It’s Easy To Believe Sugar Is Unhealthy.
It’s easy to believe that sugar is unhealthy, especially when you learn that regular consumption can do things to your system, like for example, increase cholesterol production.
If you live in a world where high cholesterol causes heart disease and polyunsaturated fats are a health product – specifically because of their cholesterol interfering properties – then this idea starts to sound like it might be legitimate.
Add to that increasingly popular ideas about sugar and ‘adrenal fatigue’ – not to mention influentially named ‘sugar cravings’ being explained as the result of a so called ‘serotonin deficiency’ – and you might easily start to justify a belief that removing sugar from your diet is beneficial.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), a large amount of high quality experimental evidence exists which appears to undermine the foundations underpinning these – as well as other related – belief systems.
For starters, many studies have shown – and continue to show – the direct relationship between chronically high levels of cortisol and a significant number of degenerative diseases or inflammatory conditions.
Both cortisol and adrenalin rise as a direct response to stress – particularly under circumstances where there is insufficient intake of sugar – and experiments have shown that sugar (for eg. sucrose) directly suppresses the release of cortisol and other related stress hormones.
Another widely accepted and experimentally demonstrated physiological principle relates to the way in which stress (or insufficient sugar consumption) – alongside rising cortisol and adrenalin – leads to an increase in the release of free fatty acids out of storage.
Many experiments have shown that the release of fat into the blood stream directly correlates with (often causes) the onset of inflammatory states (as well as the release of cortisol and related hormones) which promote conditions – such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer – which are popularly blamed on sugar.
More and more commonly today free fatty acids are becoming highly polyunsaturated – a predominant factor causing inflammation – and thus powerfully anti-thyroid, thereby promoting the release of more free fatty acids and a potentially chronic inflammatory vicious circle-like state.
Sugar is a known promoter of improved thyroid function and energy metabolism, (as well as being an inhibitor of the release of the polyunsaturated fats from storage), and for this and other reasons it makes biological sense for it to be understood as an anti-inflammatory substance.
Not only does the suppression of thyroid metabolism directly increase the release of cortisol (and other inflammatory stress substances), it also interferes with digestion in a number of ways, in turn promoting bacterial overgrowth and endotoxin secretion.
Studies have for many years shown a direct relationship between increased levels of bacterial endotoxin and the release of substances which promote inflammation – such as serotonin for instance (around 95% of which is produced in the intestines in response to bacterial toxins and other poisonous substances).
Both endotoxin and serotonin promote estrogen production, and all of these have a tendency to interfere with liver function (potentially preventing the proper detoxification of many toxins and stress substances), as well as directly promoting degeneration, inflammation and the onset of many disease states including cancer.
Cholesterol is known to play an important role in protection from infection and poisons (in particular the safe removal of endotoxin). Furthermore, not only does increased cholesterol production promote longevity and protection from disease in elderly populations, low cholesterol has proven to be connected to the worsening of many conditions including depression, heart failure and cancer.
Although the polyunsaturated fats interfere directly with cholesterol production, sugar consumption protects against their release from storage into the blood (as well as directly promoting the production of cholesterol) and by improving thyroid metabolism it also increases the likelihood of cholesterol being converted into the highly protective anti aging hormones, pregnenolone, progesterone, dhea and testosterone.
As well as all of this, increasing your intake of sugar protects against the breakdown (by cortisol) of muscle and other tissue (which occurs to provide for the body’s constant need for sugar), and the release of inflammatory amino acids (particularly tryptophan) into the blood stream, which further promotes degeneration and aging as well as increasing levels of serotonin in the brain.
Regardless of the fact that many still promote the confusing and illogical idea that ‘sugar cravings’ are the result of a deficiency of serotonin, from a physiological perspective sugar is likely to lower serotonin production both in the intestines and the brain. This makes a great deal more sense in the context of the body of work which explains the relationship between increased serotonin and the onset of many inflammatory conditions, including depression and anxiety.
Finally, there is far from being any conclusive evidence showing that sugar (particularly fructose) consumption is responsible for the increasing incidence of NAFLD (non alcoholic fatty liver disease) or related conditions, including obesity, diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
There are however numerous high quality studies which show the physiological mechanisms connecting cortisol as well as the polyunsaturated fats (amongst other things) to the onset of these disease states, and on the basis of the above explanations sugar is likely to be protective.
In relation to carbohydrate consumption, there is evidence which suggests that starches (or pure glucose in general) and difficult to digest fibers (especially in combination with the polyunsaturated fats), can help to promote thyroid dysfunction as well as bacterial overgrowth, and as such can be responsible for many of the problems which are mistakenly blamed most commonly on sucrose or fructose.
A diet which attempts to remove polyunsaturated fats, restricting intake of starches and fibers – in the form of under cooked vegetables, grains, beans and legumes – as well as limiting fat in general, whilst providing sufficient protein from milk cheese and gelatin, and increasing intake of sugar from sweet ripe juicy fruits, fruit juice, honey and sugar, is a physiologically rational approach to improving many of the metabolic conditions which have been unjustifiably blamed on sugar.
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Associations of egg and cholesterol intakes with carotid intima-media thickness and risk of incident coronary artery disease according to apolipoprotein E phenotype in men: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study
Image: sweet666heart: “L and His Love For Sugar Cubes”