The Toxicity of a High Sugar and High Processed Diet
Sugar consumption in the United States rose from9.9 million metric tons, in 2009/2010 to 11 million metric tons in 2016/2017. The forecast for 2017/2018 is expected to rise to 11.2 million metric tons. So, after leveling off for three years, sugar consumption is once again on the rise.
The Natural Society researched the average consumption of sugar from 1700 to the 2009, and found that:
- In 1700, the average person consumed approximately 4.9 grams of sugar each day (1.81 kg per year).
- In 1800, the average person consumed approximately 22.4 grams of sugar each day (10.2 kg per year).
- In 1900, the average person consumed approximately 112 grams of sugar each day (40.8 kg per year).
- In 2009, 50 percent of Americans consumed approximately 227 grams of sugar each day – equating to 81.6 kg per year.
By 2016, the average American was consuming 19.5 teaspoons (82 grams) every day. That translates into about 66 pounds of added sugar consumed per person. Is it any wonder diabetes is running rampant in the US today, with obesity rates reaching new highs every year?
The January 26, 2018 issue of The Atlantic has a story, The Startling Link Between Sugar and Alzheimer’s. The authors draw the correlation between consuming a high-carb diet, with the high blood sugar which typically goes with it, are associated with cognitive decline. Sugar is now recognized as a toxic drug by many cutting-edge researchers.
In today’s article, we discuss the impact sugar has on your body. We’re not going to discuss refined carbohydrates such as wheat flour, grains and other starches, which convert to sugar in the body. That’s a discussion for another article. Nor will we discuss fat which will be another story which many people are confused about. Suffice to say that a high sugar diet coupled with bad fats is a metabolic disaster waiting to occur in your body.
NOT ALL SUGARS ARE ALIKE
There are two types of sugars that have seen massive consumption in the last hundred years: sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup (called HFCS-55 or HFCS). Sucrose is a refined product that has glucose and fructose. HFCS has 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose. Fructose is highly reactive in the body—and unfortunately, it is often recommended to diabetics as a “safe sugar!” It is metabolized in the liver. Excessive consumption of HFCS is now linked to fatty liver disease, which helps to explain part of the obesity epidemic we are seeing in children today. Fatty liver disease was something we only saw in alcoholics’ decades ago.
In the body, excess sugar interacts with proteins and amino acids in a chemical process called glycation. Over time, these chemicals form even more complex chemicals called “advanced glycation end products”—also known as AGEs.
Benfotiamine, a fat-soluble form of vitamin B1 (thiamine), supports healthy blood sugar metabolism and helps protect the body’s tissues against AGEs and oxidative stress. Diabetics, especially, seem to form large amounts of these destructive products, which can be measured by a test called hemoglobin A1c. Benfotiamine is a B vitamin, vastly under-appreciated, which nearly everyone should be taking.
People with Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease have high levels of AGEs in the affected parts of their brains. AGE’s generate vast amounts of free radicals and lipid peroxidation products that damage cells and tissues. Extensive free-radical damage is linked, in the end, to heart disease, strokes, diabetes, hypertension, and neurodegenerative diseases (such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s). Some researchers are theorizing that it is the AGE’s that cause diabetics to age so rapidly.
AGE’s and free radicals both trigger intense inflammatory reactions, and this involves the immune system. Scientists who measure inflammation have found that high levels of inflammatory markers (called by such names as TNF-alpha, IL-6, CRP, and IL-1) predict more accurately who is at a higher risk of a stroke or heart attack than cholesterol levels. Inflammation studies are also better predictors of who is at the highest risk of a heart attack after a coronary bypass or stent operation.
SUGAR AND METABOLIC SYNDROME
Years ago, the medical community believed there were two types of diabetes; insulin dependent and insulin independent. In both types, insulin was thought to be deficient. Then in 1965, noted scientists Rosalyn Yalow and Solomon Aaron Berson, discovered that some diabetics had too much insulin. They concluded that insulin resistance was the problem. It was due to faulty receptors within the cells. The idea was slow to catch on. Two decades later, we know much more about this, and we also know the most considerable increase in the incidence of diabetes is among those with insulin resistance. This is what is called Type 2 diabetes.
Not everybody who has insulin resistance has been diagnosed as diabetic. Large numbers of people have this resistance, but it remains undetected. The danger is that insulin resistance, also called hyperinsulinism, is intimately connected to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). The process is this: insulin promotes inflammation in many tissues, including blood vessels. The central process of atherosclerosis is chronic inflammation of the blood vessels.
Studies in animals have confirmed that animals fed a high-cholesterol diet, but with low insulin levels, had little atherosclerosis. When insulin was added to the high-cholesterol diet, atherosclerosis developed. The difference was the insulin, not the cholesterol!
This is all related to a disorder called Syndrome X. It was first identified in 1987, but its relationship to cardiovascular disease risk wasn’t substantiated until later. Now, Syndrome X is called metabolic syndrome. Researchers estimate that more than 45 million Americans have this disorder. It is growing in children at a rapid rate. The three main things associated with metabolic syndrome are:
- A diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates. As far back as 1931, researchers John Peters and Evelyn Man measured cholesterol levels in 79 diabetic patients. They found that only 9 of them had elevated cholesterol levels. They followed these subjects and in 1962, found that their subjects had a 40 percent increase in triglyceride levels and a dramatic increase in the number of diabetics with atherosclerosis. Overall medical statistics confirm that in the 1930s, only 10 percent of diabetics had atherosclerosis, but in the late 1950s, 56 percent had atherosclerosis-related diseases.
- A magnesium deficiency.
- Being exposed to MSG and other food excitotoxin additives early in life. Lab animals that have been given too much MSG shortly after birth display the same changes in blood lipids that are seen in humans with metabolic syndrome: insulin resistance, high triglyceride levels, high VLDL levels, and hypertension. One study using rats found that exposure to just a few doses of MSG early in life increased free- radical generation within the walls of arteries for months (equivalent to decades in humans). MSG also lowered the level of protective antioxidant enzymes in arteries, something seen in people with coronary heart disease.
Recent studies have shown that insulin resistance is closely linked to many diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and other degenerative disorders. Other studies have shown a strong correlation between high sugar intake and these same diseases. A high intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates alters the metabolism of many lipids (fats), which leads to heart disease, atherosclerosis, and diabetes. Too much insulin turns out to be very harmful and is a contributor which increases belly fat!
Apart from changes in diet, one of the things most beneficial to reducing insulin is exercise. Actively working muscles use blood sugar (glucose) without insulin. This helps lower both blood sugar and insulin levels in the blood.
CHARACTERISTICS OF METABOLIC SYNDROME
Metabolic Syndrome is diagnosed if a person has a group of risk factors that include:
- Abdominal obesity, excessive fat tissue in and around the abdomen (sometimes called “beer gut”).
- Elevated blood pressure.
- Insulin resistance or glucose intolerance—which means the body cannot properly use insulin or blood sugar.
- Atherogenic dyslipidemia or blood-fat disorders—high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol—that foster plaque buildup in artery walls.
- A pro-inflammatory state, such as elevated C-reactive protein in the blood.WHAT TO MEASURE
If you’re unsure if you have sugar toxicity in your body, there are 3 test you want to get. Most are familiar with the first two, but the third one you may not be familiar with. Different labs may have slightly different “Reference Ranges” for these tests. Having normal labs does not always mean being optimal. Who wants to be just normal?
- Fasting GlucoseOptimal: <85 mg/dl
Normal, but at a higher risk factor: 86-100 mg/dL
- HgA1COptimal: <5%
Normal, but at a higher risk factor: 5-5.6%
Very High: >6%
- Fasting InsulinOptimal: <5µIU/ml
Normal, but at a higher risk factor: 5.1-14.9µIU/ml
At glucose levels above 85mg/dL, your tissues are exposed to glucose concentrations that cause chemical reactions with your body’s proteins and fats called glycation. Glycated proteins and fats trigger inflammation and oxidative stress, major enemies of longevity. Virtually all chronic diseases of aging (and aging itself) are accelerated by high glucose levels. Benfotiamine is one B vitamin that can help your body negate some of the effects of glycation.
HgA1c (A1c) is a direct measurement of glycation damage to hemoglobin, one of the most important molecules in your body. If a fasting or after-meal glucose is a snapshot, think of hemoglobin A1c as a security camera recording the tracks where you’ve been over the past 2-3 months. Studies show that the risk of heart attack, stroke, and cancer all go up with rising levels of hemoglobin A1c. One of the most reliable correlations with frailty in older adults is a persistently elevated hemoglobin A1c level.
The most immediate and noticeable effect of excess insulin production is unwanted weight gain. Insulin drives fat into cells, prevents fat from being released from cells, and can result in chronic hunger. High insulin levels contribute not only to obesity, but also to the disease states associated with being overweight.
A diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates dramatically increase the growth of belly fat—also called visceral fat. Visceral fat is highly metabolically active. This fat in the abdomen secretes large amounts of inflammatory chemicals. Many individuals may have elevated insulin levels but have normal fasting glucose and HgA1c numbers. Research now shows that excessive insulin levels may precede diabetes in individual by many years. Also, elevated insulin levels may also make it nearly impossible to lose belly fat. High insulin levels can be thought of as “fat fertilizer”. You need some insulin but excessive levels over decades is very unhealthy.
1. Eat a clean diet.
Stay with mostly organic vegetables and consume grass-fed and pasture raised beef and chicken, if possible.
This combination of products works to greatly stabilize blood sugar. When used with a low glycemic diet, this kit can greatly reduce blood sugar related issues. Don’t stop taking any prescription medication you may be on. This is a robust protocol, and we urge users to regularly check blood sugar and maintain consistent meals.
3. Have your sugar and lipid (see below) levels checked at least yearly.
CHOLESTEROL, LDL, HDL AND TRIGLYCERIDES
There are two subtypes of LDL-cholesterol. One is a “small dense” LDL, and the other is a large “buoyant” LDL. These sub-types of LDL were discovered more than forty years ago, although there seem to be many physicians who think this is a recent discovery.
The small dense LDL particles are made of a protein called Apo B and are the most potentially harmful. What produces this type of LDL? Sugars and refined carbohydrates! Saturated fats are known to increase LDL levels slightly, but saturated fats impact the protective larger buoyant LDL particles more! Sugars and refined carbohydrates increase triglycerides, and increase the concentration of Apo B. There is a simple test to determine the amount of Apo B in a person’s bloodstream, and this test presents much better risk information than a total LDL-cholesterol test.
WHAT TO MEASURE
A standard cholesterol test usually measures LDL-C, HDL-C, triglycerides and total cholesterol. Standard lipid profiles utilize inferior technology and are limited to the use of cholesterol as a surrogate marker for your extremely critical LDL particle number. Normal “Reference Ranges” doctors use for these tests are:
- LDL-C: 0-99mg/dL; Optimal 50-99mg/dL
- HDL-C: >40mg/dL; Optimal 50-60mg/dL
- Triglycerides: 0-149mg/dL, Optimal <80mg/dL
- Total Cholesterol: 100-199mg/dL: Optimal 160-180mg/dL
Using state of the art technology known as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, an advanced cholesterol test is used to identify people at risk for lipid-related coronary heart disease (CHD). Particle size and particle count represent huge improvements over your standard lipid panel. It is well known that LDL particle size provides vital information on cardiovascular health. Small, dense LDL particles are dangerous since they contribute to plaque formation in the arterial wall. Ideally, one would want their results to show large, buoyant LDL particles. Small, dense particles are also closely associated with insulin resistance and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This test measures the following:
- LDL particle number (LDL-P)
- Small LDL particle number (small LDL-P)
- HDL particle number (HDL-P)
- LDL particle size
The first is your LDL-P, which is your LDL particle count. Next is your small LDL-P, the number of small LDL particles. If either is high, there is a potential cardiovascular problem. The test also provides HDL-P, the particle count for HDL, which is your good cholesterol, so you want that number high. Also, look at LDL size where bigger is better, meaning it correlates with large buoyant LDL, which is the better type of LDL as opposed to the bad, small, dense LDL.
Cholesterol X and Vascular Relaxant can help in improving cholesterol and lipid numbers.
THE INFLAMMATION FACTOR
Inflammation has been linked to gum disease, heavy metals (such as mercury, lead, and cadmium), chronic infections, Alzheimer’s disease, and cardiovascular disease. It is the inflammation that oxidizes cholesterol and other fats leading to the arterial “crud” that is associated with atherosclerosis. Oxidized LDL-cholesterol and other oxidized fats also damage brain cells.
Although oxidized LDL-cholesterol gets most of the blame, it is the oxidized lipids that are at the root of most of this arterial “crud.” Omega-6 or N-6 oils (corn, safflower, sunflower, peanut, canola, and soybean oils) are the oils the government health agencies and American Heart Association have recommended for years. In fact, these are the very oils that are oxidized most quickly in the arteries, creating a chronic inflammation problem that can lead to the eruption of plaques and creation of blood clots that kill.
Visceral or abdominal fat has been shown to release increased amounts of inflammatory cytokines, which worsen inflammation.At present, nearly 100 Americans are insulin resistant, and nearly 20 million are full diabetic. These people are the ones at greatest risk of cardiovascular disease. Moreover, there is little question that excessive sugar and refined carbohydrate consumption is the primary underlying problem—not a diet high in saturated fats or cholesterol.