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Book: Sugar Blues
A multitude of common physical and mental ailments are strongly linked to the consumption of ‘pure’, refined sugar.
When calories became the big thing in the 1920s, and everybody was learning to count them, the sugar pushers turned up with a new pitch. They boasted there were 2,500 calories in a pound of sugar. A little over a quarter-pound of sugar would produce 20 per cent of the total daily quota. “If you could buy all your food energy as cheaply as you buy calories in sugar,” they told us, “your board bill for the year would be very low. If sugar were seven cents a pound, it would cost less than $35 for a whole year.”
A very inexpensive way to kill yourself.
“Of course, we don’t live on any such unbalanced diet,” they admitted later. “But that figure serves to point out how inexpensive sugar is as an energy-building food. What was once a luxury only a privileged few could enjoy is now a food for the poorest of people.” Later, the sugar pushers advertised that sugar was chemically pure, topping Ivory soap in that department, being 99.9 per cent pure against Ivory’s vaunted 99.44 per cent. “No food of our everyday diet is purer,” we were assured. What was meant by purity, besides the unarguable fact that all vitamins, minerals, salts, fibers and proteins had been removed in the refining process? Well, the sugar pushers came up with a new slant on purity. “You don’t have to sort it like beans, wash it like rice. Every grain is like every other. No waste attends its use. No useless bones like in meat, no grounds like coffee.”
“Pure” is a favorite adjective of the sugar pushers because it means one thing to the chemists and another thing to the ordinary mortals. When honey is labeled pure, this means that it is in its natural state (stolen directly from the bees who made it), with no adulteration with sucrose to stretch it and no harmful chemical residues which may have been sprayed on the flowers. It does not mean that the honey is free from minerals like iodine, iron, calcium, phosphorus or multiple vitamins. So effective is the purification process which sugar cane and beets undergo in the refineries that sugar ends up as chemically pure as the morphine or the heroin a chemist has on the laboratory shelves. What nutritional virtue this abstract chemical purity represents, the sugar pushers never tell us.
Beginning with World War I, the sugar pushers coated their propaganda with a preparedness pitch. “Dietitians have known the high food value of sugar for a long time,” said an industry tract of the 1920s. “But it took World War I to bring this home. The energy-building power of sugar reaches the muscles in minutes and it was of value to soldiers as a ration given them just before an attack was launched.” The sugar pushers have been harping on the energy-building power of sucrose for years because it contains nothing else. Caloric energy and habit-forming taste: that’s what sucrose has, and nothing else. All other foods contain energy plus. All foods contain some nutrients in the way of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins or minerals, or all of these. Sucrose contains caloric energy, period.
The “quick” energy claim the sugar pushers talk about, which drives reluctant doughboys over the top and drives children up the wall, is based on the fact that refined sucrose is not digested in the mouth or the stomach but passes directly to the lower intestines and thence to the bloodstream. The extra speed with which sucrose enters the bloodstream does more harm than good. Much of the public confusion about refined sugar is compounded by language. Sugars are classified by chemists as “carbohydrates”. This manufactured word means “a substance containing carbon with oxygen and hydrogen”. If chemists want to use these hermetic terms in their laboratories when they talk to one another, fine.
The use of the word “carbohydrate” outside the laboratory-especially in food labeling and advertising lingo-to describe both natural, complete cereal grains (which have been a principal food of mankind for thousands of years) and man-refined sugar (which is a manufactured drug and principal poison of mankind for only a few hundred years) is demonstrably wicked. This kind of confusion makes possible the flimflam practiced by sugar pushers to confound anxious mothers into thinking kiddies need sugar to survive. In 1973, the Sugar Information Foundation placed full-page advertisements in national magazines. Actually, the ads were disguised retractions they were forced to make in a strategic retreat after a lengthy tussle with the Federal Trade Commission over an earlier ad campaign claiming that a little shot of sugar before meals would “curb” your appetite.
“You need carbohydrates. And it so happens that sugar is the best-tasting carbohydrate.” You might as well say everybody needs liquids every day. It so happens that many people find champagne is the best-tasting liquid. How long would the Women’s Christian Temperance Union let the liquor lobby get away with that one? The use of the word “carbohydrate” to describe sugar is deliberately misleading. Since the improved labeling of nutritional properties was required on packages and cans, refined carbohydrates like sugar are lumped together with those carbohydrates which may or may not be refined. The several types of carbohydrates are added together for an overall carbohydrate total. Thus, the effect of the label is to hide the sugar content from the unwary buyer. Chemists add to the confusion by using the word “sugar” to describe an entire group of substances that are similar but not identical.
Glucose is a sugar found usually with other sugars, in fruits and vegetables. It is a key material in the metabolism of all plants and animals. Many of our principal foods are converted into glucose in our bodies. Glucose is always present in our bloodstream, and it is often called “blood sugar”. Dextrose, also called “corn sugar”, is derived synthetically from starch. Fructose is fruit sugar. Maltose is malt sugar. Lactose is milk sugar. Sucrose is refined sugar made from sugar cane and sugar beet. Glucose has always been an essential element in the human bloodstream. Sucrose addiction is something new in the history of the human animal. To use the word “sugar” to describe two substances which are far from being identical, which have different chemical structures and which affect the body in profoundly different ways compounds confusion.
It makes possible more flimflam from the sugar pushers who tell us how important sugar is as an essential component of the human body, how it is oxidized to produce energy, how it is metabolized to produce warmth, and so on. They’re talking about glucose, of course, which is manufactured in our bodies. However, one is led to believe that the manufacturers are talking about the sucrose which is made in their refineries. When the word “sugar” can mean the glucose in your blood as well as the sucrose in your Coca-Cola, it’s great for the sugar pushers but it’s rough on everybody else. People have been bamboozled into thinking of their bodies the way they think of their bank accounts.
If they suspect they have low blood sugar, they are programmed to snack on vending machine candies and sodas in order to raise their blood sugar level. Actually, this is the worst thing to do. The level of glucose in their blood is apt to be low because they are addicted to sucrose. People who kick sucrose addiction and stay off sucrose find that the glucose level of their blood returns to normal and stays there. Since the late 1960s, millions of Americans have returned to natural food. A new type of store, the natural food store, has encouraged many to become dropouts from the supermarket. Natural food can be instrumental in restoring health.
Many people, therefore, have come to equate the word “natural” with “healthy”. So the sugar pushers have begun to pervert the word “natural” in order to mislead the public. “Made from natural ingredients”, the television sugar-pushers tell us about product after product. The word “from” is not accented on television. It should be. Even refined sugar is made from natural ingredients. There is nothing new about that. The natural ingredients are cane and beets. But that four-letter word “from” hardly suggests that 90 per cent of the cane and beet have been removed. Heroin, too, could be advertised as being made from natural ingredients. The opium poppy is as natural as the sugar beet. It’s what man does with it that tells the story.
If you want to avoid sugar in the supermarket, there is only one sure way. Don’t buy anything unless it says on the label prominently, in plain English: “No sugar added”. Use of the word “carbohydrate” as a “scientific” word for sugar has become a standard defense strategy with sugar pushers and many of their medical apologists. It’s their security blanket.
Sugar In Your Diet
A multitude of common physical and mental ailments are strongly linked to the consumption of ‘pure’, refined sugar.
Whether it’s sugared cereal or pastry and black coffee for breakfast, whether it’s hamburgers and Coca-Cola for lunch or the full “gourmet” dinner in the evening, chemically the average American diet is a formula that guarantees bubble, bubble, stomach trouble. Unless you’ve taken too much insulin and, in a state of insulin shock, need sugar as an antidote, hardly anyone ever has cause to take sugar alone. Humans need sugar as much as they need the nicotine in tobacco. Crave it is one thing-need it is another. From the days of the Persian Empire to our own, sugar has usually been used to hop up the flavor of other food and drink, as an ingredient in the kitchen or as a condiment at the table. Let us leave aside for the moment the known effect of sugar (long-term and short-term) on the entire system and concentrate on the effect of sugar taken in combination with other daily foods.
When Grandma warned that sugared cookies before meals “will spoil your supper”, she knew what she was talking about. Her explanation might not have satisfied a chemist but, as with many traditional axioms from the Mosaic law on kosher food and separation in the kitchen, such rules are based on years of trial and error and are apt to be right on the button. Most modern research in combining food is a labored discovery of the things Grandma took for granted. Any diet or regimen undertaken for the single purpose of losing weight is dangerous, by definition. Obesity is talked about and treated as a disease in 20th-century America. Obesity is not a disease. It is only a symptom, a sign, a warning that your body is out of order. Dieting to lose weight is as silly and dangerous as taking aspirin to relieve a headache before you know the reason for the headache. Getting rid of a symptom is like turning off an alarm. It leaves the basic cause untouched.
Any diet or regimen undertaken with any objective short of restoration of total health of your body is dangerous. Many overweight people are undernourished. (Dr H. Curtis Wood stresses this point in his 1971 book, Overfed But Undernourished.) Eating less can aggravate this condition, unless one is concerned with the quality of the food instead of just its quantity. Many people-doctors included-assume that if weight is lost, fat is lost. This is not necessarily so. Any diet which lumps all carbohydrates together is dangerous. Any diet which does not consider the quality of carbohydrates and makes the crucial life-and-death distinction between natural, unrefined carbohydrates like whole grains and vegetables and man-refined carbohydrates like sugar and white flour is dangerous. Any diet which includes refined sugar and white flour, no matter what “scientific” name is applied to them, is dangerous.
Kicking sugar and white flour and substituting whole grains, vegetables and natural fruits in season, is the core of any sensible natural regimen. Changing the quality of your carbohydrates can change the quality of your health and life. If you eat natural food of good quality, quantity tends to take care of itself. Nobody is going to eat a half-dozen sugar beets or a whole case of sugar cane. Even if they do, it will be less dangerous than a few ounces of sugar. Sugar of all kinds-natural sugars, such as those in honey and fruit (fructose), as well as the refined white stuff (sucrose) – tends to arrest the secretion of gastric juices and have an inhibiting effect on the stomach’s natural ability to move. Sugars are not digested in the mouth, like cereals, or in the stomach, like animal flesh. When taken alone, they pass quickly through the stomach into the small intestine. When sugars are eaten with other foods – perhaps meat and bread in a sandwich – they are held up in the stomach for a while. The sugar in the bread and the Coke sit there with the hamburger and the bun waiting for them to be digested. While the stomach is working on the animal protein and the refined starch in the bread, the addition of the sugar practically guarantees rapid acid fermentation under the conditions of warmth and moisture existing in the stomach.
One lump of sugar in your coffee after a sandwich is enough to turn your stomach into a fermenter. One soda with a hamburger is enough to turn your stomach into a still. Sugar on cereal – whether you buy it already sugared in a box or add it yourself – almost guarantees acid fermentation. Since the beginning of time, natural laws were observed, in both senses of that word, when it came to eating foods in combination. Birds have been observed eating insects at one period in the day and seeds at another. Other animals tend to eat one food at a time. Flesh-eating animals take their protein raw and straight. In the Orient, it is traditional to eat yang before yin. Miso soup (fermented soybean protein, yang) for breakfast; raw fish (more yang protein) at the beginning of the meal; afterwards comes the rice (which is less yang than the miso and fish); and then the vegetables which are yin. If you ever eat with a traditional Japanese family and you violate this order, the Orientals (if your friends) will correct you courteously but firmly.
The law observed by Orthodox Jews prohibits many combinations at the same meal, especially flesh and dairy products. Special utensils for the dairy meal and different utensils for the flesh meal reinforce that taboo at the food’s source in the kitchen. Man learned very early in the game what improper combinations of food could do to the human system. When he got a stomach ache from combining raw fruit with grain, or honey with porridge, he didn’t reach for an antacid tablet. He learned not to eat that way. When gluttony and excess became widespread, religious codes and commandments were invoked against it. Gluttony is a capital sin in most religions; but there are no specific religious warnings or commandments against refined sugar because sugar abuse – like drug abuse – did not appear on the world scene until centuries after holy books had gone to press.
“Why must we accept as normal what we find in a race of sick and weakened human beings?” Dr Herbert M. Shelton asks. “Must we always take it for granted that the present eating practices of civilized men are normal?… Foul stools, loose stools, impacted stools, pebbly stools, much foul gas, colitis, hemorrhoids, bleeding with stools, the need for toilet paper are swept into the orbit of the normal.”8 When starches and complex sugars (like those in honey and fruits) are digested, they are broken down into simple sugars called “monosaccharides”, which are usable substances-nutriments. When starches and sugars are taken together and undergo fermentation, they are broken down into carbon dioxide, acetic acid, alcohol and water. With the exception of the water, all these are unusable substances-poisons. When proteins are digested, they are broken down into amino acids, which are usable substances-nutriments. When proteins are taken with sugar, they putrefy; they are broken down into a variety of ptomaines and leucomaines, which are non-usable substances-poisons.
Enzymic digestion of foods prepares them for use by our body. Bacterial decomposition makes them unfit for use by our body. The first process gives us nutriments; the second gives us poisons. Much that passes for modern nutrition is obsessed with a mania for quantitative counting. The body is treated like a cheque account. Deposit calories (like dollars) and withdraw energy. Deposit proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals-balanced quantitatively-and the result, theoretically, is a healthy body. People qualify as healthy today if they can crawl out of bed, get to the office and sign in. If they can’t make it, call the doctor to qualify for sick pay, hospitalization, rest cure-anything from a day’s pay without working to an artificial kidney, courtesy of the taxpayers.
But what does it profit someone if the theoretically required calories and nutrients are consumed daily, yet this random eat-on-the-run, snack-time collection of foods ferments and putrefies in the digestive tract? What good is it if the body is fed protein, only to have it putrefy in the gastrointestinal canal? Carbohydrates that ferment in the digestive tract are converted into alcohol and acetic acid, not digestible monosaccharides. “To derive sustenance from foods eaten, they must be digested,” Shelton warned years ago. “They must not rot.” Sure, the body can get rid of poisons through the urine and the pores; the amount of poisons in the urine is taken as an index to what’s going on in the intestine. The body does establish a tolerance for these poisons, just as it adjusts gradually to an intake of heroin. But, says Shelton, “the discomfort from accumulation of gas, the bad breath, and foul and unpleasant odors are as undesirable as are the poisons”.9
1. Martin, William Coda, “When is a Food a Food-and When a Poison?”, Michigan Organic News, March 1957, p. 3.
3. McCollum, Elmer Verner, A History of Nutrition: The Sequence of Ideas in Nutritional Investigation, Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1957, p. 87.
4. op. cit., p. 88.
5. op. cit., p. 86.
6. Price, Weston A., Nutrition and Physical Degeneration: A Comparison of Primitive and Modern Diets and Their Effects, The American Academy of Applied Nutrition, California, 1939, 1948.
7. Hooton, Ernest A., Apes, Men, and Morons, Putnam, New York, 1937.
8. Shelton, H. M., Food Combining Made Easy, Shelton Health School, Texas, 1951, p. 32.
9. op. cit., p. 34.
10. Foucault, Michel, Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason, translated by R. Howard, Pantheon, New York, 1965.
11. Pauling, Linus, “Orthomolecular Psychiatry”, Science, vol. 160, April 19, 1968, pp. 265-271.
12. Hoffer, Abram, “Megavitamin B3 Therapy for Schizophrenia”, Canadian Psychiatric Association Journal, vol. 16, 1971, p. 500.
13. Cott, Allan, “Orthomolecular Approach to the Treatment of Learning Disabilities”, synopsis of reprint article issued by the Huxley Institute for Biosocial Research, New York.
14. Szasz, Thomas S., The Manufacture of Madness: A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement, Harper & Row, New York, 1970.
15. Tintera, John W., Hypoadrenocorticism, Adrenal Metabolic Research Society of the Hypoglycemia Foundation, Inc., Mt Vernon, New York, 1969.
This article is extracted and edited from the book, Sugar Blues, 1975 by William Dufty; specifically, the chapters “In Sugar We Trust”, “Dead Dogs and Englishmen” and “What the Specialists Say”. The book was first published by the Chilton Book Company, Padnor, PA, USA. Warner Books, Inc., NY, published an edition in 1976 and reissued it in April 1993.
The book is currently published by Warner (USA) as a paperback. Ask for it at your local bookstore, or order it online.
Extracted from Nexus Magazine, Volume 7, Number 1 (December 1999 – January 2000).
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