Let me start with some true confessions. I grew up as a sugar junkie. I suppose when I look back on it, I’d have to say my Mother was a sugar junkie too. Though truthfully, I probably expanded on her addiction in a significant way, as following generations normally do. And now that I think about it, my grandma was a sugar junkie too. Turns out I’m from a long line of sugar junkies.
There are so many “genetic” tendencies that we all inherit. In any case, science will call it genetics when the whole line of the family shows up over time with diabetes or depression or high blood fats and heart disease. But more often than not, what we’ve actually inherited is a long list of unexamined lifestyle habits.
Eating sugar is a good example.
So back to my confessions. Although I was blessed to have a mother who home-cooked from scratch “three square meals” a day for our household, I was also blessed with a mother who home-cooked the accompanying desserts for each meal. And for snacks and for treats and for special occasions and for a “little something” before bedtime.
Not to mention, in the summer, when my family ran a little resort on Woman Lake in northern Minnesota, I also had free access to all the sugars we kept for the guests: coca cola and all the other soda pops, candy bars, ice cream bars, bubble gum, etc. I ate them all day long.
By the time I was in high school, I was experiencing hypoglycemic episodes on a regular basis. My pancreas had been thoroughly worn out! Do you know what hypoglycemic episodes are? No one did when I was growing up in rural, back woods Minnesota in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. I think most people just thought I was an “ornery” kid; I know I did. Experiences like an irrational, overpowering urge to eat, raging headaches, bad cases of the shakes, and severely fluctuating moods were very common for me. Needless to say, those kinds of symptoms don’t usually result in a happy-go-lucky attitude.
Many years later, after my symptoms had worsened to the point of 24-hour headaches, weight problems, and passing out, I was fortunate enough to find a nutritionist who knew what the problem was. Within 2 days of changing my diet, I felt like a new person.
So what’s the problem with sugar? Well first of all, what is sugar? In this country today, for most people sugar is the white granules they put on their cereal in the morning, and in their coffee, and on their grapefruit, and on and on. Those white granules are refined sucrose, which is produced by a series of chemical processes performed on the juice of the sugar cane or sugar beet. All fiber and protein from those plants are removed in the process, which normally account for nearly 90% of the plant. Refined sucrose is not a product of nature.
What is left after all of the chemical processing of these plants is a high calorie, non-nutritional, habit-forming taste.
Like most prescription drugs, that sweet taste wouldn’t be such a terrible thing if it didn’t have such a long list of negative side effects associated with it. Here is a beginning list of those side effects:
• The acidification of the entire biochemistry of the body
• (The blood stream of the human body functions optimally with a slightly alkaline pH so acidification forces a cascade of compensatory biochemistry results all of which have negative impacts.)
• The leaching of vitamins and minerals to attempt to alkalinize the body’s pH. (This is the association with gum disease and ultimately, osteoporosis, but of course, the reduction in vitamins and minerals can cause problems in all aspects of body functioning.)
• The inflammation of tissues resulting from acidification (often resulting in pain and increased pain).
• The weakening of connective tissues from acidification (often resulting in weakened ligaments, back problems, etc.).
• The creation of a low pH environment in the body, which is an anaerobic or low oxygen environment, makes a hospitable environment for pathogenic bacteria as well as for cancer cells.
• The stimulation of insulin secretion, resulting in weight gain.
• The increase in fatty acids (especially triglycerides) in organs and in the blood stream (often resulting in blood pressure problems, cardiovascular disease, circulatory problems, etc.)
• The reduction in immune function.
• The reduction in the number of friendly bacteria in the intestinal tract and the increase in the number of “un-friendly” bacteria as well as yeast. (Because friendly bacteria contribute B vitamins to the body and because B vitamins have so many important roles such as mood stabilization and brain functioning, the depletion of friendly bacteria can impact negatively on emotional states).
• An increase in PMS and menstrual pain resulting from depleted vitamins and minerals.