Is sugar a sweet old friend that is secretly plotting your demise?
There is a vast sea of research suggesting that it is. Science has now shown us, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that sugar in your food, in all its myriad of forms, is taking a devastating toll on your health.
The single largest source of calories for Americans comes from sugar--specifically high fructose corn syrup. Just take a look at the sugar consumption trends of the past 300 years:
- In 1700, the average person consumed about 4 pounds of sugar per year.
- In 1800, the average person consumed about 18 pounds of sugar per year.
- In 1900, individual consumption had risen to 90 pounds of sugar per year.
In 2009, more than 50 percent of all Americans consume one-half pound of sugar PER DAY--translating to a whopping 180 pounds of sugar per year!
Sugar is loaded into your soft drinks, fruit juices, sports drinks, and hidden in almost all processed foods--from bologna to pretzels to Worcestershire sauce to cheese spread. And now most infant formula has the sugar equivalent of one can of Coca-Cola, so babies are being metabolically poisoned from day one if taking formula.
No wonder there is an obesity epidemic in this country!
Today, 32 percent of Americans are obese and an additional one-third are overweight.
Compare that to 1890, when a survey of white males in their fifties revealed an obesity rate of just 3.4 percent. In 1975, the obesity rate in America had reached 15 percent, and since then it has doubled.
Carrying excess weight increases your risk for deadly conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes.
In 1893, there were fewer than three cases of diabetes per 100,000 people in the United States. Today, diabetes strikes almost 8,000 out of every 100,000 people.
You don't have to be a physician or a scientist to notice America's expanding waistline. All you have to do is stroll through a shopping mall or a schoolyard, or perhaps glance in the mirror.
Eating Fructose is Far Worse than Eating Fat
- Fructose elevates uric acid, which decreases nitric oxide, raises angiotensin, and causes your smooth muscle cells to contract, thereby raising your blood pressure and potentially damaging your kidneys.
- Increased uric acid also leads to chronic, low-level inflammation, which has far-reaching consequences for your health. For example, chronically inflamed blood vessels lead to heart attacks and strokes; also, a good deal of evidence exists that some cancers are caused by chronic inflammation.
- Fructose tricks your body into gaining weight by fooling your metabolism--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.
- Fructose rapidly leads to weight gain and abdominal obesity ("beer belly"), decreased HDL, increased LDL, elevated triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, and high blood pressure--i.e., classic metabolic syndrome.
Why is Fructose so Bad?
Dr. Robert Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco, has been a pioneer in decoding sugar metabolism. His work has highlighted some major differences in how different sugars are broken down and used by the human body.
As I mentioned earlier, after eating fructose, most of the metabolic burden rests on your liver. This is NOT the case with glucose, of which your liver breaks down only 20 percent. Nearly every cell in your body utilizes glucose, so it's normally "burned up" immediately after consumption.
So where does all of this fructose go, once you consume it?
Onto your thighs. It is turned into FAT (VLDL and triglycerides), which means more fat deposits throughout your body.
Part of what makes HFCS so unhealthy is that it is metabolized to fat in your body far more rapidly than any other sugar. The entire burden of metabolizing fructose falls on your liver, and it promotes a particularly dangerous kind of body fat, namely adipose fat. This is the fat type of fat that collects in your abdominal region and is associated with a greater risk of heart disease.
Additionally, because most fructose is consumed in liquid form (i.e. soda and sweetened beverages of all kinds), its negative metabolic effects are magnified. Because while HFCS has about the same amount of fructose as cane sugar, the fructose in HFCS is in its "free" form and not attached to any other carbs.
The Sugar / Cancer Connection
The factor that links obesity, diabetes, and cancer is insulin resistance.
According to Lewis Cantley, director of the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School, as much as 80 percent of all cancers are "driven by either mutations or environmental factors that work to enhance or mimic the effect of insulin on the incipient tumor cells," Gary Taubes reports, adding:
"As it was explained by Craig Thompson, who has done much of this research and is now president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the cells of many human cancers come to depend on insulin to provide the fuel (blood sugar) and materials they need to grow and multiply. Insulin and insulin-like growth factor (and related growth factors) also provide the signal, in effect, to do it.
The more insulin, the better they do.
Some cancers develop mutations that serve the purpose of increasing the influence of insulin on the cell; others take advantage of the elevated insulin levels that are common to metabolic syndrome, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Some do both.
Thompson believes that many pre-cancerous cells would never acquire the mutations that turn them into malignant tumors if they weren't being driven by insulin to take up more and more blood sugar and metabolize it."
Some cancer centers, such as the Cancer Centers of America, have fully embraced this knowledge and place their patients on strict low-sugar, low-grain diets. But conventional medicine in general has been woefully lax when it comes to highlighting the health dangers of this additive.
It's quite clear that if you want to avoid cancer, or are currently undergoi
ng cancer treatment, you absolutely MUST avoid all forms of sugar!
What Should I do - Avoid All Sugar?
Ideally, if one can, it is best for you to avoid sugar, in all forms. This is especially important for people who are overweight or have diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
But if you're looking for the occasional sweet treat, I would suggest:
1. The herb stevia (this is the best and safest sweetener, although illegal to use as a food additive, according to the FDA)
2. Organic cane sugar
3. Raw, organic honey
I recommend avoiding all other types of sugar, including fructose, HFCS, and any type of artificial sweeteners. As I mentioned earlier, the absolute easiest way to do this is to stop drinking soda and avoid processed foods.
Small amounts of whole fruit, which do contain fructose, are typically not a problem. As long as you're healthy, feel free to enjoy fruit and berries in moderation according to your nutritional type.
The Bottom Line
If you want to RADICALLY reduce, and in many cases virtually eliminate your risk of the following diseases;
then start getting VERY serious about restricting the level of fructose to no more than 25 grams per day. If you already have any of these diseases or are at high risk of any of them, then you are probably better off by cutting that to 10-15 grams per day.
So, if you haven't done so already PLEASE get VERY serious about restricting fructose as there is no doubt in my mind when it is consumed in quantities over 25 grams per day it will rapidly accelerate your path towards chronic degenerative disease.