The Not-So-Sweet-Side of Sugar

_MG_3286_Did you know that sugar literally feeds cancer cells and that one tablespoon of sugar weakens the immune system for a minimum of six hours? This is why researchers state that many of us are walking around with immune systems that are only operating at 50% of their capacity because many of us knowingly or unknowingly consume sugar continuously throughout the day.

80% of our immune system is in our gut (intestines). Our immune system is not some pump that floats around our body and sends out an army. It is mainly composed of the healthy intestinal flora. Unfortunately, because of our modern lifestyle, antibiotics, C-Sections (babies get a plethora of beneficial bacteria as they come through the birth canal), diet, stress as well as sugar our immune systems are struggling. Sugar feeds the bad bacteria, viruses etc. and allows them to proliferate.

This may not seem that significant but  there are countless studies of individuals who cut sugar out of their diets completely and went without so much as a cold or a flu for decades. By now it likely seems that I am a sugar nazi and that I am implying no one should eat so much as a teaspoon. I am not. Of course cutting out sugar completely is not realistic for everyone. However, I do think it is important to know that sugar’s effects go so much further than extra calories. That is in fact one of it’s least worrisome effects. While sugar is not the root cause of all health issues, if you do have a health issue or if you are constantly sick you might want to consider if your sugar intake has anything to do with it. The sugar and immune connection also explains why doctors and hospitals report the highest amount of children’s illnesses after Halloween and Easter.

Effects of Sugar on the Body

Mental Health

  • Sugar suppresses the activity of a hormone in the brain called BDFN. British psychiatric researcher Malcolm Peet conducted a cross cultural study regarding diet and mental illness. What he found was that BDFN was exceptionally low in schizophrenics and depressed individuals. Countless doctors have found success in treating their depressed patients by asking them to remove all sugar from their diet—they also had to remove carbs such as breads, pastas and crackers. It is also interesting to note that countries with the lowest rates of sugar consumption are also the countries with the lowest rates of depression.
  • Sugar also increases anxiety. It stresses the adrenals which cause them to release adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones). The blood sugar fluctuations trigger everything from generalized anxiety to anxiety attacks as well as a feeling of being light-headed, irritability, trembling and nervous tension. Recent research at Princeton University found that rats who were fed sugar were more anxious than the rats who were not fed sugar.
  • Sugar triggers a rapid rise in adrenaline which can manifest as hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and crankiness in children. The US National Library for Medicine links higher rates of depression and significantly increased psychotic behavior in schizophrenics who consume high amounts of sugar.

Cardiovascular

  • Sugar raises your cholesterol levels and contributes to heart disease and hardening of the arteries—NOT SATURATED FAT!! In a previous post The Great-Saturated Fat   I explain how poorly conducted research led us to believe that saturated fat was dangerous. However, it is now recognized that saturated fat is healthy in moderation. It is becomes unhealthy only when sugar is also part of the diet. People have been eating animals and animal products forever and it is only within the last 100 years that heart disease has sky-rocketed—about the same time that sugar consumption increased substantially.
  • As mentioned before magnesium deficiency is epidemic in our culture not simply because of soil depletion but also because of sugar consumption. Magnesium is not only needed to move calcium into the bones—but magnesium deficiency has been linked to high blood pressure and can even cause heart attacks. The New England Journal of Medicine found that people who drink well water have less heart attacks since magnesium is often present in the water compared to city water which has little to none. Magnesium is also necessary for proper brain functioning and a deficiency can result in neurological problems. Try supplementing with high quality magnesium at night and your sleep will likely improve and your bowel movements will become more regular.

Endocrine/Hormones

  • Female Hormone Imbalance – Sugar messes with hormones, causes mood swings, increases cramping, headaches etc. Menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, insomnia and anxiety and depression are greatly aggravated by a diet that is high in both sugar and refined carbohydrates.
  • High sugar consumption is linked to polycystic ovarian syndrome as well as infertility.
  • Sugar stresses the pancreas and adrenal glands because they are constantly required to try and maintain stable blood sugar levels in the midst of continuously being bombarded with more sugar. As most people know sugar causes blood sugar spikes, then lows.  Dr Carolyn Dean explains that, “A constantly high intake of simple dietary sugar keeps this roller coaster going and eventually overworks or “burns out” normal pancreas and adrenal function leading to early menopause, adult-onset diabetes, hypoglycemia, and chronic fatigue.”
  • The liver can only metabolizing fructose in certain amounts. Eating high amounts of sugar forces the liver to turn fructose into fat which in turn contributes to overburdened livers.
  • “Sugar tricks your body into gaining weight by fooling your metabolism, as it turns off your body’s 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.” 1.

Skeletal

  • Sugar causes cavities and calcium loss in the bones because calcium is removed from your teeth and bones so your body can metabolize sugar.  We consume more calcium than most other countries in the world and yet have the highest rate of osteoporosis. Interesting.
  • Causes insulin spikes which destroy the thyroid gland.
  • Sugar causes insulin-resistance and diabetes. Eating too much sugar causes the cells in the body to become resistant to insulin (the stuff that regulates your blood sugar). Insulin resistance is not just related to diabetes, but also to cardiovascular disease as well as metabolic syndrome.

Skin

  • Acne– Sugar feeds bacteria and viruses as well as the bacteria that causes acne.
  • Wrinkles – Sugar causes a loss of elasticity of the skin and thus wrinkles.
  • High levels of sugar in the blood can cause cataracts in the eyes to form.

Digestive

  • Regular sugar consumption is one of the causes of leaky gut (when undigested protein gets absorbed into your system which causes food allergies and inflammation which equals autoimmune disease.)
  • Feeds the growth of Candida Albicans. Symptoms of candida overgrowth are allergies, rashes, constipation, diarrhea, bladder infections, fatigue. See here for more information on candida.
  • Creates inflammation and dysbiosis in the bowels which can be a factor in irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease as it causes the bad bacteria to flourish.

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