Our Sugar Addiction
Research shows that people in Western countries are eating on average the equivalent of about 35 teaspoons of sugar a day! This is because sugars are hidden in almost all the foods we buy from the supermarket, not straight out of the sugar bowl! We need to take a sensible approach to sugars in our diet.
Removing sugar from your diet is the quickest way to lose fat and increase your energy levels. Out of balance blood sugar levels can cause depression which encourages the body to store sugar as fat instead of using it for energy. The quit sugar plan aims to remove processed sugars and simple carbohydrates from your diet. Your skin and mental focus will benefit too!
It's not possible to see added sugars in teaspoons on packaging during manufacturing, but the Nutrition Facts Label can help us to identify added sugars. Look for common sweeteners such as sugar, corn syrup, dextrose and honey.
Diet After Sugar Detox
Artificial sweeteners aren't really a healthy long term solution to removing sugar either because you want to re train your taste buds. Also, using large amounts of artificial sweeteners may lead to adverse health side effects. You will start finding that artificial sweeteners taste horrible and way too sweet! Stevia and Agave seem to be popular natural plant based sweeteners around right now, however Agave is very high in fructose. It is surely better to be eating small amounts of natural honey and maple syrup in moderation for example rather than eating loads of unhealthy so called "sugar free" supermarket foods that are laden with artificial sweeteners and who knows what else. Some common sense has to come into play. Moderation is key and you won't crave sugar like before. You "sweet tooth" will be much more refined. Don't forget too that many recipes can be adapted by reducing sugar and substituting sugar for prunes, honey, maple syrup or dates for example. If you have the time, it is better to cook your own foods so you know what goes into each recipe! Your homemade recipes will be free of all those added sugars, chemical additives and preservatives!
Check Nutritional Information on food labels for Total Carbohydrates as well as Sugars. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. Carbohydrates fall generally into two categories: sugars and starches. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate, and starches, which are complex carbohydrates, break down into blood sugar also known as glucose. Consuming too many carbohydrates can quickly spike blood sugar levels which may cause problems over time. Monitoring and maintaining carbohydrate intake is key to blood sugar control. Foods high in sugary carbohydrates include sugary beverages, desserts, dried fruits, sweets, candy, honey and high sugar fruits. Foods high in starchy carbohydrates can be monitored including starchy vegetables, flour based foods, cereals, peas and beans to a lesser extent, and whole grains such as white rice, barley, oats and quinoa. As some of these foods have high nutritional value on the positive side, limit them and eat in moderation. Cut out or strictly limit amounts of brown rice and quinoa during the stricter 7 day sugar detox phase. Eat lots of low sugar veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, spinach and garden salads.
How Much Sugar?
By observing food labels and learning how to read them, you will be equipped with knowledge how to choose foods wisely from this day forward.
Locate the "Nutritional Information" on the food packaging. Look for "Total Carbohydrates" and "Sugars" as both these will be indicated there. (Incidentally, Trans fats are the unhealthy fats) Remember Fructose and Corn Syrup are some of the worst offenders! Your goal is to aim for foods lower that 5g if possible. Analyze the sugar per 100g because per serving varies from product to product.
The goal for diabetics especially, whether or not they use insulin, is to keep their blood sugar as steady as possible and to maximize their intake of nutritious carbs and minimize consumption of less nutritious foods. A starting place for diabetics is to have roughly 45 to 60g of carbs per meal and 15 to 30g for snacks. Consult your doctor. Read more here about counting carbs.
High: over 22g of total sugars per 100g
Low: 5g of total sugars or less per 100g
*If the amount of sugars per 100g is between these figures, then levels of sugar match accordingly.
*The sugar amount in the nutrition label is the total amount of sugars in the food. It includes added sugars and sugars from ingredients such as fruits and milk. Eggs incidentally have around 1g of sugar per 100g (depending if they are cooked) so these are wonderful nutritional packs straight from nature!
Check the Total Carbohydrates
Carbs are the complex part of sugar so they need to be watched as well. For example quinoa may have only 0.9g of sugar per 100g, but has 64g of total carbs! It is also however high in fibre, so this is where a balanced diet full of a variety of natural foods in your best option for health and weight loss. Moderation is the key when eating high carb or high sugar foods. In saying that, all "junk" foods need to be removed altogether as they have virtually no nutritional value whatsoever!
What is an Acceptable Amount of Carbohydrates?
As a guide, if you eat about 2,000 calories a day, you should consume about 250g of complex carbohydrates per day. That's about 1/8th.
Another example is an average slice of bread. It = approx. 15 grams or 1 serving of carbohydrate.
Although white and wheat bread have a very similar carbohydrate content depending on the brands and labels of course, whole-wheat bread is often best. It usually has more than twice the amount of fiber as white bread, meaning you digest it more slowly, hence your blood sugar will rise more gradually after eating it. Go here to get sugar and carb count for breads.
Always analyze the sugars and total carbs PLUS observe if it's only per Serving Size.
Let's look at the following "health bar" packet. It is high in sugars at 25g and that's not even per 100g but per serving size which is 1 bar! Not healthy, but a way to make it appear that there is less sugar. Also note 33g of total carbohydrates. Learn more here about food nutrition.
Foods to Eat
Low Sugar Foods to Eat:
Beef, Lamb, Pork, Chicken, Turkey and Seafood
Low Sugar Vegetables
Lemons & Limes
Beverages - Water, Black Herbal Tea or Black Coffee (unsweetened)
Olive & Coconut Oil
Coconut Water (plain, unsweetened)
Foods to Avoid
Higher Sugar Foods to Avoid: Read food labels as brands vary!
Candy, Biscuits, Sweets, Cakes etc
Flour Based Products (whole wheat breads in moderation after detox)
Dairy (in moderation after detox)
Sugar (all processed, refined sugars)
Potato (sweet potato in moderation)
Sauces and Dressings (in moderation after detox)
All Sweeteners (artificial, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar in moderation after detox)
Dried Fruit (in limited moderation after sugar detox)
Fruits (in moderation - 2 pieces a day)
Alcohol (in limited moderation after detox)
Note: Honey, maple syrup and dates are high in natural sugars but great for unhealthy processed sugar substitutes when sweetening is required in a recipe. However, only use in moderation after the 7 Day Sugar Detox.
Low Sugar Fruits & Vegetables
Use this link to do thorough searches of your own: How much sugar and carbs is in fruit (Just select a fruit from the drop down box)
Raspberries, strawberries, limes, under ripe bananas, rhubarb and lemons are very good. During detox stick with lemons, limes and under ripe bananas in limited moderation.
Broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale, zucchini and greens are very good.
The Sugar Smart Plan
Sugar Smart Tips
Stop buying hidden high sugar foods that "should" be good for you such as sugary "fruit" muesli, sugary fruit juices and canned fruit, sugary yoghurts and sugary health bars. Cereals can be loaded with sugars or have hidden "clusters" and "dried fruits" that are not natural but rather very sugary.
Look at the labels on foods in your pantry. Highly processed foods and condiments such as low fat mayonnaise, tomato ketchup, jam and Hoisin sauce. Some canned meats and soups can be high in sugars. Flavored "juices" and "drinks" are sugar offenders, so check labels.
"Listen" to your taste buds! If something tastes very sweet, it probably has lots of sugar, so investigate further and either eliminate it from your diet altogether, or if it's natural, use in moderation.
Low fat foods usually have more sugar, so check these too. So think about high fibre, low sugar products but beware "lite" products as they usually have lots of sugar. Full cream milk, cream and butter, plus Greek yoghurt and cream cheese are good, eaten in moderation if watching your weight or fat intake of course.
Berries, peaches and kiwi fruit are better for high fibre and lower in sugars than say grapes, bananas and pineapples. But any fresh fruit or vegetable has got to be better than any of the nasty alternatives. Just aim for eating only a few pieces of lower sugar fruits a day is okay.
Homemade salad dressings, such as with olive oil and apple cider vinegar are much better for you than bought brands. Same goes for homemade sauces. If you can make your own with natural ingredients, this is healthier and more nutritious! I regularly make Tzatziki with Greek yoghurt, a little minced garlic and cucumber.
Cut down or remove store bought sugar from cooking, instead substituting with naturally occurring sweet ingredients such as prunes, dates, natural fruit purees, maple syrup and honey. Although these are high is natural sugars, we tend to only use small amounts as a ratio in our meals. Use common sense...No more honey laden toast or pancakes though!
Eggs and Milks: Eggs have hardly any sugar raw; up to around 1g of sugar per 100g depending on how you eat them cooked. Coconut milk has 3.3g of sugar per 100g, cow's milk 5g, and unsweetened almond milk under 1g. So keep these in your diet!
Think about breakfasts: Try an egg on toast, an omelette or a smoothie instead of sugary muffins or pancakes. Maybe some toast with organic peanut butter or cream cheese. Wean yourself off sugars in your coffee or tea! I make up my own low sugar muesli.
Lignans present in flaxseed, are known to improve the blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics. Incorporating flaxseed into your meals may be beneficial for you. Ask your doctor or nutritionist. They are readily available from the supermarket.
Quit Sugar & Beat Cravings
How to Quit Sugar & Beat the Cravings
There are many good reasons to quit sugar. It gives a short term energy boost, but it comes for a hefty price of sugar low that makes us feel hungry, tired and moody unless, of course, we get more sugar, and thus create a vicious cycle of sugar addiction. On top of that, sugar makes us more likely to store fat, and sometimes it can even cause inflammation, heart disease and even diabetes.
Many of us that have become trapped in this cycle, feel desperate. The good news is that quitting sugar and detoxifying the body as the first step is quite easy. The physical dependence on sugar can be eliminated in only five days by avoiding sugar and sugary foods. The bad news is that in these five days sugar cravings can be very intense.
Here are some tips that can help you on your journey of sugar-free life.
Balance Sugar Levels:
Eat more protein
Eat more complex carbs
Eat more healthy fats
Eat more fibre
Eat more essential fatty acids
Remove simple carbs and sugar
Read Sugar Content on Labels
Manufacturers add sugar to many products, where we wouldn't imagine. For example, almost all ketchup brands contain sugar. Many reduced-fat products make up for the lack of fat with added sugar. When reading a label on a food item, pay attention to the different types of sugars like brown sugar, maple syrup, etc. This way manufacturers can avoid listing sugar as one of the main ingredients. Beware corn syrup, dextrose and honey (although honey is at least natural). If they are near the top of an ingredient list this will signal that there is a high amount of added sugar in the product.
Cold Turkey Detox Plan
It will take about 5 - 10 days to detox and rid your body of sugar. Basically, stop all forms of sugar, flour products and artificial sweeteners through this intense detox phase. You need to re train your taste buds. Eat natural foods and stay clear of packaged foods.
Remove All Obvious Sugary Foods
Go through the pantry, fridge and cupboards.Read the labels and remove things that have more than 5g of sugar per 100g. Stocking sweets and so called healthy items such as muesli bars will not help your cause. Get rid of drinks, candy, cookies and other unhealthy food stashes. There are many other much healthier snacks that you can have around, when the cravings kick in such as celery and low sugar/low salt peanut butter. Eat unlimited non starchy veggies as suggested below.
Drink Plenty of Water
Remove all drinks from your diet that have sugar in them during the detox phase; Juices, sodas, hot beverages and alcohol. Did you know that water not only hydrates our body but also helps dilute and flush out toxins? This is wonderful when trying to detox your body of excess salts and sugars in the bloodstream. Your will urinate more often and your stomach will feel better too. Drink 6: 8 glasses a day. Start with one first thing each morning to get your kidneys active. Similarly, drinking black herbal or black coffee with no sugar will help.Try adding some lemon for a twist. It's refreshing and great for weight loss. Coconut water is another good low sugar alternative coming in at about 3g sugar per 100g.
Eat Low Sugar Vegetables & Fruits
Eat at least 5 servings of vegetables per day that are low in sugar. The best are the non starchy veggies such as collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, celery, spinach, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, tomatoes, fennel, eggplant and peppers for example. Remove the starchy varieties such as potatoes, peas and corn. Have an unlimited amount of the healthy vegetables such as Remove all sugary foods such as dried fruits, honey and sauces. Read the labels and remove things that have more than 5g of sugar per 100g. Start to consider which vegetables, fruits and juices you buy from now on.
Eat Healthy Foods
Foods with high protein and healthy fats like eggs, nuts, hummus, meats and many more are great for satisfying hunger and giving energy. Vegetables have complex carbohydrates that keep you satiated for much longer than. Chocolate lovers can rejoice, because pure 100% cacao dark chocolate has almost no sugar, and tastes just as good, if not better, as regular chocolate.
Eat Wholegrain Breads
This will boost weight loss and you will have more energy. Wholegrain breads are more nutritious and will satisfy you for longer, so introduce these in moderation after the detox phase. Also look for sugar free breads.
Eat a variety of foods that are low on the glycemic index, or that will help bring you blood sugar level down. This could include low GI foods like eggs, onions, garlic, peanuts and low sugar/low salt peanut butter to help stabilize your blood sugar levels. Eat scrambled eggs with some chopped onions and spinach. Good old fashioned peanut butter on celery sticks makes a wonderful snack.
One of your main goals when quitting sugar is keeping yourself satisfied with foods and keep your metabolism kicking along. If you skip meals, it is more likely that you would give into temptation of getting a quick sugar boost. It is easier to control what you eat, if you do it every three to five hours. It will keep your blood sugar stable.
Control Food Sweetness Yourself
After the detox phase, only buy unsweetened products and things that are free from trans or hydrogenated fats and MSG. Be in control of how sweet your foods will be. Sweeteners that contain no sugar, such as xylitol or stevia can be used in moderation if a LITTLE sweetness is a must. However, the ultimate goal is to stop your cravings by reducing the sweetness you eat and retraining your taste buds, so through the detox phase don't use them at all and then only in moderation on occasion if you must! Today many recipes for homemade cookies and cakes often suggest way too much sugar…it’s just not necessary to have a nice taste. Bought products are even worse!
Eat Nutritious Foods
In other words, fill up on good quality nutritious foods rather than high calorie "junk" foods. Prepare and cook with natural, unprocessed nutrient dense foods. Your cravings will stop because you will be satisfied.
The first steps to something new are always the hardest, but once you get used to eating low sugar foods, you will feel more energized and more healthy. You will be more in control of what you eat, and even if you eat a small sugary treat once in a while you won't feel guilty.
The Low Sugar Myth
It might be okay in choosing unsweetened milks such as almond milk for example, but you will need to read labels when shopping because low fat products can be loaded with sugars to put some "taste" back in. A classic example of this is in foods such as low fat yoghurts, low fat creams, ice cream and cookies. Sauces and dressings can also be high in sugars which seems surprising. So read food labels.
In addition to this, carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy and during digestion, sugar which is simple carbohydrates, and starches which are complex carbohydrates, break down into blood sugar also known as glucose. Consuming too much food that is high in carbohydrates quickly can spike blood sugar levels which may cause problems over time. Monitoring and maintaining carbohydrate intake is key to blood sugar control. Potato is a classic example. It has under 1g of sugar per 100 g, but has about 20g of carbs. Lentils have about 2g of sugar but 60g of carbs! So does this mean we must never eat potatoes...I'd say heck no unless you have a specific dietary reason. We live in a modern world so just have a few on occasion, not a plate full at once! Think in terms of balance and moderation. Talk to your dietician or doctor if you have concerns and want to learn more.
The term sugar can be misleading. Most of us hear the word and think of table sugar, the end product of the refining of sugarcane. But the term can be used in so many different contexts and have so many different meanings that confusion abounds. (Food manufacturers couldn’t be happier about this confusion because they often use it to their advantage.)
To understand what sugar really is, you first have to understand some basics about carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are one of three energy-producing nutrients our bodies need; the other two are protein and fat. As a fuel, carbohydrates are the cleanest-burning of the three and the best provider of glucose, a fuel our muscles need for get-up-and-go and a fuel our brains need for clear thinking and steady behavior.
There are two significantly different types of carbohydrates, simple and complex.
Simple carbohydrates, which consist of one or two sugar units in every molecule, are also known as simple sugars. They supply virtually instant energy for the body, but they don’t provide energy that lasts. As you might have guessed, table sugar (also known as dextrose or sucrose) is one type of simple sugar. But so are natural sweeteners such as honey and molasses; fructose, which is found naturally in fruits and can also be a sweetener; and lactose, which is a naturally occurring sugar found in dairy products.
Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are made up of long chains of simple sugars. As their name implies, they are much more complex in structure than simple sugars and require longer digestion to be absorbed. This is beneficial in the long run because the sugars they contain are released more slowly and gradually in the bloodstream, supplying steadier, longer-lasting energy for the body. Complex carbohydrates are found in starches (whole grains and starchy vegetables such as potatoes), legumes (such as beans and peas), and vegetables (such as lettuce, broccoli, and zucchini). These are really good examples of hidden sugars in your diet.
Most of the “complex” carbohydrates Americans consume aren’t really that complex after all. Although classified as complex carbohydrates (because they’re made from grains, not sugars), white pasta, bread, and bagels really react more like simple sugars in the body because the flour in them is highly refined. In refining, nutrient-and fiber-rich whole grains are converted into processed foods that have a long shelf life but many calories and few nutrients (sometimes as much as 86 percent less of some nutrients than are in the original grain). Nutritionally, there is little difference between processed carbohydrates and simple sugars. In fact, far from being healthy foods, these processed carbohydrates contribute to blood sugar problems, weight gain, and malnutrition and give us little in return. You should think of processed carbohydrates as hidden sugars in the diet. (They’re “hidden” because they are disguised as complex carbohydrates.)
When either sugars or processed carbohydrates are eaten, they are broken down almost immediately, and a flood of sugar is released directly into the bloodstream. In response to so much sugar, the pancreas secretes insulin, a hormone that is designed to restore blood sugar equilibrium by taking excess sugar out of the bloodstream and either transforming it into glycogen for energy for our muscles or moving it into fat storage. But the human body was never designed to deal with so many concentrated sweeteners, so the pancreas ends up doing its job too well. In response to excess sugar in the bloodstream, the pancreas produces so much insulin that blood sugar drops too low. The result is a quick burst of energy followed by an equally fast drop in energy. At the same time, insulin causes sugar removed from the bloodstream to be stored as body fat instead. Once you understand these basic nutrition principles, you can see how fat-free (but sugar-and processed-carbohydrate-rich) goodies are not the way to lose weight or to provide any kind of long-term energy.
To understand sugars and carbohydrates and the insulin response to them, it’s also extremely helpful to know about the glycemic index of foods.
The glycemic index is a listing based upon real-life blood sugar levels after the ingestion of various foods. Low-glycemic-index foods rank between 0 and 40 on the scale (the reference point is glucose, at 100) and raise the blood sugar slowly and gradually. They are the least likely to cause blood sugar fluctuations, followed, of course, by moderate-glycemic-index foods. High-glycemic-index foods, however, cause an alarmingly fast rise in blood sugar, followed by an equally severe blood sugar crash. In other words, they are high inducers of insulin secretion.
To help you understand the glycemic index, keep in mind three things:
1. Foods that rank lower on the index help maintain weight, balance blood sugar, and give better, longer-term energy than higher-index foods, which give quick bursts of energy. Put simply, less is more.
2. Eating some protein or fat with moderate-or high-glycemic-index foods helps to slow down the body’s insulin response and keep blood sugar more steady.
3. Even when they rank equally with whole-grain products on the glycemic index, processed carbohydrates such as white pasta are still less desirable than whole-grain products because they lack vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Once you understand the structure and different kinds of sugar and the body’s glycemic response, you can understand why sugar harms your health.
The following list is a sampling of common foods in each category you can use as a general guide.
To find out the glycemic index value of a certain food or to learn more on this topic, check out the searchable database on the Web site www.glycemicindex.com.
The Glycemic Index of Foods
RAPID INDUCERS OF INSULIN
Glycemic index greater than 100
Instant white rice
40 percent bran flakes
Tofu ice-cream substitute
Glycemic index of 100
Glycemic index between 90 and 99
Glycemic index between 80 and 89
Glycemic index between 70 and 79
MODERATE INDUCERS OF INSULIN
Glycemic index between 60 and 69
Mars candy bar
Glycemic index between 50 and 59
Dried white beans
Glycemic index between 40 and 49
REDUCED INSULIN SECRETION
Glycemic index between 30 and 39
Fish sticks (breaded)
Glycemic index between 20 and 29
Glycemic index between 10 and 19
The Problems With Sugar
Sugar has been blamed for nearly every known disease and even for the fall of several empires. While those accusations may sound like exaggerations, they probably are closer to the truth than you realize.
Saying sugar is bad for you is the ultimate understatement. The far-reaching problems sugar can cause are well documented in medical journals throughout the world, and new connections between sugar and disease are made each year.
Even as far back as the late 1960s and early 1970s nutritional pioneers such as Adelle Davis, Carlton Fredericks, Dr. Herman Goodman, Dr. T. L. Cleave, and Dr. John Yudkin were already warning the public about the dangers of eating too much refined sugar. Twenty years earlier, Dr. E. M. Abrahamson, and A. W. Pezet wrote about the insulin connection to disease, the result of too much sugar in the diet. It is now more widely known than ever that sugar is bad. But how bad exactly?
1. Cardiovascular Disease
The sugar connection to heart disease was noticed in the 1970s. In the classic study The Saccharine Disease (Keats Publishing, 1975), T. L. Cleave showed convincing evidence that increases in cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other common diseases could be traced to increases in sugar and refined carbohydrate intake. These diseases were virtually nonexistent in primitive cultures, he noted, until about twenty years after the societies began eating refined carbohydrates.
British researcher John Yudkin, M.D., came to a similar conclusion. In his classic book Sweet and Dangerous (Wyden Books, 1972), Dr. Yudkin cited numerous examples in a variety of societies that showed that sugar was a more likely cause of heart disease than fat. For example, the Masai and Samburu tribes of East Africa, he explained, have almost no heart disease, yet they eat a high-fat diet of mostly meat and milk—but no sugar. Recent research is proving the validity of the theories posed by Drs. Cleave and Yudkin, showing a direct relationship between sugar and heart disease because of insulin. Remember that when sugar is eaten, insulin is produced. Insulin not only helps to store excess sugar as fat (as explained before) but also helps regulate blood triglyceride levels, which are a major predictor of the development of heart disease. The more sugar you eat, the more insulin your pancreas will produce and the higher your triglyceride levels are likely to be.
High insulin levels in the blood are also linked to low levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol), high blood pressure, and obesity—three other important heart disease risk factors. Caused by the common problem of insulin resistance, this conglomeration of symptoms was originally named syndrome X in 1988 by Gerald Reaven, M.D., a world-renowned endocrinologist and professor emeritus at Stanford University School of Medicine. Today, this condition is more popularly known as pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome (see more about this on Front Matter), and it probably affects 75 percent of Americans to some degree.
Could it be just a coincidence that at the same time the country was quietly being slipped HFCS in the general food supply, average cholesterol levels were going through the roof, not to mention the trend of increasing triglyceride levels and abnormal liver tests?
The answer is simple: Your body is not designed to metabolize HFCS. Put simply, the HFCS skips right past the need for insulin production, so your body doesn’t send out a signal that it has eaten appetite-satisfying food. HFCS goes right into your cells, where it becomes an uncontrolled source of trouble all the way down to your liver. Your body just doesn’t recognize HFCS, so it doesn’t know how to control it, and in the end it becomes stored as fat (for more about this, see “Obesity” on Front Matter).
If you suspect metabolic syndrome, have your doctor perform some simple tests. Here are some things to look for:
- Low HDL levels (lower than 50 for men, lower than 60 for women)
- High triglycerides (greater than 100)
- High triglycerides/HDL ratio (greater than 4 to 1)
- Abnormal liver tests (AST, ALT, GGT)
- High serum ferritin (higher than 200)
- High serum uric acid (greater than 7)
- Low serum magnesium (lower than 2)
- Fasting blood sugar greater than 90
- Fasting insulin greater than 8
As already noted, Americans consume on average of 180 pounds of sugar per person per year. According to Dr. Christine Horner in her book Waking the Warrior Goddess, “Cancer cells love sugar. It is their preferred fuel. The more sugar you eat, the faster cancer cells grow. Your pancreas responds to sugar by releasing insulin, the hormone that escorts sugar into your cells. When you eat refined simple sugars, such as table sugar, candy, cookies, or other sugar-laden foods, your blood sugar levels rise very quickly. Your pancreas responds by releasing a lot of insulin. That’s not good. High insulin levels are one of the biggest risk factors and promoters of breast cancer. Women with high insulin levels have a 283 percent greater risk of breast cancer.”
Horner goes on to explain that insulin attaches to breast cell receptors (healthy and/or cancerous), speeding up cell division in the same way estrogen does if it attaches to a receptor. And that’s not all. Healthy levels of insulin naturally regulate the amount of estrogen that is available to attach to receptors, thereby naturally controlling excess estrogen-driven cell division. Understand that the cell division trouble created by excess insulin is twofold: more cancer and more healthy cells at risk for developing cancer.
As you might have guessed, excess sugar fuels the cancer fire in areas beyond breast tissue. One Swedish study with 80,000 participants documented that people who consume two or more carbonated drinks and/or use diluted sugar-sweetened fruit drinks a day have almost double the risk of developing pancreatic cancer.*3 Now consider that in 2004 Swedes drank an average of 76 liters of these kinds of beverages per year, while Americans averaged 200 liters per year.
As with heart disease, the prevalence of cancer has dramatically increased as America’s (and other countries’) sugar consumption has risen. While it’s not clear whether sugar actually causes healthy cells to mutate and become cancerous, we do know one thing for sure: Once cells become cancerous, they feed directly on sugar, the way a yeast organism does during fermentation, and sugar can accelerate tumor growth.
3. Adult-Onset Diabetes
Adult-onset diabetes, also known as type II diabetes, is another degenerative disease that has increased in frequency as sugar consumption has increased. Sugar’s connection to this disease seems clear: During World War II, when sugar consumption in the United States dropped, the number of cases of adult-onset diabetes also dropped sharply.
This form of diabetes accounts for 98 percent of all the diabetes cases in America today and is considered to be almost entirely diet-related. It develops when insulin receptors in the cells no longer respond to the insulin being produced by the pancreas, and the cells are less able to get energy from the food we eat. Excess calories are then converted to fat, and numerous serious health complications can develop. Most health professionals agree that too many sugars and refined carbohydrates are at least a major contributing factor in the disease.
Though diabetes is caused by high blood sugar, hypoglycemia is low blood sugar, a condition that often precedes the development of adult-onset diabetes. In hypoglycemia, the pancreas reacts to excess processed carbohydrates in the diet by sending out so much insulin that blood sugar drops too low, resulting in fatigue, lack of concentration, anxiety, mood swings, and irritability. Several health professionals, such as research psychologist Alexander Schauss, Ph.D., believe that alcoholics and drug addicts start out as hypoglycemics first and that hypoglycemia can also lead to criminal activity. Since almost all Americans eat too much sugar, many nutritionists think that most Americans are on an almost certain collision course with hypoglycemia.
Excess sugar raises insulin levels, which in turn speeds up the process of cell division, with consequences for cancer and elevated cancer risk. High insulin levels also negatively impact aging and life span. If you consider that, in theory, each of your cells is programmed to divide a finite number of times, with each division bringing the cell closer to death, then it is easy to understand why speeding up cell division speeds up aging. Eating sugar and sugar’s kissing cousins is like pushing a fast-forward button on cellular age.
Just as we begin to understand that free radicals can deteriorate cells, scientists have confirmed that one of the most profound instruments of aging is a newly recognized aging by-product called advanced glycation end products or AGEs. AGEs are the result of a complicated chemical reaction involving the cross-linking of sugar and protein when your tissues are exposed to excess glucose. This effect has been described as “browning” because of the analogy between the glycation process and the browning effect that happens to the skin of a cooked turkey or chicken as the heated sugar becomes cross-linked with the heated protein. The glycation process changes the very structure of proteins.
In fact, the glycation process affects every organ in your body because collagen is one of the first proteins to be impacted. Collagen is the connective tissue that holds your skeleton, your muscles, and your blood vessels together. The first organs to show the effects of AGEs are your skin (think wrinkles and age spots), your immune system, and your eyes. While you may not be climbing into an oven anytime soon, the process the body goes through during normal metabolism also creates a kind of heating up of sugar and protein. So, throughout the course of your life, you are “cooking” from the inside out.
High levels of glucose have been shown to increase the production of both AGEs and free radicals, the highly unstable molecules that can damage cell membranes and start a chain reaction that can lead to chronic disease. Simply put, sugar can make you old before your time because the more sugar you consume, the more sugar your body must metabolize and the greater the amount of destructive by-products produced.
When high-fructose corn syrup became commonplace in the late 1970s, obesity levels began to soar. HFCS is a manmade, cheap, versatile, supersweet version of sucrose (aka table sugar). The problem is that it has introduced large quantities of a new refined version of fructose into the public food supply. While sucrose is 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose, HFCS is formed by adding specific enzymes to corn syrup in order to turn the high-glucose corn syrup into a 90 percent fructose product (HFCS 90). Then glucose is blended back in to get the desired glucose-fructose blend—usually 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose. Plus many filtration, ion exchange, and evaporation steps plus carbon adsorption (for removing impurities) are part of the process. Your body is not designed for high levels of refined fructose.
HFCS appears to affect our bodies differently than table sugar (sucrose). Every cell in your body can metabolize glucose, while the liver must metabolize fructose, so important appetite controls are bypassed. Unlike glucose, the fructose in HFCS is quickly absorbed into your cells without the help of insulin and without the subsequent increase in leptin, a hormone that regulates appetite by signaling to your brain that you are full. In addition, the insulin produced during glucose metabolism suppresses a hormone called ghrelin produced by the stomach to regulate food uptake; this action is missing with fructose metabolism, so you stay hungry and keep eating.
Plus fructose is metabolized differently by the liver than glucose; in fact, it is metabolized by a biochemical pathway in the liver that more easily leads to accumulation of body fat. So over time the cumulative effect of even a small increase in fructose combined with increased consumption adds up and adds pounds.
A study out of Perdue University offers support for the theory that artificial sweeteners increase caloric intake. An unfortunate effect that these supersweet sugar substitutes are having on our bodies is a loss in our natural ability to “count” calories. Our bodies spent thousands of years developing the natural ability to estimate caloric intake based on sweetness level. By introducing highly sweet products that lack expected calories, we have disrupted this natural control mechanism.
Consider that naturally sweet fruits offer small amounts of fructose balanced with fiber and other protective nutrients that slow absorption and improve metabolism. The ready availability of manmade sugars that disrupt our natural appetite controls makes it no wonder that obesity rates have skyrocketed.
7. Impaired Immunity
Sugar is a known immunosuppressant. This is frightening considering that our ability to withstand all diseases, from the common cold to AIDS, depends on having an active, healthy immune system. No matter what form it takes, sugar paralyzes the immune system in a variety of ways:
1. It has been proven to reduce the germ-killing ability of white blood cells for up to five hours after ingestion.
2. It reduces the production of antibodies, proteins that combine with and inactivate foreign invaders in the body.
3. It interferes with the transport of vitamin C, one of the most important nutrients for all facets of immune function.
4. It causes mineral imbalances and sometimes allergic reactions, both of which weaken the immune system.
5. It neutralizes the action of essential fatty acids, thus making cells more permeable to invasion by allergens and micro-organisms.
8. Other Health Problems
All of this should be evidence enough to get the sugar out of your diet, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Excessive sugar consumption is believed to cause or at least contribute to all of the symptoms, deficiencies, and ailments in the list above. This list was compiled from a detailed review of hundreds of books, articles, and scientific studies that I have researched over the past twenty years.
Addictions to drugs, caffeine, and food
Adrenal gland exhaustion
Cancer (particularly breast cancer and colon/rectal cancer)
Diverticulitis and diverticulosis
Endocrine gland dysfunction
High blood cholesterol
High estrogen levels
High triglyceride levels
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Impaired digestion of all foods
Liver enlargement and fatty liver syndrome
Low HDL cholesterol
Premature aging and wrinkles
Shortened life span
Vaginal yeast infections
Our bodies do not need simple sugars at all.
The human body needs only about two teaspoons of sugar in the bloodstream at any one time. That small amount can easily be obtained through the digestion of complex carbohydrates, protein, and fat. And those complex carbohydrates don’t even need to include fruit. We can meet our sugar requirements quite adequately from vegetables, legumes, and grains. (As surprising as that may be, it’s true. In fact, some individuals, such as those afflicted with serious yeast infections or those with very high triglyceride levels, need to avoid fruit until their conditions improve. The sugar in fruit feeds yeasts and also raises triglyceride levels just as refined sugar does.)
While most of us do not need to eliminate fruit from our diets, we do need to avoid refined sugar at all costs. Even if we were to eat no sugar at all, our bodies would still have plenty of sugar. Every teaspoon of refined sugar you eat works to throw the body out of balance and compromise its health.”
The answer is simple: fresh fruits and vegetables.
Nature provided us with all the sugar we require in vegetables and fruits. These foods also provide the fiber and nutrients we need to properly utilize the sugars they contain. In addition, vegetables and fruits supply powerful, immune-boosting chemicals and antioxidants, some of our best allies to help fight off disease. All of these benefits make vegetables and fruits the only sources of sugars we should regularly include in our daily diets.
Why Does My Body Need Any Sugar?
This answer is not quite as simple. There is a subgroup of sugars referred to as “essential sugars” that deserve to be included in your sugar-savvy education. These essential sugars, collectively called glyconutrients, build special molecules that coat your cells and act as the communication liaison between cells.
Where you can find these essential sugars:
- Galactose is found in various vegetables, fruits, and dairy (lactose).
- Fucose is found in human breast milk, seaweed, certain medicinal mushrooms, and marine algae.
- Mannose is found in blueberries, cranberries, currants, gooseberries, green beans, cabbage, turnips, kelp, and aloe vera.
- N-acetylgalactosamine is found in human breast milk and in chondroitin sulfate.
- N-acetylglucosamine is found in human breast milk and in glucosamine.
- N-acetylneuramic acid is found in human breast milk.
- Xylose can be found in xylitol.
As you might imagine, cellular communication plays a crucial role in your system, especially when your body is in crisis. In fact, glyconutrients can help stimulate the immune system when you are sick. It is no wonder that so many of these essential sugars are found in human breast milk. The key here is to remember that these essential sugars are all natural compounds, some made by your body and some found in foods.
Sugar and carbohydrates in common foods per 100g:
Foods that have less than 5g sugar per 100g are low sugar foods. Foods that have more than 15g sugar per 100g are high sugar foods. Of course varieties and brands may vary in sugar content. This is why it is important to educate yourself by reading the nutritional facts where possible.
Apple 10.3g sugar, 13g total carbohydrates
Banana 22.6g sugar, 23g total carbohydrates
Grapefruit 5g sugar, 11g total carbohydrates
Grapes 15.5g sugar,17g total carbohydrates
Kiwifruit 9.6g sugar,15g total carbohydrates
Lemon 2.1g sugar, 9g total carbohydrates
Orange 7.7g sugar, 12g total carbohydrates
Peaches 7.3g sugar, 10g total carbohydrates
Strawberries 6.6g sugar, 8g total carbohydrates
Watermelon 5.1g sugar, 8g total carbohydrates
Beets 7.7g sugar, 10g total carbohydrates
Broccoli 1.7g sugar, 7g total carbohydrates
Cabbage 3.6g sugar, 6g total carbohydrates
Carrots 4.7g sugar, 10g total carbohydrates
Eggplant 2.4g sugar, 6g total carbohydrates
Green peas 6g sugar, 14g total carbohydrates
Lettuce 1.9g sugar, 2.9g total carbohydrates
Potato 0.8g sugar, 17g total carbohydrates
Pumpkin 2.8g sugar, 6g total carbohydrates
Turnip 3.8g sugar, 6g total carbohydrates
Grains and Breads
Couscous 0.1g sugar, 23g total carbohydrates
Pasta 2.7g sugar, 75g total carbohydrates
Rice 0.4g sugar, 23g total carbohydrates
Rye bread 3.8g sugar, 48g total carbohydrates
White bread 5g sugar, 73g total carbohydrates
Brown rice 0.4g sugar, 23g total carbohydrates
Quinoa 0.9g sugar, 64g total carbohydrates
Eggs and Dairy
Butter 0.1g sugar, 13g total carbohydrates
Cheese, Swiss 1.2gsugar, 13g total carbohydrates
Eggs 0.4g sugar, 13g total carbohydrates
Milk 5g sugar, 13g total carbohydrates
Yogurt, unsweetened 3.2g sugar, 13g total carbohydrates
Chicken meat 0g sugar, 0g total carbohydrates
Ground beef 0g sugar, 0g total carbohydrates
Pork meat 0g sugar, 0.2g total carbohydrates
Salmon 0g sugar, 0g total carbohydrates
Tuna 0g sugar, 0g total carbohydrates