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Avoid Excessive Secondary Sugar

Thursday, June 30, 2016


When we think of pro-aging principles we want to consider those things that impact our health most often. A little study reveals that some of the things we take for granted can have major effects on our health. Sugar is one of these. Take a look at any ad for breakfast cereals or soft drinks and you will see a startling and shocking picture of just how sneaky certain food companies are when it comes to concealing the amount of sugar (cane or high fructose corn syrup) they add to their products, many with bogus health claims.

What is primary sugar?


Many of our favorite natural foods contain sugar. Vegetables, fruit, honey, dairy - you name it - just about all the things you should eat plentifully contain a significant, but low, percentage of natural sugars such as lactose, which is characterized as primary sugar. It's primary because it's natural, a fundamental part of the kind of foods that our bodies really need and use. Primary sugar is beneficial. Including it in your daily diet can help your memory and even improve your mood; it gives you energy and can benefit your skin and blood.

Secondary sugar is non-natural and added for sweetness. Thus, for example, a standard carbonated drink can contains around 7 teaspoons of sugar. However this does not give a full picture of the scale of hidden secondary sugar, which is added not only to already sweet and tasty products, but also to plain and purportedly healthy products. A careful analysis of your product's packaging will reveal an alarming amount of sugar in such un-sweet items as bread, hamburgers, ketchup and mayonnaise.

The volume of secondary sugar is even more worrying in certain types of 'healthy' foods. For example a fat free salad dressing will contain more sugar than regular dressing; a gluten free product contains 30-40% more secondary sugar. So we may be duped by the reassuring claims that food companies make, allowing us a free-pass to indulge in more of the simple foods we enjoy, all the while thinking we are making a smart, healthy choice.

When we realize secondary sugar is one of the biggest health problem of our age, the level of deception appears very sinister indeed. So much so that it is very easily comparable to the conduct of tobacco and cigarette companies in previous decades.

How do we get addicted to secondary sugar - and what are the consequences?

Around half of mothers today choose, for one reason or another, not to breast feed their infants, but instead use widely available baby formula. Mothers' milk contains primary sugar at a reasonable level of around 7%. Yet standard made-up formula contains 16% secondary sugar, which is far more than the body needs. Amazingly, so-called “organic versions” contain up to 37%, which is unreasonable and unhealthy.

Furthermore, many “baby drinks” contain around 6 teaspoons of added sugar per bottle. Meaning a child that has been weaned from one sugary drink like Similac can go straight to another, without his or her parents even realizing that both drinks contain an unnatural and unhealthy level of sugar. This process continues throughout childhood, causing a dangerous cycle.
 
The extra sugar in our system becomes glycogen, or fat - which is stored for later use. However, with a regular habit, that fat stays within us and is very difficult to remove. If this process continues, the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease grows. This can happen quite easily, and leads to a “sugar addiction”. Scans have shown that the dopamine in our brains that is lit up when we reward ourselves (for example with sugar) does not light up in an addict, impelling them to repeat the process to get their fix.

Which is worse, sugary jelly beans or crack cocaine?

Just about everyone agrees that candy is a “junk food”, devoid of real nutrition, a source of “empty calories” that ruin your appetite for better things like apples and fish. But empty calories alone can’t account for the fact that the sugar in a jelly bean could be poison.

Addiction researchers warn that the tasty pleasures of candy, cakes, potato chips, and the rest of the sweet, fatty indulgences we fondly know as “junk food” light up the same brain receptors as heroin and cocaine.

A research team at Yale showed pictures of ice cream to women with symptoms of “food addiction” and found that their brains resembled the brains of heroin addicts looking at drug paraphernalia. The idea of food addiction has become part of the national anti-obesity conversation; even Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. secretary of health and human services, announced in May 2012 that for some people, obesity is the result of “an addiction - like smoking.”

The belief that craving a sugar fix is the same thing as desiring a hit of something stronger depends in large part on one’s definition of addiction. Representatives of the food industry tend to favor a more narrow designation. A study funded by the World Sugar Research Organization concluded in 2010 that although humans definitely like to eat sugar, the way we eat it doesn’t strictly qualify as addiction.

On the other hand, Dr. Nora D. Volkow of the National Institute on Drug Abuse warns that “processed sugar in certain individuals can produce ... compulsive patterns of intake.” Compulsion isn’t quite the same as addiction, but there are even more alarming reports of research at Princeton and the University of Florida, where “sugar-binging rats show signs of opiate-like withdrawal, including chattering teeth, tremoring forepaws and the shakes when their sugar is taken away.” Rats plied with a fatty processed diet of  Hostess cream-filled chocolate snack cakes, cheesecake, bacon, and sausage at the Scripps Research Institute didn’t do too well either; the rats quickly started overeating and wouldn’t stop gorging themselves even when the scientists began zapping them with electrical shocks. The study’s authors concluded that “junk food elicits addictive behavior in rats similar to the behaviors of rats addicted to heroin.”

Usually, if we think about candy at all, it’s as the stuff of happy memories: cotton candy at the state fair, the birthday party piñata, the overflowing Easter baskets and Halloween bags, the glittering Hanukkah gelt, the comfort of the lollipop at the doctor’s office, the reward of M&M’s for potty training, the chocolates from a loved one on Valentine’s Day, or the prettily wrapped favors at weddings. But even when candy is freely given to children and intended to heighten the pleasure of special events, it’s almost always accompanied by a warning: Don’t let all that candy spoil your dinner, and remember to brush your teeth right afterward.

The single largest source of calories for Americans comes from sugar—specifically high fructose corn syrup. Just take a look at the sugar consumption trends of the past 300 years:

In 1700, the average person consumed about 4 pounds of sugar per year.
In 1800, the average person consumed about 18 pounds of sugar per year.
In 1900, individual consumption had risen to 90 pounds of sugar per year.
In 2009, more than 50 percent of all Americans consume one-half pound of sugar per day—translating to a whopping 180 pounds of sugar per year!

There is a difference between naturally occurring sucrose in plants and the sucrose found in granulated sugar or the high fructose corn syrup often used to sweeten processed foods.  Both granulated sugar and high fructose corn syrup go through a refining process...they are called "empty calories" because they offer no nutritional value.

Reasons to avoid sugar

Sure sugar tastes good when you are used to eating the standard American diet, high in processed foods, but once you start eating non-fried, less processed foods, you lose your cravings for sugar...and you are on your way to natural energy and greater health!

Science has now shown us, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that sugar in your food, in all its myriad of forms, is taking a devastating toll on your health.

Sugar is loaded into your soft drinks, fruit juices, sports drinks, and hidden in almost all processed foods—from bologna to pretzels to Worcestershire sauce to cheese spread. And now most infant formula has the sugar equivalent of one can of Coca-Cola, so babies are being metabolically poisoned from day one of taking formula. No wonder there is an obesity epidemic in this country.

Today, 32 percent of Americans are obese and an additional one-third is overweight. Compare that to 1890, when a survey of white males in their fifties revealed an obesity rate of just 3.4 percent. In 1975, the obesity rate in America had reached 15 percent, and since then it has doubled.

Carrying excess weight increases your risk for deadly conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes.
In 1893, there were fewer than three cases of diabetes per 100,000 people in the United States. Today, diabetes strikes almost 8,000 out of every 100,000 people.

You don't have to be a physician or a scientist to notice America's expanding waistline. All you have to do is stroll through a shopping mall or a schoolyard, (or perhaps look in the mirror).

If you’re trying to lose weight, drinking “diet” sodas may be the worst thing for you.  Published research findings show that artificial sweeteners like sucralose, aspartame and saccharin cause changes in the beneficial bacteria that live in our guts and aid in regulating our metabolism. They also reduce our body’s ability to process glucose. These side effects play a significant factor in raising the risk of developing diabetes. Artificial sweeteners will just make your body crave more sugar.

Spencer Thornton, MD, with Ellen Troyer and the Biosyntrx staff