In her book How to Stay Young and Healthy in a Toxic World, Ann Louise Gittleman writes: “Despite what mainstream media would like us to believe, sugar is not an innocent substance that gives us pleasure and causes no harm. Quite the contrary; there is perhaps nothing else in the diet that promotes disease and aging more over the long term than excess sugar.”
Gittleman contends that the biggest and most unhealthy change in our diets in the last several decades has been our sugar consumption--in the forms of refined white sugar known as sucrose, brown sugar, corn sweeteners, dextrose, glucose, lactose, maltose, and high fructose corn syrup (what some believe to be the most threatening form of sugar). What used to amount to about 63 pounds of sugar intake per year about one hundred years ago has now escalated to over 170 pounds of sugar intake per year for the average American.
And it’s no wonder our sugar intake is so high. It’s almost everywhere--in nearly every sweet drink, condiment, bread, cereal, and even seemingly “nutritious” foods—so read your labels carefully and be on the lookout for it.
That’s pretty unsettling, too, says Gittleman, especially since high sugar intake has been implicated in immune system suppression, allergic reactions, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and even cancer. She calls sugar our “number one toxic invader.”
Diana Schwarzbein, M.D., agrees. She asserts that many, in an attempt to avoid weight gain and disease, have turned to a low-fat diet high in carbohydrates. The twist is that many manufacturers have come out with low-fat food products sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup—the worst form of sugar, in her estimation. And she has studies to back that up; many nutritional studies show that fructose ages your cells faster than sucrose.
Nancy Appleton, Ph. D., a clinical nutritionist, researcher and author, has additional input on what fructose does or does not bring to the nutritional table. She says:
- Fructose supplies no vitamins, minerals or enzymes and robs the body of its micronutrients.
- Fructose increases serum cholesterol and LDL levels, putting a person at risk for heart disease.
- Fructose intake can increase uric acid levels; uric acid can be an indicator of heart disease.
- Fructose produces higher kidney calcium concentrations than glucose does.
- Fructose is not converted to glucose for the body to use. Instead, it is removed by the liver—and does not cause the pancreas to release insulin normally.
- Fructose converts to fat more than any other sugar and raises serum triglyceride levels.
And remember, you can find sugar and high fructose corn syrup at every turn. Just be careful what you put in your shopping cart—as well as your mouth.