Sugar - poison or medicine?
I love sugar. That's how it is and all the advices to limit it or stop eating it are useless. But a recent article by NewScientist (Sugar on trial: What you really need to know) may make you rethink your attitude towards sugars.
First of all, let me clarify it - I'm not against sugar. But I think that as with everything, being moderate is the key. And while the final guidelines with respect to the healthy limit for sugar consumption and any legal requirements towards the producers should come from the World Health Organisation and local authorities, studies are clear - along with the trans fats, sugar overconsumption is a major factor in conditions such as obesity, heart disease and type II diabetes.
I'll divide this entry to two parts - scientific and spiritual and I'll try to show you why sugar should be regarded as poison only in big doses - when consumed with moderation, it can be even thought as a medicine.
Let's start with key moments from the studies (as outline in the cited above article):
Note that here, we don't discuss the naturally occurring sugars in fruits and vegetables (fructose) or in milk (lactose), but the added sugars - sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup. Note also that I shortened the article significantly.
"In 1700, the average English household consumed less than 2 kilograms of table sugar a year. By the end of the century that amount had quadrupled and in the US is close to 40 kilograms per person - more than 20 teaspoons a day.
All that unnecessary sugar adds calories to our diet, so it is no surprise that the rise in consumption coincided with the rise of obesity and related problems such as type II diabetes. Since 1980, obesity levels have quadrupled in the developing world to nearly 1 billion people.
The case against fructose is built on the fact that, unlike glucose, it doesn't play an essential role in human metabolism. To begin with, fructose is almost exclusively metabolised by the liver. When we eat a lot of it, Lustig and others say, much of it is converted into fat. Fat build-up in the liver can lead to inflammation and scarring and progress to cirrhosis. Fatty liver has also been linked to insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. Fructose is converted into energy, but Lustig claims that, unlike glucose breakdown, this produces lots of oxygen radicals, dangerously reactive chemicals that attack our bodies and cause ageing. What's more, unlike glucose, fructose isn't regulated by insulin. This hormone keeps blood glucose levels stable and spurs the production of leptin, the hormone that lets you know when you are full. Fructose doesn't affect leptin production; one small study even suggests it ups the level of its counterpart, ghrelin, the hormone that makes you feel hungry. In other words, fructose encourages overeating. Finally, eating lots of fructose has been shown in both animal and human studies to boost levels of triglycerides in the blood, which increase the risk of hardened arteries and heart disease.
In 2012 Luc Tappy concluded that while there is cause for concern in people who already have a metabolic disease or are at risk of developing one, there is no evidence that fructose is the sole, or even the main, cause of these diseases.
Another sinister claim against sugar is that it warps eating habits by altering brain chemistry to make us want more. Several studies in rats have shown that a burst of sweetness affects the reward system in the brain in a similar way to cocaine Foods high in fat and sugar - called "hyperpalatable" foods - are known to trigger our reward systems by boosting dopamine levels much as addictive drugs do.
Last year Lisa Te Morenga, a researcher in human nutrition, reviewed the research on the relationship between sugar and body weight. She concluded that it wasn't necessarily eating too much sugar that was making us fat, but eating too much of everything but those who ate a lot of sugar tended to consume more calories overall and gained more weight. (..) The lack of satiety from sugary drinks makes it possible to consume many more calories at a sitting than you would otherwise.
The new WHO guidelines are still a work in progress, but an early leak suggests they are likely to recommend that just 5 per cent of daily calories come from free sugars. That would mean cutting current consumption by two-thirds, to about 8 teaspoons a day for men and 6 for women. By way of comparison, a standard can of cola contains 10 teaspoons. Sugar on trial: What you really need to know
Basically the case is clear - the high-fructose corn syrup used in processed food is bad for your health. Even if you exercise regularly and try to eat well-balanced diet, your body will waste way too much useful substances to eliminate the bad effects from this syrup and the transfats than to repair your broken DNA strands and to keep you healthy. Of course, there's hardly a power to keep me away from at least a piece of chocolate a day (or chocolate cake?), but just remember - to counter the effects of the sugar rush and the fructose you need to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, which actually also contain fructose. In short, you need to eat 6-8 spoons of sugars per day max. I guess if you eat less today and more tomorrow this can do the trick, but if you go above this limit, you risk nasty diseases of which obesity is the least problem. I really liked the advice one dietologist gave on rthe TV - forget the snacks between meals, stop chopping little bit from here and little bit of there and just eat your ice cream, cake or whatever in one meal, enjoy it and forget about the sweet until the end of the day. And of course, forget about the sugar-sweetened drinks, soda, coke or whatever. 10 teaspoons per can of coke?! Come on! You can eat a lovely piece of chocolate cake having that much sugar. And it's gonna be healthier and more tasty.
Spiritual sideAnother interesting point of view is the spiritual side of sugar. Even from the studies cited above it's clear that the sugar stimulates the brain and has similar effect to cocaine on it. A basic observation shows that eating a chocolate bar makes you satisfied, elevated and generally happier. It can also make you hyperactive and decrease your ability to focus (which is especially true for small children). According to one site dedicated to yoga - in the long run, the overconsumption of sugar can make you lethargic and dreamy.
In one book I read a good explanation of this process. The effect of sugar is like of most "good" drugs and alcohol - it infuses you with energy, raise your vibration and give you the desire to conquer the world. Or at least it gives you the false impression that you can do it. Why is it false? Because a chocolate bar cannot raise your vibrations enough. It just gives you a taste of what it is like to be that person, it promises you could be that person, but minutes afterwards, you're still the same person, with only the craving and the disappointment left. I may describe it too dramatically, but it's more or less the process. You take energy on credit and later, you need to give it back. I'm sorry I still cannot remember the name of the book, so that I could quote it, but that was the idea. Furthermore, it said that the sugar leave black, thick, coal-like imprint in your energy body (don't remember which one). Which with time accumulates and make your system heavier and heavier.
Interestingly enough, this book also mentioned that in earlier times, because of this property to raise the vibrations, sugar was used as a medicine. Now, it's generally used as a drug, which is not good. So be aware that its use has two sides and if you use it moderately and with awareness, you can also benefit from it. You can read more on flavors in Chinese medicine on this link .