This article has been reprinted from The
Tribune -- SPECTRUM
published on Sunday, March 14, 2004
The body requires some amount of sugar for energy. True, but
it has to come from natural fruits, vegetables, grains, milk,
dates, raisins, etc. Getting this energy from sugar is nothing
short of suicidal because it is more damaging to health than all
other narcotics combined, writes Amar Chandel
ALARMED by the falling consumption, sugar manufacturers recently
inserted advertisements in various publications to disprove that
sugar was bad for health. It was a desperate marketing manoeuvre,
but many were taken in by the assertion. For their sake, it is
necessary to set the record straight. Those of you who have already
kicked the habit are on the right track; those who have not should
do so at the earliest, the manufacturers’’ claims
Their contention that the body requires some amount of sugar for
energy is correct but what has been left unsaid is that it has
to come from natural fruit, vegetables, grains, milk, dates, raisins,
etc. Getting this energy from sugar is nothing short of suicidal
because it is more damaging to health than all other narcotics
While taking liquor or opium, a person is at least aware that
he is spoiling his health. But since sugar is considered a "food",
it is consumed liberally. Taken in minute quantities, it can be
beneficial, just as snake venom is therapeutic when used in miniscule
doses for medicinal purposes. But we eat many times more than
we should. (One candy bar is loaded with the amount of sugar that
would be found in 1.5 kg of apples). Nearly 95 per cent of the
populace gets hooked to sugar right from childhood. You relish
it till irreversible damage is done, without even knowing what
Awareness is now growing that sugar is the main cause of diabetes,
hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, besides dental decay. But this
does not tell even one-tenth of the scary story. The list of problems
that it can cause is virtually endless.
Simple sugars - found in white table sugar, corn syrup, fructose,
honey, white flour, or any other super-refined carbohydrate -
have been observed to aggravate asthma, mental illness, mood swings,
personality changes, nervous disorders, heart disease, diabetes,
gallstones, hypertension, senility, cancer and arthritis, says
Nancy Appleton in "Lick the Sugar Habit". They are the
leading cause of dental deterioration — cavities in teeth,
bleeding gums, failure of bone structure and loss of teeth.
Sugar has an extremely deleterious effect in unbalancing the endocrine
system and injuring its component glands, such as the adrenal
glands, pancreas and liver, causing the blood sugar level to fluctuate
Sugar is often called an anti-nutrient. Overconsumption causes
the body to use up its supplies of calcium, potassium, thiamin
and chromium. And all sugars, even natural ones, appear to compete
with Vitamin C for transportation into white blood cells. Without
adequate amounts of Vitamin C, the immune system becomes severely
affected. In short, it kills you, but ever so slowly. It takes
years before it ruins your pancreas, your adrenal glands and your
endocrine system. Had it been 10 times as dangerous, nobody would
have touched it. But since it is a slow and insidious poison,
we relish it ever so much.
Certain harmful refined dietary sugars almost always turn directly
into fat. The result? Unwanted weight gain even if you are not
eating fat at all. A WHO editorial by Jim Mann says: "There
is considerable evidence suggesting that sucrose and other free
sugars contribute to the global epidemic of obesity".
A fat chance
Excess sugar eventually affects every organ in the body. Initially,
it is stored in the liver in the form of glucose (glycogen). Since
the liver’’s capacity is limited, a daily intake of
refined sugar above the required amount of natural sugar soon
makes the liver expand like a balloon. When the liver is filled
to maximum capacity, the excess glycogen returns to the blood
in the form of fatty acids. These are taken to every part of the
body and stored in the most inactive areas: the belly, the buttocks,
the breasts and the thighs.
Once these comparatively harmless places are completely filled,
fatty acids invade active organs like the heart and kidneys. These
begin to slow down; finally their tissues degenerate and turn
to fat. The whole body is affected by their reduced ability, and
abnormal blood pressure is created. The parasympathetic nervous
system is affected; and organs governed by it, such as the small
brain, become inactive or paralysed. The circulatory and lymphatic
systems are invaded, and the quality of the red corpuscles starts
changing. An overabundance of white cells occurs, and the tissue
creation slows down. Our body’’s tolerance and immunity
declines and we cannot withstand extreme attacks of cold, heat,
mosquitoes or microbes, etc.
A 1995 study published in the journal Pediatrics found that sugar
taken on an empty stomach led to an inability to concentrate.
Too much sugar makes one sleepy. Our ability to calculate and
remember is lost. High sugar intake also corrupts muscle performance
and impedes strength development dramatically. A recent article
in the British Medical Journal, entitled ‘‘The Sweet
Road to Gallstones’’, reported that refined sugar
may be one of the major dietary risk factors in gallstone disease.
Low insulin production means a high sugar (glucose) level in the
bloodstream, which can lead to a confused mental state or unsound
mind, and has also been linked with juvenile criminal behaviour.
Dr Alexander G. Schauss brings this solemn fact out in his book,
Diet, Crime and Delinquency. Many mental ward and prison inmates
are "sugarholics" and erratic emotional outbreaks often
follow a sugar binge.
In l957, Dr William Coda Martin classified refined sugar as a
poison because it has been depleted of its life forces, vitamins
and minerals. "What is left consists of pure, refined carbohydrate.
Nature supplies proteins, vitamins and minerals in each plant
in quantities sufficient to metabolise the carbohydrate in that
particular plant. There is no excess for other added carbohydrates.
Incomplete carbohydrate metabolism results in the formation of
‘‘toxic metabolite’’, such as pyruvic
acid and abnormal sugars, containing five carbon atoms. Pyruvic
acid accumulates in the brain and nervous system and the abnormal
sugars in the red blood cells. These toxic metabolites interfere
with the respiration of the cells. They cannot get sufficient
oxygen to survive and function normally. In time, some of the
cells die. This interferes with the function of a part of the
body and is the beginning of degenerative disease".
Willaim Dufty notes in Sugar Blues: "The point is inescapable:
As sugar consumption escalates wildly, fatal diseases increase
Glucose, fructose, sucrose, galactose, maltose and lactose are
digested and absorbed so quickly that the body must convert them
into saturated fats. Saturated fatty acids are "sticky"
by nature, and, when introduced into the vascular system, clog
arteries, increase the chance of stroke, diabetes and definitively
decrease athletic performance.
Refined sugar is also lethal because it provides only that which
nutritionists describe as "empty" or "naked"
calories. It lacks the natural minerals which are present in sugar
beet or cane. In addition, sugar drains and leaches the body of
precious vitamins and minerals through the demand that digestion,
detoxification and elimination make upon one’’s entire
Dr David Reuben, author of Everything You Always Wanted to Know
About Nutrition, says: "White refined sugar is not a food.
It is a pure chemical extracted from plant sources, purer in fact
than cocaine, which it resembles in many ways".
Heroin and sugar are prepared through similar processes of refinement.
In producing heroin, the opium is first extracted from the poppy.
The opium is then refined into morphine. The chemists then work
on morphine and further refine it into heroin.
Similarly, sugar is first pressed as a juice from cane (or beet)
and refined into molasses. Then it is refined into brown sugar,
and finally into white crystalline chemical, which is alien to
the human system. The body is not suited to accommodate this level
of refinement. When you consume simple sugars, they are passed
quickly into the blood stream. Blood sugar levels skyrocket, and
you experience a lift in energy. But that feeling of increased
energy and mental alertness is very temporary. Sugar highs lead
to sugar crashes and the body cries out for more sugar.
Very often we don’’t even know we are taking sugar.
Colas, ketchups, packaged juices, prepared foods, salad dressings
and even medicines and toothpastes are packed with sugar. Most
of the commercial fruit juices are full of the sweet poison. Soft
drinks contain up to 11 teaspoons of sugar each.
There are five classes of simple sugars which are regarded by
most nutritionists as "harmful" to ideal health and
optimal athletic performance when prolonged consumption in amounts
above 15 per cent of the carbohydrate calories are ingested. Out
of the dangerous five, sucrose, fructose and honey impose the
Culprit No 1
Sucrose is considered Villain No 1. It is found in almost all
processed foods such as plain table sugar, dextrose or raw natural
sugar. Taken from sugar beets or sugarcane, this disaccharide
is composed of glucose and fructose. Because it contains no vitamins
or minerals it must rob them from the body in which it is assimilated
(like a parasite leeching the "life" from its victim).
Fructose is a close second to sucrose. Fructose is "natural"
only when found in fresh fruits that contain all the enzymes,
vitamins, and minerals to effectively assimilate it as a rich
nutrient for human consumption. About 20 times sweeter than table
sugar, processed fructose is used as an additive to sweeten all
sorts of packaged foods. Fructose does not raise blood sugars
much, but does raise blood serum triglycerides significantly!
Surprisingly, honey figures at number three. It is a natural product
but happens to be good only for bees. Incidentally, the honey
bear is the only animal found in nature with tooth decay (honey
decays teeth faster than table sugar).
Shun in stages
Cutting down your sugar consumption all of a sudden can cause
withdrawal symptoms. As such, it is very important to taper down
its use gradually. Supposing you are putting two spoons of sugar
in your glass of milk. For the next week, use only one and three
quarters. Then come down to one and a half. Only then will your
system be suitably weaned.
Begin by banishing high-sugar sweets from your home. To keep your
blood sugar levels stable and to minimise sugar cravings, eat
foods rich in protein and B vitamins. To break the sugar habit,
avoid refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice and
pasta; eat more complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal, brown rice
and millet. Eat less salt, and fewer dairy products; they’’ll
cause you to crave something sweet later. When you have a sugar
craving in the afternoon, eat a banana or an apple.
Shunning chocolate, icecream and white bread may be sheer torture
to begin with because you will be a bit irritable, suffer from
headaches, chills, bodyaches, mood swings, and feel mentally sluggish.
But in just a month or so, your taste buds will become more sensitive
to the natural sweetness of foods. You’’ll feel energised,
alerter and healthier. Your physical and emotional health will
improve dramatically. The sugar craving will lessen with every
Here is a compound which has been classified as a poison, has
no nutritional value, is known to rot teeth, cause numerous physical
and emotional problems and is addictive. Even if you cannot stop
eating it altogether, cut its intake to the bare minimum, for
your own sake and for your children.
Honey, not even jaggery
CONTRARY to popular belief, switching over to jaggery (gur), shakkar
or honey provides only minor relief because as far as the body
is concerned, sugar is sugar.
One saving grace is that jaggery has more nutrients than sugar,
especially calcium, phosphorous, iron and other minerals. To that
extent, it does not affect the system as harshly as refined sugar
Another advantage is that it has a peculiar smell and taste because
of which it is not possible to eat it as liberally as is the case
with white sugar.
Honey is good, but only in the raw form. The keyword is still
moderation. Liberal use of honey will be almost as bad as taking
Honey has the highest calorie content of all sugars with 65 calories
per tablespoon, as compared to the 48 calories found in table
sugar! The increased calories are bound to manifest increased
blood serum fatty acids, and weight gain, on top of the likelihood
of more cavities.
Pesticides (carcinogens) used on farm crops and residential flowers
have been found in commercial honey. Honey can be fatal to an
infant whose immature digestive tracts are unable to deal effectively
with Botulinum spore growth.
The enzymes or nutrients that raw honey contains are destroyed
by manufacturers who heat it in order to give it a clear appearance
for enhancing sale. Some beekeepers feed their bees sugar water
for enhanced production and flavour, while others add sugar syrup
to the product.
In the book Get The Sugar Out, Ann Louise Gittleman says: "No
mater what form it takes, sugar paralyses the immune system in
a variety of ways".