Just about everyone knows that sugar is bad for our health, but during the holidays, it appears with more frequency and is difficult to avoid.
In case there are readers who have missed out on this fact, I will provide you with the crash course to start off this article. The Atkins website sums up 10 reasons why sugar is bad (listed below) and other websites go on to list 146 reasons why sugar is not a sweet thing for our health.
10 Reasons Why Sugar Is Bad for Your Health
Sugar causes glucose levels to spike and plummet, which cause mood swings, fatigue, cravings and headaches.
Sugar increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Your immune function can be affected by sugar. As if being sick wasn’t bad enough, studies have shown that sugar can interfere with the way your body fights disease. Bacteria and yeast feed on sugar, so excess glucose in the body causes these organisms to build up and cause infections.
A high-sugar diet can lead to chromium deficiency. Chromium, a trace mineral, helps regulate blood sugar in the body. While it can be found in meats, seafood, and plant foods, 90% of Americans still don’t get enough chromium because of refined starches.
Sugar accelerates aging. After sugar hits your bloodstream, it attaches to proteins. The mix of these proteins with sugar causes the skin to lose elasticity and leads to premature aging.
Sugar causes tooth decay. It’s important to brush your teeth at least twice a day to stop sugars from fueling plaque and bacteria.
Sugar can cause gum disease, which can lead to heart disease. Increasing evidence shows that chronic infections, like those that result from dental problems, play a role in the development of heart disease.
Sugar affects cognition in children. When New York City public schools reduced the amount of sugar in their lunches and breakfasts, their academic ranking increased 15.7%.
Sugar increases stress. When we’re under stress, our bodies immediately kick into fight-or-flight mode, releasing large amounts of hormones. Surprisingly, the body has the same chemical response when blood sugar is low. After you eat a sweet snack, stress hormones begin to compensate for the crash by raising your blood sugar. The result? Unexplained anxiousness, irritability, and even shakiness.
Sugar takes the place of important nutrients.
What Sugar Does to the Body
OK, so everyone knows we are harming ourselves with sugar and starches as well, which take a few minutes to turn into pure sugar after our digestive enzymes work on them. So why do they persist in the human diet? The answer is about the core issue which is rarely discussed, and just briefly noted in #1 above by the inclusion of the term “cravings.” The consumption of sugar at the rate of over 100 pounds per year per American no longer qualifies sugar as a food.
Sugar is like an addictive drug as it elicits an addiction-like craving in the brain, and the rates of consumption prove that sugar addiction is much like drug addiction. Have you ever noticed that after you eat something sweet you want to eat more sweet things? Cookies, anyone? Why then do we believe that informing people about the dangers of sugar and carbohydrate addiction matters? To those that may be overconsuming sugar, they may be in denial or the information may be minimized, "oh, sugar is not that bad."
Of course, sugar and carbohydrates are a little different from psychotropic drugs. Sugar and carbohydrate-laden foods are everywhere, begging to be consumed. Sugar is an ingredient in packaged foods, breads, spaghetti sauce, low fat yogurt, ketchup, the list goes on and on. However, sugar is akin to a gateway drug as the “sugar blues” sets us up for cravings to “treat” the predictable consequences- that is, we want more.
Sugar Addiction is Not a Healthy Habit
So, let’s make a new year’s resolution to at least see sugar and carbohydrates for what they are: addictive drugs. Then we can ask the next question, how to limit or virtually stop the addictive chemical like any addict in recovery. That admission starts with an honest admission that we are hooked on something that is harmful to us and that we are allowed to ask for help. When patients ask me for help, I of course order a wide arrange of lab tests to clarify exactly how addicted my patients are (assessing neurotransmitter imbalances and the genetic basis for it), how badly they are being harmed by the addiction, and they all get the education about how this all happens; why sugar is supposed to be addictive, how it was only supposed to be present during the “growing season” when plants enticed us, like honey bees, to consume tasty sugars and carbs to spread their seeds around, why sugar addiction protects us against famine, and why some of us who have such “famine-protective” genes that cause diabetes, will outlast others who genetically are not cursed with carboholism genes.
But even all of that is irrelevant for most people, because we are dealing with another matter here; addiction. Addiction is a psycho-spiritual matter, and that all centers around the issue of how activated our prefrontal cortex is, the part of our brain which detaches with love and let’s go of the compulsions of our animal brain. In other words, if you feed any animal or insect an unlimited amount of sugar, as is now the basis of our profitable food industry, they will eat themselves into sickness and death. An animal does not have a huge prefrontal cortex to override their animal brain, observe that sugar addiction is causing sickness and problems, and let go of the compulsion. Only humans can do this, which makes us distinct from animals, and I just wrote a book on this entitled, Awaken Your Godly Brain.
Start with Sugar- Awaken the Brain with Truth Telling
Our “Godly Brain,” which is fully 1/6th of our brain, situated just over our eyes, and which is the same brain that Jesus of Nazareth, Buddha, Muhammad, Moses, Lao Tzu and every saint or sage who ever lived used to come to full transcendence, is our “letting go” and “truth-telling” organ. Our prefrontal cortex is the seat of our conscience, and those few who express unconscionable violence and have depraved indifference for their victims – aka sociopaths – have very little activity in their “Godly Brain.” The scientific proof of these facts are in my book, where I present just enough science to make it authoritative but not too much to not make it difficult to read and understand.
This holiday, if we are ever going to re-instill the spiritual basis for what these historical celebrations were founded on, we all have a marvelous opportunity to use this whole issue of sugar addiction to awaken a bit more to our spirituality, a destiny that is no longer based just on religious, philosophical or ideological positions. It’s now neurological fact, and all about the anatomy and function of our brain, and every time we treat ourselves with kindness by letting go of an addiction, and treat others with kindness no matter what they believe or do, we move ourselves a little closer to realizing a fundamental purpose for being alive at all, to care for one another.
Surviving the Holidays Unscathed! Maintaining Inner Peace by Letting Go of Expectations
BOOK SIGNINGS IN THE WASHINGTON, D.C. area!
Please join me for questions and a book signing. I would love to meet you and chat.
Awaken Your Godly Brain is a roadmap to long term happiness, transformative personal power and world survival.
January 21, 2020* New date! 6:30-9:30pm
River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation
6301 River Road
Bethesda MD 20817
January 16, 2020 7:30 pm
Barnes and Noble
Montrose Crossing Shopping Center
12089 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852
Awaken Your Godly Brain is now available on Amazon
Charles Gant MD, PhD, is a physician, author and teacher and has practiced Integrative and Functional Medicine for over three decades. He specializes in molecular health and healing, especially as it supports growth and recovery from problems such as ADHD, addictions/substance dependence, chronic diseases, metabolic and immune disorders, infectious disease, and more. He is an expert in interpretation of functional medicine testing to diagnose precisely what is deficient in each patient, and then replenish those missing, essential items.