Sucrose: Energy at a Price
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 cheque 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.
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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