Sometimes it is good to review the basics. This month a few words on sugar and other sweeteners.

In the late 1700’s we each consumed less than 10 pounds of sugar per year; today that figure is about 180 pounds of sugar and sweeteners. The human body is pretty much as it was thousands of years ago, and yet look how our diets have changed. And then we wonder why we are such a sick, fat society.

Table sugar or sucrose comes from sugar cane. The sugar cane is a whole food containing all of the vitamins and minerals and fiber needed for proper utilization. When you refine sugar cane, you remove all these vitamins and minerals. You are left with something that is synthetic. Molasses, which is derived from the processing of sugar cane, is nutritional, because it has the vitamins and minerals from the sugar cane.

Sucrose causes four nutritional problems, which were outlined by researchers, Doctors Cheraskin and Ringsdorf back in 1974.

1. Because sugar is devoid of any nutritional value, it contributes nothing to the vitamins and minerals we need for growth, maintenance and repair of our bodies.

2. These empty calories replace essential foods in our diet.

3. The body has to steal vitamins and minerals in order to process sugar.

4. This is a major cause of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hyperglycemia and many other diseases.

Doctors Ringsdorf and Cheraskin, in a study of over 800 physicians and their wives, found that the more refined carbohydrates consumed, the more incidence of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Also, the severity of the disease was proportional to the amount of intake of refined sugar.

Today it is even worse. Not only do we consume loads of sugar, which has been linked to over 60 different ailments, but now we are consuming sugar substitutes like Splenda, aspartame, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and fructose. HFCS is found in more and more foods. In fact, consumption of HFCS went from .6 pounds per person in 1970 to 73.5 pounds per person in 2000.

What is HFCS?

Regular white table sugar is sucrose, which breaks down into 50% fructose and 50% glucose. HFCS also breaks down into fructose and glucose; however, the fructose is in even greater than 50% quantity. When we see fructose listed as an ingredient, we think this is okay, because we think of fructose as a sugar from fruit. However, like refining sugar cane, when we refine the food to derive fructose, it is no longer a whole-food natural product. It is just another commercial refined sugar with no health benefits. In fact, it has been found that the fructose part of sugar is more of a problem than the glucose, with the glucose mainly causing cavities. As stated previously, HFCS, has more fructose than even table sugar, and thus its detrimental effect to our health. HFCS is used in many of our foods because it has certain advantages over sucrose. It is sweeter, it comes from corn and is therefore plentiful and cheap, and it has a longer shelf life.

What has high fructose been linked to?

Fructose increases cholesterol, triglycerides, uric acid, insulin and cortisol, and thus, has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and gout among other diseases. Interestingly, fructose has been touted for years as a safe sugar for diabetics because it doesn’t trigger a rapid rise in blood sugar. However, a diabetic is already at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, and fructose then increases this risk even more. Fructose also causes a tendency towards blood clotting and fructose interferes with the absorption of copper, which can lead to anemia, improper formation of collagen and elastin, and improper bone formation. The risk of adverse effects of fructose goes on and on.

We are literally drowning in sugar. As of 1998, Americans consume on average, for every man woman and child, 54 gallons of soft drinks per year. Today it is estimated that 25% of all caloric intake is in the form of sugar, with a good percentage of that from beverages. No wonder obesity is increasing astronomically.

It is upsetting that so many healthy and natural drinks are anything but that, most of them sweetened with fructose or some other type of sugar. Want to drink?-try water or mix 100 hundred percent juice with water or carbonated water.

Want to be healthier and thinner? Go back to the basics and read the labels. Limit your consumption of all forms of refined sugar.

© 2008, Mark A. Breiner, DDS

The information presented is for educational purposes only. You should consult a qualified dentist or health practitioner for diagnosis and treatment. 

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