The Health Corner Vol. 30 – Excess Sugar
We have looked at how excess sugar in the American diet has undermined the health of the American people. Now I would like to discuss the concept of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sugars, as it relates to proper sugar handling in the diet.
There is a commonly held misconception regarding ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sugars. Natural sugars such as fruit sugar are considered by many people to be ‘good’ sugars. I agree that this is generally true, but what people do not understand is that even a supposedly healthy sugar can wreak havoc on the health of the person consuming large quantities of it. Just like anything else, too much of a good thing can be harmful.
Let’s use a saw as an illustration. You have a circular saw with a brand new blade, and you use it to cut wood. If you use it primarily to cut through soft wood, that blade is going to last a long, long time. But, eventually, even with careful use, it will wear out and become dull. On the other hand, if you use that saw to cut hedge wood which is very hard, the blade is going to dull very quickly and it will be useless in cutting both the hedge wood and the soft wood.
Now, the hedge wood is like the refined sugars that are devoid of all the nutrients available in the ‘good sugars’. The good sugars could be equated to the softer woods. The lesson to be learned is that even if we feed our bodies only ‘good’ sugars, but do it in excess, eventually, our bodies will wear out. Just like with the saw blade that has become to dull too cut, so it is with the body. Once the pancreas has become overtaxed and wears out, or the insulin resistance becomes too excessive, even good sugars cannot be handled effectively. And refined sugars cannot be handled at all.
The fact is that the body is designed to handle sugars in only moderate to small amounts. A high level of health can be maintained as long as we are not overdoing the sugar. But this is hard to do, given that so much of the food products in this country are now laden with corn syrup and other sweetening agents which are devoid of all the other natural vitamins and things necessary to handle their processing. As a general rule most Americans are consuming a high degree of “hedge wood”, so to speak, which is dulling the blade (pancreas) rather quickly. This is why so many of my patients who have sugar handling issues must minimize or even eliminate for a time all sugars, including the good sugars, in their diets in order to give the body enough time to recover and repair itself. If the body reaches the point of no return, which can happen, even the elimination of the good sugars may not be adequate in restoring the body to a healthy state.
When working with people with sugar handling issues, I have found it is important to asses the functional status of the pancreas. Nutrition Response Testing is a very accurate and reliable method of assessing what might need to be done from a dietary standpoint in order to correct a worn out, overworked pancreas. This may involve the total elimination of any kind of sugar from the diet long enough for this repair process to occur and reestablish pancreatic function. It is not an easy concept for people to understand or accept sometimes, especially when we talk about elimination of sugar from the diet of a person who has eaten a large amount of it for many years and has become addicted to it.
The medical treatment for diabetic conditions, of course, is to manage the sugar levels with insulin or insulin-like products. As we have previously discussed, insulin has very serious consequences to health, which seem to be ignored by both patient and doctor alike. This is probably because people are looking for a short-term fix and not really going after the fundamental correction of their problem. As long as they can continue eating sugar, they don’t care about the side-effects of the drugs used. Meanwhile, their health is continuing to deteriorate as time goes on.
It is very important for us to understand that the American population, by adhering to a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet, has done a tremendous amount of damage to itself and this process is not going to be corrected until the true dragon is faced, which is the abuse of sugar. Correcting that problem is going to mean discipline in the area of sugar in the diet. And just removing the refined sugars from the diet and eating the so-called good sugars is not enough in most instances. (Remember, the saw blade has become dull.) Once this is understood and the proper corrective measures are taken, people can return to a healthier state, after which small amounts of the healthy fruit sugars might be reintroduced.
Handling sugar correctly in the diet is crucial to good health. I hope you will feel free to contact my office for further information on this important subject.
Until then, here’s to your good health.
Dr. Jon R. Link