Make no mistake...sugar is bad! Research for over a decade has clearly shown without doubt that this food, in all it’s forms, is so dangerous to human health that it has been coined “The White Death”. Sugar has been indirectly responsible the more deaths and human suffering than fatalities from all wars in the last 40 years
STATISTICS RELATED TO SUGAR
For the first time in history, children in the United States are no longer expected to live longer than their parents. The reason for this is because cases of obesity, type II diabetes, and heart disease in America's younger generations is at an all time high.
Let’s look at some frightening statistics:
- -More than one (1) in three (3) adults in the U.S. are obese...not overweight, but obese...that’s over 33% of all U.S. adults! 35.7 to be exact. 5
- -More than one (1) out of six (6) U.S. children and adolescents ages 6-19 are obese. 5
- -Since the early 1960s, the prevalence of obesity among adults more than doubled, increasing from 13.4 to 35.7 percent in U.S. adults age 20 and older. 5
- -Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S. 2
- -Currently one (1) in three (3) people in the U.S. will develop diabetes in their lifetime. 2
- -In 1980 5.53 million U.S. people (2.54%) had diabetes. 1 Compared to 2013 where 22.3 million U.S. people (7.18%) had diabetes. 3 Diabetes rates grew 4 times over in 33 years!
- -In 2010, diabetes was the cause of 234,051 deaths. 2
- -Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S., killing 375,000 people per year. 4
- -The number of deaths due to heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular disease is 17.3 million and expected to increase to 23.6 million by the year 2030. 4
SUGAR IS BAD, BUT WHAT IS SUGAR?
How can all of this disease be caused by sugar? Sugar is good isn’t it? The sweet taste of it makes us feel good in times of stress. It’s a comfort food. There are a lot of negative things that people could say about other tastes like salty, bitter and sour, but almost everybody loves the taste of sweet. How could it be that sugar is bad?
Well let’s start from the top. First, what is sugar? Sugar is primarily made from sugar cane plants and sugar beets. Basically sugar in the plant is processed into 3 kinds of sugars that we want to be familiar with: Fructose, Glucose and Sucrose. There are other types of sugars but these are the main three. In the form that most of us know it, table sugar is called sucrose. Sucrose is really two types of sugars merged together, glucose and fructose. When sugar first came on the scene back in the early 1900’s it was very expensive and considered a delicacy. It was considered quite a treat to get a sugar cube in your stocking at Christmas time. Being as rare as it was it should be no surprise that diseases like obesity diabetes and heart disease were practically non existent compared to today.
Then came the industrial age and methods were developed to mass produce sugar from cane and beets at far less cost. Sugar became less expensive as time went on and was more readily available. Consumption of sugar up to this point was mostly limited to the white refined sugar we all know as table sugar (sucrose). Now sugar in this form is not good for human health, but what came next was even worse.
Someone came up with the idea to use corn for a sweetener instead of cane sugar or sugar beets. They figured out that by using a very complicated chemical process, a similar product to sucrose could be created from corn. That product came in a liquid form and tasted the same as sucrose for at a cheaper price. It could be used in all kinds of ways that sucrose could not. This was how High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) was born. The only problem is that HFCS is not natural and behaves very differently in the human body than sucrose.
Now that we know what sugar is, let’s discuss how it is killing you.
SUGAR HAS NO NUTRITIONAL VALUE
It a no brainer that table sugar is bad for the teeth. This is because it feeds the bacteria in the mouth known to cause tooth decay. Eating more sugar means more bacteria and more tooth decay. 7 Sugar, no matter what form it is in has no nutritional value. It is empty calories. It provides an intensely sweet flavor with no redeeming value. In fact, it actually costs you in calories. For every teaspoon of sugar you eat it costs you 16 calories. A can of Coke has (7) seven teaspoons of sugar in it so it costs you 112 empty calories.
SUGAR CAN LEAD TO LIVER DISEASE
Sugar is bad for your Liver. Fructose is not good for the body. Recall that sugar (sucrose) is made from a combination glucose and fructose. The body breaks up the sucrose into a separate glucose molecule and a fructose molecule. The body uses the glucose for many processes. When there is no glucose the body can makes it’s own. The fructose however is a different story. The body does not need or use the fructose.
So what happens to the extra fructose? The liver has to deal with the fructose to remove it from the body. This process causes the liver to over work and create fatty deposits in the liver which is called “fatty liver disease”. 6 This can lead to all sorts of problems related to the liver such as feeling tired, loss of weight or appetite, weakness, nausea, confusion, poor judgment, or trouble concentrating.6
SUGAR CAUSES INSULIN RESISTANCE LEADING TO DIABETES
Insulin is a very important hormone. It controls sugar metabolism. As sugar is eaten, it breaks down to glucose in the blood. The glucose is toxic if it is in the blood at high levels for too long. The job of insulin is to move the glucose out of the blood and into the tissues. so it is no longer toxic. When we eat too much sugar for too long the cells in the body become resistant and do not let the glucose in. The glucose continues to rise in the blood and the body keeps producing more insulin to try and compensate.
This is called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance has been linked with the development of other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome and obesity. 9 When this goes on for too long it becomes Type II Diabetes. Eventually the pancreas becomes too tired to keep up with the demand of making insulin and stops all together. These people have to take insulin as a medication to make up the difference. Because of this people who drink sugary soft drinks and juices on a regular basis have been shown to have a 83% higher risk of Type II Diabetes. 8
SUGAR IS RELATED TO INCREASED INCIDENCE OF CANCER
There is much discussion in literature that suggests sugar causes cancer cells to grow more rapidly. While this topic is vigorously debated, it is thought that consistently high levels of insulin caused by sugar consumption may contribute to cancer. 10 Another well known consequence of sugar consumption is inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation is thought to be another significant risk factor in cancer. 11
SUGAR CAUSES CHANGES IN HORMONES LEADING TO INCREASED HUNGER
The fructose component of sugar has an effect on other hormones that are supposed to help you to know whether you are hungry or full. Here is the problem: Sugar is bad because it inhibits the production of the hormone Leptin the satiety hormone while also causing Ghrelin, the hunger hormone, to be overproduced. 12 The combination of the two tricks your body into feeling like your stomach is empty and you are hungry. This causes you to over eat contributing to insulin resistance and obesity. This same process also suppresses the immune system.
SUGAR IS EXTREMELY ADDICTIVE
Sugar consumption can be highly addictive. There is a massive dopamine release (the happy feel good chemical) in the brain's pleasure centers with increased sugar consumption. The dopamine release is much higher than any real whole food can stimulate in nature. 13
People start to get used to this as normal after a while and get addicted to eating sugar to keep feeling way. Some studies have compared sugar addiction the that of cocaine addiction.
SUGAR IS THE NUMBER ONE CAUSE OF OBESITY IN CHILDREN & ADULTS
Due primarily to sugar consumption, obesity has more than tripled and diabetes has increased more than seven fold since 1980. American’s have increased their sugar intake from near zero in the 1950’s to 60 pounds per year at the present.
Many studies have looked at the relationship between the increased incidence of obesity and the increased consumption of sugar and found a strong statistical correlation. Children seem to be even more susceptible to the dangers of sugar consumption and obesity. One study stated that consumption of one (1) daily sugary beverage increases a child's risk of obesity by 60 %.14
SUGAR IS THE CAUSE OF CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE, NOT SATURATED FAT
Perhaps one of the most pervasive pieces of misinformation that has ever been propagated is that heart disease, the number one killer of people in the world, is caused by saturated fat. New research is coming out everyday indicating that saturated fat is harmless and that sugar is what is actually causing heart disease. Studies are showing that in only 10 weeks, consumption of high levels of fructose, can elevate triglyceride and LDL levels while increasing blood glucose, insulin and the incidence of obesity. 15
SUGAR IN THE FORM OF HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP MAY BE CONTAMINATED WITH MERCURY
High Fructose Corn Syrup is used in almost every processed food product manufactured today and may contain contaminants, including mercury, that are not regulated or measured by the FDA. As part of a study a large vat of commercially available HFCS was purchased and tested by an independent laboratory. The testing showed that the HFCS contained toxic levels of mercury as a result of chlor-alkali products used in its manufacturing. 16 Mercury is very toxic to the human body in very small amounts and causes all kinds of dysfunction. This makes one wonder what other harmful chemicals lurk in our food due to manufacturing and processing? Even though mercury toxicity is an indirect result of sugar processing it still is one more reason why sugar is bad.
SUGAR IN ANY FORM CAUSES DIABETES, CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE, OBESITY, LIVER DISEASE AND MORE
Lastly, sugar in any form causes obesity and disease when consumed in large doses. When you see products with high fructose corn syrup (sugar) in them it should be a warning to you of the inferior nature of the food you are looking at. Such foods are poor-quality, nutritionally-depleted, processed industrial food full of empty calories and artificial ingredients.
If you find high fructose corn syrup on the label you can be sure it is not a whole, real, fresh food, full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. Sugar is bad! Stay away from it in all of it’s forms if you want to remain healthy for a lifetime!
SUGAR HAS MANY DIFFERENT DISGUISES!
So the solution is simple right? Cut down on sugar. Not as easy as it sounds. High fructose corn syrup is now added to thousands of foods that never had sugar before. Food that you would not expect like peanut butter, hot dogs and hamburgers have sugar added to them. A recent study found that 80% of the food items bought in America now have added sugar. Even if you read labels to look for sugar the food industry has intentionally made it very difficult. They have created many different names for the sugar in their products to hide it from the consumer. According to Dr. Robert Lustig in his book titled Sugar Has 56 Names: A Shopper's Guide, sugar has...you guessed it...56 different names. Use this as a guide to identify all the different names for sugar while you are shopping. Using a list like this listed will make you more aware next time you looking at labels for sugar.
SUGAR IS BAD BUT YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
From our discussion above it is clear that sugar is bad in all it’s forms can lead to diseases like Metabolic Syndrome, Obesity, Type II Diabetes. When you add Heart Disease and Liver Disease, both of which can also be caused by sugar, you can clearly see how bad sugar really is.
Educated consumers can change the way food if manufactured simply by making better food choices. Food companies only make what consumers are willing to buy. So if enough people avoid buying highly processed foods with added sugars and preservatives the food industry will be forced to make better foods that consumers are willing to buy. It is simple supply and demand. To be effective there has to be lots consumers like you and me reading labels and making better choices. So get started now, because time is running out and sugar is bad and it is slowly killing us!
Please feel free to leave comments, opinions or questions for discussion. All are welcome.
Dr. Norm Adelkopf
- Data Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, Division of Health Interview Statistics, data from the National Health Interview Survey. Statistical analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Diabetes Translation.
- The American Diabetes Association, December 12, 2016
- Long-term Trends in Diabetes April 2016 CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation. United States Diabetes Surveillance System available at http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data
- American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Heart disease and stroke statistics— 2015 update: a report from the American Heart Association [published online ahead of print December 17, 2014].
- U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES,The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Overweight and Obesity Statistics, October 2012
- Liver Foundation: "Fatty Liver Disease," "Fatty Liver."
- World J Gastroenterol. 2010 Jun 7;16(21):2579-88.
- JAMA. 2004;292(8):927-934. doi:10.1001/jama.292.8.927
- American Journal of Cardiology, May 13, 1999, Volume 83, Issue 9, Supplement 2, Pages 25–29
- Insulin and Cancer, Integr Cancer Ther. 2003 Dec;2(4):315-29.
- Journal of Diabetes Research, Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 789174, 12 pages
- Havel PJ. Dietary fructose: implications for dysregulation of energy homeostasis and lipid/carbohydrate metabolism. Nutr Rev 2005;63:133–57
- P. Rada, N.M. Avena, B.G. Hoebel, Neuroscience, Volume 134, Issue 3, 2005, Pages 737–74
- Dr David S Ludwig, MD, Karen E Peterson, ScD, Steven L Gortmaker, PhD, The Lancet, Volume 357, Issue 9255, 17 February 2001, Pages 505–508
- Patty W Siri-Tarino, Qi Sun, Frank B Hu, and Ronald M Krauss, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 13, 2010, doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.27725
- Dufault, R., LeBlanc, B., Schnoll, R. et al. 2009. Mercury from chlor-alkali plants: Measured concentrations in food product sugar. Environ Health. 26(8):2.