discussion about sugar has to begin with just exactly what it is. Sugar is not
simply the white stuff you put in your coffee. By its conversion to glucose,
and being in the majority of the foods eaten by most people, sugar makes up 60%
of daily calories, but likely higher. This number is easy to reach with the
'normal' American diet of cereals, pasta, rice, bread, waffles, pancakes,
muffins, soft drinks, packaged snacks, sweets, and desserts. Also, fruits and
vegetables, being carbohydrates, albeit better than the stuff listed above,
still add to the daily sugar pot.
Technically, sugar is called different things by different people: Biochemists
refer to it as simple carbohydrate molecules characterized by sweet taste and
its ability to dissolve in water. Physicians typically speak of blood sugar or
glucose or its stored form, glycogen. Commonly, it's known as the table sugar
or high fructose corn syrup we eat, and this is Sucrose, which is half
fructose, half glucose. Fruit is a common source of Fructose, starches like
rice and potatoes have Glucose, and milk has its own sugar called Galactose.
Then, there are all of the artificial sweeteners to take into account:
aspartame, saccharine, sucralose, xylitol, etc. Ugh!
All that said, at the end of the day, the thing that matters most is:
What happens when you eat too much sugar?
This post could be ten pages long because sugar is an important topic for numerous reasons:
- Sugar, in various forms, is in thousands of foods.
- It is consumed in huge amounts; on average, 160 pounds per person per year.
- It is extremely addictive.
- Over-consumption sets in motion a cascade of metabolic events leading to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, arterial damage, diseases of the brain, and cancer.
- It's name is changed, basic formula tweaked, and disguised in more things than you can imagine.
Sharing information about sugar restriction is tough. A birthday cake, warm bread, and cereal, are staples in most people's lives that they cherish. Asking them to just say no can end up excommunicating you from an entire family!
Sugar impacts almost everyone and getting it under control comes by understanding what it is, what it does, and how it sneaks into your food selections.
Of all the information provided below, if you don't remember anything else, remember these ten points:
1) Table Sugar (sucrose) is Fructose and Glucose combined
2) All Carbohydrates get converted to Glycogen (blood sugar)
3) Glucose causes the release of Insulin
4) Too much Insulin, too often, leads to serious health problems
5) Fructose must be processed by the Liver before it can enter circulation.
6) If the Liver has too much Fructose it will repackage it as Triglycerides and LDL cholesterol
7) Fruit has naturally occurring Fructose, HFCS, (left), is Fructose and Glucose combined.
8) Milk has its own sugar called Galactose
9) ALL grain products (pasta, rice, bread, crackers, cereal) , are high in sugar...refined carbohydrate (flour)
10) Easily-fast digestible, refined carbohydrates, due to their over-consumption, can be implicated in every disease we now face
The Takeaway from above is that sugar is more than just the
white stuff in a bowl. Potatoes, rice, bread, and
pasta are in effect sugar. It's not just about 'Carbs', it's much more. By not consuming adequate amounts of protein and fat,
instead filling your daily calories with starches, breads, fruit, and even
vegetables, you are overloading the body with sugar. And, as stated above,
sugar is evacuated from the bloodstream by Insulin, to a point. Too much sugar
swimming around your bloodstream will not only get converted to fat, but cause
an inflammatory response responsible for Atherosclerosis (swollen arteries
where cholesterol like to get lodged causing a block), Diabetes, (a pancreas that
is tired of producing too much Insulin), Insulin Resistance, (where cells can't recognize Insulin or evacuate glycogen), and a Fatty Liver, (too full of everything, sick, fat, tired).
Cancer researchers now consider that the problem with insulin resistance is that
it leads us to secrete more insulin, and insulin (as well as a related hormone
known as insulin-like growth factor) actually promotes tumor growth. - Gary Taubes
In everything from ketchup, nutrition bars, yogurt, bread, sports drinks, and weight loss powders, sugar and HFCS bring the average sugar consumption to 160 pounds per person per year. In the early 1970's, it was 40# per
HFCS is in thousands of products and can be deceptively
named the following:
malt, beet sugar, brown sugar, buttered syrup, cane-juice crystals, cane sugar,
caramel, carob syrup, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, date sugar, dextran,
dextrose, diatase, diastatic malt, ethyl maltol, fructose, fruit juice, fruit
juice concentrate, glucose, glucose solids, golden sugar, golden syrup,
grape sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, lactose, malt
syrup, maltodextrin, maltose, mannitol, molasses, raw sugar, refiner's syrup,
sorbitol, sorghum syrup, sucrose, sugar, turbinado sugar, yellow sugar.
Sugar & Cancer
Cancer is simply cells that have been altered, or mutated, and keep growing.
Technically: 'The uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body.'
Recent research directed at understanding the cause points to a few things:
- Excess blood glucose
- Excess Insulin
- Excess production of A.G.E.'s
All three of these situations originate from the over-consumption of carbohydrates and happen simultaneously. Living in this continual merry-go-round leads to disease.
The problem, once again, is that most research is directed at treating the
symptoms, once cancer has been detected, with drugs and surgery instead of
investigating and notifying the public about the causes of deformed cellular
THIS ARTICLE in the NY Times,
written by Gary Taubes, is an invaluable piece discussing sugar toxicity.
"Cancer researchers now consider that the problem with insulin resistance
is that it leads us to secrete more insulin, and insulin (as well as a related
hormone known as insulin-like growth factor) actually promotes tumor
"As it was explained to me 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."
"What these researchers call elevated insulin (or insulin-like growth
factor) signaling appears to be a necessary step in many human cancers, particularly
cancers like breast and colon cancer. Lewis Cantley, director of the Cancer
Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School, says
that up to 80 percent of all human cancers are driven by either mutations or
environmental factors that work to enhance or mimic the effect of insulin on
the incipient tumor cells. Cantley is now the leader of one of five scientific
“dream teams,” financed by a national coalition called Stand Up to Cancer, to
study, in the case of Cantley’s team, precisely this link between a specific
insulin-signaling gene (known technically as PI3K) and tumor development in
breast and other cancers common to women.
-Leavitt October 2012