As with most issues; the truth is found somewhere in the middle. The issue with refined sugar is complex. There are a few unique ways that I view it.
Excessive amounts of refined sugars can be harmful to one’s health. When people eat refined white sugar in donuts, pastries, candy bars and desserts, there are also other harmful ingredients in these products that impact health. The flour in dessert is bleached or bromated. Bromated flour, if taken in regularly will weaken the thyroid. A weak thyroid will cause weight gain and a lowered metabolism that causes immune weakness, fatigue, brain fog and even possibly heart disease.
White refined flour contains high amounts of iron as it is fortified. This type of inorganic iron is absorbed into the body weather you need it or not. Excessive iron has been implicated in heart disease, cancer, infections and numerous other health issues.
The fats in pastries with sugar are often highly processed, bleached and rancid. We can say the same thing about candies with its different types of harmful ingredients to health.
You can see now that the intake of sugar is more complex than it is made out to be. Sugars have important roles in the body that make it a valuable addition in different forms to one’s diet. Complex sugars are important as staples such as the starches in whole grains, grain products and some natural refined grain products as they raise the blood sugar more slowly.
Simple sugars from sweeteners, fruit, and fruit juice raise the blood sugar more quickly. This is beneficial for several reasons. Simple sugar can get the body out of the stress mode. When the body is in the stress mode, sugars are used up in the blood and from storage; the body then turns to fat for energy. This puts the body and mind further into stress. By taking simple sugars, especially fruit and fruit juice, the body gets out of the stress mode.
Simple sugars boost energy levels for active people, as they are quickly digested, increase your metabolic rate and increase your calories. Yes, I said, increase your calories. An overly low-calorie diet causes fatigue and signs of low metabolism such as: anxiety, depression, low libido, weak immunity, insomnia and many other signs.
Sugar is essential because your body with its trillions of cells needs energy. Cells are the building blocks for the tissues and organs of our body. Cell health is critical to overall health. If the cells are nourished we have the right foundation for a nourished body.
The cell’s ability to produce energy is critical. Every minute of every day, cells must convert nutrients from the foods we eat into usable energy to power growth, repair, reproduction and movement. When our cells don’t have enough glucose to do their job they find alternative means by which to get their energy, particularly through either Lipolysis (fat breakdown) and Gluconeogenesis (new sugar creation from our own body tissue). These processes require the release of adrenaline and cortisol—our “fight or flight” hormonal responses.
Stress hormones that are produced in this low calorie and low sugar diet initially feel fantastic. This is why so many people have sensations of clarity, easy weight loss, and boundless energy when turning to a no-sugar or low-carb diet. Their bodies are thriving off of adrenaline and cortisol. And while these positive effects can possibly last many months or longer depending on the strength of the adrenals of the individual; ultimately the body is not designed to live off of these stress hormones.
The long-term results are bad in many ways including damaging the adrenals. In fact, ditching sugar can destroy metabolism and lead to a weakened immune system, poor digestion, impaired sexual/reproductive function, and accelerated aging. After a period of time of doing this, people start to run into numerous health issues. Some of which are the very ones they started with when they began these regimens.
When people go on natural low carb and low sugar diets, other harmful ingredients (chemicals, additives etc.) are also taken out of their diet and healthy components are added. This is another important aspect of why they feel improvement.
Despite all the theories of what primitive people ate, humans need both simple sugars and starches to function. Our bodies have adapted quite well to these foods from an evolutionary view.
With all the benefits of simple sugars, I feel that the majority of natural sugars are best to come from sources such as fruit, fruit juices and natural sweeteners - maple syrup, raw honey, and others. For healthy people, even occasional white sugar in some good quality dessert like a natural ice cream, would not be harmful as sacrilegious as this may sound.
Some athletes doing high intensity sports have even used high fructose coke sodas as sports drinks. Coke has electrolytes, sodium, and sugar. I don’t suggest this for people with normal activities. Theoretically, it makes sense because it would be impossible for high powered athletes to get enough calories without refined sugar. My sense is that being a high-powered athlete is not the best for health as it stresses the body.
In my Full Spectrum Macrobiotic Approach understanding, I look at food energetically. The body is a store house of energy. Simple sugars bring out energy to the surface and then disperse energy. If simple sugars are eaten excessively, they over-activate the body weakening the organ functions. Eaten in the right amounts for the body, they strengthen bodily functions.
Since the beginning of the 20th century diets composed mostly of refined sugar and white flour products, versus nutritious healthy diets with moderate amounts of sugar included, have had poor health consequences. They displaced nutritious foods creating nutritional deficiencies when eaten in excessive amounts. From this view, eating extremely high amounts of refined sugar will weaken the body on a deep level leading to the diseases mentioned in the beginning of the article that the anti- sugar advocates talk about.
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