The dangers of sugar are numerous. Sugar provides precisely what we generally have too much of (calories, 4 grams), while it lacks what we need most (vitamins and minerals). Although sugar alone has no toxic or carcinogenic effects, some studies relate the consumption of large amounts (more than 50 g a day) of sugar with various chronic diseases. It is possible that in many cases, the harmful effect of sugar is primarily due to a lack of fiber and specific vitamins and minerals displaced in the diet when a great deal of sugar and sugared products are eaten.
Dangers of Sugar
The following dangers of sugar apply primarily to common sugar since it is the most prevalent. However, they also apply to the other refined or purified sugars.
- Nutritionally unbalanced: All different types of sugar are made of only practically pure carbohydrates. They provide about four calories per gram. They contain no protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, nor fiber.
- Metabolic imbalance: Sugar metabolism, which results in energy, requires B complex vitamins (particularly B1) and minerals (calcium in particular). When sugar (which contains no vitamins and minerals) or refined foods (that are poor in these) are ingested, the body is compelled to use its reserves, thus overtaxing them. For this reason, sugar is referred to as a calcium “thief.”
Liberal use of any refined sugar without the correspondent amount of vitamins, minerals, and fiber found naturally in foods alters the metabolism of carbohydrates, fat, and proteins producing harmful effects in the body.
- Displaces other foods: Sugar can diminish appetite. This leads to a decline in the utilization of healthy foods.
- Dental disorders: All sugars, including natural sugars in fruits, promote tooth decay (cavities). This is because the bacteria typically found in the mouth convert sugars into acids that attack dental enamel. The removal of bacterial plaque by tooth brushing and the fluoride in toothpaste may avoid the harmful effects of sugar on the teeth.
- Triglycerides: The overconsumption of sugar tends to increase the level of these fatty elements in the blood, which, in turn, supports arteriosclerosis and heart disease.
- Obesity: Sugar and sugared foods are essential causes of obesity in children and adults.
- Hyperactivity: Despite the seeming relationship between sugar consumption and certain behavioral disorders such as hyperactivity or attention deficit, it has not been proven in any study to date. It has been shown that additives, particularly food colors, can alter the behavior of individual children. Current knowledge indicates that overall diet plays a vital role in children’s behavior, but not specifically sugar.
Health Problems Caused by Sugar
The following illustrates some of the health problems caused by sugar:
- Gallstones: A long-term follow-up study conducted by the National Institute of Public Health in Bilthoven (Netherlands) showed a relationship between sugar consumption and increased risk of cholelithiasis.
- Crohn’s Disease: A mixture of a great deal of sugar and too little fiber is one of the causative factors.
- Gastroduodenal Ulcer: The overuse of sugar, along with a diet of refined foods low in fiber, increases this risk.
- Type II Diabetes: Currently, there are no studies that support the overuse of sugar is a direct cause of diabetes, but evidently, it does make it worse and more serious.
- Bone Brittleness: A high fat, high sugar diet depletes the body’s calcium reserves, which results in the bones becoming brittle and eventually leading to fractures.
- Stomach Cancer: According to multiple studies, the overconsumption of sugar, saturated fat, and calcium increased the risk of stomach cancer. On the other hand, a diet that is rich in raw vegetables, fresh fruit, and vegetable oil reduces this risk.
- Colon Cancer: The consumption of sugar between meals stimulates the proliferation of the intestine’s epithelial cells. This promotes the formation of cancers. Additionally, a study involving 35,215 women found that the more sugar one eats, the higher the colon cancer risk.
- Retarded Fetal Growth: According to studies, pregnant adolescents who consume excess sugar have a probability of giving birth to low weight babies.
Advantages of Sugar
- It produces a sense of wellbeing: When the blood glucose level is low (hypoglycemia) due to intense physical exercise, fasting, metabolic problems, or more frequently alleviates the sense of anxiety and unease. However, it is much better to avoid hypoglycemic situations with a correct diet based on grains, preferably whole, since their starch releases (glucose) over a period of various hours in the intestine.
- It provides quick energy: The saccharose in common sugar digests quickly and rapidly converts to glucose and fructose that pass to the bloodstream.
- It is hypoallergenic: Since it is a highly purified product, common sugar produces no allergic reaction. On the other hand, natural products such as honey and syrups can.
- George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power. Trans. Annette Melgosa. Vol. 1. Chai Wan: Editorial Safeliz, 2005. 172, 173. Print. [dangers of sugar]