contributing to higher blood serum triglycerides and cholesterol, and obesity due to higher fatty acid storage. In addition, since it is so lacking in minerals, vitamins, fiber, it has a deteriorating effect on the endocrine system. As a result, the American Dietetic Association and American Diabetic Associations agree that sugar consumption in America is one of the 3 major causes of degenerative disease.

Sugar and cancer
Of the over 4 million cancer patients being treated in the U.S. today, almost none are offered any scientifically guided nutrition therapy other than being told to "just eat good foods." I doubt many are told that sugar feeds their cancer. Not long ago a dear friend discovered he had cancer. They wanted to do a PET scan to see how extensive it was and fed him a sugary glucose liquid to excite the cancerous cells so they could clearly see them during the scan. Cancer's preferred fuel is GLUCOSE; it makes them very happy. The saying "Sugar feeds cancer" is simple; the explanation is a little more involved.

Otto Warburg, a German doctor, received the 1931 Nobel laureate in medicine for discovering that cancer cells have a fundamentally different energy metabolism compared to healthy cells. The gist of his Nobel thesis was this: malignant tumors frequently exhibit an increase in "anaerobic glycolysis" when provided with glucose. A process where glucose is used by cancer cells as a fuel for growth. The byproduct of this “fuel-making” is lactic acid. This conversion by fermentation of glucose to lactate creates a lower, more acidic PH environment in your tissues as well as an overall physical fatigue from lactic acid build-up. The abundance of lactic acid produced by the cancer cells is then transported to the liver. Virtually all degenerative diseases, including cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, kidney and gall stones, and tooth decay are associated with excess acidity in the body. Cancer cannot exist in an alkaline environment.

By reducing or eliminating sugar and balancing your glucose levels you not only slow the growth of cancerous tissue and other acid-loving diseases, but you also make it possible for your immune system to catch up to the disease by giving it a fighting chance.

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