The Bitter Consequences of Sugar

by Melissa Diane Smith

(Opinion) – It amazes me how long it takes nutrition information that can make all the difference in people’s health to reach critical masses of people. Even when the message gets out to a certain percentage of people who turn their health around because of it, in our fast-paced information-crazy society, the message tends to get lost and many people forget about it, and then the information resurfaces years later.

This year – in the spring and again on August 5, 2012 – 60 Minutes on CBS ran a segment entitled “Is Sugar Toxic?” The piece explained that research has shown that sugar and other sweeteners are toxins that are linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and even certain types of cancers. If we want to reduce our risks for these diseases, we should avoid sweeteners as much as possible, including sugars hidden in countless processed foods. This is extremely important information. However, it also happens to be information that I and my coauthors wrote about in our national bestselling book Syndrome X: The Complete Nutritional Program to Prevent and Reverse Insulin Resistance back in 2000. Many of my clients and readers of that book started following the advice way back then, and have avoided (and, yes, even reversed) those diseases by adopting a no-sugar policy. But just think how many other people could have been helped (and in some cases, had their lives saved) over the past decade if the information would have spread to more people?

Eating or drinking sugar causes a sudden spike in levels of the hormone insulin. The new information that has become more clear from research done in recent years is that nearly a third of cancers – including breast cancer and colon cancer – have insulin receptors on their surface. Insulin binds to the receptors and signals the tumor to start consuming glucose (the sugar in our bloodstream) for the tumor to grow.  So, how do we protect ourselves from cancer? It’s very simple: Cut off foods that spike blood sugar and insulin levels. Tops on that list is to not eat sugar. In fact, the scientists who are doing that research have been so influenced by what they have found that they have changed their own habits to avoid sugar.

Another important thing to know is eating and drinking sweetened foods and drinks is extremely addictive: It activates the brain in a special way that’s reminiscent of taking certain drugs like cocaine, and we build up a tolerance to it, so we want to eat more and more of it. I have worked with countless clients, including many food addicts, who know this all too well.

The best way to kick this habit is to eliminate sugar cold-turkey in all its forms. Sure, stopping sugar can lead to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, just like a drug addict who is getting off drugs, but there are some tricks of the trade to help lessen withdrawal symptoms. In the long-distance consultations and coaching programs that I do, I help clients get through that transition so they can say no to sugar over the long term.

Avoiding sugar to protect ourselves from the worst degenerative disease killers in our society seems like very old news to me. However, if it’s new to you, or if you need a little refresher on the many reasons why it’s such a health-protective strategy, be sure to watch the “Is Sugar Toxic?” segment. Even if you are already avoiding sugar, it never hurts to get a little reinforcement to stay the course for long-term good health.

Copyright © 2012 Melissa Diane Smith

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