April 1 2012: 60 Minutes attacks sugar as a toxin, an addictive poison much like cocaine, killing the unknowing masses graveyard dead. Expert doctors and nutritional biologist attempt to banish to myth that saturated fat is the leading cause of heart disease, claiming sugar is much more damaging to our cardiovascular system. The MD’s further claim that sugar not only unleashes insulin, but this peak in insulin will find its way to cancer cells with insulin receptors, (estimated 1/3 of common cancers) hence signaling the tumor to consume glucose which in turn fuels energy to the cancer cell. So you see, sugar is no longer an exclusive poison for the diabetic and the obese.
The nutritional biologist in this story challenged the long standing nutritional mantra “a calorie, is a calorie, is a calorie. And rightly so. That hypothesis is totally outdated. Yet the experts in the segment went on to say “a sugar, is a sugar, is a sugar. With a humongous knowledge in unconventional nutrition, I take issue with the notion that all sugars are created equal. This 60 Minute segment has white refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup HFCS, honey and maple syrup, all affecting the body the same. Not So.
All the above mention sugars are composed of glucose and fructose. And that pretty much ends the similarities. Corn syrup is produced by milling corn into a starch which is almost entirely glucose. But glucose by itself is not particularly sweet so man needs to sweeten the pot by adding a synthetic enzyme that will convert the glucose to fructose. Thus the name high fructose corn syrup. And how addictively sweet it is. In the U.S., HFCS is has primarily replaced sucrose (table sugar) in the food industry. It also has been added to most every kind of food. HFCS is so much cheaper because of corn subsidies and tariffs on imported on sugar. Thirty years ago when they started taking the fat out of our food, they replaced it with HFCS. HFCS ended up in hundreds of products that never used sugar in the first place. So it is easy to see why sugar consumption has actually dropped yet HFCS has skyrocketed.
Glucose is digested in the gastrointestinal track. It does indeed lead to a spike in the hormone insulin. From this hormonal signal, healthy cells will uptake glucose. Glucose is essential in every living cell. Fructose on the other hand is processed in the liver. Too much fructose and the liver simply converts it to a triglyceride fat. And that fat looks like obesity and acts like cardiovascular disease. It is a simple as that. Other surrounding assumptions link HFCS to weight gain because it affects normal appetite functions, raises uric acid (gout), and it is a source of a known neurotoxin, mercury.
Refined white sugar has devastating affects on the body and health as well. Although not as devastating as HFCS it lags a close second. Besides the speedy way it elevates blood sugar levels, unrefined white sugar is considered to be empty calories as it offers no nutritional substance whatsoever. Not only that, it is refined and processed to the hilt and chemicals are added. Some of these include: phosphoric acid, sulfur dioxide, and formic acid. In short it is stripped from its nutritional value and chemicals are added.
When it comes to choosing table sugar or a sugar for baking, there is no doubt that unrefined organic raw sugar is the best choice. Raw sugar has same vitamin and mineral consistency that is found in the juice from the sugarcane plant. These minerals include phosphorus, calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium and some B vitamins. It is very important to make sure that you don’t mistake unrefined raw sugar with brown sugar that is available in your grocery store. Brown sugar is white sugar with molasses added.
Honey and maple syrup used in moderation are two natural sweeteners that will not detract from your health, but in fact (again moderation) offer enhancement of nutritional benefits as well. Both contain glucose and fructose in their natural balance. The honey is only heated to prevent crystallization and yeast fermentation from happening during storage. This is important as the small amount of heat does not strip the nutrition. The same holds true with maple syrup. The starch form the maple tree, known as sap is evaporated leaving behind syrup with vitamins and minerals from the tree intact. There are an abundance of vitamins and minerals, especially in honey, including calcium, potassium, sodium, copper,B6, thiamine,niacin, riboflavin, B5, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, enzymes and even amino acids. In addition, these two sugars are lower on the glycemic index, meaning they deliver insulin more efficiently. Nature’s sweet food. Be sure to buy pure maple syrup and raw honey. Otherwise corn syrup is likely to be added.
The 60 minute segment did a great job of letting people know how sugar is killing them. It is hard to say if it will make any difference to the masses. The research has been there for over thirty years so I doubt it. As with so many mainstream health stories they missed the boat on so much more. They failed to inform on nature’s natural sugars including stevia, and did not mention how equally deadly artificial sweeteners such as nutra sweet, equal and splenda are. Many people will turn to artificial sweeteners because they know that sugar is not good for them. However, there are numerous serious side effects of artificial sweeteners including toxicity to the nervous system.
So many many toxins that are devastating to our health, that are in fact killing us. Why only vilify sugar? The type and amount of sugar I use in my home is not detrimental to my health and in many ways good for me.
Enjoy Your Easter High Fructose Corn Syrup!