“All men are created Equal. Some just have more Splenda.”
Sugar & Spice Makes Nothing Nice
My dad was a dentist and I followed him into dentistry a number of years after he began his practice. We both had the knowledge that sugar was bad for teeth as it is a major contributor to dental caries (tooth decay). Subsequently, medical research has found that sugar is bad news for one's health. Much has been written about the adverse effects of excessive sugar in the diet. Fortunatly, the addition of fluoride to drinking water has reduced caries substantially and most of our palatable water is fluoridated nationwide. Although we have sugar substitutes there are so many forms of sugar that it is a common additive in too many dishes and drinks. Consider that we have table sugar, cane sugar, glucose, maltose, fructose, lactose, high fructose corn syrup, etc., etc.
Worldwide we consume about 500 extra calories a day from sugar. If you follow a diet that includes 500 extra calories a day then this amounts to gaining a pound a week. Let's look at how sugar affects your health:
- A high sugar diet makes us fat if you don't burn it off. Exercise is great for the body but it's easier to drop fat by dieting. The amount of calories that you get from exercising on a treadmill may amount to 300 calories but if you eat a few cookies or some cake, going through 300 calories can be consumed in minutes!
- Sugar can accelerate the aging process. There is a relationship between glucose consumption and the aging of our cells. Sugar can effect the aging of your brain as found in a 2009 study.
- There is evidence that excess sugar consumption is linked to deficiencies in memory and overall cognitive health in a study done in 2012. Tests on rats showed similar findings as shown in a study done in 2009.
- Sugar hides in many of the foods we eat daily. These include fat-free dressings, beverages, tomato sauce, tonic water, marinates, crackers, cake and even bread.
- Sugar and alcohol have similar toxic liver effects on the body .An article in Nature magazine came up with the idea that that limitations and warnings should be placed on sugar similar to warnings that we see on alcohol. There is evidence that fructose and glucose can cause liver damage.
- Excess sugar may shorten your life. In a study done in 2013, an estimated 180,000 deaths worldwide may be attributed to sweetened beverage consumption. Just in the United States the count is 25,000 deaths in 2010. The researcher's state that deaths occurred due to the association with sugar-sweetened beverages and chronic disease risk as found in diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
- Sugar "addiction" may be genetic. A study of 579 individuals showed that those who had genetic changes in the hormone called ghrelin consumed more sugar (and alcohol) than those that had no gene variation. Ghrelin signals the brain that you're hungary. It seems to be that the genetic components that affect the release of ghrelin may have a lot to do with whether or not you seek to enhance a neurological reward system through your addiction to sugar.
- Sugar can be harmful to cardiac health. The American Heart Association states that there is strong evidence that sugar can affect the pumping mechanism of your heart and could increase the risk of heart failure. The study pinpointed a molecule from sugar (G6P) was responsible for the changes in the muscle protein of the heart.
- Sugar may be involved in cancer production and could effect cancer survival. In the metabolism of carbohydrates, which includes sugar, insulin helps to control the amount of sugar in the blood. If one eats a lot of sugar, the insulin can become resistant over time and not function to monitor a healthy level of blood glucose. There are studies that found negative associations between high sugar intake and survival rates in both breast cancer patients and colon cancer patients.
- It's important to note that simple sugars coming from fruit are less concerning given their high amounts of disease-fighting compounds and fiber.