Part Two: Sugar, Friend or Foe?

By James Walker CCS, STM, BioSig, Master Trainer

Recently sugar has been under attack by some leading doctors like Dr. Robert Lustig, a California endocrinologist, considered a pioneer in the study of sugar, and Kimber Stanhope nutritional biologist at the University of California–Davis who thinks that sugar is as addictive and destructive as any powerful drug. This may explain why it’s so difficult to sever ties with it. Besides, as young kids growing up we loved visiting the local neighborhood store that had all sorts of goodies–candy, soda, cookies, cup cakes, cereal, bubble gum, pixie sticks, and all of the great chips and treats. Even Halloween was a green light to sugar over dose but back then we could run around and play until we burned most or all of it off.

It’s interesting that sugar replaced fat, after we were told for decades that fat was unhealthy and would cause heart disease, obesity, and many other health issues. As fat was removed from foods, sugar became the sneaky replacement. In spite of being supposedly better informed, we have become more fat, more diabetic, more heart diseased, more pharmaceutical dependent, more at risk, and more confused than ever.

The average American consumes 150 to 180 pounds of sugar annually. It’s not a surprise that America leads the world in obesity, at 31%, and being overweight, with 73% of the population. By the way, Korea has the lowest obesity rate at 3%. Don’t feel bad because the rest of the world is catching up, especially as we export more Coke, Pepsi, McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, etc.

Let’s take a look at why sugar was a friend but over the past decades has become a foe.

What Is Sugar?

Sugar is a compound that comes from various plants, like sugar cane, sugar beet, fruit, syrup, molasses, corn, and it tastes sweet. After sugar is refined it is used as a crystal, powder, or liquid to sweeten. Sugar is a carbohydrate, just like a starch, fruit, vegetable, or bread, just sweeter. Carbohydrates are converted to sugar/glucose where it is transported and/or stored in the blood, tissue, and cells and used as energy or fuel. There are many types of sugar such as dextrose, fructose, glucose, galactose, and sucrose.

Sugar does have a purpose–to supply energy to the muscles and brain, and to be used by the liver as an emergency back up source to raise low blood sugar levels. So let me emphasize this again, sugar is an energy source for muscles and the brain but used as a emergency provider by the liver when blood sugar levels are low. If sugar can’t be used as fuel it is converted into a fatty acid or triglyceride or trans-fat and stored as fat in fat cells.

Sugar is good if you exercise or burn it off but extra sugar is bad if you are inactive and consume more than is necessary. Although, considering how inactive society has become over the past decades, unless you work out, you probably don’t need much sugar. Up to 80% of sugar is stored in muscles, so intense training or laborious work would help to utilize muscle glycogen.

Three things the liver does with sugar/glucose:

  1. Passes it thru and back into the bloodstream.
  2. Stores it, turn it into glycogen (store it in the liver, muscles, and brain).
  3. Uses it to make fatty acids or triglycerides.

Six Reasons Why Sugar Is Bad

First, excess sugar is sticky and will stick to protein molecules, making them too large so that they become ineffective. These large sugar-proteins, called glycated, are too big to pass through small blood vessels and capillaries that lead to essential organs, tissues, and body parts, especially the eyes, feet, brain, and kidneys. These new glycated-proteins can’t provide the nutrients or catalyst to help those body parts perform properly. Which in turn, they become toxic, fail, or shut down, leading to premature aging, blindness, nerve damage, dementia, or poor immune health.

Secondly and similarly, sticky sugar attaches to the LDL bad cholesterol, making them glycated LDL, thereby damaging and turning them into plaque. Plaque can and will stick to the artery walls to further damage, thicken, narrow, and restrict them.

Thirdly, sugar is a risk factor for cancer cells, since they thrive on glucose. Cancer cells use glucose to grow via glucose receptor cites attached to the cell. Harvard Medical School researchers linked possible high levels of galactose (a sugar byproduct of lactose) with ovarian cancer.

Fourthly, sugar depresses the immune system by making the blood very acidic thereby inhibiting white blood cell ability to work productively at destroying bad bacteria.

Fifthly, sugar has no nutrients, so it uses up certain mineral reserves to metabolize itself causing mineral imbalance and mineral depletion, like chromium, which is needed for insulin function, and magnesium that is essential for heart and muscle health.

Finally, sugar reduces good HDL cholesterol, which helps to combat bad LDL cholesterol, thereby increasing heart disease risk factors.

CBS’ 60 Minutes did a amazing segment on sugar back in April 1, 2012, with correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, interviewing the aforementioned Dr. Robert Lustig, a California endocrinologist, considered a pioneer in the study of sugar, and Kimber Stanhope, a nutritional biologist at the University of California–Davis, and Harvard Researcher Lewis Kantly. Here is the link

Next Part Three, How Good Carbs, Proteins, Fats, & Exercise Promote Health.