Do you know that those sugary food and drinks you cherish may be killing you slowly? This is the bitter truth about sugar. Recent studies have shown that diets high in sugar are strongly linked to an increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, elevated triglycerides, low HDL (good) cholesterol, cancer, and heart disease. Sugar intake has also been linked to depression, migraine, poor eyesight, arthritis, gout, and osteoporosis.
At least half of the sugar we consume come from soft drinks, fruit drinks, and sports drinks. The rest come into our diets in the form of cakes, ice cream, cookies, chocolate milk, ketchup, sweets and even breakfast cereals. Do you have the willpower to say no to these items of food and drinks and preserve our health?
Some people consume brown sugar thinking it is safer. Raw sugar comes from sugar cane. It is brownish because of molasses. Manufacturers bleach the sugar to remove the molasses and this makes the sugar white. White sugar is actually 99.9% pure sucrose while brown sugar is 97% sucrose, 2% water and other substances. The molasses in brown sugar contain a number of minerals, which include calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron in small quantities. Both brown and white sugar do not contain much to promote health.
Sugar is both a fat and a carbohydrate and this uniqueness drives obesity-related disease rates world-wide. Sugar is 50% glucose and 50% fructose. Glucose is the form of energy your body is designed to run on. Every cell in your body uses glucose for energy, and it’s metabolised in every organ of your body. About 20% of glucose is metabolised in your liver. Fructose, on the other hand, can only be metabolised by your liver, because your liver is the only organ that has the transporter for it. Therefore, consumption of high amounts of fructose ends up taxing and damaging your liver in the same way alcohol and other toxins do. In fact, fructose is virtually identical to alcohol with regard to the metabolic havoc it wreaks.
Dr. Robert Lustig, a professor of paediatrics at the University of California San Fransisco, USA, and his research team recently published their research findings titled “Sugar: The Bitter Truth.” in Nature. They argued that “added sweeteners pose dangers to health that justify controlling them like alcohol.” According to Lustig, “fructose is a chronic dose-dependent liver toxin.” And just like alcohol, fructose is metabolised directly into fat – not cellular energy, like glucose. Consequently, eating fructose is really like eating fat. It just gets stored in your fat cells, which leads to mitochondrial malfunction.
People do not know that sugar is toxic and addictive. Researchers say that sugar and the taste of sweet is said to stimulate the brain by activating beta endorphin receptor sites, the same chemicals activated in the brain by ingestion of heroin and morphine.
Heavy consumers of sugar develop tolerance (needing more and more to have the same effect) which is a symptom of substance dependence. Common long-term effects of sugar addiction include fatigue, pain, obesity, mental maladies, weakened immune system, chronic fatigue, hormonal and gastrointestinal problems.
People need to know why eating a large amount of sugar is detrimental. Education is key in reducing sugar consumption. Of course, commercial interest will make manufactures of sugar and sugar products to continue to promote heavy consumption of sugar. Ignorant parents will continue to feed their children with sweet sugar products.
The amount of soft drinks some people consume is excessive. These soft drinks come in various attractive colours to entice people. But most of them contain 6 to 10 cubes of sugar. These are not health-promoting but health-destroying. Some fruit juices contain added sugar. When they claim it does not contain added sugar, sugar substitutes may be used. These also have their own health implications. Therefore, consumption of these drinks must be drastically reduced. Don’t drink soft drinks to quench your thirst as I used to do when I was ignorant. Drink clean water.
Sometime ago, I talked to a relation on the dangers of sugar consumption. He listened attentively and at end of my unsolicited counselling, he simply said, “Mr. Atueyi, something must kill somebody.” I replied to him, “You’re correct. I cannot fault your statement. But why should you allow what you know that can kill you to render you useless and eventually kill you? Why do you allow a situation you can control to overpower and control you?”
One critical responsibility of every person is the preservation of the body created by God. We know that we have to give account of the talents and gifts God has given to us to serve Him but we don’t seem to realise that we have to give account of the physical body also. St. Paul said, “Don’t you realise that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honour God with your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
You do not honour God with your body when you load it with excess sugar because it is sweet, not because it provides nutrition. In Romans 2:1-2, Paul again said, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. “When Paul prayed for Christians in Thessalonica, he said, “Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again” (1 Thess. 5:23).