It's not popular to say that sugar and refined carbohydrates should be eliminated from everyone's diet. So many of our holiday and cultural traditions revolve around sugar, and for many people a sugary treat is often used as a reward or a temporary escape from stress. But the hard truth is that sugar and refined carbohydrates have absolutely no nutritive value. Even the USDA has removed sweets & refined sugar from its dietary recommendations because fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins contain all the necessary nutrients a body needs to thrive – no added sugar necessary. In fact, the days when we could consider a sweet tooth as an innocent indulgence are over. More and more scientific evidence is building to suggest that even slightly elevated levels of blood sugar still within the normal range can have drastic consequences for our health.
As a dentist, I've been advocating for low- and no-sugar diets my entire career. Tooth decay has obviously been my primary concern, but as we all know, everything in the body is connected. If simple carbs and refined sugar create an environment in the mouth where pathogenic bacteria can thrive, what is happening in the rest of the body when that sugar enters the bloodstream as an excess of glucose? Obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, behavioral issues, and even cancer and mental deterioration have all been linked to high blood sugar in recent years.
In the January 2013 issue of Alternatives For the Health Conscious Individual, Dr. David Williams reviews several blood sugar studies performed in the last decade. The most compelling of these suggest that subjects demonstrating even slightly elevated blood sugar levels still considered within the “normal” range are showing drastic increases in the incidences of cancer and Alzheimer's as compared to similar subjects with lower overall blood sugar levels.
We've all begun to understand the disastrous effects that high blood sugar can have on the endocrine system in the form of type II diabetes, and the cause-effect relationship is very clear in that case. It is not at all clear that elevated blood sugar levels cause cancer, but we do know that even slightly elevated levels don't help. And there is growing evidence to suggest a strong enough relationship between Alzheimer's and blood sugar that many researchers are starting to refer to Alzheimer's as type III diabetes.
But diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrates don't just contribute to blood sugar disorders and the risk factors that go with them – they also have another very serious complication: weight gain. Carrying additional weight, especially in the midsection of the body, is a tremendous strain on the cardiovascular system as well as the joints and muscles. Overweight individuals automatically carry a higher risk factor for insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and even depression. HBO recently released an excellent series on weight and diet that is available for free online here. If you have not yet watched this important series on obesity in America, I strongly urge you to do so for your own health and the health of your family.
All of this information is simply too important to ignore. Every one of us needs to understand and make use of it in order to make the healthiest changes to the way we eat and to the way we feed our children. To help you get started, I have compiled a resource article on the subject entitled Sugar and Your Body. It is my hope that this article will provide you with a solid base of information and serve as a stepping stone to other valuable resources that will help you feed your body in the most healing and nutritive ways possible.