Our sweet tooth
When my sugar walks down the street,... this refrain from an old American ballad reminds us of the intense preoccupation the we have with our sweet tooth. In one form or another we find sweeteners in almost everything that we eat or drink. They are presented in a multitude of subtle forms and disguises as if to appear harmless; however, many are far from harmless; few of them have any nutritional value at all. The near universal presence of incredible amounts of sugars and artificial sweeteners throughout our entire food supply makes a trip to the local supermarket a dangerous experience indeed, particularly for the uninformed. Because this whole commercial arena changes quickly as more and more customers catch on, it becomes essential that we become periodically updated about the sugar deception.
Sugar addiction is a complex process that starts with the stimulation of the sweet sensors in our mouth and ends with a twisted whole body immune response and a severely malfunctioning endocrine system. Sugars are known to cause massive dislocations in our endocrine system leading directly to a national obesity epidemic and the eventual and certain loss of the body's ability to metabolize any sugar. The result of an out of control sugar addiction is often diabetes, obesity, kidney failure, blindness, amputation of the extremities and an early and miserable death. The price of allowing ourselves to be deceived by fraudulent labels and of failing to cope with a sugar addiction is very high. When the per capita consumption of sugar was on the order of twelve pounds per year, it posed little danger because most people can handle that amount without adverse effects. Today's per capita consumption is approaching 150 pounds per year, with certain subgroups, teenagers for example, consuming much more; and, the negative health consequences are devastating.
The damaging effects of sugar are worsened dramatically by two other dietary changes that were introduced in the early 1970's. These changes act in synergy with sugar consumption to enhance the damaging effect of sugar and to guarantee epidemic diabetes, overweight and obesity. One change was the substitution of cheap junk oils for the highly beneficial coconut oil we once had in the American diet. The awful health consequences of this substitution have been widely exposed by many students of these issues. Another factor was the widespread addition of MSG to the food supply for the purpose of creating food addictions. MSG is so well understood to reliably cause obesity, that a strain of lab rats noted for their obesity and widely used by scientists in their obesity studies, is identified as MSG rats. It was when these dietary changes were introduced that obesity began to assume epidemic proportions in the US.
The type of sugars in our food has changed over the years. Once sucrose, derived from sugar cane or sugar beets was our leading dietary sugar. Today, cheaper sugars, such as high fructose corn syrup, are widely used. High fructose corn syrup is derived from the chemical, biological and enzymatic manipulation of corn syrup. At least two of the enzymes that are used in this manufacture of high fructose corn syrup have been genetically modified to facilitate the process. Although there are hundreds of sugars and sugar isomers in common use, it is only glucose, sometimes known as dextrose, that powers our cellular metabolism. Contrary to widespread opinion, fructose is not a healthy sugar, especially for the overweight.
How sugar is metabolized
Some crops, such as corn, sugar cane and sugar beets are processed to yield refined sugars. Glucose, fructose and galactose are all monosaccharides, or simple sugars. There are numerous other monosaccharides. They all have three to seven carbon atoms. Glucose, fructose and galactose are all hexoses; that is they have six carbon atoms. They are all isomers of each other, i.e.: they all have the same chemical formula but with differing arrangements of the constituent atoms. It is this differing isomeric arrangement to which the body's enzymes respond during their metabolism. Often sugar molecules will connect up in chains. A chain of two molecules is called a disaccharide. Common table sugar, called sucrose, is such a disaccharide; it is composed of one molecule of glucose and one of fructose.
When the chain of sugar molecules exceeds two it is called a polysaccharide. Starch is a common vegetable dietary polysaccharide. The widespread consumption of white potatoes, an important starch, is a factor in our national obesity epidemic. On the glycemic index, white potatoes, a polysaccharide sugar, are higher than ice cream; thus white potatoes are more difficult for our blood sugar controller to manage than is ice cream. In order for a molecule of glucose to be absorbed by the villi in our intestines, two molecules of sodium must be there to facilitate the absorption. In the absence of sodium, glucose will not be absorbed. This makes the consumption of white potatoes, such as French fries or baked potatoes, liberally dosed with table salt, sodium chloride, doubly damaging to the human metabolism.
Glycogen, manufactured by our liver, is a common animal polysaccharide composed of a long chain of glucose molecules connected in a slightly different way than the starch. In between meals, it is this glycogen that is secreted by the liver into the bloodstream that prevents our blood sugar from falling too low. This is the system that fails with certain forms of hypoglycemia. In our intestines, disaccharides and polysaccharides are broken down into monosaccharide form by enzymes in our brush border villi. The monosaccharides are then absorbed. Sucrose, table sugar is a common disaccharide that is broken down into glucose and fructose before being absorbed. The glucose goes into the bloodstream and then to the different cells of our body where it powers cellular activity and is involved in other cellular processes. The fructose goes to the liver for the triglyceride transformation needed before it can be stored as body fat.
Metabolic consequences of chronic sugar consumption
This metabolism of fructose into triglyceride body fat is an important factor in the obesity epidemic sweeping the nation. There are many, including this writer, that are convinced that the widespread over-consumption of high fructose corn syrup is a key factor our national epidemic of obesity. The widespread popular belief that fructose is a harmless sugar because it does not elevate blood sugar levels is not at all well founded. Immediately after the ingestion of fructose, a rapid rise in blood triglycerides occurs. This reveals the newly manufactured fat being transported from the liver to the adipose cells where it is stored.
Our digestive and metabolic systems work through the action of enzymes manufactured by the body. Minerals are an important constituent of enzymes; enzymes cannot function without minerals. The chronic consumption of sugar completely upsets all of our mineral balances. We then become enzyme deficient. Among the early warning signs of this deficiency are multiple food allergies. When we lack the enzymes needed to digest and metabolize our food, these processes work poorly, if at all.. The next step in this degenerative process is that we soon become allergic to the food that we eat but no longer digest and metabolize properly.
When the Calcium-Phosphorous mineral balance becomes distorted by excess sugar, we suffer from inability to properly metabolize calcium. Even though we have normal, even excess, calcium in the bloodstream, it doesn't do us any good. We excrete the excess calcium and then the body raids the supply of calcium in the bones and we operate as calcium deficient. Osteoporosis is often the result. Chronic elevated levels of blood sugar stimulate chronic elevated levels of insulin as the body attempts to clear the sugar from the bloodstream. Elevated levels of glucose cause the fine capillaries and veins throughout the body to leak. If the capillaries are in the feet, neuropathy and eventual gangrene result. If they are in the kidneys, irreversible loss of kidney function results. If they are in the eyes, retinopathy and progressive loss of vision results. An elevated level of insulin is linked to atherosclerosis and eventual stroke or heart failure.
If carbohydrates containing sugar are processed to the point where the isolated sugar molecules appear to be the only, or major, result of the refining process, the sugar is said to be refined. Ordinary table sugar, sucrose, is a refined sugar. However, if the refining process is started but not allowed to go to completion, a class of so called unrefined sugars result. There are hundreds of different unrefined sugars in relatively common usage. Amongst these can be found: organic maple syrup, organic maple sugar, barley malt syrup, brown rice syrup, honey, date sugar as well as several grades of partially refined brown sugars and syrups. These so called unrefined sugar substitutes all contain sugar; usually sucrose, maltose galactose or fructose in varying proportions.
Typically these unrefined sugars are, in terms of health, somewhat superior to the refined sugars because, often, varying amounts of the mineral complexes, vitamins and other nutrients that were once a part of the raw source product may still remain. Their presence may tend to prevent the body from raiding its stores of these nutrients when the sugar is consumed. The sugar content, however, usually either sucrose or fructose, remains as the sweetening agent. Like all other sugars, these unrefined sugars will elevate the blood sugar just as their more refined counterparts do. However, they may do it more slowly and also supply more of the nutrients that have been removed from the more refined sugars.
Xylitol and Stevia are two natural sweeteners that are very useful to those who want to avoid the bad consequences of sugar and the worse consequences of artificial sweeteners. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol, not a true sugar. In taste and appearance it is much like the sucrose to which we've all become habituated. Although it looks and tastes like sugar it has a greatly diminished effect upon our blood sugar metabolism. The only side effect, for some, is that usage in very large quantities will produce diarrhea. The other most noticeable characteristic is that it is somewhat expensive; currently it is about $10.00 per pound in most health food stores. Xylitol is highly recommended to those who seek a healthy alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners and for the diabetic.
Stevia is an herb and is, wrongly, reputed to be a cure for diabetes in some countries. While not a cure for diabetes, it is a very good sweetener for the diabetic as well as those who want to escape the damage done by sugar and artificial sweeteners. It is so effective as a competitor for the artificial sweetener industry that the FDA refuses to allow it to be advertised as a sweetener in spite of the fact that being sweet is its major identifying characteristic. Highly recommended as a sweetener to those who seek a healthy alternative to the sugar and artificial sweetener industry..
Because of the many widely recognized dangers inherent in the excess use of sugar, an important market has developed in the use of artificial sweeteners, or so called sugar substitutes. Sadly, many of these sugar substitutes have far worse health effects upon the body than does sugar itself. In theory, these artificial sweeteners do not elevate blood sugar. However, the many other deadly effects of them are often far worse than the effects of sugar. A good piece of advice is: Control your sweet tooth; if you cannot control your sweet tooth, then use one of the two alternative sweeteners mentioned above or the unrefined sweeteners available. If you cannot do either, then accept the bad effects of sugar, because as bad as sugar is, it is far better than its artificial alternatives.
The principal artificial sweeteners are: Aspartame, Neotame, Acesulfame-K, Saccharin and Sucralose. There are a few others; however, these are the ones most commonly found in our food and soft drinks. Aspartame is a chemical that was once on the congressional list of biowarfare agents. It was refused a place in our food supply for sixteen years by the FDA because it is and was a well known toxic agent. It was finally approved by a new FDA commissioner put in place by the political influence of Donald Rumsfeld when, as president of the company that owned the patent on Aspartame, he wanted to get it approved. The politics of this event is a case study in criminal politics and an eye opening view of how corporate America really works.
Currently this chemical appears in several thousand food products in our supermarket food chain and is regularly consumed by at least 2/3rds of the population of the US. There are far too many very serious bad effects caused by the use of this chemical to list in this short article. However, just for the purpose of illustration, this chemical, Aspartame, is known to cause Alzheimer's disease in thirty year olds, brain tumors, and Parkinson's disease in young people. When forced to do so under a freedom of information act request, the FDA produced a list of 92 symptoms caused by this chemical food and drink additive. These symptoms were reported by over 10,000 victims. By the FDA's own admission seventy five percent of the complaints received by the agency were about Aspartame.
The medical text "Aspartame Disease: an Ignored Epidemic", by Dr. H.J. Roberts presents 1038 pages of symptoms and diseases triggered by this neurotoxin. It is indeed ironic that aspartame even fails in its role as a dietary supplement to promote weight loss. As an excitotoxin it stimulates the body's craving for carbohydrates and is known to promote obesity. By causing brain tumors, it clearly and definitely violates the Delany clause and exposes its manufacturers to law suits for damages. Multiple law suits have recently been filed in several California courts. If justice finally gets done, the settlements could run into the billions and this poison could be removed from the marketplace. It's a shame that political immunity will probably keep the people that merchandise this poison out of jail.
In the meantime, if you value your health, do not consume any product that contains Aspartame. The trade names under which it is currently sold include Nutrasweet, Canderal, Spoonful, Equal, and Benevia. These constantly change as consumers catch on. So be aware. Even as the trade names are changed to confuse the unwary, remember that the label must contain the warning about PKU required by law. The warning must state that the product contains Phenylalanine. Neotame is a new sweetener developed by Monsanto. It is very similar to the Aspartame discussed above. There are no legitimate, independent, long term studies to justify the rapid rubber stamp approval of this substance by the FDA. The label for this product must also contain the PKU warning by law.
Acesulfame-K was approved by the FDA in 1988. There have been few if any human studies. Animal studies have indicated that it stimulates insulin production thereby precipitating hypoglycemic events. It is also strongly suspected of causing lung tumors, breast tumors, several forms of Leukemia as well as multiple rare organ cancers. Trade names this poison is sold under include Sunette and Sweet one. Saccharin has been implicated in causing bladder cancer in lab rats. In the US, the National Cancer Institute took the position that Saccharin is not a carcinogen. It is banned in Britain as a carcinogen. France made it a prescription drug. It was deleted from the FDA's GRAS (generally regarded as safe) list. A warning label to indicate it is a potential carcinogen is now required in the US. Its most well known trade name is Sweet 'n Low. Fortunately it has a metallic after taste that limits its use for many applications; this means it gets hidden in processed food.
Sucralose is the latest in the list of artificial sweeteners. One would hope that it would be the best; unfortunately it is not. It is made by chlorinating sucrose, table sugar. It causes shrinkage of the thymus, poor blood sugar control, enlarged liver and kidneys, decreased red blood cell count, abortions, extended pregnancy and increases the Hba1C marker for diabetes, among many other symptoms. The Hba1C marker is often associated with accelerated aging. The FDA itself, in its "final rules report", indicated that Sucralose was weakly mutagenic in a lymphoma mutation assay. Sucralose is not approved for most European countries, but is in routine use in the US and Canada. This commercial junk science is on our supermarket shelves and in our processed food under the trade name "Splenda". Again, it is interesting to note that Sucralose does not even meet its advertised purpose of being useful for weight control. Although often sold under this misleading advertising, it actually functions as an appetite stimulant and promotes the consumption of carbohydrates.
What to do?
Contemporary Americans are widely deceived by ads for food and drugs. Indeed, prior to this generation, when people were still relatively healthy, the ability of the corporate food manufacturers to deceive and swindle the population was limited. With the growth of marketing as a science, swindles and swindlers have proliferated as never before. It is important to realize that it is not the job of the FDA, nor indeed any government agency, to protect us from harmful contaminants in our food and drugs. That agency is largely responsible to manage competition between corporate suppliers of our food and drugs. Over the years, the FDA has become so politicized and focused upon corporate need, that the consumer, having little political power, has become little more than a victim. Indeed, the very term consumer implies his only role is to buy and consume to support industry. He is useful mostly to determine the toxicity of the food and drugs that are promoted to the consumer in America.
History shows that even when something is found to be notably toxic, it frequently remains in the marketplace for unexplainable lengths of time. Surprisingly, being toxic often does not even mean that the label must reflect the toxicity. Since, because of widespread corruption, the agencies that were originally chartered to protect the public health do not do their job, we have been forced into the position of being the lab rats for the food and drug industry. Since, short of another American revolution, we cannot escape our role as lab rats, it behooves us, as individuals, to do what we can to protect our health. At the very least we can become intelligent, informed lab rats and refuse to knowingly buy the addictive junk that would kill us.
Thomas Smith is a reluctant medical investigator having been forced into curing his own diabetes because it was obvious that his doctor would not or could not cure it. He has published the results of his successful diabetes investigation in his self help manual entitled "Insulin: Our Silent Killer" written for the layman but also widely valued by the medical practitioner. This manual details the steps required to reverse Type II Diabetes and references the work being done with Type I Diabetes. In the US, the book may be purchased by sending $25.00 US to him at PO Box 7685, Loveland, Colorado 80537. Outside of the US, email us for the special payment and shipping information required for international transactions. He has also posted a great deal of useful information about this disease on his web page at: www.Healingmatters.com. He can be reached by email and by telephone at (970) 669-9176.