Saturday, April 18, 2015

Sugar The Siren Part 2

We all love sugar. It is yummy and  tastes so good, but it is not good for us. Sugar is a major health risk. Somehow sugar has stayed out of the limelight while the blame for obesity, high blood cholesterol, high triglycerides, heart attacks and strokes has been laid primarily on too much saturated fat in our diets. As a result fat makes up a smaller portion of the American diet than it did a generation ago but the numbers of obese Americans continues to grow. As does the incidence of diabetes.

Sugar is responsible for two health problems. The first is obesity. Sugar is a source of easy calories. There are four calories to every gram of carbohydrate and sugar is a carohydrate.  The sugar calories found in every bite of sweets, pastry, white bread, snack foods and in every sip of soda add up quickly. Take in more calories than are necessary to sustain all of your body's functions and the excess are converted to fat. More calories means more fat.

The other health problem caused by sugar is a bit more complicated. Sucrose or table sugar is a disaccharide comprised of equal parts of glucose and fructose. Glucose is the fuel that makes the body run. Fructose is the kind of sugar that is found naturally in fruit. Glucose is metabolized by all of the cells in the body. Fructose, on the other hand is metabolized primarily by the liver.

Possibly you have heard or read of the health problems caused by ingesting too much high fructose corn syrup {HFCS} HFCS is also a disaccharide mixture of glucose and fructose. The impact on health of sucrose and HFCS is similar. If you eat too much fructose your liver metabolizes the fructose and produces fats called triglycerides. Some of this fat stays in the liver and over a period of time your liver may become dysfunctional.  Most of the trigycerides are pushed into your circulation. Over time your tissues become more resistant to insulin. Eventually a condition known as the metabolic syndrome can develop. It is characterized by obesity, high blood pressure and other metabolic changes. It can also lead to the development of type 2 diabetes.

The American Heart Association has issues warning about limiting the amount of sugar in the diet.  The rational for that warning is that sugar provides calories with no nutritional benefit. We call this kind of calories empty calories. According to numerous experts this warning is necessary, but it misses the most important point. Excessive sugar is not just empty calories. It can be toxic. 

Get more information in our book Live Longer Live Healthier

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sugar The Siren

There is no doubt about it.  Sugar is a powerful siren. More powerful  than the mythical Sirens of Scylla  that lured men and their boats to destruction.  Sugar is killing us, killing us legally and we allow it to continue killing us.  More about that later.  First let's go to the beginning.

In the beginning sugar cane was domesticated about 10,000 years ago. Natives picked cane and ate it raw,  To them it was magically  medicinal.  It was an elixir and a cure for every ailment.  It even appeared in ancient myths where one of the first men made love to a stalk of sugar cane thus propagating the human race.

Sugar spread slowly reaching the Asian mainland around 1000 B.C.  It has been stated that when Alexander the Great and his armies crossed into India his men refused to march further because they were intoxicated with the high they got from chewing on the new elixir from sugar cane. By about 600 the art of processing sugar from cane had spread to Persia.  From there it spread to wherever the Arab armies went. The first Europeans to fall in love with sugar were British and French crusaders in the 11th century.  They came home with visions and memories of eating sugar.

The first European market for sugar was built on the trickle that was carried across the dessert by traders. It was so expensive that it was consumed only by nobility and so rare that it was considered a spice. The dawn of the western sugar era began with the cultivation of sugar cane in the new world.
As more cane was planted, the price of sugar fell and demand increased. By the mid 17th century sugar changed from being a luxury spice to a staple.

At first sugar was available to the nobility. Then access to it trickled down to the wealthy, then to the middle classes then to the working classes. Nevertheless we were not inundated with soft drinks, soda, cookies, crackers, desserts, cakes, pies and you name it until well into the 20th century.

Now we have a situation where one-third of adult worldwide have high blood pressure, when only 5 percent had it in 1900. There are twice as many diabetics and obesity is rampant. What is the cause?  Blame most of these problems on sugar.

We will explain why in the next blog.

Get more information in our book Live Longer Live Healthier

or visit our website at