December, with the Christmas celebrations that it brings, seems to be a time when many of us overindulge with too many sweets, desserts and cakes (even if raw), not to mention alcohol for some people. I therefore thought it timely to mention the dangers of high sugar diets. I don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun, and if you want to indulge your sweet tooth a little that’s fine. Just be aware that the wonderful machine that is your body won’t necessarily be too happy if you overdo it. The following blog contains a few snippets taken from my CD “The Dangers of Excess Sugar Consumption”, which is available on my website if you’d like the whole story.
Firstly let’s have a look at some trends. In the year 1700, the average person (whoever that might be) consumed 4lbs of sugar per year (just under 2kg). It was considered a luxury commodity back then and very few could afford it. By 1800, that had increased to 18lbs. By 1900, it had reached 90lbs per year. In 2009, it hit a staggering 180lbs per year.
In 1890, the obesity rate in the developed world was 3.4% of the population. It is now over 30%. Do you think there may be any possibility of a correlation?
High sugar diets adversely affect the brain by interfering with the hormones serotonin and beta-endorphin. They also alter certain types of brainwaves, leading to impaired thinking, and as if this weren’t bad enough, also strongly correlate with reduced learning capacity. In effect, then, high sugar diets make us fat and stupid.
Have you ever wondered why many people get a cold during the Christmas holidays? Sugar is at least partly responsible. When people gorge on sweets, cake and other non foods, especially if they combine this with a high alcohol intake, it prevents a particular type of white blood cell in our immune system from adequately doing its job of gobbling up foreign invaders.
As well as interfering with the immune system, high sugar diets deplete the body of minerals. If you’ve listened to my CD “The Importance of Minerals”, you’ll know why you wouldn’t want to do that. Sugar also aggravates arthritis and causes our tendons to become more brittle. It depletes calcium and magnesium from the bones. It ages the skin and increases cross-linking of proteins. Even our DNA can be damaged through high sugar diets. Now that really is an issue. Aren’t scientists saying that DNA mutations are fundamentally the cause of pretty much every degenerative condition that we currently suffer from? I would not, for one, wish to do anything that would damage my DNA. Would you?
Fructose, or fruit sugar, is also a substance worthy of special mention. Fructose is exclusively metabolised by the liver, and excesses can quite rapidly lead on to metabolic syndrome, abnormal metabolic processes and following on from this, an increase in chronic inflammation and chronic degenerative disease.
High fructose intake is also detrimental because it interferes with appetite control. It does not stimulate the hormone leptin, which is the satiety hormone, so you just eat more of it and this in turn leads to greater insulin resistance.
The challenge that we have in the developed world is that fructose is everywhere! All processed foods contain it, and it is being added to food in vast quantities in the form of high fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup is less than half the price of sugar, and has been added to practically everything that is processed, from fast food to ready meals. It is ubiquitous in fizzy drinks and all colas, as well as fruit drinks and cordials. The raw food world has not escaped its clutches. Agave syrup, purported to be a healthy sweetener by many, is as bad as high fructose corn syrup. Much dried fruit is high in fructose, particularly dates and figs. The only individuals that should ever consider eating dried fruit, in my opinion, are high performance athletes.
So there you have it – a very brief overview of why a high sugar diet is not a healthy choice at any time of year. There’s also more on the sugar story in my forthcoming book, “The Whole Body Solution”, available soon from Hammersmith Health Books. Eat, drink, and be merry, but eat and juice your greens too!