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Healthy Habits: Cut Back on Refined Sugars

What Do Refined Sugars Do to the Body?
Refined sugars have a negative effect on the body, the details of which are explored below.

Tooth Decay
The bacteria in our mouths use sugar in our diet to form substances that cause tooth decay. These include a gummy material called glucan that helps the bacteria stick to our teeth, plus acids that corrode the protective enamel.

Sugars are no more fattening than starch or protein. The problem is that you can pack a lot of sugar calories into a small amount of food. If our diets contain a lot of sugary foods, we tend to overconsume calories long before our stomachs are full. This overconsumption of sugar not only leads to becoming overweight, but the potential onset of diabetes becomes multiplied.

This is a condition in which the pancreas overproduces insulin to deal with an influx of sugar and thus lowers blood-sugar levels (which is true for many of us), but the mechanism by which the resulting low blood sugar is restored to balance is not working properly. This leaves the individual in a low-blood-sugar or hypoglycemic state. Often he or she will consume more sugar to help restore his or her system, which in turn leads to further problems.14

"There is no doubt," writes David Reuben, M.D., "that diabetes mellitus – otherwise known as 'sugar diabetes' – is caused by excessive consumption of refined sugar."15

The simple truth is that refined sugars, also known as simple sugars, break down too quickly into glucose in our small intestine and are too rapidly absorbed into our bloodstream, causing a condition known as hyperglycemia, or what is often referred to as a "sugar high."

It's the job of our pancreas to control blood-sugar levels by producing insulin, a substance which transports glucose to our cells for energy, and any excess to our livers for storage as glycogen. With an influx of rapidly absorbed simple sugars, the pancreas overproduces insulin to protect our brain and other vital organs from sugar overdose. This rapid overproduction of insulin, which is triggered by refined sugar, soon results in too much sugar being removed from the blood. The result is a low-blood-sugar condition known as hypoglycemia – also referred to as the "sugar blues." At this point, our adrenal glands secrete a hormone that changes the stored glycogen into glucose to raise our blood-sugar levels again. Over time, this up and down roller coaster of metabolic needs due to the fluctuations of sugar ingestion leads to overtaxed, worn-out adrenal glands, liver, and pancreas.

"If your pancreas is forced to overproduce insulin for an extended period of time (20-30 years)," observes Dr. Gordon Tessler, "you run the risk of damaging the insulin producing mechanism."16 Diabetes, the third-leading disease in this country behind heart disease and cancer, is in many cases due to a pancreas that is not producing enough insulin, having been exhausted by long-time consumption of simple or refined sugars.

"Raw Nerves," Osteoporosis, and Arthritis
All sugar eaten, whether natural or refined, requires B-complex vitamins, calcium, and magnesium for digestion. Complex carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, and starches, contain enough of these nutrients to assist our bodies in their own digestion. However, the simple and refined sugars do not. Therefore, our bodies must call upon their stores of these nutrients in order to deal with this kind of sugar. B-complex is stolen from the nervous system, and calcium and magnesium are robbed from the bones and teeth. "Consequently," observes Dr. Tessler, "refined sugar 'rips you off' of these needed nutrients, resulting in 'raw' nerves."17

With a steady loss of calcium and magnesium from our bones and teeth, osteoporosis is a likely outcome – a dangerous softening of the bones and skeletal structure. And these released minerals float around in our bodies and they end up in part in our joints where they accumulate, a condition known as arthritis.


From HEALTHY HABITS: 20 Simple Ways to Improve Your Health by David J. Frahm as used by arrangement with Jeremy P. Tarcher, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Copyright © 2003 by David and Anne Frahm. All rights reserved.

To order this book visit www.penguin.com. Get a 15% discount with the coupon code FENPARENT.


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