Jan de Vries Archives
One thing most people cannot get enough of is sugar. However, refined sugar is known to affect your health in a number of ways – it can affect your teeth, your weight and even your mood. Read Jan’s article from our archives on why he considers sugar to be a sweet friend in disguise!
Refined sugar, often used traditionally as a preservative, is a health hazard and to my mind it must be considered the second biggest health enemy behind salt. Refined sugar leads to a dramatic increase in the blood sugar levels, causes stress to the body’s regulatory systems and can increase hyperactivity in susceptible individuals. Whenever it touches the tongue, sugar starts to deplete the reserves of vitamins, minerals and trace elements in the body. Just consider the damage it does to teeth.
Unfortunately, virtually all junk foods contain high levels of sugar and fat, both of which result in high cholesterol levels and an over-stimulation of the release of insulin, the body’s glucose regulating hormone. Our increasing intake of junk or highly refined foods all play a major contributory role to the increasing incidence of obesity and type II diabetes. Sugar is also known to affect us mentally and excessive sugar intake may indeed be related to mood disorder and behavioural problems, especially in children.
Over the last thirty years or so, it seems that we have added nine times more sugar to our diet, according to statistics on its use. We have allowed a powerful new poison to invade our diet.
Sugar makes holes in the teeth and in the bones. Particularly saddening is the threat it poses to children’s teeth. The minute one eats sugar it starts off a reaction. The bacteria in the plaque on the teeth uses sugar to produce an acid which attacks the enamel and the constant invasion of sugar will thus exacerbate dental problems.
Sugar is an empty food and only contains calories. It used to be thought that sugar was required for energy, but this is not the case. Sugar may well give us an increase in energy but that sudden burst will be short lived. There are more biologically effective ways to maintain our energy levels by consuming whole foods and grains.
Sugar also, of course, brings about weight problems. Take my advice and read the labels when shopping for food. Sugar is widely used as a preservative and flavour enhancer, but watch out for glucose, fructose, maltose, dextrose and all similar additives in packaged and processed foods – they all yield glucose once broken down and digested.
Sugar is addictive and the source of endless problems. In my book Realistic Weight Control I have advised how to reduce one’s dependency on this substance and minimise its detrimental health effects. Count the many spoonfuls taken in tea or coffee, soft drinks, ice creams, jams, chocolates, etc. in a single day. Many people declare that they very soon feel better as they cut down on sugar and sugary foods like biscuits and cakes – give it a try!
Cutting down on sugar will be no problem, says the sugar addict, because I’ll use an artificial sweetener. But, here again we must be careful because artificial sweeteners are not always safe. They may be an enemy instead of a blessing for those with a sweet tooth. The great E numbers controversy has given us much to think about. There is a risk attached to the use of artificial sweeteners. Saccharine has been in use for over a century, yet its safety had never been proven and it has only been provisionally accepted. The cyclamates have caused concern, especially in the UK, USA and Canada and so I would stress that users of artificial sweeteners consider their addiction seriously and take action to reduce this dependency.
Nature is a great provider if only we try to keep our food natural instead of introducing all these artificial additives and pampering our taste buds and cravings without regard for the effects on our health.
I read in a magazine that in the US alone 30,000,000,000 tins of food are sold each year. If we thought about how much sugar and salt is added to the food in these tins, would we still doubt that we serve up danger on a plate?
One of the greatest nutritional experts and lecturers I have come across is professor Arnold Ehret. He commented that “Man digs his grave with his knife and fork and we ought to give our body and stomach a little rest.”
So, most of us could probably benefit from cutting back on our sugar intake, as well as being aware that artificial sweeteners are not very good for your health either. Fruit and vegetables are a great source of natural sugars! Try incorporating more fresh foods into your diet and avoiding tinned or processed versions if you can.