Sunday, March 14, 2004

Sweet poison

The body requires some amount of sugar for energy. True, but it has to come from natural fruits, vegetables, grains, milk, dates, raisins, etc. Getting this energy from sugar is nothing short of suicidal because it is more damaging to health than all other narcotics combined, writes Amar Chandel

ALARMED by the falling consumption, sugar manufacturers recently inserted advertisements in various publications to disprove that sugar was bad for health. It was a desperate marketing manoeuvre, but many were taken in by the assertion. For their sake, it is necessary to set the record straight. Those of you who have already kicked the habit are on the right track; those who have not should do so at the earliest, the manufacturers’ claims notwithstanding.

Their contention that the body requires some amount of sugar for energy is correct but what has been left unsaid is that it has to come from natural fruit, vegetables, grains, milk, dates, raisins, etc. Getting this energy from sugar is nothing short of suicidal because it is more damaging to health than all other narcotics combined.

While taking liquor or opium, a person is at least aware that he is spoiling his health. But since sugar is considered a "food", it is consumed liberally. Taken in minute quantities, it can be beneficial, just as snake venom is therapeutic when used in miniscule doses for medicinal purposes. But we eat many times more than we should. (One candy bar is loaded with the amount of sugar that would be found in 1.5 kg of apples). Nearly 95 per cent of the populace gets hooked to sugar right from childhood. You relish it till irreversible damage is done, without even knowing what hit you.

Awareness is now growing that sugar is the main cause of diabetes, hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, besides dental decay. But this does not tell even one-tenth of the scary story. The list of problems that it can cause is virtually endless.

Simple sugars — found in white table sugar, corn syrup, fructose, honey, white flour, or any other super-refined carbohydrate — have been observed to aggravate asthma, mental illness, mood swings, personality changes, nervous disorders, heart disease, diabetes, gallstones, hypertension, senility, cancer and arthritis, says Nancy Appleton in "Lick the Sugar Habit". They are the leading cause of dental deterioration — cavities in teeth, bleeding gums, failure of bone structure and loss of teeth.

Sugar has an extremely deleterious effect in unbalancing the endocrine system and injuring its component glands, such as the adrenal glands, pancreas and liver, causing the blood sugar level to fluctuate widely.


Sugar is often called an anti-nutrient. Overconsumption causes the body to use up its supplies of calcium, potassium, thiamin and chromium. And all sugars, even natural ones, appear to compete with Vitamin C for transportation into white blood cells. Without adequate amounts of Vitamin C, the immune system becomes severely affected. In short, it kills you, but ever so slowly. It takes years before it ruins your pancreas, your adrenal glands and your endocrine system. Had it been 10 times as dangerous, nobody would have touched it. But since it is a slow and insidious poison, we relish it ever so much.

Certain harmful refined dietary sugars almost always turn directly into fat. The result? Unwanted weight gain even if you are not eating fat at all. A WHO editorial by Jim Mann says: "There is considerable evidence suggesting that sucrose and other free sugars contribute to the global epidemic of obesity".

A fat chance

Excess sugar eventually affects every organ in the body. Initially, it is stored in the liver in the form of glucose (glycogen). Since the liver’s capacity is limited, a daily intake of refined sugar above the required amount of natural sugar soon makes the liver expand like a balloon. When the liver is filled to maximum capacity, the excess glycogen returns to the blood in the form of fatty acids. These are taken to every part of the body and stored in the most inactive areas: the belly, the buttocks, the breasts and the thighs.

Once these comparatively harmless places are completely filled, fatty acids invade active organs like the heart and kidneys. These begin to slow down; finally their tissues degenerate and turn to fat. The whole body is affected by their reduced ability, and abnormal blood pressure is created. The parasympathetic nervous system is affected; and organs governed by it, such as the small brain, become inactive or paralysed. The circulatory and lymphatic systems are invaded, and the quality of the red corpuscles starts changing. An overabundance of white cells occurs, and the tissue creation slows down. Our body’s tolerance and immunity declines and we cannot withstand extreme attacks of cold, heat, mosquitoes or microbes, etc.

A 1995 study published in the journal Pediatrics found that sugar taken on an empty stomach led to an inability to concentrate. Too much sugar makes one sleepy. Our ability to calculate and remember is lost. High sugar intake also corrupts muscle performance and impedes strength development dramatically. A recent article in the British Medical Journal, entitled ‘The Sweet Road to Gallstones’, reported that refined sugar may be one of the major dietary risk factors in gallstone disease.

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. Dr Alexander G. Schauss brings this solemn fact out in his book, Diet, Crime and Delinquency. Many mental ward and prison inmates are "sugarholics" and erratic emotional outbreaks often follow a sugar binge.

In l957, Dr William Coda Martin classified refined sugar as a poison because it has been depleted of its life forces, vitamins and minerals. "What is left consists of pure, refined carbohydrate. Nature supplies proteins, vitamins and minerals in each plant in quantities sufficient to metabolise the carbohydrate in that particular plant. There is no excess for other added carbohydrates. Incomplete carbohydrate metabolism results in the formation of ‘toxic metabolite’, such as pyruvic acid and abnormal sugars, containing five carbon atoms. Pyruvic acid accumulates in the brain and nervous system and the abnormal sugars in the red blood cells. These toxic metabolites interfere with the respiration of the cells. They cannot get sufficient oxygen to survive and function normally. In time, some of the cells die. This interferes with the function of a part of the body and is the beginning of degenerative disease".

Willaim Dufty notes in Sugar Blues: "The point is inescapable: As sugar consumption escalates wildly, fatal diseases increase remorselessly".

Naked calories

Glucose, fructose, sucrose, galactose, maltose and lactose are digested and absorbed so quickly that the body must convert them into saturated fats. Saturated fatty acids are "sticky" by nature, and, when introduced into the vascular system, clog arteries, increase the chance of stroke, diabetes and definitively decrease athletic performance.

Refined sugar is also lethal because it provides only that which nutritionists describe as "empty" or "naked" calories. It lacks the natural minerals which are present in sugar beet or cane. In addition, sugar drains and leaches the body of precious vitamins and minerals through the demand that digestion, detoxification and elimination make upon one’s entire system.

Dr David Reuben, author of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Nutrition, says: "White refined sugar is not a food. It is a pure chemical extracted from plant sources, purer in fact than cocaine, which it resembles in many ways".

Heroin and sugar are prepared through similar processes of refinement. In producing heroin, the opium is first extracted from the poppy. The opium is then refined into morphine. The chemists then work on morphine and further refine it into heroin.

Packing poison

Similarly, sugar is first pressed as a juice from cane (or beet) and refined into molasses. Then it is refined into brown sugar, and finally into white crystalline chemical, which is alien to the human system. The body is not suited to accommodate this level of refinement. When you consume simple sugars, they are passed quickly into the blood stream. Blood sugar levels skyrocket, and you experience a lift in energy. But that feeling of increased energy and mental alertness is very temporary. Sugar highs lead to sugar crashes and the body cries out for more sugar.

Very often we don’t even know we are taking sugar. Colas, ketchups, packaged juices, prepared foods, salad dressings and even medicines and toothpastes are packed with sugar. Most of the commercial fruit juices are full of the sweet poison. Soft drinks contain up to 11 teaspoons of sugar each.

There are five classes of simple sugars which are regarded by most nutritionists as "harmful" to ideal health and optimal athletic performance when prolonged consumption in amounts above 15 per cent of the carbohydrate calories are ingested. Out of the dangerous five, sucrose, fructose and honey impose the maximum burden.

Culprit No 1

Sucrose is considered Villain No 1. It is found in almost all processed foods such as plain table sugar, dextrose or raw natural sugar. Taken from sugar beets or sugarcane, this disaccharide is composed of glucose and fructose. Because it contains no vitamins or minerals it must rob them from the body in which it is assimilated (like a parasite leeching the "life" from its victim).

Fructose is a close second to sucrose. Fructose is "natural" only when found in fresh fruits that contain all the enzymes, vitamins, and minerals to effectively assimilate it as a rich nutrient for human consumption. About 20 times sweeter than table sugar, processed fructose is used as an additive to sweeten all sorts of packaged foods. Fructose does not raise blood sugars much, but does raise blood serum triglycerides significantly!

Surprisingly, honey figures at number three. It is a natural product but happens to be good only for bees. Incidentally, the honey bear is the only animal found in nature with tooth decay (honey decays teeth faster than table sugar).

Shun in stages

Cutting down your sugar consumption all of a sudden can cause withdrawal symptoms. As such, it is very important to taper down its use gradually. Supposing you are putting two spoons of sugar in your glass of milk. For the next week, use only one and three quarters. Then come down to one and a half. Only then will your system be suitably weaned.

Begin by banishing high-sugar sweets from your home. To keep your blood sugar levels stable and to minimise sugar cravings, eat foods rich in protein and B vitamins. To break the sugar habit, avoid refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice and pasta; eat more complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal, brown rice and millet. Eat less salt, and fewer dairy products; they’ll cause you to crave something sweet later. When you have a sugar craving in the afternoon, eat a banana or an apple.

Shunning chocolate, icecream and white bread may be sheer torture to begin with because you will be a bit irritable, suffer from headaches, chills, bodyaches, mood swings, and feel mentally sluggish. But in just a month or so, your taste buds will become more sensitive to the natural sweetness of foods. You’ll feel energised, alerter and healthier. Your physical and emotional health will improve dramatically. The sugar craving will lessen with every passing day.

Here is a compound which has been classified as a poison, has no nutritional value, is known to rot teeth, cause numerous physical and emotional problems and is addictive. Even if you cannot stop eating it altogether, cut its intake to the bare minimum, for your own sake and for your children.

Honey, not even jaggery

CONTRARY to popular belief, switching over to jaggery (gur), shakkar or honey provides only minor relief because as far as the body is concerned, sugar is sugar.

One saving grace is that jaggery has more nutrients than sugar, especially calcium, phosphorous, iron and other minerals. To that extent, it does not affect the system as harshly as refined sugar does.

Another advantage is that it has a peculiar smell and taste because of which it is not possible to eat it as liberally as is the case with white sugar.

Honey is good, but only in the raw form. The keyword is still moderation. Liberal use of honey will be almost as bad as taking sugar.

Honey has the highest calorie content of all sugars with 65 calories per tablespoon, as compared to the 48 calories found in table sugar! The increased calories are bound to manifest increased blood serum fatty acids, and weight gain, on top of the likelihood of more cavities.

Pesticides (carcinogens) used on farm crops and residential flowers have been found in commercial honey. Honey can be fatal to an infant whose immature digestive tracts are unable to deal effectively with Botulinum spore growth.

The enzymes or nutrients that raw honey contains are destroyed by manufacturers who heat it in order to give it a clear appearance for enhancing sale. Some beekeepers feed their bees sugar water for enhanced production and flavour, while others add sugar syrup to the product.

In the book Get The Sugar Out, Ann Louise Gittleman says: "No mater what form it takes, sugar paralyses the immune system in a variety of ways".

No substitute, this

The following information issued by the University of Arizona in cooperation with the US Department of Agriculture is instructive:

"No artificial sweetener should play a major role in a healthful diet. Even if all these sweeteners were given the green light for safety tomorrow, they would still fall short when it comes to good nutrition. Like sugar, sugar substitutes, and many of the foods that contain them contribute little or nothing in the way of nutrients, and also take the place of more nutritious foods in the diet.

Questions of safety aside, can sugar substitutes help you lose weight? Rising obesity rates would suggest not. Though there is some evidence that aspartame can be helpful, most experts agree that sugar substitutes in general are neither the cause nor the cure for obesity.

Consider these points when deciding about using sugar substitutes:

* Read labels; sugar substitutes are now found in hundreds of products.

* Vary your choices or use products containing more than one sweetener. Because some sweeteners enhance each other’s sweetness, blends often use less of each, reducing your exposure to any one sweetener.

* Don’t rely on no-calorie sweeteners to make pounds disappear. if you use sugar substitutes to help manage your weight, make them part of a sensible plan that includes healthful eating, exercise and lifestyle changes". ASC

Of mice and men

THE Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) have found that the cells that produce insulin have been unexpectedly found in the fat, liver and bone marrow of diabetic mice.

"In fact, the appearance of insulin-producign cells occurs in both type 1 (juvenile) and type 2 (adult-onset) diabetic mice," said Dr Lawrence Chan, chief of the BCM endocrinology section and professor in the department of medicine and molecular and cellular biology.

"The common denomination in all the animals is high blood sugar, not insulin-deficiency. High blood sugar causes these cells to produce insulin", he said.

The number of cells and the amount of insulin produced are both very small and do not seem to ameliorate the animals’ disease. He found that the source of the insulin-producing cells is the bone marrow, which had been identiied as the origin of many different kinds of tissues in recent years.

He and his colleagues were surprised that only a brief three-day period of high blood glucose was sufficient to nudge the cells outside the pancreas to produce insulin.

If this inherent property of cells can be harnessed and augmented, Chan speculates, scientists could use it to generate insulin-producing cells from other tissues for the treatment of diabetes. If the production of insulin by cells outside the pancreas affects the immune system, which goes awry in people predisposed to type 1 diabetes, it could affect the course of the disease. — ANI