I had an eye-opening experience with cancer (over 8 years ago) and learned that sugar was is like filet mignon to cancer cells. If you’ve ever heard of a PET Scan – it’s a process where you are injected with radioactive ‘sugar’ isotopes and then sent through the scanning tunnel. The radio active sugar, quickly migrate to areas called, hot spots. This hot spots make it easy for radiologists to locate where the cancer lives. Simply put, sugar feeds cancer!
You probably knew that sugar is bad for you, but do you know why? Beyond tooth decay, sugar creates inflammation in your body, disrupts mineral balance, suppresses your immune system, leads to diabetes, and is the number one food that FUELS cancer cells! And this is just the short list. In her book, “Suicide by Sugar,” Dr Nancy Appleton, PhD, lists 140 reasons why sugar is destroying your health.
Why do Americans eat so much sugar? Well, for one reason, we are addicted. Let’s face it, sugar tastes good and we love its quick energy “boost”. Most of us have been brought up on s sugar, starting with our baby formula and gradually increasing amounts in our diet until we are consuming the nationwide average of 140 lbs a year.
In the 70’s excessive sugar consumption was accelerated by the introduction of high fructose corn syrup which is six times sweeter than sugar. And thanks to the low fat craze of the 80’s and 90’s, sugar has been added at greater and greater levels to make low fat foods taste better. Our sugar addiction has lead to a steadily increasing rate of eating disorders in America and worldwide.
Obviously we have weight-‐related issues in the USA. According to the Center for Disease Control, 2/3 of adults in America are overweight and 1/3 of our adults are classified as obese. When we eat too much sugar, the body stores it in the liver as glycogen. However, the liver can only store a finite amount. If we don’t burn it off and keep eating sugar, the liver fills up and the excess amounts are stored in the body as fat. As with simple carbs, too much sugar in the blood stream causes our bodies to kick insulin production into high gear. Eventually, diets high in sugar lead to insulin resistance which can cause weight gain, high cholesterol, fatigue and, if left untreated, even diabetes.
Sudden spikes in blood sugar also cause inflammation in the body. Anywhere there is pain in the body, there is inflammation. Inflammation is linked to a Bad News For Sugar Lovers – Ron Baron and Dr Ann Lovick number of diseases including arthritis, cancer, diabetes, atherosclerosis and digestive disorders. All bad conditions, but let’s look at how sugar affects cancer. Cancerous tumor cells utilize more glucose than normal cells. This does not mean that sugar causes cancer, but sugar definitely feeds cancer. Many people going through chemotherapy start to crave sugar; this is actually caused by a die-‐off reaction from the destruction of cancer cells.
Did you know that anxiety and irritability can also be linked to sugar consumption? Sugar creates an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain and is the root cause of many mental and emotional disorders. Many people are moody and irritable while they withdraw from sugar, but mentally feel better. Also sugar will attach to your skin through a process known as glycation which causes wrinkles and premature aging. At my age, this speaks to me!
What can you do to kick the sugar habit?
- Retrain your taste buds! When preparing foods, leave them as close to their natural state as possible; you will be amazed at how good a sweet potato or yam tastes when baked in the oven. The process releases the natural sugars of the tuber and causes it to caramelize. It’s naturally sweet.
- Watch what you drink. I think that the popularity of soda is one of the biggest problems we face. Soda is cheap, accessible, and excessively sweet. It spikes your blood sugar and leaves you wanting more. Learn to love water and drink it instead of soda. A squeeze of lemon or lime may make water more palatable.
- Please, don’t switch your sugar vice to artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin. These sweeteners create a whole host of negaIve effects on your body. We will discuss them at another Ime, but for now, avoid arIficial sweeteners at all costs!
- Read your food labels. Processed foods are packed with sugar. Sugar is used to enhance the flavor of foods that are not sweet, just as salt is used to enhance the flavor of foods that are not salty. **Helpful Hint -‐ If sugar (in any form) is listed in one of the top 10 spots of a food label, don’t buy it.
We are all human, and what is life for if not to be enjoyed? So don’t torture yourself avoiding all sweets forever; just be reasonable and limit them to very special occasions. In between those times, when you want a sweet treat, make it with Stevia or Xylitol. Being a Southern girl, I know I will never give up my sweet iced tea! But with a bit of Stevia added instead of sugar, I don’t have to.
*A note to Mom and Dad:
Taste preference is something that is learned from birth through age six. If sweet foods are offered frequently, a child will be more likely to develop a preference for sweets. Don’t give into children’s pressure to buy sweet treats or sugar-‐ sweetened beverage! Fruit is healthier, tastier, and more satisfying.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.