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Sugar--The Disease Connection

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Last updated July 15, 2018, originally published September 1, 2008
By Susan M. Callahan, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

Sugar wasn't always the ubiquitous part of our food supply
that it is today. In fact, up until the early 1700's sugar was
only consumed by the wealthy as a luxury item. Now of
course sugar can be found in almost every part of the food
chain -- in cereals, breads, snacks, even as a coating on
medications. The problem is that sugar creates internal

Inflammation inside our bodies creates conditions which
lead to heart disease, stroke and cancer
(See Inflammation
The Secret Cause of Disease).  But which foods cause the
greatest amount of internal inflammation?
[Update: Sugar
also has been implicated as a major contributor to rates of

Sugar is one of the chief causes of internal
When we ingest table sugar, the body produces insulin in
order to metabolize, transform, the sugar into a form useful
for energy.  Insulin and sugar levels strike a perfect
balance when we eat only that amount of sugar that will be
converted to the exact amount of energy we need.  When
that balance is struck, no excess sugar hangs around in the
blood stream.  

When excess sugar hangs around in the bloodstream, the
body produces excessive amounts of insulin.  The extra
insulin molecules are like tiny porcupine balls. They are
jagged. When they travel down the blood river flowing
through our bodies, they cut into the banks  of the river—
our arteries. They nick the walls, creating injuries.

A nick here and there is no problem for the body. But
create enough nicks and you’ve got a major repair job to
fix. Bad cholesterol –LDL—handy for patching the nicks and
holes in the artery walls, creates uneven bits and pieces of
plaque which can break off, float further down the blood
river, and cause stroke or  heart blockage.  High levels of
insulin also can cause diabetes, which can lead to organ
failures such as kidney disease, heart disease, nerve
damage and
circulation problems, all of which can lead to
premature death. Higher levels of insulin also trigger the
body’s fat controls, telling the body to hang on to fat
reserves.  In a real sense, sugar makes you fat. (
Diabetes—The Silent Killer )

Sugar, at least table sugar, is not actually food.  

Foods contain nutrients needed by the body. Even salt,
which in excess can cause its own problems (
click here for
more information on how much salt you should eat), is a
nutrient which the body needs.  But table sugar is not a
food. The body could get along just fine on the levels of
sugar found in foods containing carbohydrates --- breads,
starches, fruits and even some vegetables contain high
levels of carbohydrates. In fact, the levels of carbohydrates
in the average diet of Americans, the British and growing
numbers of people around the world – far exceed what you
need daily.

To make sure you are not eating excess insulin-producing
carbohydrates, you should follow a “low glycemic” diet.  
The Glycemic Index tells you which foods raise sugar levels
in the body. High-glycemic foods raise the levels highest
and produce injury-causing insulin. Low-glycemic foods
keep the levels of sugar in balance with insulin production.
They help in
controlling diabetes if you already have it.
They help in preventing diabetes if you don't. (
Click here
for a list of low glycemic, anti-inflammatory foods.)

Sugar can shorten your lifespan. Eating sugar raises the
levels of triglycerides ---fat in the blood -- of sedentary
people with metabolic syndrome and raises the risk for
coronary heart disease in women, according to a 2003
study from Rutgers University led by Dr. S.K. Fried.

Eating with a natural balance of sugar and insulin in mind
can’t guarantee that you won’t develop life-threatening
disease –but eating excessive amounts of sugar almost
guarantees that you will shorten the amount of good,
healthy  years you will live. Studies estimate that untreated,
uncontrolled diabetes may be the one of the key reasons
Africans Americans have lifespans almost a full five years
shorter than white Americans. (Read more about the
average lifespans of Americans).  

And, the higher incidence of diabetes and obesity may be
the reason Americans in general only rank 41st in lifespans
as compared with our fellow humans in Europe, Japan and
elsewhere.   Obesity is also the reason that the men in the
US suffer disproportionately from
snoring and erectile
dysfunction. As our waist lines have expanded, our quality
of life has plummeted.

And the link between all these phenomenon?--- sugar.


The more we learn about sugar, the more startled we are
by its effects on your body. Sugar changes your hormones.
For example, scientists have learned that sugar transiently
lowers testosterone in men by as much as 25%, according
to a 2015 study led by Dr. Frances Hayes, MD, an
endocrinologist at St. Vincent’s University Hospital in
Dublin, Ireland. Couples trying to conceive should avoid
sugar altogether. Women who want to maintain healthy
hormonal balance and men who don't want to enter
"manopause" early should not overuse sugar.

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