3 Reasons to Care About Excess Sugar Consumption
I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving Feast and did their best. If you are still struggling to get back on the Whole Foods Wagon I have invited Dr. Scott Olson, author of Sugarettes to chat with us about why we need to care about excess sugar consumption.
Hi Dr. Scott, why is the title of your latest book “Sugarettes”?
The name of my book came about as I was talking with a group of people about how destructive I felt sugar could be.
While I was talking, I was searching for an analogy to explain how drawn to sugar we are and how it destroys our health, when it occurred to me that cigarettes and sugar shared many common traits. I first said that sugar was like a “sugar-cigarette” and then the word “Sugarettes” stumbled out of my mouth.
That stumble began the year-long journey of research to uncover the truth about sugar addiction. What I did not realize at the time I first spoke the word “Sugarettes” was just how similar sugar and cigarettes really are: Sugar is every bit as addictive and harmful as cigarettes. As smoke fills a smoker’s lungs it slowly destroys lung tissue – so slowly that it is barely noticeable. Likewise, when sugar enters our blood stream it leads to weight gain, alters our blood sugar control mechanisms, and destroys our blood vessels – all so slowly that no one notices.
Why should we care about how much sugar we are consuming?
On the surface, it looks as if nothing is wrong with the sugar we consume: we hand it out to children, it is in most of the foods we eat, and we give it as gifts or reward ourselves for a job well done… it seems perfectly harmless. Think of the images you have in your mind when you think of sugar: sweet little girls, all sorts or woodsy creatures dancing about, sunshine, rainbows… the list is endless. All those sweet images, though, hide the underlying destruction that is going on in our bodies every time we eat sugar.
Sugar causes three main health problems:
#1 The first is that sugar contributes to obesity. High blood sugar, which is the result of eating large amounts of sugar, leads to the need for the body to store that extra sugar and that storage occurs as fat. The scientific support for link between sugar consumption and obesity is growing every day. Obesity leads to an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke and some cancers.
#2 The second problem has to do with the blood sugar regulation mechanisms in our bodies. Many people know that high blood sugar is controlled by insulin. Eating high-sugar meals leads to ever-increasing amounts of insulin in the body.
This perpetually high amount of insulin can lead to a condition known as insulin insensitivity.We know the diseases cause by insulin insensitivity as metabolic syndrome and diabetes. These two diseases, in turn, lead to a whole host of other diseases such as hypertension, kidney disease, peripheral vascular disease, cataracts, neuropathy, and in extreme cases: blindness and loss of limbs (amputation).
#3 The third major problem with sugar is that it is directly toxic to the body. While the science behind this destruction is a bit complicated, essentially what the sugar is doing is forming complexes with proteins in the body called glycated proteins.
The major proteins in the body that sugar forms complexes with are the protein in our blood vessels.Sugar is effectively destroying the blood vessel system throughout the body similar to the way smoke destroys the lungs of a smoker. Glycated proteins lead to all the problems we see in diabetics and people who consume sugar on a regular basis.
The blood vessels become destroyed by these glycated proteins and stop supplying essential parts of the body with oxygen and nutrients. In the kidneys this destruction eventually leads to kidney failure, in the eyes it leads to blindness, in the legs it leads to gangrene, in the heart it leads to heart attacks, in the brain it leads to strokes and so on…
Should we care about how much sugar we are consuming?
The answer is yes.
Thanks for being a guest at my kitchen table Dr. Olson!
Grab your required reading assignment Sugarettes over at Amazon.com for inspiration and yes, I am making this required reading for all Americans.