- mood swings
- panic attacks
- mineral deficiencies
- adrenal gland depletion
- candida overgrowth
- increased cholesterol levels
- chronic fatigue
Then we get into the more serious diseases and disorders, as cancers, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Sugar, even in small amounts, suppresses the immune system making it easier to succumb to the various ailments. It should be noted though that there is a very significant difference between white refined sugar and naturally occurring complex sugars found in whole foods.
To be sure, sugar is needed by the body for energy. However, far too many people are getting too much of a good thing way too much.
Although diabetes is not caused by sugar, it is definitely the most well known sugar-related disorder. Diabetes is now thought to be the result of cell amnesia. For some reason not yet understood, even though there is sufficient sugar and insulin in the bloodstream, the cells are not recognizing each other.
Cells are not able to absorb glucose on their own. They require the help of the hormone insulin produced by the pancreas. Cell surfaces have receptors which recognize insulin, thereby allowing glucose to enter into them. Without the insulin, cells literally starve to death, even though there may be plenty of glucose present in the blood.
It is this condition that produces a spillover of glucose into the urine because the receptors, that are supposed to recognize insulin, have developed amnesia. Since there seems to be plenty of insulin, as well as glucose, in the bloodstream and the uptake does not seem to happen, scientists are now speculating that this amnesia may be the main cause of the disease.
To determine whether or not someone is developing diabetes, urine tests are taken to measure sugar levels. Urine tests, however, are not a reliable means of determining blood sugar levels since each individual is different when it comes to levels of blood glucose that spill over into the urine. For some, even though the blood sugar levels are high, glucose may not spill over into the urine where it could be detected solely through that test. For others, the spillover may occur when blood sugar levels are only slightly increased. Therefore, urine tests alone should not be the sole indicator.
A common physical indicator now used is that those who show more belly-fat rather than hip or thigh fat appear to be more prone to developing diabetes.
The person who has more hip or thigh fat is usually more prone toward heart disease.
There are several types of diabetes.
- Type I is known as insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM). It is a condition that usually starts very early in life and, without a life-long use of insulin, the individual will die. About 5-10% of those with diabetes will have Type I. Risk factors include autoimmune, genetic, and environmental factors.
- Type II diabetes is known as non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). This commonly appears later in adult life, thereby acquiring its other name adult-onset diabetes. Over 90% of Americans who have diabetes have this type. It is a metabolic disorder resulting from the body’s inability to make enough insulin, or properly use it. This disease is often associated with obesity, family history of diabetes, prior history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, physical inactivity, and race or ethnicity. This type is increasingly being diagnosed in children and adolescents.
- Gestational diabetes develops in about 2-5% of all pregnancies, but disappears when a pregnancy is over. These women are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life, but as many as10% of the women are found to have type 2 diabetes after pregnancy. Those who have had gestational diabetes have a 20-50% chance of developing diabetes within the next 5 to 10 years.
Gestational diabetes is a temporary form of insulin resistance that usually occurs halfway through a pregnancy. It can be the result of excessive hormone production in the body or the inability of the pancreas to make the additional insulin that is needed.
- Other cases result from specific genetic syndromes, surgery, chemicals, drugs, malnutrition, infections, viruses, and other illnesses. Roughly 5% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes fall into this category.
Ethnicity plays an important role in the development of the disease. For instance,
- African Americans are twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes as the general population and include an estimated 2.8 million African Americans.
- Hispanics / Latinos also are almost twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes and affects approximately 2 million Hispanic or Lationos in the Mexican American population.
- Native American prevalence of type 2 diabetes is about 15%. On average, Native Americans and Alaska Natives are 2.6 times as likely to develop diabetes as the general population. In some tribes, 50 percent of the population has diabetes.
Diabetes is an extremely serious disease with risky complications. Some of these include:
- Heart disease and stroke. People with diabetes have the same cardiovascular risk as if they have already had a heart attack.
- Diabetic Retinopathy (See also Diabetic Retinopathy.) Each year, almost 24,000 people lose their sight because of diabetes, which is also the leading cause of new blindness in people 20 to 74 years of age.
- Cataracts (See also Cataracts.). High blood sugar levels contribute to cataract formation. Therefore, diabetics are three to four times more likely for developing cataracts. High blood sugar levels interfere with the lens’s ability to pump out excess fluid from the eye and maintain its clarity. It is also important to note that diabetic retinopathy can accelerate for six months following cataract surgery.
- Kidney Disease. 10-21% of all people with diabetes develop kidney disease, and diabetic neuropathy is the leading cause of kidney fdilure (end-stage renal disease). Kidney failure requires the patient to undergo dialysis or a kidney transplant in order to live.
- Nerve damage and amputations. About 60-70% of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of diabetes-related nerve damage, which, in severe forms, can lead to lower limb amputations. In fact, diabetes is the most frequent cause of non-traumatic lower limb amputations. Each year, 82,000 people lose their foot or leg to diabetes.
- Impotence caused by diabetic neuropathy or blood vessel blockage. Impotence afflicts approximately 13% of men who have type 1 diabetes and 8% of men who have type 2 diabetes. It has been reported that men with diabetes, over the age of 50, have impotence rates as high as 50-60%.
Fiber is known to increase the number of receptor sites while decreasing their amnesia. Fiber also stimulates the cells’ enzyme machinery to burn glucose. Since fiber slows the rate of food passing through the intestines into the bloodstream, it helps pace the rise in blood sugar levels from the meal. On the other hand, a diet low in fiber causes the glucose from the meal to surge into the blood stream rapidly increasing the blood sugar levels.
Since the primary goal of diabetes management is to control blood sugar levels and stabilize them over a long term basis, it appears wise to include adequate amounts of fiber into each meal. Studies have shown that individuals who continued on a high fiber diet for several months showed increased normalization of blood sugar levels. High fiber diets also lessen the sugar in the urine, and lowers fasting blood sugar levels and medication requirements.
Diets which include 20-35 grams of fiber per day is the ideal amount. Good sources of fiber are the following:
- dry or cooked oat bran
- cooked oatmeal
- black-eyed peas
- kidney or pinto beans
- split peas
- butter beans
- fresh peas
- baked potatoes with skins
- brussels sprouts
Simply by replacing 6 ounces of meat with 1 and 1/2 cups of beans, an individual can reduce the dietary fat by over 10% plus adding 10-25 grams of dietary fiber while saving up to 200 calories per day.
- High sugar intake is associated with an increased risk of breast, colorectal, and pancreatic cancer. Sugar quickly absorbs into your bloodstream, rapidly raising blood sugar levels. In response, your body boosts its secretion of insulin. Too much insulin promotes the growth of certain kinds of cancer cells, including those in the breast, colon, lung, ovaries, stomach, and prostate. High insulin levels also increase the risk of breast cancer recurrence and death at least threefold, according to a 2002 study in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. (from Find Articles)
Hyper- and hypo-glycemia
- Hyperglycemia occurs when the blood sugar rises too high causing the pancreas to send out insulin to control it. Symptoms include the following:
- extreme thirst
- a constant need to urinate
- abdominal pain
- nausea and vomiting
- a constant feeling of hunger
- weight loss
- visual disturbances
- facial flushing
- air hunger
- an acetone odor to the breath
- a sudden feeling of nervousness or going crazy
- periods of irritability for no reason
- spurts of energy after meals, and followed by quick exhaustion
- sudden feelings of faintness or dizziness
- periodic bouts of depression for no reason
- sudden headaches
- temporary feelings of forgetfulness or confusion
- unprovoked anxiety and worry
- feelings of internal tumbling
- heart palpitations
- excessive perspiration
- rapid pulse (tachycardia) not accompanied by exercise
- abnormal antisocial feelings
- crying spells
- unexplained phobias
- frequent nightmares
- craving for sweets
- acute hunger pains
- indigestion / gas / colitis
- nausea to the point of vomiting
- numbness or tingling of the lips
- sweaty palms
- subnormal temperature
- convulsions to coma (rapidly resolved with ingestion of sugar)
Hypoglycemia occurs when the blood sugar drops too low and the adrenal glands are stimulated into mobilizing the body’s store of glycogen. Symptoms includethe following (which can also be similar to hypothyroidism):
Too many fluctuations in blood sugar levels overwork the pancreas and adrenal glands, weakening them to the point of producing cardiovascular problems. The process is this: the more frequently the blood sugar is raised by sugar, the more insulin that is produced; the more insulin that is produced, the more sugar that is dumped as fat, which interfers with insulin function. If the body is unable to use all the extra fats and cholesterol produced from sugar, it must find places to deposit them, which has to be into cells of other organs. Artificial sweeteners cause even more problems (see Aspartame).
Reactive hypoglycemia can produce the same symptoms as typical hypoglycemia. Those with reactive hypoglycemia may not actually have low blood sugar levels while some people who actually have low blood sugar levels may not display the symptoms of reactive hypoglycemia. There is a fine-line distinction.
Causes of true hypoglycemia can be the result of such conditions as pancreatic beta-cell tumors, severe liver disease, pituitary or adrenal insufficiency, hypothyroidism, or excess ethanol consumption. If symptoms are restricted to acute and infrequent episodes, they would then more likely be the result of reactive hypoglycemia rather than true hypoglycemia.
There is evidence to suggest that reactive hypoglycemia may be partly psychological. As a result, doctors dismiss it and determine that it is not a bona fide condition. However, when people were monitored continuously, those with reactive hypoglycemia were found to have large surges in blood levels of the hormone epinephrine at the moment that they suffered their symptoms. (JAMA 1984: 251(5): 612-15)
Sugar has a very significant impact on the immune system by suppressing many immune cells, particularly macrophages and NK cells. When the immune system is prevented from functioning at its optimal level, the bodys ability to fight infection and disease is significantly reduced.
When sugar is eaten, the pancreas secretes abnormally large quantities of insulin, which is required to break down the sugar molecules. The insulin remains circulating in the bloodstream long after the sugar has been metabolized. This also suppresses the release of growth hormone in the pituitary gland. Since the growth hormone is a primary regulator of the immune system, not only will the immune system be affected, but so will growth. Both are critically important for growing children. (Read more in Is This Any Way to Treat Children?.)
As if that were not bad enough, the body considers refined sugar to be a toxic substance. This foreign material also contains industrial contaminants from the refining process, which adds to the livers burden of detoxification. Toxic waste builds up as a result of a sluggish digestive system and much of these toxins are dumped into breast tissue. Because sugar feeds on yeasts, fungi, cancer cells, and other toxin-producing organisms, they inhibit the function of the immune system. There is some indication that this process also leads to the development of food allergies which, if prolonged, progress into autoimmune diseases.
Sugar requires nutrients to metabolize; therefore, it robs the body in order to feed itself. One of the main concerns is that sugar interferes with the transport of vitamin C because both compete for the same transport pathway. Since vitamin C is an antioxidant and an immune booster, this interference by sugar is an important step in the depression of the immune system.
In the 1970s, researchers discovered that vitamin C was needed by WBCs (white blood cells) so that they could ingest (phagocytosis) such harmful microorganisms as viruses and bacteria. WBCs require 50 times more vitamin C inside the cell as outside; meaning that they have to have a large amount of vitamin C available at all times. It was this discovery that led to Linus Paulings theory that high doses of vitamin C were needed to combat the common cold.
Frequent colds are a classic sign that the immune system has been suppressed. During cold and flu season, it might be wise to reduce significantly the amount of sugar that is being consumed. Ironically, cold medications often contain significant amounts of sugar!
Adrenaline is quadrupled when sugar is present, sending the body into a perpetual fight or flight response. This constant heightened response level leads to an increased production of cholesterol and cortisone. Cortisone is well known to inhibit the immune system, and increased cholesterol leads to heart disease.
- Eating or drinking 100 grams (8 tbsp.) of sugar, the equivalent of one 12-ounce can of soda, can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs by forty percent. The immune-suppressing effect of sugar starts less than thirty minutes after ingestion and may last for five hours. In contrast, the ingestion of complex carbohydrates, or starches, has no effect on the immune system. (from Ask Dr. Sears – highlight is mine)
Sugar Depletes Nutrients
Excessive sugar consumption is the major cause of an imbalance of all minerals especially:
- cobalt (necessary for vitamin B12)
- chromium (together with insulin, stimulates cells to absorb and metabolize sugar)
This imbalance leads to degenerative diseases including heart disease, osteoporosis, some anemias, and diabetes.
Sugar consumption has a major effect on brain function. Over consumption causes a loss of B vitamins and increases the need for thiamine and choline. Brain function depends on the neurotransmitter, glutamic acid (See also glutamic acid. ), which is used by the brain as fuel and increases the firing of neurons. B vitamins play a major role in dividing glutamic acid into antagonistic-complementary compounds needed for the brain to elicit proper responses.
Some B vitamins are manufactured by intestinal bacteria. Daily consumption of sugar causes an over-production of the wrong kinds of bacteria which ultimately squeeze out or kills the good bacteria needed for the manufacture of vital nutrients.
Sugar also interferes with the absorption of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Many vitamin supplements contain sugar or an equally harmful sugar substitute. Chewables will always have some form of sugar in them and therefore, should be avoided. Some chewables, as vitamin C, contain more sugar than any other ingredient.
Sugar interferes with the absorption of protein and damages the proteins in the arteries, kidneys, eyes, and nerves, often seen in diabetics.
The amino acid glutamine enters the brain from the bloodstream, where it is converted to glutamic acid. This conversion rids the brain of ammonia, a brain function inhibitor.
- The Human Brain http://www.fi.edu/brain/carbs.htm
- Chromium Overview http://www.lef.org/abstracts/codex/chromium_index.htm
- Sugar and Cardiovascular Disease
- Nancy Appletons 146 Reasons Why Sugar Ruins Your Health http://www.rheumatic.org/sugar.htm
- A long list of articles that associate Health and Sugar.
This page was updated in December 2005.