Ours is a sugar-saturated society. Sugar is in baked goods and junk foods and even creeps into some hidden sources such as commercial yogurt, salad dressings, soft drinks, cereals, some protein bars, and low-fat or fat-free foods. As sweet as this may seem, however, you just can’t sugarcoat the devastating effects of sugar.
Nancy Appleton, Ph. D., a clinical nutritionist, researcher and author has warned us about this sweet health hazard for about 25 years. Her book title, Suicide by Sugar, sums it up: excessive sugar intake is killing our health. We’re packing in the white stuff, too. One hundred years ago, the typical American ate about 63 pounds of sugar a year, but now we eat 170 pounds of sugar annually.
Simply put, excess sugar can mess up our whole body, including our weight, our cellular, immune, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, mental, emotional, neurological, metabolic, mouth & teeth, bone, vein, blood sugar and blood pressure health. Additionally, the health of our skin and internal organs, like the heart, liver and kidneys, are adversely affected.
Apparently, our hearts just can’t take sugar overload. Perhaps that’s why the American Heart Association says everyone needs to cut their sugar intake by 70%. We don’t have immune capacity for this much sugar, either. Ingesting 100 grams of sugar (about 8 tablespoons, equivalent to one or two cans of soda—depending in the brand) reduces our white blood cells’ ability to kill germs by 40%, an effect that starts less than 30 minutes after ingestion and lasts up to five hours.
This is significant, too, because white blood cells track down and get rid of unwanted foreign cells or particles and destroy them in a process called phagocytosis. It’s believed that most white blood cells are instrumental in this, but three main types of phagocytes are neutrophils, monocytes and macrophages.
This process is amazing in and of itself, but what may be even more astounding is that bacteria and other invaders can often be phagocytized and destroyed within 30 minutes! In short, phagocytosis provides great protection for the body in its fight against unwanted invaders. If those white blood cells are slowed down by excess sugar intake, though, problems may arise.
Sugar is found in many forms, so be on the lookout. You can find it in refined white sugar (sucrose), brown sugar, corn sweeteners, dextrose, glucose, lactose, maltose and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)—which may be the most health-threatening of all. Studies say that HFCS ages cells faster than sucrose does, robs the body of vitamins, minerals and enzymes, increases risk for heart disease, impairs the pancreas from releasing insulin normally, raises serum triglyceride levels and blood pressure levels and converts to fat more than any other sugar.
Sugar’s everywhere, too—in nearly every soft drink, condiment, bread and even seemingly nutritious foods like yogurt, cereal or salad dressings. A mere six ounces of commercial yogurt can have 20 to 25 grams of sugar, while a serving of cereal may have more sugar than a candy bar does. Soft drinks, however, account for as much as 33% of all sugars consumed, which is not surprising since there are up to 17 teaspoons of sugar in a can of soda. Here’s a shocker, though: in 2005 alone, the average American drank 35.5 gallons of soda.
Speaking of soda…this fizzy syrup provides more added sugar in a 2-year-old’s diet than cookies, candies and ice cream combined, while teenage boys drink at least three cans of soda each day. Yuck!
Now that is truly sickening sweet.