Know the eight dangers-of-sugar

When we think about the dangers-of-sugar, we think primarily about type ll diabetes. Type ll diabetes is the result of resistance to the effects of insulin by the body, which then cannot maintain proper levels of sugar in the blood.

Insulin is produced by the pancreas to balance blood sugar. Excess sugar triggers the pancreas to increase insulin levels. Prolonged high intake of sugar and resulting high levels of insulin stresses the pancreas, irritates blood vessel linings and contributes to insulin resistance.

Glucose is the principal fuel used by the brain and nervous system and by red blood cells. Muscle and other body cells can also use glucose for energy. Because a steady supply of glucose is so critical to cells, blood glucose is maintained within a relatively narrow range through the action of various hormones, mainly insulin. The body stores a small amount of glucose in liver and muscle tissue for emergency use.

Sucrose (table sugar) is a 50:50 mixture of fructose and glucose. Sucrose occurs naturally in sugarcane, sugar beets, sugar-maple sap, dates, and honey. Fructose, along with glucose, occurs in fruits, honey, and syrups. Glucose is absorbed directly into the blood and fructose goes to the liver where it is converted into fat. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is 55% fructose, 42% glucose or nearly the same as sucrose.  High-fructose corn syrup is widely used in the food industry, especially in the manufacture of soft drinks, because it is considerably cheaper than sucrose.

Excess sugar is toxic that in addition to diabetes may cause cancer, obesity, liver damage, heart disease, high blood pressure and dementia. Excessive sugar consumption will tilt the body-pH-balance strongly acidic promoting cancer. Fructose will end up in cells as fat and in the blood stream as triglycerides. Triglycerides are a significant risk factor for heart disease. The increase in triglycerides is one of the more significant dangers-of-sugar.

We should avoid excess sugar in all its forms including white flour and processed carbohydrates. Additionally most packaged foods are loaded with sugar. But avoiding the dangers-of-sugar can be a daunting task. I can attest to the fact that sugar can be addictive.

Eight dangers-of-sugar

  1. Excess sugar contributes to insulin resistance leading to Type II Diabetes. Continued ingestion of excessive amounts of sugar and carbohydrates will cause the pancreas to increase its insulin output in order to store the blood sugar in cells. This will ultimately result in insulin resistance.
  2. Excess sugar can cause obesity and will continue to make it very difficult to control weight. Insulin is a fat storing hormone. Excess sugar that is not used for energy will be stored as fat.
  3. Excess sugar can cause liver damage. Glucose is absorbed right into the blood stream. Fructose goes to the liver and is converted into fat. Fructose is a major cause of fatty liver.
  4. Excess sugar can cause heart disease and is arguably the leading dietary cause of heart disease. This is one of the significant dangers-of-sugar. High sugar consumption increases triglycerides and causes inflammation of artery walls and LDL cholesterol. Lowering triglycerides is one of the major benefits of a diet lower in sugar.
  5. Excess sugar causes hypertension. High blood sugar levels lead to increased blood insulin levels. High blood pressure follows insulin induced artery narrowing and salt/slash water retention. More water, more blood, and narrowed arteries equal higher blood pressure.
  6. Excess sugar can lead to dementia and possibly even Alzheimer’s disease. Low density lipoproteins (LDL) transport needed cholesterol to the neurons in our brain and other parts of the nervous system. Sugar can oxidize LDL disrupting this process.
  7. Sugar can be a promoter of cancer and actually provide energy for the growth of cancers cells. Stop eating sugar and help prevent or starve cancer. Eat fish and colorful vegetables to help moderate rises in blood sugar. Additionally the use of cinnamon can help stabilize blood sugar. 
  8. Excess sugar can result in a weakened immune system. While most sugar is absorbed before it gets to the intestines, excess sugar can significantly aggravate yeast overgrowth and suppress the immune system.

As a part of your annual physical, ask your physician to order both a fasting blood sugar and a fasting insulin level. The reference range for the fasting blood sugar is 70 to 100. Your blood sugar could be in the high normal but without a fasting insulin level you won’t know how hard the pancreas is working to keep the blood sugar at that level.

The bottom line is that we should all reduce the amount of sugar and carbs that we eat. We should also know what our blood sugar is at least annually and discuss it and the dangers-of-sugar with your physician.  

Take responsibility for your own health. Read the reference books listed. And remember that knowledge is power but only if we act on that knowledge to make necessary lifestyle changes.

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Although Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, his eye was not dim, nor his vigor abated. Deut. 34:7

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References and suggested reading: 

Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D. and Jonny Bowden, PH.D, C.N.S., The Great Cholesterol Myth, Why lowering your cholesterol won’t prevent heart disease and the statin free plan that will. Fair Winds Press, 2012. 

David Perlmutter, M.D. with Kristin Loberg, Grain Brain, The surprising truth about wheat, carbs, and sugar – your brain’s silent killers. Little, Brown & Company, 2013. 

Mary G. Enig, Ph. D, Know Your Fats: The complete primer for understanding the nutrition of fats, oils, and cholesterol, Bethesda Press, 2000, 2013. 

"fructose." Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite.  Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 2011. 

"sucrose." Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite.  Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 2011. 

"glucose." Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite.  Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 2011. 

"nutrition, human." Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite.  Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 2011. 

"sugar." Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite.  Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 2011. 

"corn syrup." Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 2011.

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