There are many reasons why I eat very little refined sugar(maybe a tablespoon or two every few weeks in a dessert) and don’t think you should eat it either. The most important reason to me is that refined sugar is not a naturally occurring substance. You will never snap any plant stalk, cut open any fruit or crack any nut and find sugar crystals. Even though almost all refined sugar is made from sugar cane or beets, a lot of complex processing must be done in order to yield crystallized sugar as a final product. Crystallized sugar occurs nowhere in nature and was extremely rare until just a few hundred years ago, totally unknown before that. Refined sugar is not a product our bodies evolved to be able to deal with properly.
The second most important reason I do not eat refined sugar is that it contains absolutely no nutritional value. The sugar cane or beets used to make sugar contain plenty of nutrients and dietary fiber, especially the beets. To make sugar crystals, all of the vitamins, all of the minerals, all of the fiber and all of the phytonutrients are removed. This refining process leaves a chemical(sugar) with a taste so strong that it can overpower anyone’s sweet taste receptors and self control. Laboratory studies have been done in which rats addicted to cocaine were given free access to both sugar and cocaine-the rats all chose the sugar and starved while getting fat.
Every naturally occurring sweetener, and even less refined forms of sugar, contain some nutrients and produce feelings of satiety. Most people do not have great difficulty controlling the amount of raw unfiltered honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup or molasses they eat. These sweeteners are less sweet than sugar and have their own distinctive flavors. Like all natural foods, they are a lot more than just a few chemicals.
Refined sugar, on the other hand, is just a few chemicals. That is a problem because our bodies evolved to eat whole natural foods that contain simple and complex carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients in every bite. Eating simple chemicals causes health problems even with prescription drugs(think long lists of side effects). And the average person in the average industrialized country now eats almost 1/2-pound of refined sugar every day.
I don’t think most people intend to eat so much sugar. They don’t realize they are doing it. Sugar is now added to almost every refined, ready-to-eat product sold as food. This includes commercial bread, sodas, juices, yogurt, breakfast cereals, energy drinks, ketchup, pasta sauce, BBQ sauce, salad dressings, etc… If you buy anything that is ready to eat or drink right out of the package, it probably contains added sugar.
Don’t be fooled by organic sugar crystals refined from organically grown sugar cane or organic evaporated cane juice. It is still refined sugar with no nutritional value at all. Starting with an organic whole food does nothing to change the final product. Cocaine refined from organically grown coca plants would still not be good for you.
Understand that I am a firm believer in moderation. I don’t think occasionally eating small amounts of almost anything is bad for you or will cause cancer or diabetes. It is eating a lot of something on a regular basis that gets us into health problems. Today too many people eat too much refined sugar too often. A piece of cake or pie made with sugar once per week or month will not kill anyone but 1/2-pound of sugar per day for several years probably will! It is the chronic eating of highly refined, unnatural foods that leads to chronic diseases.
Some of the health problems that have been linked to large amounts of refined sugar in the diet are:
*Damage to the pancreas and adrenal glands
*Chaotic blood-sugar levels and energy levels causing mood swings
*Insufficient nutrition caused by nutrient-free calories replacing nutritional calories
*Problems with candida yeast infections(which likes to feed on sugar in the intestines) leading to irritable bowel syndrome
*Easy weight gain and difficult weight loss due to higher blood insulin levels
*Weaker bones and more tooth cavities due to sugary drinks
*Changes in brain dopamine that mimick those in drug addicts
*Higher triglyceride levels and lower HDL cholesterol levels
*Diabetes has a strong correlation with sweetened drinks-sugar calories are 11-times more potent at causing diabetes than the same number of non-sugar calories
*Obesity-refined sugar is so sweet that it overpowers self control and people will keep eating it even after becoming so obese that walking becomes uncomfortable
While refined sugar is actually half glucose and half fructose, many feel it is the fructose that causes the problems. But you can’t get one without the other.
The following are links to resources used for researching this post: