• Is Sugar Poison?

    Remember when high fructose corn syrup was exposed a few years back? Most health-minded individuals have done their part to avoid it by meticulously reading labels before making a purchase. I have spent countless hours at the grocery store checking labels to avoid buying any items with high fructose corn syrup. As a mother of two boys, I have worked hard to offer my children the best food available and limit our families’ sugar in-take, although I haven’t been as strict as I could. And even though I am tough on the kids, once they are in bed at night, I secretly indulge in something sweet, usually chocolatey.

    I grew up in the 70′s eating brown rice, tofu and carob. I rebelled in college, not with alcohol, but by eating sugar—ice cream and brownies every night. I am sure that my diet those four years was worst than at any other time in my life. Somehow the pendulum always swings back to my healthy eating roots (thanks Mom!). I am on a continual quest for foods that make me feel good and provide my body with the nutrients it needs to function optimally. I strive to eat simple, organic, unprocessed foods. As I continue with this effort, sugar and I come to face to face, a love-hate relationship. With more and more research showing evidence that white sugar is just as high on the list of foods to avoid as high fructose corn syrup, it has been added to my personal list of foods to ditch.  I will not become a statistic. I will not be average. My health is something that I can control; I have choices.

    Statistics show that as Americans, our average sugar consumption has increased from 40 lbs per year (1970) and peaked at 90 lbs per person per year in 2000. This is the same year “one in every three Americans was obese, and 14 million were diabetic.” Americans are unaware and uninformed of the dangers associated with eating a diet high in sugar. I would venture to say that most Americans do not read labels when purchasing food (unless it is to check the calories), nor do they know the extent to which everyday foods, like bread and cereal are filled with sugar.

    In a New York Times article, Robert Lustig states “Sugar is not just an empty calorie,” he says; its effect on us is much more insidious. “It’s not about the calories,” he says. “It has nothing to do with the calories. It’s a poison by itself.” Because both sugar (cane and beet) as well as high fructose corn syrup convert to fructose and glucose when we eat them, we are putting our liver to work on overtime. The article goes on to state, “It very well may be true that sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, because of the unique way in which we metabolize fructose and at the levels we now consume it cause fat to accumulate in our livers followed by insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, and so trigger the process that leads to heart disease, diabetes and obesity.” (If you haven’t read Is Sugar Toxic, and more recently UCSF scientist declare war on sugar please do.)

    Watch this 60 minute segment to learn more.

    Eating sugar has a cumulative effect on our health. One candy bar will not cause diabetes. However, my thinking is this: if by continuing to eat sugar we increase our risks for various diseases and even cancer, then by decreasing and eliminating the sugar in our diets, we can decrease these risks. The body has an amazing ability to rebuild and restore—give yours the chance. Let’s make this common knowledge by sharing these articles with everyone we know. Maybe our friends and family won’t change right away, but they will become more aware and informed —the first step to change. This is all the evidence I need to make a change; I won’t wait for further research. I will find an alternative to my nightly treat.