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"Those who fail to take the time to be healthy will ultimately have to take the time to be sick." ~ Dr. James Chappell 


There's the old saying that sugar is poison. After reading Lick the Sugar Habit by Nancy Appleton (PhD), you'll be convinced of that. Most people in the world each consume more than 50 – 80 kilos of sugar and related sweeteners each year. Before you doubt it, consider that there are about 17 teaspoons of sugar in a single can of Coke. Author Nancy Appleton (PhD) delineates how over-consumption of sugar wreaks havoc with the immune and endocrine systems, leading to chronic conditions including arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, asthma, and hypoglycemia, along with the usual suspects such as cavities and periodontal disease. Appleton admits that she herself used to be a sugar addict, preferring to take her sweets in the form of chocolate, and consequently suffered from numerous allergies, plus bronchitis, pneumonia, and even a chest tumor that turned out to be a huge calcium deposit that resulted from her body's inability to process the pounds of sugar she consumed. In addition to throwing off the body's homeostasis, excess sugar may result in a number of other significant consequences. 


The term sugar has been used over time as a loose referral to refined or processed sugars available in different forms – cubes, granules, liquids. Scientifically, however, sugar is a generalized name for sweet soluble carbohydrates consisting of linked carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms, the most common of which are glucose, fructose, sucrose and lactose. Sugars are primarily ingested in the form of carbohydrates which as we know are primary sources of energy in diets. But what is it that makes these sugars able to act as a sustaining energy source? The answer is glucose. Glucose on its own is a simple sugar; after we digest various carbohydrates, glucose is the end product which is converted by the body to provide energy. The importance of glucose can neither be overlooked nor overemphasized. As a primary energy source, glucose is required to keep your body active, healthy and energized. The brain most importantly is the largest consumer of glucose as 75% of glucose generated from carbohydrates (and indeed other substances) is used by the brain. Sugar (glucose) is brain food; it is the fundamental fuel needed by the brain. If you have ever experienced a bout of dizziness after skipping a few meals, watch it; most likely your brain has used up its store of glucose. Another goodie about sugar: it aids in the healing of wounds; sugar dries the wound, thus preventing the growth of bacteria.  Other classes of food also act as sources of glucose. For example, proteins and fats can be converted to glucose in cases where carbohydrate consumption is too low to replenish glucose stores. The conversion process is known as “gluconeogenesis” and it accounts for phenomena such as weight loss or muscle wasting in malnourished children who are unable to include carbohydrates in their diets. Muscle begins to break down and fat in the adipose tissues is converted to glucose to provide energy. It is thus difficult to overlook how important glucose is. 

There are various types of sugars which are widely consumed.  Refined sugars (sucrose sugars) are the most common sweetening agents used on a daily basis. They are processed sugars which undergo several stages of processing to give cubes, granules, syrups and so on.  Their metabolic by-product is glucose and thus they provide the same benefits as naturally occurring glucose but have several potential side effects and dangers associated with them. Better then to consume sugar from natural foods than to load your pap, tea, oats, cornflakes, etc with refined sugar or senselessly drink soft drinks laden with sugar. No matter your age, watch what you do with these sugars, but especially if you have crossed forty. Fruit sugars are obtained from fruits as the name implies. Fruits are known to be good and healthy sources of glucose since eating fruits helps to improve one's health and immunity. Therefore, eating fruits is advisable especially to reduce refined sugar intake. Sugar substitutes are chemicals which were developed as alternatives to processed sugars. Sugar substitutes pose less risk for patients with diabetes; some of them occur naturally but are less sweet than sucrose. Examples are xylitol, aspartame and sorbitol.  Xylitol, for instance, is an all-natural sweetener.  It is not only a safe, natural sweetener without the bad side effects of sugar and artificial substitutes, it's also good for your teeth, stabilises insulin and hormone levels and promotes good health. It is wise to check each substitute for negative effects before using.


Now that we know the different and most popularly consumed forms of sugar, let us look a little closer at the health side. Sugar
can have many positive effects on metabolism and life. These effects include: 
  • Sugars have a high calorie content that instantly provide energy when needed. They give us the required boost to carry out daily tasks without wearing out. 
  • Sugars have a by-product called glycolic acid which helps in the maintenance of healthy looking skin. The glycolic acid helps to eliminate blemishes and restore the balance in the skin's oils.  
  • For sugars that are obtained naturally, there are certain minerals which are passed to them from their natural sources. Elements like phosphorus, iron, calcium, and potassium are carried along in the glucose structure when natural sources of glucose are consumed.  
  • Sugars act as a quick source of glucose in patients that are severely hypoglycaemic. Sugar cubes are given to diabetic patients who tend to become hypoglycaemic after taking their medication without subsequently consuming food. The sugar instantly causes a surge in glucose levels and insulin levels increase, causing the glucose to be moved into the cells where it is required to defeat the effects of hypoglycaemia.
  • Sugars also come with negative effects for which reasons many people avoid sugar consumption. Dr Fredric Brandt, popularly known as 'The Baron of Botox' has said, "In a nutshell, sugar hastens the degradation of elastin and collagen, both key skin proteins. In other words, it actively ages you." He believes that by simply reducing your sugar intake, you can turn back the clock by ten years and improve the texture, tone and radiance of your skin. 
Some of sugar's negative effects are:

  • Sugars provide just pure energy and do not contain any other essential nutrients. When people eat up to 10 to 20% of calories as sugar, this generally causes major problems and contributes to deficiency of other nutrients.
  • Processed sugar are bad for the teeth and general oral hygiene. Because sugars are easy to digest, bacteria in the mouth digest the sugars and produce gases which cause tooth decay and bad breath, both of which are undesirable. 
  • Sugars that are not naturally occurring, when consumed in large amounts, cause the liver to be overloaded with fructose. This excess fructose is converted to fat which leads to fatty liver and other serious health related problems. Of course, fruits are high in fructose but the amount of fructose in fruits can never be enough to overload the liver as processed sugars do. 
  • Sugars can cause cells to be insulin-resistant. Insulin is an important hormone in the body. Its job is to permit the entry of glucose into the cells for the provision of energy, as well as instructing the cells to start burning glucose instead of fat. Consumption of too much sugar causes insulin to fail in its responsibility to move glucose into the cells (insulin resistance) and this phenomenon is responsible for many diseases including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases such as stroke.  
  • Because sugars cause insulin levels to become elevated, many scientists have implicated high sugar consumption in cancer. Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide and is characterised by growth and multiplication of cells at an uncontrolled rate. Insulin is an important hormone in the regulation of cells growth and as a result it is believed that an increase in insulin can contribute to cancer.
In conclusion, the effects of sugar on our bodies depend on the nature of the sugars we consume, the amount we take in daily and our physical fitness which will enable us to burn the sugar. To maintain a healthy body, we must endeavour to consume sugar in moderation and have daily exercise routines to keep fit and avoid the problems which are associated with sugar. [GB/Nkiru Ibeanu]


  • https://authoritynutrition.com/10-disturbing-reasons-why-sugar-isbad/
  • http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/sugar-and-your-health-thegood-the-bad-and-the-ugly/
  • http://www.sugarhistory.net/sugarfacts/health-benefits-of-sugar/ 
      3. Sweet by Nature: See www.sugar.org/

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