Most people know that sugar is not good for your health, but few control the intake of it. Worse yet, it is given to children in greater and greater quantities. Every month you (yes you) eat 5 pounds of sugar and most of it doesn’t come from the sugar bowl. More than a quarter of all drinks consumed in the U.S. are soda. More than 15 billion gallons were sold in 2000 and the number is rising every year. That means every man, woman, and child consumes at least one 12-ounce can every single day. Obviously not everyone consumes sodas so many people are drinking more than their share! In one study 56% of 8 year olds consume sodas daily and at least 30% of teenage boys drink greater than 3 cans a day. Sugar and corn syrup just from soft drinks now supply more than 10% of our total calories.
Refined sugar was first produced in India around 500BC, with the introduction to Europe from the Crusaders in 1100AD. Venice, at the height of its financial power, was the chief sugar-distributing center of Europe. Modern industrialization created processed foods; where sugar was added to almost everything from ketchup to crackers.
We are a culture that has replaced real foods (vegetables, fruits, nuts, meats) with carbohydrates that are refined and treated by the body no different than eating a cookie. Fat, fiber, and protein slow the rate carbohydrates enter the blood stream. This prevents a sudden rise in insulin levels, with a sudden drop thereafter. Refined carbohydrates such as cereals, pasta, potatoes, white rice, breads and other refined grains contain virtually no nutrients. The body breaks itself down to recruit the nutrients to turn those empty calories into energy. It is no wonder why we have so many diseases!
Sugar harms the body in many ways: it suppresses the immune system, causes a rapid rise in adrenaline, hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and crankiness in children. It contributes to gallstones, appendicitis, and suppresses calcium absorption in bones (in fact, soda is now considered the number one contributor to osteoporosis). It causes problems with digestion, increases hormonal imbalance, fuels cancer cells, contributes to PMS, diabetes, tooth decay, and on and on.
All of this is accentuated if your body does not handle blood sugar well. Blood sugar is managed primarily by the liver, adrenals, and pancreas. A weakness in one of those glands results in a weakness in how the body responds to sugar.
Overwhelmingly, the main culprits behind weight gain are grains and sugars. High-carbohydrate foods like bread, grains, cereal, potatoes, fruit, and sugar are converted to glucose (sugar) in the body. When your body can’t burn off this sugar, it accumulates in the blood, causing your blood sugar level to rise. In response to this, insulin is released to break down the sugar and store it.
Your body will increase its output of insulin to compensate for the higher blood sugar levels. Over time this causes progressively increasing levels of insulin and resistance to the effects of insulin. If the body cannot use the insulin the glucose is sent back to the liver and converted to fat as high triglycerides.
Insulin resistance is one of the fundamental mechanisms behind aging and all of its related diseases, including obesity.