I don’t think there is anyone who doesn’t know that sugar is bad news. I don’t think there is anyone who doesn’t know that they should add more fruits and vegetables to their diet.
I do think there is a lot of misinformation out there and a lot of confusion as to just how bad sugar is, though. No one considers it a health food. But do enough people really know just how extremely damaging this substance is?
The topic of this post puts the spotlight on another issue you should know about regarding sugar and your health.
High sugar intake strips your body of essential nutrients.
The human body does not make its own vitamin C. It is a nutrient we must consume, and is found abundantly in plant foods. Sugar and vitamin C reach the cells in the same way. If there is more sugar in the blood stream, then vitamin C must compete for its place and for absorption once reaching the cell. A sugar-induced vitamin C deficiency has been shown to result in suppressed tissue regeneration and a decrease in immune function.
Sugar is a double whammy on vitamin D. Sugar promotes activation of the enzymes that downgrade vitamin D while at the same time decreasing the enzymes needed to synthesize vitamin D. The results of a vitamin D deficiency are linked to numerous health conditions such as autoimmunity, dementia, chronic infections, inflammation and even some cancers.
Calcium is absolutely critical for bone health. Vitamin D expedites calcium absorption in the body. It stands to reason, then, that a sugar-induced deficiency in vitamin D leads to insignificant calcium absorption. Not only is calcium important in bone health but also for blood clotting and electrolyte balance. A calcium deficiency leads to a host of unwanted health ailments in addition to poor bone health. It can also delay growth and development in children and increase blood pressure leading to heart problems.
Magnesium is essential for over 300 functions in the human body. It is a nutrient we must be sure to consume enough of, yet most people are deficient. The body needs it badly enough that it will save reserves of it. Unfortunately, high processed sugar intake results in high blood sugar levels and therefore increased insulin. This high blood sugar and high insulin level promote magnesium secretion by the kidneys which leads to the body using up all of its stores of the mineral. Since magnesium is crucial for certain body functions such as blood sugar control, muscle and nerve regeneration, and bone building, when the body is forced to deplete its stores because of a high sugar diet, you can be sure poor health will follow.
We don’t hear much about chromium, but it is another essential mineral. Deficiency of this mineral leads to high blood sugar levels and poor glucose tolerance. The effects of sugar on chromium are similar to that of magnesium, it triggers the body to excrete its stores leading to inefficient ability to perform its function properly.
People are aware that sugar is bad news and that it leads to unwanted health consequences. The confusion comes in when we are told that it isn’t too bad “in moderation” and that it’s ok “once in a while” as long as we exercise. It would be wonderful if exercise negated the damage done to the human body caused by sugar, but it just doesn’t work that way.
Sugar is associated with a host of damaging reactions within the body leading to a suppressed immune function, kidney damage, increased blood acidity, tooth decay, asthma, arthritis, digestive disorders, fungal infections, decreased cardiac blood flow, and advanced aging, amongst many other detrimental afflictions. Some of the most dangerous effects of sugar consumption include increased liver and kidney size.
We live in a society that normalizes and even promotes highly-processed junk food. It is the center of most of our holiday customs and our celebratory traditions. We live in a society now where kids get ridiculed when they refuse junk food at the birthday party, or the lollipop from the bank teller. We live in a society that has made sugary drinks and packaged snacks the absolute norm as if grabbing a wrapped snack is easier and quicker than grabbing a piece of fruit.
I believe we need to make eating whole foods normal. We need to model to our children what eating real food is, so that they don’t fall victim to the chronic and even deadly diseases that will absolutely afflict them if they walk down this “normal” path of high sugar consumption.
Take control of your health. It starts with cutting sugar.