Consequences of Long-Term Sugar Consumption
As we saw in the earlier chapter, eating excessive amounts of carbohydrates will cause the blood glucose level to rise sharply and suddenly. When this keeps happening over many years, it leads to insulin resistance, leptin resistance and finally, metabolic syndrome.
Fructose Amplification in Sugar
These problems can arise from over-consuming any form of carbohydrates. When you take the problems are much worse because sugar contains fructose, which greatly amplifies the harmful effects of excessive glucose.
For now, we look at problems associated with eating sugar. Apart from metabolic syndrome, other problems include:
Acidity and Alkaline Balance
Acidic Properties of Sugar
Optimal health requires the blood and most body fluids to have a slightly alkaline balance. Sugar is a strong-acid-forming food. In this case, the problem does not arise with all carbohydrates, but only with sugar and most grains (except millet). Other carbohydrate foods like fresh vegetables and fruits make the body more alkaline.
An acidic body environment promotes the growth of fungus, harmful bacteria and cancer cells. It also depletes the calcium from the bones. High sugar consumption is therefore one of the leading causes of osteoporosis in modern societies. The cause is not inadequate calcium intake. In rural societies in Asia and Africa, the rate of osteoporosis is low even though people do not drink milk and so do not have a high calcium intake.
Role of Sugar in Promoting Infections and Inflammation
Bacterial, Fungal, and Cancer Cell Feeding
Glucose in sugar is the primary energy food of harmful bacteria, fungi and cancer cells. Eating lots of sugar and starchy carbohydrates will cause the intestines to be dominated by pathogenic bacteria and fungi. This will lead to infection and inflammation of the intestines, resulting in poor digestion and poor absorption of nutrients.
Leaky Gut Syndrome and Immune Responses
Eventually, inflammation leads to leaky gut syndrome, where undigested and semi-digested food particles get absorbed into the bloodstream. The body's immune cells will then attack these undigested food particles as they are seen as "aliens". This will lead to food allergies, food intolerances and auto-immune diseases.
Sugar's Contribution to Cancer Growth
Cancer cells, like bacteria and fungi, also feed on sugar. Normal human cells use oxygen to "burn" glucose for energy. Cancer cells have lost this ability and they produce energy by fermenting glucose in an oxygen-free environment. And because fermentation is highly inefficient, cancer cells need six to eight times as much glucose as normal cells.
Cancer cells thrive exceptional well under three specific conditions: high sugar, low oxygen and acidic terrain. A diet rich in sugar will create two of these conditions: high glucose and acidic terrain. If you eat plenty of sugar and don't exercise, you are providing all three conditions for cancer growth.
This content is adapted, with permission, from Book 1 of 2 : The Wonders of Nutrition by Dr Ang Poon Liat. MBBS, M.MED (PAED), MRCP (UK PAED), FAMS, MD.