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Sugar Is Toxic: What Does That Mean?
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Sugar Is Toxic: What Does That Mean?

Is Sugar Toxic? This question was covered on CBS' "60 Minutes," last Sunday April 1st. Not an April Fool's joke, the report was about a study done by Dr. Robert Lustig who is a pediatric endocrinologist in San Francisco.

Let's define some terms to make this easier to understand: "Pediatric" refers to a medical doctor who treats children. An endocrinologist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions of the endocrine system. The endocrine system is the system of glands, each of which secretes a type of hormone directly into the bloodstream to regulate the body. Hormones regulate various human functions, including metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, and mood.

That means hormones can affect all kinds of bodily systems. That makes them important and that is why knowing about the toxicity of sugar is important. Dr. Lustig studied how added sugar affects the body.

Dr. Lustig's research focused specifically on added sugars, such as high fructose corn syrup, which are used as sweeteners and which are hidden in many, many processed food products. High-fructose corn syrup is a manmade sweetener used in foods and is about 50% fructose. Chemically, it is not much different from sucrose (table sugar) and your body breaks it down and uses it the same way it uses sugar.

When I say "hidden" what I mean is that you wouldn't guess they are in a food product unless you took the time to read the ingredient label and find out some kind of sugar has been added. For example you might expect sugar to be in cake mix or soda, but you might not expect it is in peanut butter (yes, EVEN some that are in your natural food store!), yogurt, soup, gravy mix, just about every frozen food dinner, and many canned goods. Sugar is even added to salt to keep it from clumping together. (Remember the old Morton salt slogan, "When it rains it pours"?

You may think, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know there's sugar in a lot of things, but it isn't that much really. People have been eating sugar for years and they didn't die." Or did they?

Dr. Lustig's research led him to conclusions that are not necessarily new, but the data he discovered hugely backs up the idea that sugar is, in fact, toxic and can make you very ill and contribute to your unnatural and early death.

So when he says sugar is toxic, what does he mean by toxic? I found two simple definitions that apply to what we're talking about here. Toxic is an adjective (describes something) that means 1.) of, pertaining to, affected with, or caused by a toxin or poison: a toxic condition; 2.) acting as or having the effect of a poison; poisonous: a toxic drug.

Poison? Isn't that a little dramatic to call sugar "poison?" Let's look at that. The average person eats about 1/3 pound of added sugars daily. Eating too much sugar can overload your liver so your liver turns the sugar to fat which goes into your bloodstream. There your body turns it into small, dense particle called "LDL" (the bad kind of cholesterol) which then forms plague in your arteries and voila! You have increased your risk for heart disease and heart attack.

Eating added sugars in food can also increase your chances of getting obese, developing Type II Diabetes and Hypertension (high blood pressure). There is also data linking added sugar to cancer, especially breast cancer and colon cancer.

Maybe this isn't poisoning as in drink it and die immediately, but it is looking more and more like the slow-kill kind of poison. The kind that sneaks up on you and then when you realize you've been poisoned, you wonder if it's too late to save your life. This is the kind of poison that, once you are sick, you have to make really tough decisions about gruesome and expensive medical treatments, quality of life, etc.

Dr. Lustig joins others who have said sugar is very similar to a drug and people can get addicted to sugar. All you sugar addicts out there know exactly what I mean. It can be really difficult to stop the cravings for sugar unless you are extremely strong-willed and you have some kind of method for changing your body chemistry enough to stop the constant urge to eat the stuff.

The recent research shows that consumption of added sugar such as high-fructose corn syrup evokes a physical reaction in the body similar to taking cocaine in that sugar releases dopamine-a chemical found in your brain that regulates emotion, among other things) and gives you a euphoric feeling. The research also shows that people can build up a tolerance to sugar--just like they can build up a tolerance to drugs--which causes them to eat more and more of it.

Hopefully this information will pique your interest to at least look into the truth about sugar a bit further. There is a lot of great information available. What I propose is that you don't wait any longer to make a decision about your own sugar consumption. Whether you are in good health right now or you have already been diagnosed with high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes or cancer or some other condition, realize that you are standing at a fork in the road. No matter what is going on with you, something can be done about it!

You can choose to continue as you are-eating sugary foods and maintaining the ostrich routine (keeping your head buried in the sand) or, not. You can wait until it becomes "really necessary" to make a change in your sugar consumption, i.e. wait until you are forced to have medical treatment or are diagnosed with "sugar addiction disorder" and prescribed all manner of pills and/or treatments. Or, you can start now to learn how to recognize added sugar in food and take the path of more a more natural, balanced whole food diet that will help you improve your health and address this situation by understanding how to take better care of yourself holistically and effectively.

Next article, I will define "sugar" and we'll talk about all the forms of added sugar out there so you can identify what actually has sugar in it and what doesn't.


Street Talk

Wow, that's a great success story and thanks for sharing it! You set a great example and congratulations on your persistence, too.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Patty, this article is so very important. This information needs to be 'out there'. Last year I cut my sugar under the direction of a naturopath hoping to avoid surgery. I can attest to the 'come down' and addictive quality of the substance. It was a very rough few days but in the long run my health has benefited in ways that can't be quantified and my enjoyment of many foods now has a greater appreciation. I did have the surgery after urging from my specialist to 'be sensible' and yet when I asked him how big the cyst had been he looked at me blankly and told me there wasn't one. Either three ultra sounds were wrong or through removing sugar from my diet, and other natural modalities, I was able to achieve incredible healing for myself. Keep up the great articles!

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
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