Sugar, already known to cause excess fat is under attack again and with good reason. In this week’s edition of New York Times Magazine, Gary Taubes takes on sugar as a cause of obesity and a host of other diseases. He cites the work of Dr. Robert Lustig, specialist in pediatric hormone disorders and the leading expert on childhood obesity at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. During his 12 year study of childhood obesity, Dr. Lustig has come to view sugar as an “evil”, “toxic” “poison”.
There is a bitter truth behind the modern world’s sweet sugar addiction. When it comes to the source of our current disease epidemic, sugar is and always will be part of the discussion. It is among the least healthy of our everyday foods and yet the average American consumes more than 300 pounds every year. In the video below, Dr. Robert H. Lustig discusses the bitter truth behind sugar.
Nancy Appleton Ph.D. & G.N. Jacobs
December 14, 2009
We get asked about every new sweetener put out by the purveyors of unhealthy sweetness, and agave nectar or syrup is the most recent. Put a gun to our heads and we’ll tell you not to eat it. Actually, we’ll do that without the pistol and dramatics, we’re quite consistent that way.
Our basic position is always in favor of whole foods, because when a food processor converts a naturally sugary food like an apple or generous hunk of agave cactus into a syrup or nectar everything good about the whole food is lost in the production vat.
Whole foods have fiber, and slow down the sugar hit to the body that comes from glucose and fructose. So when a food distributor converts this semi-solid goodness into liquid sweetness, you are loading the revolver for a game of Russian roulette.
In the specific case of agave, the debate comes down to whether glucose or fructose is more harmful to the body. Natural agave, the plant from which tequila is derived, is approximately half and half glucose to fructose. The nectar or syrup appears to be 90% fructose according to published statistics from agave distributors.1 “It’s almost all fructose, highly processed sugar with great marketing,” said Dr. Ingrid Kohlstadt, a fellow of the American College of
Nutrition and an associate faculty member at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. “Fructose has a low glycemic index so it doesn’t raise blood glucose.” But it raises blood fructose, which is worse.2
Fructose has been linked to raised triglycerides3, more belly fat and contributes to fatty liver disease,
diabetes, heart disease and hypertension4, which can all be collected together as Metabolic Syndrome.
Fructose doesn’t raise glucose levels in the bloodstream, but there seems to still be an insulin response which does not make it better for diabetics or anyone.5
Agave seems to have other drawbacks. The first one that sets our teeth on edge is the thought that agave nectar might not actually be agave nectar. According to reporting by the Chicago Tribune, products labeled as being from the blue agave plant may in fact be mostly corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup. Tequila manufacturers get first call on the expensive blue agave cactus that grows in Mexico. There are strict requirements for tequila to come from the blue agave in the same way the German Beer Purity Law says beer is wheat or barley, hops, water and fermenting yeast. So the nectar producers have a demand for agave that can’t be met by supply and decide to cut what agave they have with similar corn-based fructose.
“Agave is really chemically refined hydrolyzed high-fructose syrup and not from the blue agave plant, organic or raw, as claimed,” says Russ Bianchi, a food and beverage formulator. The Food and Drug Administration says there is no evidence of safety concerns. But in the past, agave products may have been “economically adulterated or misbranded by adding corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup [HFCS],” said FDA spokesman Michael Herndon.6
The Chicago Tribune also reports some less well-documented effects of agave nectar consumption that may be a concern. Apparently, some agave products and other sweeteners may have botulism spores and thus shouldn’t be given to small children.
There are assertions that agave may cause miscarriages and/or other harm to pregnant or lactating mothers and agave, like many other sugary products, has also been linked to increased acne.7
Dr. Ingrid Kohlstadt of the American College of Nutrition and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health tells us, “Fructose interferes with healthy metabolism when taken at higher doses. Many people have fructose intolerance like lactose intolerance. They get acne or worse diabetes symptoms even though blood glucose is OK.”
Our body can handle two teaspoons a day for any added sweetener to avoid the many related health effects. We live in the same world you do and we understand about occasionally unavoidable sugars and falling off the wagon, but any sweetener removed from its natural state is a refined sweetener that should be avoided as much as possible. Agave
is no different. Now you know.
Editor Note: Young Living’s Agave Nectar is listed on their website as “Organic nectar from Agave Tequilana.” It states, “Organic Blue Agave is much sweeter than sugar, but with a glycemic index of only 11 (sugar has a glycemic index of 68-85). In recipes, use 1/2 to 3/4 cup in place of 1 cup sugar.
1 Sweet Cactus Farms, www.sweetcactusfarms.com/products.htm
2 Agave Provokes a Bitter Debate as a Sweetener, Chicago Tribune March 23, 2008 http://archives.chicagotribune.com/2008/mar/23/food/chi-0323deardorffmar23 ,br />
3 Bantle, J.P. “Effects of Dietary Fructose on Plasma Lipids in Healthy Subjects.” Bantle, J.P. “Effects of Dietary Fructose on Plasma Lipids in Healthy Subjects.”
4 Hallfrisch, J., et al. “The Effects of Fructose on Blood Lipid Levels.” Am J Clin Nutr.1983; 37(3): 740–748.
5 Basciano, H. et al. “Fructose, Insulin Resistance, and Metabolic Dyslipidemia.”
6 Blue Agave Form. “Agave Provokes a Bitter Debate.” www.ianchadwick.com/forum/index.php?/topic/4205-agave-provokes-a-bitter-debate/
7 Chicago Tribune. www.chicagotribune.com/features/chi-0323deardorffmar23,1,7478086. story
(Just Kidding, it’s 143)
By Nancy Appleton PhD (http://www.nancyappleton.com/) & G.N. Jacobs
Excerpted from Suicide by Sugar
Used with permission
- Sugar can suppress your immune system.
- Sugar upsets the mineral relationships in the body.
- Sugar can cause juvenile delinquency in children.
- Sugar eaten during pregnancy and lactation can influence muscle force production in offspring, which can affect an individual’s ability to exercise.
- Sugar in soda, when consumed by children, results in the children drinking less milk.
- Sugar can elevate glucose and insulin responses and return them to fasting levels slower in oral contraceptive users.
- Sugar can increase reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can damage cells and tissues.
- Sugar can cause hyperactivity, anxiety, inability to concentrate and crankiness in children.
- Sugar can produce a significant rise in triglycerides.
- Sugar reduces the body’s ability to defend against bacterial infection.
- Sugar causes a decline in tissue elasticity and function – the more sugar you eat, the more elasticity and function you lose.
- Sugar reduces high-density lipoproteins (HDL).
- Sugar can lead to chromium deficiency.
- Sugar can lead to ovarian cancer.
- Sugar can increase fasting levels of glucose.
- Sugar causes copper deficiency.
- Sugar interferes with the body’s absorption of calcium and magnesium.
- Sugar may make eyes more vulnerable to age-related macular degeneration.
- Sugar raises the level of neurotransmitters: dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
- Sugar can cause hypoglycemia.
- Sugar can lead to an acidic digestive tract.
- Sugar can cause a rapid rise of adrenaline levels in children.
- Sugar is frequently malabsorbed in patients with functional bowel disease.
- Sugar can cause premature aging.
- Sugar can lead to alcoholism.
- Sugar can cause tooth decay.
- Sugar can lead to obesity.
- Sugar increases the risk of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
- Sugar can cause gastric or duodenal ulcers.
- Sugar can cause arthritis.
- Sugar can cause learning disorders in school children.
- Sugar assists the uncontrolled growth of Candida Albicans (yeast infections).
- Sugar can cause gallstones.
- Sugar can cause heart disease.
- Sugar can cause appendicitis.
- Sugar can cause hemorrhoids.
- Sugar can cause varicose veins.
- Sugar can lead to periodontal disease.
- Sugar can contribute to osteoporosis.
- Sugar contributes to saliva acidity.
- Sugar can cause a decrease in insulin sensitivity.
- Sugar can lower the amount of Vitamin E in the blood.
- Sugar can decrease the amount of growth hormones in the body.
- Sugar can increase cholesterol.
- Sugar increases advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which form when sugar binds non-enzymatically to protein.
- Sugar can interfere with the absorption of protein.
- Sugar causes food allergies.
- Sugar can contribute to diabetes.
- Sugar can cause toxemia during pregnancy.
- Sugar can lead to eczema in children.
- Sugar can cause cardiovascular disease.
- Sugar can impair the structure of DNA.
- Sugar can change the structure of protein.
- Sugar can make the skin wrinkle by changing the structure of collagen.
- Sugar can cause cataracts.
- Sugar can cause emphysema.
- Sugar can cause atherosclerosis.
- Sugar can promote an elevation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL).
- Sugar can impair the physiological homeostasis of many systems in the body.
- Sugar lowers enzymes ability to function.
- Sugar intake is associated with the development of Parkinson’s disease.
- Sugar can increase the size of the liver by making the liver cells divide.
- Sugar can increase the amount of liver fat.
- Sugar can increase kidney size and produce pathological changes in the kidney.
- Sugar can damage the pancreas.
- Sugar can increase the body’s fluid retention.
- Sugar is the number one enemy of the bowel movement.
- Sugar can cause myopia (nearsightedness).
- Sugar can compromise the lining of the capillaries.
- Sugar can make tendons more brittle.
- Sugar can cause headaches, including migraines.
- Sugar plays a role in pancreatic cancer in women.
- Sugar can adversely affect children’s grades in school.
- Sugar can cause depression.
- Sugar increases the risk of gastric cancer.
- Sugar can cause dyspepsia (indigestion).
- Sugar can increase the risk of developing gout.
- Sugar can increase the levels of glucose in the blood much higher than complex carbohydrates in a glucose tolerance test can.
- Sugar reduces learning capacity.
- Sugar can cause two blood proteins – albumin and lipoproteins – to function less effectively, which may reduce the body’s ability to handle fat and cholesterol.
- Sugar can contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.
- Sugar can cause platelet adhesiveness, which causes blood clots.
- Sugar can cause hormonal imbalance – some hormones become underactive and others become overactive.
- Sugar can lead to the formation of kidney stones.
- Sugar can cause free radicals and oxidative stress.
- Sugar can lead to biliary tract cancer.
- Sugar increases the risk of pregnant adolescents delivering a small-for-gestational-age (SGA) infant.
- Sugar can lead to a substantial decrease the in the length of pregnancy among adolescents.
- Sugar slows food’s travel time through the gastrointestinal tract.
- Sugar increases the concentration of bile acids in stool and bacterial enzymes in the colon, which can modify bile to produce cancer-causing compounds and colon cancer.
- Sugar increases estradiol (the most potent form of naturally occurring estrogen) in men.
- Sugar combines with and destroys phosphatase, a digestive enzyme, which makes digestion more difficult.
- Sugar can be a risk factor for gallbladder cancer.
- Sugar is an addictive substance.
- Sugar can be intoxicating, similar to alcohol.
- Sugar can aggravate premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
- Sugar can decrease emotional stability.
- Sugar promotes excessive food intake in obese people.
- Sugar can worsen the symptoms of children with attention deficit disorder (ADD).
- Sugar can slow the ability of the adrenal glands to function.
- Sugar can cut off oxygen to the brain when given to people intravenously.
- Sugar is a risk factor for lung cancer.
- Sugar increases the risk of polio.
- Sugar can cause epileptic seizures.
- Sugar can increase systolic blood pressure (pressure when the heart is contracting).
- Sugar can induce cell death.
- Sugar can increase the amount of food that you eat.
- Sugar can cause antisocial behavior in juvenile delinquents.
- Sugar can lead to prostate cancer.
- Sugar dehydrates newborns.
- Sugar can cause women to give birth to babies with low birth weight.
- Sugar is associated with a worse outcome of schizophrenia.
- Sugar can raise homocysteine levels in the bloodstream.
- Sugar increases the risk of breast cancer.
- Sugar is a risk factor in small intestine cancer.
- Sugar can cause laryngeal cancer.
- Sugar induces salt and water retention.
- Sugar can contribute to mild memory loss.
- Sugar water, when given to children shortly after birth, results in those children preferring sugar water to regular water throughout childhood.
- Sugar causes constipation.
- Sugar can cause brain decay in pre-diabetic and diabetic women.
- Sugar can increase the risk of stomach cancer.
- Sugar can cause metabolic syndrome.
- Sugar increases neural tube defects in embryos when it is consumed by pregnant women.
- Sugar can cause asthma.
- Sugar increases the chances of getting irritable bowl syndrome.
- Sugar can affect central reward systems.
- Sugar can cause cancer of the rectum.
- Sugar can cause endometrial cancer.
- Sugar can cause renal (kidney) cell cancer.
- Sugar can cause liver tumors.
- Sugar can increase inflammatory markers in the bloodstreams of overweight people.
- Sugar plays a role in the cause and the continuation of acne.
- Sugar can ruin the sex life of both men and women by turning off the gene that controls the sex hormones.
- Sugar can cause fatigue, moodiness, nervousness, and depression.
- Sugar can make many essential nutrients less available to cells.
- Sugar can increase uric acid in blood.
- Sugar can lead to higher C-peptide concentrations.
- Sugar causes inflammation.
- Sugar can cause diverticulitis, a small bulging sac pushing outward from the colon wall that is inflamed.
- Sugar can decrease testosterone production.
- Sugar impairs spatial memory.
- Sugar can cause cataracts.
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