Sugar - The Sweet Thief
My family was sick. I was sick. I had three small children, one diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. I suffered from extreme bouts of depression, fatigue, stress, PMS and a hodge-podge of other conditions. My family constantly battled with any germ that conveniently floated by.
What I discovered on our journey to rebuild our health was that, while in complete ignorance, I was very much responsible for our struggles. Now with over ten years of study, reading and searching I have discovered how that we truly are what we eat. That the food that we ate today, without a doubt, gave us the bodies we had tomorrow.
The flu doesn’t pass our door. My daughter has been Ritalin free for years. Our minds are clear, our energy is back, bodies are strong and sleep is sound. Now I have always heard that sugar is bad for you. My mother and dentist had made that very clear. But, mostly because of my daughter’s ADHD diagnosis, the sugar in my life was the first to go under the microscope. I was shocked at what I found.
I had never realized the immensity of power this pretty little white powder had on every corner of our well-being. First a few facts;
What is sugar? Well, that question has become more and more difficult in the past few years with the introduction of more refined, and dangerous substances in the food industry. But for this article we will look at the sugar we are most familiar with; that sweet, fine powder we put in our coffee, use in our baking, and sprinkle on our cereal every morning.
The Sugar industry has become a 100 billion dollar a year business. A recent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) survey it was revealed that the average North American consumes the equivalent of 160 pounds of sugar a year - a 30% increase since the early 1980s. That's the approximate equivalent of 53 heaped teaspoons of sugar per person per day! Most sources estimate that today sugar makes up about 25% of the calories of the average North American diet, with some genres such as teenagers still even higher.
Our common sugar usually starts with the cane or the sugar beet, a delicious creation of nature, a complex carbohydrate, which means it contained all the properties of a whole food: vitamins, minerals, enzymes.
The big problem is that the finished product contains none of the nutrients, vitamins, or minerals of the original plant. White sugar is a simple carbohydrate, which means a fractionated, artificial, devitalized by-product of the original plant.
The refining process takes natural sugar and removes all of the fibre, vitamins, and minerals from it. Some say the process leaves sugar looking closer to a pharmaceutical drug than a food source. Substances such as sulphur dioxide, milk of lime, carbon dioxide, charcoal from charred beef bones, and calcium carbonate can be used in this industrial refining process as purifying agents and then de-colorized with highly toxic dyes Other suspected chemicals can include carbon dioxide, strontium hydroxide and formaldehyde.
Quite simply put; if it is not in its natural form, it is not natural. And if it is not natural, your natural body has an tremendous amount of trouble trying to figure out what to do with it. The minerals needed to digest sugar - chromium, manganese, cobalt, copper, zinc, and magnesium-have been stripped during the refined process. This, in turn, forces the body to deplete its own mineral reserves to process the sugar. Ingestion is far different from digestion: just because you ate it doesn't mean you can use it.
Next time we walk the Natural Path we will take a look at how this sweet thief is stealing from you, the growing list of health risks associate with sugar and how in world this has all gotten so out of control.
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A Lengthy Rap Sheet
What exactly are these alleged charges against sugar? Is it not the utmost staple of our society and culture?
Perhaps, however one cannot consider the escalating increase in sugar intake and ignore the equally skyrocketing number of chronic disease.
A hundred years ago when much of our current illness was virtually unheard of, sugar consumption was around 5 lbs. a year per person. Now many North Americans consume an astounding 2-3 lbs a week.
The American Dietetic Association and American Diabetic Association agrees that sugar consumption in America is one of the 3 major causes of degenerative disease.
You have approximately 5 liters of blood traveling in your blood vessels and heart at any given moment. In these 5 liters of blood, you need only about one to one and a half teaspoons of sugar at one time. If you have excess sugar floating through your blood vessels on a regular basis, it may begin to seep in and influence every aspect of your body’s proper functioning.
Many of the dangers of consuming refined sugar are well known - tooth decay and obesity - but sugar can also suppress the immune system, and upset the body's mineral balance. Sugar can cause hypoglycemia, hormonal imbalance, varicose veins, food allergies, hypertension and depression. Sugar is also addictive; it stimulates cravings for more food, particularly sweet food, leading to over-eating.
Back in the 1970s, researchers found out that vitamin C was needed by white blood cells in high concentrations in order for them to destroy viruses and bacteria. Sugar and vitamin C both have similar chemical structures, and they can compete with one another to enter the white blood cells. If there is excess sugar in the blood, there is going to be less vitamin C allowed into the cells.
New cases of type 2 diabetes have doubled over the last three decades among middle-aged North Americans, with one third of the population being pre-diabetic. As well, type 2 diabetes is beginning to appear in children at an alarming rate. In the late 1800’s, however, diabetes occurred in only three of 10,000 people.
As well, cancer cells live on sugar. They thrive on it. In fact, cancer cells have 10-15 times more insulin receptors than normal cells -- thereby feeding those cells and energizing them at a rate up to 15 times more than ordinary cells. This is thought a major factor in why cancer cells are so much more aggressive than ordinary cells.
Nancy Appleton, Ph.D. offers up a fascinating read in her book, LICK THE SUGAR HABIT. In it Dr Appleton provides over 147 reasons how degrades your health and the medical research to back it up. A sampling of her findings looks like this:
Sugar can contribute to hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, concentration difficulties, and crankiness in children.
Sugar can cause drowsiness and decreased activity in children.
Sugar contributes to a weakened defense against bacterial infection.
Sugar can cause kidney damage.
Sugar can produce an acidic stomach.
Sugar can raise adrenaline levels in children.
Sugar can speed the aging process, causing wrinkles and gray hair.
High intake of sugar increases the risk of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
Sugar can contribute to osteoporosis.
Sugar leads to decreased glucose tolerance.
Sugar can cause cardiovascular disease.
Sugar can increase systolic blood pressure.
Sugar can cause free radical formation in the bloodstream.
Sugar can cause toxemia during pregnancy.
Sugar can contribute to eczema in children.
Sugar can overstress the pancreas, causing damage.
Sugar intake is higher in people with Parkinson's disease
Sugar can cause arteriosclerosis.
Sugar can cause mineral deficiencies, including zinc, copper and magnesium
Sugar can increase the amount of fat in the liver.
Sugar can increase the body's fluid retention.
Sugar can cause headaches, including migraines.
Sugar can cause an increase in delta, alpha and theta brain waves, which can alter the mind's ability to think clearly.
Sugar can increase blood platelet adhesiveness, which increases risk of blood clots and strokes. And lowers the bloods effectiveness to flow through the body
Sugar increases bacterial fermentation and organisms in the colon.
Realizing that sugar may not be that safe ally you once thought it, the trick is now to learn where it lurks. That, however, is becoming more and more difficult as it hides itself behind an array of aliases and disguises. We will learn its favorite hiding spots next time on the Natural Path.