You may avoid chocolate, candy, cakes and cookies, never letting a bit of carbonated soda touch your lips and think you have the sugar problem conquered. You may be wrong. Sugar seems to be in everything from the ketchup on your burger to commercial soups and bread. It’s often in the form of high fructose corn syrup, which is disguised by using other names such as natural corn syrup, isolated fructose and glucose/fructose syrup. My favorite is maize syrup. It sounds so natural, since maize is a derivation of the name the indigenous people of pre-Columbia America gave to corn. Sugar was never meant to be eaten in such quantity and studies show there’s a price to pay. Is sugar ruining your health? I believe the answer may be yes.
Sugar has an effect on the immune system that leaves you open to a number of conditions.
Your immune system fights off foreign invaders such as bacteria, fungi, virus and even cancer cells. It needs vitamin C to do it. When glucose is in your bloodstream, the structure is much like vitamin C. Phagocytes, white blood cells that envelop the offenders, grab it up instead and it leaves these cells almost powerless to fight. Even healthy foods can have the effect. Orange juice, for instance, raises blood glucose levels. However, if you eat the orange instead, the fiber in the orange slows down the absorption of glucose into the blood stream and allows the cells to work the way they were meant to work.
Sugar can cause insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is the start of type II diabetes. It’s the precursor to metabolic syndrome, obesity and cardiovascular disease too. When there’s glucose in the bloodstream, the body produces insulin to unlock the cells so the glucose can get in and feed them. Sometimes, the cells don’t respond to the insulin, leaving the glucose free in the bloodstream, so the pancreas continues to produce more. It becomes a vicious circle with the pancreas working overtime. While scientists don’t know the exact reason that this occurs, they do know that obesity, lack of exercise, stress, poor diet and certain diseases can cause it.
Sugar can cause heart disease.
It’s known that excess sugar in the bloodstream can raise blood pressure and that a diet high in sugar, more than 25% of total calories, causes the liver to dump excess fats into the bloodstream. Both of these factors can boost the potential for heart disease. The American Heart Association suggests that women consume no more than 6 teaspoons of extra sugar daily, with men’s limits being about 9 teaspoons. Since a 12-ounce can of soda contains about 9 teaspoons of sugar, just one can would put most people over the limit.
- Sugar can lead to a myriad of conditions that are as varied as weaker eyesight, arthritis, gall stones and varicose veins.
- Sugar causes premature aging by combining with proteins in a process called glycation. They form a new molecule called advanced glycation end products—AGEs. These attack other cells like collagen and elastin that keep the skin firm, making you look older before you should.
- Sugar can lead to emotional swings and contributes to anxiety and depression.
- Consuming too much sugar is bad for the teeth, but also extremely bad for the memory. One study showed that sugar slows the brain and hinders memory and learning. Think about that the next time you forget where you left your keys.