It’s Not So Sweet – Could Sugar Actually Kill Us?

Sugar: It’s Not So Sweet – Could Sugar Actually Kill Us?

MarciaWhitePassportPhoto-001by Marcia White.

It’s important to become aware of what we’re eating. This shocked me when I did the research….

In the UK we consume more than 1 kilogram, the equivalent of 238 teaspoons of sugar every week.  A lot of this is due to the excessive amount of hidden sugars,   these are sugars found in savoury foods such as soups, bread, ketchup, ready meals and breakfast cereals.  Some of the savoury foods that I have purchased recently have been so sweet they tasted peculiar, I could not eat them; I had to throw them away.

French scientists found that rats prefer sugar to cocaine, even when they are suffering from a cocaine addiction. As sugar is more addictive than cocaine, high sugar contents enable the food manufacturers to thrive off our addiction.  Check your addiction to sugar, can you refuse chocolate, biscuits or cake?

Sugar is a potential toxin and has been linked to many major health problems, including cardiovascular disease and strokes.  We all know about Type 2 diabetes, but from my recent research it is clear that there are many more health problems associated with sugar.

In the gut we need a healthy balance of good bacteria.  Sugar feeds the bad bacteria, causing them to multiply. These harmful bacteria emit signals that can cause dysfunction, depression, autoimmune disorder, even allergies and cold hands and feet.  Having the wrong mix of microbes may even contribute to obesity, according to Mark Hyman, MD, Founder and Medical Director of the UltraWellness Center in Massachusetts.

I was shocked to read in The Telegraph newspaper about David Gillespie, a Brisbane-based lawyer turned researcher, whose Sweet Poison books chart his own decision to stop eating sugar, resulting in him losing six stone without dieting, in just one year.  Gillespie began reading John Yudkin’s book Pure, White and Deadly, published in 1972, which showed that consumption of sugar and refined sweeteners is closely related to long-term diseases.  Gillespie studied research papers that connected fructose (in particular) to fatty liver disease, appetite stimulation, gout, diabetes, memory loss and obesity. He was shocked to learn “how many of our organs sugar systematically destroys without symptoms until it is too late. First the liver, then the pancreas, then the kidneys, and ultimately the heart.”

Sugar is highly addictive, and once consumed makes you want to eat and drink everything that is available to you. This continued over eating will inevitably lead to obesity.  Like most drugs, sugar gives you a high, followed by a crashing low, causing you to crave more of it.  These continued highs and lows place unnecessary chemical stresses on your adrenal glands, causing excessive secretions of cortisol and other depression related hormones.  The constant feeling of anxiety caused by this mind altering drug is exhausting.

Not only is sugar bad for one’s health, it is also in danger of bankrupting our country. The NHS is spending more and more on the increasing number of sick and obese people, placing a drain on our already limited resources. Surely the food manufacturers should be held to account for their actions, both morally and financially? Let’s start a revolution and force the food industry to be responsible for its customers’ health.

Health experts at Action for Sugar have warned that sugar is as dangerous as tobacco. However, Dr. Victoria Burley, a senior lecturer in Nutritional Epidemiology at Leeds University, says that this is not the whole picture. “We have seen evidence suggesting a link between sugary drinks and diabetes. A study showed that each extra can each day is associated with an 18% rise in the risk of Type 2 diabetes. But there was a similar rise for artificially sweetened drinks so clearly something else is going on as well.” “Sugar may also be useful for people who are very physically active or if you are trying to gain weight. You may need the extra energy.”

A study by Oxford University suggested that a 12p tax on fizzy drinks would cut consumption by 15 per cent and mean that there would be 180,000 fewer obese adults.

Naveed Sattar, Professor of Metabolic Medicine at Glasgow University says  “Ideally, if better quality foods are available generally together with a parallel reduction in sugar and fat rich foods, such changes would inevitably help individuals make healthier choices. This is where we need to go and the foods and drinks industry must be “cajoled” to helping with this direction of travel”

A can of Heinz tomato soup contains equivalent to four teaspoons of sugar, a mug of Cadbury’s drinking chocolate contains six and a Yeo Valley vanilla yoghurt contains five teaspoons of sugar.  A can of coke or a Starbucks’ caramel Frappuccino with whipped cream and skimmed milk, each contain an incredible 11 teaspoons full of sugar; that is 11 teaspoons in just one drink.

We need to be aware of what we are eating. We do not want sugars or sweeteners hidden in our savoury and supposedly healthy foods; as consumers we need to take action to stop the food manufacturers before it is too late, to demand that the food manufacturers have, by law, to label foods with warnings such as – HEALTH WARNING – Contains Sugar.

Furthermore, food manufacturers should also be banned from advertising high sugar foods including breakfast cereals, sweets and drinks.  All governments and health services should be making public service announcements warning us of the health risks of consuming too much sugar. This needs to be done, and it needs to be done now.

When we cut out sugar from our diet, we benefit from having more energy, fewer colds, fewer teeth cavities, none of the highs and lows that come with sugar addiction, less depression, fewer problems with our body organs and we will probably loose some weight too.  An altogether healthier option, unless of course we actually need to gain weight for health reasons.

It is obvious that we should avoid sweets, cakes, biscuits and most fizzy drinks, but sadly even some fruits are very high in sugar, grapes for example contain an average of approximately 14 grams per 100 grams, equivalent to 3 1/2 teaspoons of sugar.  We must also be careful regarding the quantity of things like fruit juice that we consume.

Read the labels, particularly on savoury foods, watch out for unexpected sugars.  It is amazing the amount of different foods that contain sugar, with sugar levels this high these foods should be considered desserts.

However, please do not substitute sugars for artificial sweeteners because these are also incredibly dangerous, although that’s another story.

As consumers, we have a choice and we can take action, if we all stop buying foods that contain unnecessary sugars and artificial sweeteners, the food manufacturers will have to take notice.

According to Pediatric Endocrinologist Robert Lustig, director of the University of California, San Francisco’s Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health Program, sugar is killing us. In his bookFat Chance:  Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and Disease, he explains why he believes the massive amounts of sugar and processed food we consume each day are making us not only fatter but sicker, too.

Now is the time to take action, to be informed, to be aware of what we are eating and of the possible health consequences.  Now is the time to return to real food.


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