Thursday, July 26, 2012

Stop eating sugar... no really. Stop.

I've been binging on anti-sugar videos again lately.

I have a friend here who is more or less addicted to sugar in the form of soda pop. He is a smart guy, has no trouble understanding that this is a problem and a threat to his health, but for some reason, simply flatly refuses to give it up. It's weird, but he irrationally defends it as some kind of cultural statement. Or something.

All of which I think is just a bunch of crap. I think he's addicted and is looking for excuses. I've met this kind of thing before with other men I've known; this odd defiance and determination to eat crap, with the full knowledge that it's going to do a lot of long-term damage. (And sure enough, the other friend I'm thinking of is now more or less permanently crippled with heart disease.) I think it's some kind of guy thing, a reaction against our overbearing nanny-culture and in some weird (and frankly childish) way is an attempt to tell the cultural emasculators to go jump. It's a good thing to do, but better to do it by taking up shooting sports or joining a right-wing political party, not by ruining your health.

But this is someone I love, and the fact is, I can't stand to just sit by and watch him destroy his health. He has been working on improving his diet lately and it's clear it's doing some good. But the pop is still a huge factor, probably the biggest, in my worries for his health.

So I thought I'd put up a few entertaining videos about why it might be a good idea for him to put it aside for good.

Sugar. Refined white sugar is a toxin, a deadly poison and it contains no nutrients whatever.

What does that much sugar do to you? A while ago, my friend asked the astonishing question, "Does sugar make you fat?" It does quite a lot more than that, and the way it makes you fat, by spiking your insulin the hormone that essentially orders your cells to store fat, it makes you insulin-resistant over time. And insulin-resistance is the first step to diabetes.

Teeth. Cola is highly acidic, and we all know that you can use it as a corrosive. How corrosive? The egg shell is made of basically the same substance as your teeth.

What are some of the things that sugar is associated with? In point form:

- cancer of the breast, kidneys, endometrium, ovaries, prostate, intestines and rectum and pancreas in women,
- it is a factor in multiple sclerosis, asthma, arthritis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, hypertension, emphysema, atherosclerosis and liver disease
- contributes to heart disease in a variety of ways,
- and diabetes, of course,
- exacerbates mood disorders and schizophrenia by destroying B and E vitamins and affecting the levels of neurotransmitters: dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine
- increases instances of seizures for epileptics
- causes chromium deficiency
- and copper deficiency
- and interferes with the absorption of calcium and magnesium, contributing to bone disease like osteoporosis
- it can weaken your eyesight
- it interrupts the transfer of amino acids to muscle tissue,
- it exacerbates nerve damage and neuropathy
- causes hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty concentrating,
- it suppresses your immune system by interfering with white blood cell functioning
- it retards the ability of your intestines to absorb and process an array of nutrients
- it permanently retards the elasticity of your skin and muscles, contributing to aging making it, together with sun/photic damage, the worst thing for your skin
- the damage sugar does to tissues makes it harder for your body to recover from injuries or surgery
- it decreases leptin, the hormone that regulates appetite, making you think you want to eat more food than you need

... there's a lot more... a lot.

What, specifically, happens to you when you eat sugar?

Mark Sisson gives a general picture.

"...every type of carbohydrate you eat is eventually converted to a simple form of sugar known as glucose, either directly in the gut or after a brief visit to the liver." This includes bread, pasta, cereal, potatoes, rice, fruit, dessert, sugar of any kind including pop, which all gets converted to glucose in your bloodstream. The body responds by producing insulin, the hormone that sends glucose to the liver and muscle cells.

When those cells are full, which they will be a lot because of inactivity and too much sugar intake, excess glucose is converted to fat.

"...when we eat too many carbohydrates, the pancreas pumps out insulin...but if the liver and muscle cells are already filled with glycogen, those cells start to become resistant to the call of insulin. The insulin “receptor sites” on the surface of those cells start to decrease in number as well as in efficiency. The term is called “down regulation.” Since the glucose can’t get into the muscle or liver cells, it remains in the bloodstream.

Now the pancreas senses there’s still too much toxic glucose in the blood, so it frantically pumps out even more insulin, which causes the insulin receptors on the surface of those cells to become even more resistant, because excess insulin is also toxic! Eventually, the insulin helps the glucose finds it way into your fat cells, where it is stored as fat. Again – because it bears repeating – it’s not fat that gets stored in your fat cells – it’s sugar.

Here it is in point form:
1) The levels of blood glucose stay higher longer because the glucose can’t make it into the muscle cells. This toxic glucose is like sludge in the bloodstream clogging arteries, binding with proteins to form harmful AGEs (advanced glycated end-products) and causing systemic inflammation. Some of this excess glucose contributes to a rise in triglycerides, increasing risk for heart disease.

2) More sugar gets stored as fat. Since the muscle cells are getting less glycogen (because they are resistant), and since insulin inhibits the fat-burning enzyme lipase, now you can’t even burn stored fat as easily. You continue to get fatter until eventually those fat cells become resistant themselves.

3) It just gets better. Levels of insulin stay higher longer because the pancreas thinks “if a little is not working, more would be better.” Wrong. Insulin is itself very toxic at high levels, causing, among many other maladies, plaque build-up in the arteries (which is why diabetics have so much heart disease) and increasing cellular proliferation in cancers.

4) Just as insulin resistance prevents sugar from entering muscle cells, it also prevents amino acids from entering. So now you can’t build or maintain your muscles. To make matters worse, other parts of your body think there’s not enough stored sugar in the cells, so they send signals to start to cannibalizing your precious muscle tissue to make more – you guessed it – sugar! You get fatter and you lose muscle. Woo hoo!

5) Your energy level drops, which makes you hungry for more carbohydrates and less willing to exercise. You actually crave more of the poison that is killing you.

6) When your liver becomes insulin resistant, it can’t convert thyroid hormone T4 into the T3, so you get those mysterious and stubborn “thyroid problems”, which further slow your metabolism.

7) You can develop neuropathies (nerve damage) and pain in the extremities, as the damage from the excess sugar destroys nerve tissue, and you can develop retinopathy and begin to lose your eyesight. Fun.

8) Eventually, the pancreas is so darn exhausted, it can’t produce any more insulin and you wind up having to inject insulin to stay alive. Lots of it, since you are resistant. Congratulations, you have graduated to insulin-dependent Type 2 diabetes.

None of which makes you clever, cool or funny. So please knock it off. OK?


1 comment:

BillyHW said...

Hilary, you'd really like reading "Good Calories, Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes.