If you think it sounds drastic to say that something as common as sugar can ruin someone’s life, I think you’ll change your mind once you learn about the harmful effects that sugar can have on your health. Particularly in America, the modern diet is very high in sugar, and this is one of the primary reasons why obesity, poor health and disease have become so prevalent.
The processed food industry is the largest industry in America and sugar is a major part of the reason why. It’s cheap, it doesn’t spoil, and everyone loves it. Because processed foods are such a major part of the modern diet, it’s in just about everything we eat. Unfortunately, most of us don’t eat many whole foods, and even when we do, we cover them with sauces that are loaded with sugar.
As the food industry enjoys incredible profits from sugar, and the pharmaceutical industry benefits from all the health problems that it causes, the rest of us are stuck in a never ending cycle of wanting more sugar, gaining more weight, and becoming less healthy.
Some Bitter Facts About Sugar
As recently as 400 years ago, refined sugar didn’t even exist. In the year 1821, the average American consumed about 20 pounds of sugar per year. According to USDA statistics, the average consumption of sugar is now well over 100 pounds per person per year. For many people, this is a considerable portion of the calories that they consume. If this isn’t shocking enough, consider the fact that these numbers don’t include refined grain products like white flour which exists in many processed foods and causes the same problems as sugar.
Some experts say that for every person who consumes 5 pounds of sugar per year, there’s another person who consumes 295 pounds. That’s almost a pound of sugar per day! I probably eat much less than 5 pounds of sugar in a year and I bet there are people who eat more sugar in a few days than I eat in an entire year. That’s scary!
Refined Carbohydrates: Sugar’s Evil Cousin
Refined carbohydrates are processed grains that are deficient in nutrients as a result of their bran and germ being removed. They’re often referred to as empty calories because the missing nutrients that are needed for their digestion are pulled from the body instead. As such, the consumption of refined carbohydrates actually results in a loss of nutrients!
Refined grain products such as high fructose corn syrup are processed to the point of containing a very high concentration of sugar. Other grain derivatives such as wheat flour are not quite as refined as corn syrup, but are still highly processed and are notorious for causing the same health problems. Most people know that table sugar is unhealthy and they at least make some effort to avoid it. However, not many people realize that highly refined grains are just as dangerous and that they’re the primary ingredients in a large majority of frequently consumed foods such as bread, bagels and pasta.
How Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates Can Destroy Your Health
If you take a moment to consider how much processed food most people are consuming on a regular basis, the reason why so many of them suffer from obesity and poor health should be obvious. Sugar and refined carbohydrates are a major ingredient in nearly all modern foods and are being consumed in record proportions. Many people are unaware of the associated risks and even believe that highly refined foods such as bread and pasta are healthy choices!
The following are some of the significant dangers that are commonly associated with frequent consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates.
Blood Sugar Fluctuation
Foods that are high in sugar or refined carbohydrates are digested into large amounts of glucose that quickly enter the blood stream. This causes a rapid rise in blood sugar and provokes a dramatic and costly physiological response to lower it. The hypoglycemia that typically follows causes us to crave more sugar and start this damaging process over again. This vicious cycle of blood sugar fluctuation can lead to a variety of diseases and is one of the primary reasons why sugar and refined carbohydrates are so unhealthy.
Obesity and Weight Gain
Sugar is our primary source of energy, and when consumed, it can be converted to glycogen and stored for future use. However, many people consume an excessive amount of carbohydrates that significantly exceeds their storage capacity for glycogen, and when this happens, the sugar resulting from carbohydrate digestion is stored as body fat. The large amount of sugar and refined carbohydrates that exist in processed food is the primary reason for this excess and the people who consume it on a regular basis are often significantly overweight.
Minimizing the consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates is truly one of the easiest ways to lose weight, but many people are unwilling to give up processed foods and choose to compromise their health even further by overexercising instead.
The consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates can have a direct effect on brain chemistry that initially provides a boost in energy and mood, but ultimately results in a depletion of neurotransmitters that can cause fatigue, depression, irritability, pain, and many other symptoms. This depletion often results in sugar cravings, and if they’re indulged upon, the problem becomes worse and the relentless cycle of addiction begins.
Studies have shown sugar and refined carbohydrates to be more addictive than cocaine and as addicting as heroine. Most people who’ve tried to give up sugar and refined carbohydrates will likely attest to how difficult it is. I used to eat a considerable amount of refined carbohydrates, primarily from bread and pasta, and know from first hand experience that they’re not easy to give up.
Poor Digestion and Dysbiosis
As previously mentioned, refined carbohydrates are empty calories that rob the body of nutrients during digestion. As such, consuming them on a regular basis can result in deficiencies that lead to incomplete carbohydrate digestion and leave the body without the materials it needs to maintain proper function.
Sugar and refined carbohydrates also feed much of the bacteria and fungi in our intestines. When consumed in excess, some of this necessary bacteria and fungi can grow out of proportion and damage the intestinal lining that is such a critical component of the immune system. Furthermore, these overpopulated bacteria and fungi can produce toxins that may enter the blood stream through the damaged intestinal lining and cause a variety of problems throughout the body.
Because refined carbohydrates are derived from grains, they typically contain a protein called gluten that many people have trouble digesting. When gluten isn’t completely digested, the gliadin that it contains is likely to provoke an immune reaction that inflames and damages the intestinal wall. Because the refined carbohydrates that contain gluten can also cause bacteria and fungi overgrowth, the damage is often compounded and can lead to serious intestinal disorders such as colitis or Crohn’s disease.
Suppressed Immune Activity
Without a strong immune system, we become susceptible to a wide variety of problems that can destroy our health. Because sugar is similar in structure to vitamin C, it can prevent white blood cells from absorbing the amount of vitamin C they need to function properly. This results in suppressed immune activity that can lasts for hours.
Suppressed immune function is a significant problem in it’s own right, but in regard to sugar, it’s even more of a problem. Some of the conditions that sugar can cause, such as bacteria overgrowth and increased tumor growth, can only be kept under control through increased immune activity. Because sugar also suppresses the immune system, it allows these problems to progress at a faster rate and potentially result in disease.
Depletion of Bones and Teeth
Frequent consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates results in acidic blood which must be buffered to prevent damage to vital organs and glands. One of the ways that the body accomplishes this buffering is by extracting calcium from bones and teeth, and this is why sugar consumption can cause cavities and increase the risk for osteoporosis.
Other Conditions Associated with Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates
As a result of the many physiological problems that sugar and refined carbohydrates can cause, frequent consumption can lead to fatal diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, and is also associated with diseases of the kidneys and liver, hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder, criminal and violent behavior, and mood problems including depression.
How Sugar Can Ruin Your Life
Hopefully you now realize what a significant impact sugar and refined carbohydrates can have on your health, but maybe you still haven’t made the connection between this impact and the tremendous influence it can have on your quality of life.
Even though most young and middle aged people are living with compromised health, they’re well enough to think that everything is fine. Many of them are likely experiencing fatigue, moodiness and a wide variety of other symptoms, but because so many people are suffering from similar problems, very few of them realize that they’re missing out on a higher quality of living. As they continue eating sugar and refined carbohydrates, their health continues to decline and many of them eventually end up with serious diseases. At this point, they’re likely experiencing significant discomfort and are unable to do many of the things that they previously enjoyed. Because this is so common, they still don’t see the potential for a better way and continue going through the motions of their painful life until they die.
Because sugar and refined carbohydrates are such a large part of the modern diet, and because they have such a tremendous effect on our health, I consider them to be one of the most significant causes of poor health and disease. In fact, the work of Dr. Weston A. Price clearly shows how the excellent health of many native cultures rapidly declined once they were introduced to the processed foods that we eat today.
Many diseases can be extremely painful, debilitating, and even life threatening. As such, the tremendous impact that disease can have on quality of life should be fairly obvious. Because sugar and refined carbohydrates are a major cause of many such diseases, it should also be obvious that they can literally destroy your life. In fact, it shouldn’t take much effort to look around and see this happening to some of the people around you.
A Better Life Without Sugar
Because of sugar’s sweet taste and addictive nature, many people have a difficult time eliminating it from their diet despite the damage it can cause. In fact, some diabetics end up losing their sight or having their feet amputated because they’re unable to control the sugar habit that caused their diabetes. If you want to live a healthier and happier life, here are some practical tips for eliminating sugar and refined carbohydrates from your diet.