Sugar – may be the cause of most diseases by Dr Harold Gunatillake

Dr. Harold Gunethilake


Written by Dr Harold Gunatillake-Health writer

Why blame sugar a food that is so sweet provides energy for survival? Debate goes on regarding the causes of heart disease. One of the suspects under constant scrutiny is sugar. Sugar has been blamed for various forms of heart disease both directly and indirectly. With proper background knowledge and by making smart choices, anyone can take measures to avoid any potential heart disease-related conditions associated with sugar. Heart Disease

The idea that sugar is associated with heart disease dates back to the 1960s when a study, showed that a higher intake of sugar was associated with increased cardiovascular disease. Recent studies have linked sugar consumption with coronary heart disease. The incidence in women is higher than men. Women with diets high in sugar had twice the risk in developing heart disease over a 10-year period. This association is directly related to weight gain, which in turn causes heart disease and other conditions such as diabetes that also is linked to heart disease.

There are varieties of sugars; simple sugars refer to mono and disaccharides. Then there the complex carbohydrates referred to as polysaccharides, starch being the commonest we are familiar with. Common disaccharides are sucrose found in sugar cane, sugar beets, honey and corn syrup. All sugars whether simple or complex are broken down to glucose before absorption into the portal blood stream that feeds the liver.

Kimber Stanhope, a nutritional biologistat the University of California…. She’s in the middle of a ground-breaking, five-year study which has already shown strong evidence linking excess high fructose corn syrup consumption to an increase in risk factors for heart disease and stroke. That suggests calories from added sugars are different than calories from other foods.

She claims that healthy young people, drinking a sweetened drink might be just as bad for their hearts as the fatty cheeseburgers we’ve all been warned about since the 1970s. That’s when a government commission mandated that we lower fat consumption to try and reduce heart disease.

By reducing the fat in American diet was replaced by adding sugars to compensate for the energy requirements. Reducing fat has increased heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and death are skyrocketing.

Kimber Stanhope’s study suggests that when a person consumes too much sweet stuff, the liver gets overloaded with fructose and converts some of it into fat. Some of that fat ends up in the bloodstream and helps generate a dangerous kind of cholesterol called small dense LDL. These particles are known to lodge in blood vessels, form plaque and are associated with heart attacks.

This is the outcome of replacing fat with added sugars.

Take the fat out of food, it tastes like cardboard. And the food industry knew that. So they replaced it with sugar

Sugar also increases bad cholesterol (LDL), and this may be the link to heart disease.

Though you reduce the consumption of fat to reduce heart disease and obesity, among others, consuming more sugars to compensate have similar risks on heart disease, obesity and others.

Fructose in fruits

According to Dr. Lustig’s theory we used to get our fructose mostly in small amounts of fruit — which came loaded with fibre that slows absorption and consumption — after all, who can eat 10 oranges at a time? But as sugar and high fructose corn syrup became cheaper to refine and produce, we started gorging on them. Americans now consume 130 pounds per person a year — that’s a third of a pound every day.

Dr. Lustig believes those sweeteners are helping fuel an increase in the most deadly disease in America: heart disease. For years, he’s been a controversial voice.

Sugar linked with Cancer

Sugar has been focussed on cancer research too. If you limit your sugar, it seems you have less chances of developing cancer.

Insulin secreted in the pancreas can cause various effects in the tissues and a particular concern is 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 tumour to start consuming glucose.

When we eat or drink sugar, it causes a sudden spike in the hormone insulin, which can serve as a catalyst to fuel certain types of cancers.

Every cell in our body needs glucose to survive. But the trouble is, these cancer cells also use it to grow. Cancer cells seems to hijack the sugar circulating in the blood, and even depriving sugars still cancer cells will attract glucose due to the inherent insulin receptors.

Naturopaths apply this theory into clinical practice by injecting insulin into the body frequently to diminish the glucose levels in cancer patients. I met one casually getting such irrational therapy in Bangkok.

This person had liver cancer, and giving insulin is irrational. It is true cancer survives better when fed with sugar, but depriving sugar also deprives the requirements for normal metabolism which is important to maintain an efficiently working immune system. Furthermore liver cancer cannot be starved by giving less sugar, as liver is a store house for sugar as glycogen.

What is observed in research laboratories on animal experiments may not be clinically applicable to human beings having cancer.

Does eating sugar cause diabetes?

Studies have failed to produce consistent evidence that links a sweet tooth with type 2 diabetes. A study of more than 39,000 women, for instance, found that those who ate the most sugar did not have an increased risk for the disease.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when blood levels of glucose, or blood sugar, become chronically elevated. Consuming sugar makes blood sugar levels rise, so it seems logical that eating candy, cakes, and cookies would cause diabetes. But it doesn’t—at least not directly.

In recent years, many experts (though not all) have pointed their fingers at diets with a high glycemic index (GI) as a main culprit behind the obesity epidemic as well as an epidemic of insulin resistance, a core problem in type 2 diabetes. The GI is a measure of how much the carbohydrate in a food raises blood sugar. When you eat foods that cause a steep rise in blood sugar, your body churns out of lot of insulin to “process” that blood sugar and get it out of the bloodstream and into cells. Over time, repeated floods of insulin make the body less sensitive to the hormone, leading to a condition called insulin resistance—and so the path to diabetes begins.

It has been shown that excess sugar consumption includinghigh GI foods may be responsible for high incidence of diabetes, cancer and heart disease, among others.

Living on low glycemic (GI) carbs, unprocessed and whole meal products and daily exercise, is advised.

Read More →