Sugar Is Killing Us

Sugar Is Killing Us

It’s no surprise a vast majority of the world recognizes sugar is destroying our health and ruining our lives.1, 2, 3, 4 Over the last 30 years, we’ve seen disease rates skyrocket, alongside our climbing intake of sugar.5, 6, 7, 8, 9 Our concern for this creeping information wavers and takes a backseat to social media, “selfies” and celebrities.10, 11

The growing concern around sugar deserves not only immediate attention, but immediate action.12, 13, 14 Unfortunately, the roadblocks are endless.15, 16 The least of which, is the food industry itself.17 Take, for example, the makers of orange juice, a product which contains a whopping 21g of sugar in a mere 8oz glass,18 and is traditionally the standard American breakfast beverage.

The addictive properties of sugar are well-documented, as are the risks of consuming too much.19, 20 And yet, we can’t seem to stop ourselves.21, 22 Sugar is often added to products surreptitiously, without our consent.23 It is also marketed – quite heavily – towards children.24, 25 We must put a stop to this. Our children are our future, and if they are obese, cognitively impaired, and sick – how much of a future do they really have?

So why sugar is so detrimental? The biochemistry says it all.20 As sugar enters the bloodstream, insulin is secreted.26 The more sugar you eat, the more insulin you secrete. High sugar diets can lead to insulin resistance.27 This condition is one of the hallmarks of obesity and overweight humans everywhere.28 If you consume too much sugar, you’re bound to experience hypoglycemia, commonly referred to as your “sugar crash.”29 This leaves your body craving more sugar – and the addictive process perpetuates.30

Sugar is Killing Us | The Paleo Diet

Sagittal, Coronal and Axial Representations of Glucose-related Regional Grey (A) and White (B) Matter Volumes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073697.g002

It’s a simple model, but one which we are all familiar with.36 Stress also leads us to overeat.31, 37 And we do not over-consume just any calories, but rather we eat neurologically-rewarding foods.38 This means foods that are either: high in sugar, or foods high in sugar and fat.39 In a study from 2010, researchers showed a disruption of sensitivity to brain-stimulation reward (BSR) from eating high fat and/or high carbohydrate food.40 So you become accustomed to the rewards of these foods, and crave them more.41

The rates of diabetes both nationally, and worldwide, have skyrocketed.42 This is not debatable. Guess what else has skyrocketed, in conjunction with diabetes rates? You guessed it: sugar consumption. There are now obese newborns.43, 44

All of these problems and conditions can be linked directly to sugar intake, and yet, you may be blindsided by how much sugar you’re consuming in the first place. A recent study showed food manufacturers not disclosing the actual values of fructose corn syrup on their product labels.45 Does this bother you? It should.

Sugar is Killing Us | The Paleo Diet

Besides the physiologic effects of too much sugar, there are vast and damning economic effects.32 Take, for example, that diabetes alone costs the United States $245 billion per year.46 This is a rise of 41% in a mere five years. That is an absolutely terrifying figure. Have I scared you yet?

How about the fact that higher glucose levels are associated with lower memory and reduced hippocampal microstructure?47 Or, how about the study from the New England Journal of Medicine, which showed that higher glucose levels may be a risk factor for dementia.48 What was interesting (and alarming) about this finding, was that this was the risk for those without diabetes. This means that you can be taking in “normal” amounts of sugar, not exhibit symptoms of diabetes, and still be risking dementia. Act and don’t turn a blind eye. Save your health.

Sugar is Killing Us | The Paleo Diet

N Engl J Med. Aug 8, 2013; 369(6): 540–548.

Other studies have shown, unsurprisingly, that sugar consumption promotes weight gain in children and adults.33 All behaviors have a biochemical basis. ADHD, ADD, et al, are all likely partially due to a poor diet.49, 50 A diet that, almost always, is high in sugar.51, 52 Since studies have shown that intense sweetness surpasses cocaine reward, it is not surprising that many Americans cannot stop consuming sugar.53 But, in order to help stop alarmingly rising healthcare costs, they must stop their gluttonous consumption, and re-focus their diet on whole, real foods, all part of a Paleo Diet.

Other studies have shown that most US adults consume more added sugar than is recommended,34 and that this overconsumption leads to increased risk for cardiovascular disease mortality.54 This is literally the smoking gun that shows that sugar is killing us. Other studies have shown that higher levels of sugar also lower fitness.55 And another interesting study showed that junk food alone made rats lazy.56 Does this give you food for thought? Perhaps you should prioritize a change to your diet?

Insulin, which is secreted in order to deal with sugar in the bloodstream, blocks leptin signaling.35 Leptin is the “satiety” hormone, which helps to tell our hypothalamus to stop eating.57 Since we are now secreting 2-3 times the amount of insulin than we used to, you can see, directly, how this has resulted in disastrous consequences for our world’s health.58 And why are we secreting more insulin? Quite simply, to deal with all the sugar we are over-consuming. It is not a complicated formula, but it is a formula that is bankrupting our nation, and making so many sick and overweight.

Prevention is paradigm. Avoid a high-sugar diet, become leaner, think faster, and feel better. There is not a single better thing you can do, diet-related, that will help you to improve your health. A Paleo Diet, which is intrinsically low in sugar, high in nutrient-dense foods, and filled with micronutrients, is the best path to wellness.

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References

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18. Available at: http://www.orangejuicefacts.com/nutrition.html. Accessed September 13, 2014.

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25. Lythgoe A, Roberts C, Madden AM, Rennie KL. Marketing foods to children: a comparison of nutrient content between children’s and non-children’s products. Public Health Nutr. 2013;16(12):2221-30.

26. Daly M. Sugars, insulin sensitivity, and the postprandial state. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;78(4):865S-872S.

27. Musselman LP, Fink JL, Narzinski K, et al. A high-sugar diet produces obesity and insulin resistance in wild-type Drosophila. Dis Model Mech. 2011;4(6):842-9.

28. Gallagher EJ, Leroith D, Karnieli E. Insulin resistance in obesity as the underlying cause for the metabolic syndrome. Mt Sinai J Med. 2010;77(5):511-23.

29. Hofeldt FD. Reactive hypoglycemia. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 1989;18(1):185-201.

30. Yang Q. Gain weight by “going diet?” Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings: Neuroscience 2010. Yale J Biol Med. 2010;83(2):101-8.

31. Oliver KG, Huon GF, Zadro L, Williams KD. The role of interpersonal stress in overeating among high and low disinhibitors. Eat Behav. 2001;2(1):19-26.

32. Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/aroy/2012/04/23/trustees-medicare-will-go-broke-in-2016-if-you-exclude-obamacares-double-counting/. Accessed September 13, 2014.

33. Malik, Vasanti S., Matthias B. Schulze, and Frank B. Hu. “Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 84.2 (2006): 274-288.

34. Yang Q, Zhang Z, Gregg EW, Flanders WD, Merritt R, Hu FB. Added sugar intake and cardiovascular diseases mortality among US adults. JAMA Intern Med. 2014.

35. Kellerer M, Lammers R, Fritsche A, et al. Insulin inhibits leptin receptor signalling in HEK293 cells at the level of janus kinase-2: a potential mechanism for hyperinsulinaemia-associated leptin resistance. Diabetologia. 2001;44(9):1125-32.

36. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/07/26/why-is-sugar-so-addictive_n_3643965.html. Accessed October 2, 2014.

37. Greeno CG, Wing RR. Stress-induced eating. Psychol Bull. 1994;115(3):444-64.

38. Available at: http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/08/health/healthy-eating-tips-stress/. Accessed October 2, 2014.

39. Torres SJ, Nowson CA. Relationship between stress, eating behavior, and obesity. Nutrition. 2007;23(11-12):887-94.

40. Epstein DH, Shaham Y. Cheesecake-eating rats and the question of food addiction. Nat Neurosci. 2010;13(5):529-31.

41. Johnson PM, Kenny PJ. Dopamine D2 receptors in addiction-like reward dysfunction and compulsive eating in obese rats. Nat Neurosci. 2010;13(5):635-41.

42. Weeratunga P, Jayasinghe S, Perera Y, Jayasena G, Jayasinghe S. Per capita sugar consumption and prevalence of diabetes mellitus–global and regional associations. BMC Public Health. 2014;14:186.

43. Soubry A, Murphy SK, Wang F, et al. Newborns of obese parents have altered DNA methylation patterns at imprinted genes. Int J Obes (Lond). 2013.

44. Available at: http://healthland.time.com/2012/11/29/predicting-obesity-at-birth/. Accessed October 2, 2014.

45. Walker RW, Dumke KA, Goran MI. Fructose content in popular beverages made with and without high-fructose corn syrup. Nutrition. 2014;30(7-8):928-35.

46. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/advocacy/news-events/cost-of-diabetes.html. Accessed September 29, 2014.

47. Kerti L, Witte AV, Winkler A, Grittner U, Rujescu D, Flöel A. Higher glucose levels associated with lower memory and reduced hippocampal microstructure. Neurology. 2013;81(20):1746-52.

48. Crane PK, Walker R, Hubbard RA, et al. Glucose levels and risk of dementia. N Engl J Med. 2013;369(6):540-8.

49. Millichap JG, Yee MM. The diet factor in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Pediatrics. 2012;129(2):330-7.

50. Johnson RJ, Gold MS, Johnson DR, et al. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: is it time to reappraise the role of sugar consumption?. Postgrad Med. 2011;123(5):39-49.

51. Kanoski SE, Davidson TL. Western diet consumption and cognitive impairment: links to hippocampal dysfunction and obesity. Physiol Behav. 2011;103(1):59-68.

52. Crescenzo R, Bianco F, Coppola P, et al. Fructose supplementation worsens the deleterious effects of short-term high-fat feeding on hepatic steatosis and lipid metabolism in adult rats. Exp Physiol. 2014;99(9):1203-13.

53. Lenoir M, Serre F, Cantin L, Ahmed SH. Intense sweetness surpasses cocaine reward. PLoS ONE. 2007;2(8):e698.

54. Schmidt LA. New unsweetened truths about sugar. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(4):525-6.

55. Ruff JS, Suchy AK, Hugentobler SA, et al. Human-relevant levels of added sugar consumption increase female mortality and lower male fitness in mice. Nat Commun. 2013;4:2245.

56. Blaisdell AP, Lau YL, Telminova E, et al. Food quality and motivation: a refined low-fat diet induces obesity and impairs performance on a progressive ratio schedule of instrumental lever pressing in rats. Physiol Behav. 2014;128:220-5.

57. Myers MG, Cowley MA, Münzberg H. Mechanisms of leptin action and leptin resistance. Annu Rev Physiol. 2008;70:537-56.

58. Larsson H, Ahrén B. Glucose intolerance is predicted by low insulin secretion and high glucagon secretion: outcome of a prospective study in postmenopausal Caucasian women. Diabetologia. 2000;43(2):194-202.

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  31. Our family follows a version of the Paleolithic diet and have cut out processed oils (PUFA’s), sugars, and grains out of our diets for the last three years. We’ve felt great, leaned up, gained muscle and gotten stronger. Check out the sources from the “Fed Up” documentary. Do your own research. Try a diet change for 30 days. The most obvious thing is that we Americans consume tons of high energy foods and live sedentary lifestyles, and you can’t do both.

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