And so it begins, the holiday season. From Halloween to Christmas, sugary sweet temptations are lurking around every corner. If you are looking to strengthen your resolve and make healthier choices this year, it's time to educate (or re-educate) yourself about the harmful consequences of sugar.
In her book The Mood Cure, Julia Ross, a nutritional psychotherapist and bestselling author, calls sugar a “bad mood food”. Her website lists 59 Reasons Sugar Ruins Health. She is not alone in her crusade for a healthy sugar-free lifestyle, expert after expert has cried out against sugar (and refined carbohydrates), all in the name of better health. This morning I went through several of the books on our bookshelf looking for just one positive health benefit of sugar consumption and I couldn't find one. Not one. But here is what I did find:
Dr. Catherine Shanahan, Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food
For the same reasons sugar jams hormone signals, it also clogs nutrient channels, weakening bone and muscle and slowing neural communication, which can impair mood and memory and lead to dementia. While all this is going on, sugar stiffens the collagen in your tendons, joints, and skin, causing arthritis and premature wrinkling, while interfering with the production of new collagen throughout your entire body. And because sugar changes the surface markers your white blood cells need to distinguish between indigenous cells from invaders, it opens the door to cancer and infection.
Dr. Thierry Hertoghe, The Hormone Solution: Stay Younger with Natural Hormone and Nutrition Therapies
Insulin's other job is to break down sugar in the body. High levels of insulin create hypoglycemia, severely low blood sugar, and the fatigue that comes with it. Most people then instinctively pounce on foods that will provide a burst of sugar, like sweets, pasta, bread, pretzels, soft drinks, and alcohol. That certainly increases blood sugar levels but provides extremely short-lived relief because it also spurs even more insulin production, creating a vicious cycle. One clear way to break out of this self-destructive and self-perpetuating cycle is to stop eating sugar (including the simple carbohydrates that quickly convert to sugar, like pasta, bread, and cereal).
Cultures without acne consume little to no wheat, sugar, or dairy products. As Western influence introduced processed starches such as wheat and sugars into groups such as the Okinawans, Inuits, and Zulus, acne promptly followed.
Gary Taubes, Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It
Science tells us that obesity is ultimately the result of a hormonal imbalance, not a caloric one—specifically, the stimulation of insulin secretion caused by eating easily digestible, carbohydrate-rich foods: refined carbohydrates, including flour and cereal grains, starchy vegetables such as potatoes, and sugars, like sucrose (table sugar) and high-fructose corn syrup. These carbohydrates literally make us fat, and by driving us to accumulate fat, they make us hungrier and they make us sedentary.
Dr. Joseph Mercola, The No-Grain Diet
The advice that a little grain and sugar consumption is okay is music to the addict's ears. But if you think you can kick the grain and sugar habit without going No-Grain, No Sugar, you are mistaken.
Jim LaValle, RPh, CCN, ND, Cracking the Metabolic Code
Although it may be difficult, Americans need to severely restrict the amount of sugar they consume. And like any other addiction, the more difficult the habit is to break, the more it probably needs to be done.
Jack Challem, The Inflammation Syndrome
The effect of refined grains and sugars on inflammation is significant. Consumption of refined grains and sugars typically raises blood sugar levels and, over the long-term, increases the risk of diabetes.
Dr. Burton Berkson, Syndrome X
Quite simply, sugar and related caloric sweeteners are some of the most dangerous substances you can put into your mouth.
Dr. Mark Hyman, Ultra-Metabolism
When you eat sugar, you unconsciously trigger a vicious cycle of sugar cravings, increased insulin production, increased appetite, more sugar intake, and more insulin production, until you are in a cycle of cravings, bingeing and crashing all day long. Eventually this leads to insulin resistance.
Dr. Daniel Amen, Change Your Brain, Change Your Body
Curbing your intake of sugar foods is an important step to better health. Sugar's empty calories leads to chronic inflammation and is now thought to be at the center of many diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity and Alzheimer's disease.
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, The Fat Flush Plan
In the process of being metabolized, sugars rob your body of valuable nutrients; some of these, such as zinc, are essential for liver function. Sugar also inhibits your liver's production of enzymes needed in the detoxification process.
Mark Sisson, The Primal Blueprint
All forms of natural and processed sugars and sweeteners have a deleterious effect on your insulin system and general health.
Dr. Eric Braverman, Younger Sexier You
Food that make you gain weight are not only addictive but bad for your waist and bad for sex. They contribute to the breakdown of your body's metabolic machinery, which drains the brain of energy and sexual desire. The worst offenders are sugar, trans-fats and white flour.
Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food
One of the most momentous changes in the American diet since 1909 has been the increase in the percentage of calories coming from sugars. Add to that the percentage of calories coming from carbohydrates and Americans are consuming a diet that is at least half sugars in one form or another.
Loren Cordain, PhD, The Paleo Diet
But sugar, like refined cereal grains, is not good for us. Sure it causes cavities, but it's also becoming evident that sugar poses more serious health problems.
Robb Wolf, The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet
Sugars have a nasty habit of reacting with proteins in our bodies. These complexes become oxidized and form “advanced glycation end products” (AGEs). They damage proteins, enzymes, DNA, and hormonal receptor sites on the surface of our cells. AGEs are a major cause of the symptoms we take to be normal aging.