In 1957, Dr. William Coda Martin tried to answer the question: When is a food a food and when is it a poison? His working definition of “poison” was: “Medically: Any substance applied to the body, ingested or developed within the body, which causes or may cause disease. Physically: Any substance which inhibits the activity of a catalyst which is a minor substance, chemical or enzyme that activates a reaction.”
Dr. Martin classified refined sugar as a poison because it has been depleted of its life forces, vitamins and minerals. “What is left consists of pure, refined carbohydrates. The body cannot utilize this refined starch and carbohydrate unless the depleted proteins, vitamins and minerals are present.
Nature supplies these elements in each plant in quantities sufficient to metabolize the carbohydrate in that particular plant.
High-fructose corn syrup is the primary source of calories in the United States and is heading that way worldwide. In addition to containing mercury, a known carcinogen, cancer cells actually feed on high-fructose corn syrup after it is metabolized by the liver.
HFCS are made from genetically-modified corn. It’s enzymatically processed from cornstarch into a liquid sweetener. One or two of the enzymes are also genetically engineered. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides no definition of what the word “natural” means and does not regulate its use on labels. When a person is consuming HFCS on a regular basis, their body will stop responding to insulin which leads to infertility.
A recent study, published in the Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Targets, examined the link between refined sugar and cancer. The results add further evidence to the reports of many health experts and scientific studies that have drawn the connection between excess sugar consumption and the development of cancer.
Nearly a third of some common cancers — including breast and colon cancers — have something called insulin receptors on their surface. Insulin binds to these receptors and signals the tumor to start consuming glucose.
The researchers highlighted the numerous ways in which fructose directly contributes to cancer risk and other health problems, including:
- DNA damage
- Altered cellular metabolism
- Increased production of free radicals
According to Lewis Cantley, director of the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School, as much as 80 percent of all cancers are “driven by either mutations or environmental factors that work to enhance or mimic the effect of insulin on the incipient tumor cells.”
Sugar taken every day produces a continuously overacid condition, and more and more minerals are required from deep in the body in the attempt to rectify the imbalance. Finally, in order to protect the blood, so much calcium is taken from the bones and teeth that decay and general weakening begin. Excess sugar eventually affects every organ in the body. Initially, it is stored in the liver in the form of glucose (glycogen). Since the liver’s capacity is limited, a daily intake of refined sugar (above the required amount of natural sugar) soon makes the liver expand like a balloon.
Excessive sugar has a strong mal-effect on the functioning of the brain. The key to orderly brain function is glutamic acid, a vital compound found in many vegetables. The B vitamins play a major role in dividing glutamic acid into antagonistic-complementary compounds which produce a “proceed” or “control” response in the brain. B vitamins are also manufactured by symbiotic bacteria which live in our intestines. When refined sugar is taken daily, these bacteria wither and die, and our stock of B vitamins gets very low. Too much sugar makes one sleepy; our ability to calculate and remember is lost.
In the 1930s, a research dentist from Cleveland, Ohio, Dr. Weston A. Price, traveled all over the world-from the lands of the Eskimos to the South Sea Islands, from Africa to New Zealand. His Nutrition and Physical Degeneration: A Comparison of Primitive and Modern Diets and Their Effects,6 which is illustrated with hundreds of photographs, was first published in 1939. Dr. Price took the whole world as his laboratory. His devastating conclusion, recorded in horrifying detail in area after area, was simple. People who live under so-called backward primitive conditions had excellent teeth and wonderful general health. They ate natural, unrefined food from their own locale. As soon as refined, sugared foods were imported as a result of contact with “civilization,” physical degeneration began in a way that was definitely observable within a single generation. Any credibility the sugar pushers have is based on our ignorance of works like that of Dr. Price.
When the word “sugar” can mean the glucose in your blood as well as the sucrose in your Coca-Cola, it’s great for the sugar pushers but it’s rough on everybody else. People have been bamboozled into thinking of their bodies the way they think of their check accounts. If they suspect they have low blood sugar, they are programmed to snack on vending machine candies and sodas in order to raise their blood sugar level. Actually, this is the worst thing to do. The level of glucose in their blood is apt to be low because they are addicted to sucrose.
In the 1940s, DR John Tintera rediscovered the vital importance of the endocrine system, especially the adrenal glands, in “pathological mentation”-or “brain boggling”. In 200 cases under treatment for hypoadrenocorticism (the lack of adequate adrenal cortical hormone production or imbalance among these hormones), he discovered that the chief complaints of his patients were often similar to those found in persons whose systems were unable to handle sugar: fatigue, nervousness, depression, apprehension, craving for sweets, inability to handle alcohol, inability to concentrate, allergies, low blood pressure. Sugar blues!
DR Tintera finally insisted that all his patients submit to a four-hour glucose tolerance test (GTT) to find out whether or not they could handle sugar. The results were so startling that the laboratories double-checked their techniques.
When Tintera dared to suggest in a magazine of general circulation that “it is ridiculous to talk of kinds of allergies when there is only one kind, which is adrenal glands impaired…by sugar”, he could no longer be ignored. The allergists had a great racket going for themselves. Allergic souls had been entertaining each other for years with tall tales of exotic allergies-everything from horse feathers to lobster tails. Along comes someone who says none of this matters: take them off sugar and keep them off it. Perhaps Tintera’s untimely death in 1969 at the age of fifty-seven made it easier for the medical profession to accept discoveries that had once seemed as far out as the simple oriental medical thesis of genetics and diet, yin and yang.
During World War 2 sugar was rationed in Great Britain and during that time heart attacks actually declined in the British population. Some health experts believe this was due to the reduction of sugar in their diets.
Because eating habits and taste tend to be influenced by what we eat as infants and young children, an unhealthy habituation or addiction to sugar, which influences lifetime health, can be established from a very young age when the ability and capacity to make informed eating choices are simply unavailable.
Dr Robert H. Lustig is a specialist on pediatric hormone disorders and the leading expert in childhood obesity at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, which is one of the best medical schools in the country. He published his first paper on childhood obesity a dozen years ago, and he has been treating patients and doing research on the disorder ever since.
The viral success of his 2009 lecture about Sugar, though, has little to do with Lustig’s impressive credentials and far more with the persuasive case he makes that sugar is a “toxin” or a “poison,” terms he uses together 13 times through the course of the lecture, in addition to the five references to sugar as merely “evil.” And by “sugar,” Lustig means not only the white granulated stuff that we put in coffee and sprinkle on cereal — technically known as sucrose — but also high-fructose corn syrup, which has already become without Lustig’s help what he calls “the most demonized additive known to man.”
The lecture, although quite lengthy, is extremely important, and is both compelling and revealing.
It doesn’t hurt Lustig’s cause that he is a compelling public speaker. His critics argue that what makes him compelling is his practice of taking suggestive evidence and insisting that it’s incontrovertible. Lustig certainly doesn’t dabble in shades of gray. Sugar is not just an empty calorie, he says; its effect on us is much more insidious. “It’s not about the calories,” he says. “It has nothing to do with the calories. It’s a poison by itself.”
If Lustig is right, then our excessive consumption of sugar is the primary reason that the numbers of obese and diabetic populations have skyrocketed in the past 30 years. But his argument implies more than that. If Lustig is right, it would mean that sugar is also the likely dietary cause of several other chronic ailments widely considered to be diseases of Western lifestyles — heart disease, hypertension and many common cancers among them.
Eric Stice, a neuroscientist at the Oregon Research Institute, used functional MRI scanners to learn how our brains respond to sweetness. By scanning hundreds of volunteers, he’s learned that people who frequently drink sodas or eat ice cream or other sweet foods may be building up a tolerance, much like drug users do. As strange as it sounds, that means the more you eat, the less you feel the reward. The result: you eat more than ever.
The word “sugar” here means both sucrose — beet and cane sugar, whether white or brown — and high-fructose corn syrup. This is a critical point, particularly because high-fructose corn syrup has indeed become “the flashpoint for everybody’s distrust of processed foods,” says Marion Nestle, a New York University nutritionist and the author of “Food Politics.”
Refined sugar and H.F.C.S. don’t come with any protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants or fiber, and so they either displace other more nutritious elements of our diet or are eaten over and above what we need to sustain our weight, and this is why we get fatter. Sugar has unique characteristics, specifically in the way the human body metabolizes the fructose in it, that may make it singularly harmful, at least if consumed in sufficient quantities.
This means we can eat 100 calories of glucose (from a potato or bread or other starch) or 100 calories of sugar (half glucose and half fructose), and they will be metabolized differently and have a different effect on the body. The calories are the same, but the metabolic consequences are quite different. The fructose component of sugar and H.F.C.S. is metabolized primarily by the liver, while the glucose from sugar and starches is metabolized by every cell in the body. Consuming sugar (fructose and glucose) means more work for the liver than if you consumed the same number of calories of starch (glucose). And if you take that sugar in liquid form — soda or fruit juices — the fructose and glucose will hit the liver more quickly than if you consume them, say, in an apple (or several apples, to get what researchers would call the equivalent dose of sugar). The speed with which the liver has to do its work will also affect how it metabolizes the fructose and glucose.
You secrete insulin in response to the foods you eat — particularly the carbohydrates — to keep blood sugar in control after a meal. When your cells are resistant to insulin, your body (your pancreas, to be precise) responds to rising blood sugar by pumping out more and more insulin. Eventually the pancreas can no longer keep up with the demand or it gives in to what diabetologists call “pancreatic exhaustion.” Now your blood sugar will rise out of control, and you’ve got diabetes.
By the early 2000s, researchers studying fructose metabolism had established certain findings unambiguously and had well-established biochemical explanations for what was happening. Feed animals enough pure fructose or enough sugar, and their livers convert the fructose into fat — the saturated fatty acid, palmitate, to be precise, that supposedly gives us heart disease when we eat it, by raising LDL cholesterol. The fat accumulates in the liver, and insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome follow. Stop feeding them the sugar, and the fatty liver promptly goes away, and with it the insulin resistance.
The connection between obesity, diabetes and cancer was first reported in 2004 in large population studies by researchers from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. It is not controversial. What it means is that you are more likely to get cancer if you’re obese or diabetic than if you’re not, and you’re more likely to get cancer if you have metabolic syndrome than if you don’t.
Now most researchers will agree that the link between Western diet or lifestyle and cancer manifests itself through this association with obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome — i.e., insulin resistance. This was the conclusion, for instance, of a 2007 report published by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research — “Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer.”
So how does it work? Cancer researchers now consider that the problem with insulin resistance is that it leads us to secrete more insulin, and insulin (as well as a related hormone known as insulin-like growth factor) actually promotes tumor growth.
The cells of many human cancers come to depend on insulin to provide the fuel (blood sugar) and materials they need to grow and multiply. Insulin and insulin-like growth factor (and related growth factors) also provide the signal, in effect, to do it. The more insulin, the better they do. Some cancers develop mutations that serve the purpose of increasing the influence of insulin on the cell; others take advantage of the elevated insulin levels that are common to metabolic syndrome, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Some do both. Many pre-cancerous cells would never acquire the mutations that turn them into malignant tumors if they weren’t being driven by insulin to take up more and more blood sugar and metabolize it.
Some researchers will make the case, as Cantley and Thompson do, that if something other than just being fatter is causing insulin resistance to begin with, that’s quite likely the dietary cause of many cancers. If it’s sugar that causes insulin resistance, they say, then the conclusion is hard to avoid that sugar causes cancer — some cancers, at least — radical as this may seem and despite the fact that this suggestion has rarely if ever been voiced before publicly. For just this reason, neither of these men will eat sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, if they can avoid it.
“I have eliminated refined sugar from my diet and eat as little as I possibly can,” Thompson told me, “because I believe ultimately it’s something I can do to decrease my risk of cancer.” Cantley put it this way: “Sugar scares me.”
Cutting Out Sugar
While the occasional sweet treat won’t make or break your weight loss or your health, many people have trouble stopping after a sensible portion or saying no to sugar when it’s available. If you feel out of control around sugar, then a sugar “detox” is a great way to reduce your cravings, eat better, and bring sugar back to where it belongs: as an occasional treat that you consciously choose to eat in a mindful manner, not a daily treat occurrence that controls you.
Identify Sugar and Where It’s Hiding
The first step in conquering your sugar habit is to rid your pantry and refrigerator of added sugar. Some things (think ice cream, cookies and candy) are obvious, but most of us need to look closer at where the sugar in our diets is coming from. This will require a bit of label reading in the beginning, but after a while, it will become easier.
In order to cut back on hidden or added sugar, scan the ingredients list of a food label. If you see any of the following terms listed, then sugar has been added to the product in one form or another and it is best left on the shelf at the store—especially if that sugar shows up within the first five ingredients of any food product.
Brown rice syrup
Cane juice crystals
High fructose corn syrup
|Corn syrup solids
Evaporated cane juice
Fruit juice concentrate
|Grape juice concentrate
Read labels before you buy—or bite. How many of your favorite foods contain hidden sugars in the top of their ingredients lists?
Once you have identified the sources of sugar in your diet, clean out your kitchen. Throw out or donate all of the products that contain hidden or added sugars, including any juice, soda, candy, sweets and seemingly healthy snacks like granola bars, fruit and grain bars, instant oatmeal and sports drinks.
Remember, you don’t have to throw away everything that is sweet! Natural sugar, like the kind you find in whole fruit, contains vitamins, minerals and fiber, which are lost in the processing of juice. So unlike soda, fruit juices and other processed foods, whole fruit provides us with essential vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. Be wary of certain fruit- or milk-based products that contain added sugars such as: flavored milk, many yogurts, fruits canned or jellied in added sugar or syrups, and the like.
Replace high-sugar cereals with a whole grain cereal that contains no sugars. Sweeten it naturally with fresh berries or half of a diced banana. Instead of snacking on candy or cookies, reach for a handful of nuts or some raw veggies and hummus.
When choosing a refreshing beverage to quench your thirst, keep in mind that you want to eat your calories, not drink them. Choose ice cold water flavored with a squeeze of fresh lemon or an orange slice. Or flavor unsweetened iced tea with fresh mint, crushed raspberries, or a squeeze of citrus.
One tip to help you avoid added sugar at the supermarket is to shop the perimeter of the grocery store as much as possible. Think about the general layout of a grocery store: The outside is home to fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, dairy products, and whole grain breads and the inside aisles are stocked with cookies, chips, soda, fruit juice, cake mixes, and other processed foods. Spend most of your time on the outside and only go down the inner aisles for specific products, like whole-grain pasta.
Never shop on an empty stomach and always shop with a list. Shopping while hungry can lead you to adding all kinds of snacks and impulse buys to your cart. Meal planning can be a tricky task at first, but following a meal plan is an important part of breaking the sugar addiction. It will help to keep you on track and help prevent stopping for fast food when you don’t have a game plan for dinner. Spend a little time on Sunday afternoons jotting down some meal ideas for throughout the week. Make a list of the food items you will need to make the meals you wrote down and stick to it!
- The Cancer Report
- Disease = Toxicity and Deficiency, Plus The Healing Power of Nature.
- Fact: Cannabis Kills Cancer