Sun | Aug 19, 2018

An Ounce of Prevention: Keep that sugar out!

Published:Tuesday | March 22, 2016 | 12:00 AM

In 2014 the Mexican government imposed a tax on sugary soft drinks and within one year researchers reported a 12 per cent reduction in the sales of those beverages. The greatest reduction was seen in the poorest households, where sweet drink sales fell by 17 per cent. Meanwhile, there was a four per cent rise in sales of low sugar drinks, mainly bottled water.

Mexico had introduced the 10 per cent tax in an effort to reverse the trend towards that country becoming the most obese nation in the world. There is absolutely no doubt that the excessive consumption of sugary drinks and foods has very bad effects on people?s health. It increases obesity, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, stroke and hormonal disturbance to mention only a few of the dangers.

Government policy must play a big role in tackling this problem, and just this past week, British lawmakers announced a similar tax sugar. But in addition to legislation massive public education is needed to counter the ongoing brainwashing perpetuated by the fast food and drink business interests. News of the sugar tax has already impacted on the shares prices of soft drink manufacturers.

Nutritional experts suggest that sugar should make up no more than five per cent of our daily calories: about 30 grams of sugar per day for adults. You get more than that in a single can of Pepsi and children should have much less.

Excess sugar consumption is a really big issue. It can lead to both high and low blood sugar levels. It can elevate bad cholesterol and triglycerides while lowering good cholesterol. Sugar powerfully contributes to obesity can increase your blood pressure as well.

Overdosing on sugar can suppress your immune system and impair your defences against infections like the yeast Candida. It promotes other immune system diseases such as: arthritis, allergies, asthma and multiple sclerosis. It even lowers blood levels of antioxidants like vitamins E and C.

Too much sugar upsets the balance of many minerals in your body. It causes chromium and copper deficiencies, interferes with the absorption of calcium and magnesium and facilitates osteoporosis.

Sugar feeds cancer cells and has been associated with the development of cancer of the breast, ovaries, prostate, rectum, pancreas, lung, gallbladder and stomach. Sugar abuse can lead to many digestive system problems including excess acidity, indigestion, malabsorption, gallstones, Crohn?s disease, and ulcerative colitis.

Sugar can lead to hyperactivity, difficulty in concentrating, anxiety and crankiness in children. It can create acidic saliva, promoting tooth decay and gum disease.


High fructose corn syrup

Cane sugar was our sweetener of choice until the 1970s, when high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) was developed. Regular table sugar (sucrose) from sugar cane is 50 per cent fructose and 50 per cent glucose while HFCS contains up to 80 per cent fructose and only 20 per cent glucose. Both sweeteners provide four calories per gram, but the difference is the damaging effect on the liver of excess fructose.

The liver converts fructose directly into fat and stores it. People who consume lots of fructose end up developing fatty liver disease, high blood pressure, obesity and insulin resistance among other health issues. Doctors call this collection of problems the metabolic syndrome

HFCS is not the harmless sweetener the food industry has led us to believe. Packaged foods in our supermarkets are full of HFCS. Since it tastes sweeter and is cheaper than table sugar, beverage and food manufacturers consider it ideal. Mercury is often used in manufacturing HFCS so mercury contamination is another problem.

After creating the sugar problem, the food industry invented artificial sweeteners. The most popular of these is a chemical called aspartame, marketed under brand names like NutraSweet or Equal. It is used in many diet drinks and foods and people who are trying to lose weight are particularly attracted to these artificial sweeteners because of their low calorie content. At last count there are over 5,000 products that contain Aspartame.

Aspartame a dangerous substance that breaks down in the body to form chemicals like methanol, formaldehyde, and formic acid that are toxic to the nervous system and should not be a part of our diet.

Individuals with symptoms like spasms, shooting pains, numbness, cramps, dizziness, headaches, tinnitus, joint pain, depression, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, blurred vision, convulsions or memory loss, may actually be suffering from the toxic effects of Aspartame in their diet. It may even cause birth defects.

Aspartame is particularly bad for diabetic. It actually makes the blood sugar harder to control and worsens the damage to the nervous system.


Managing the sweet tooth

People with sugar cravings are at greater risk of becoming diabetic. For them, I suggest a diet made up of predominantly whole foods, full of nutrients, fibre and little refined sugar. Have lots of fresh vegetables, fruit and generous servings of healthy protein while restricting your intake of simple carbohydrates - starches and sugars.

Supplements: I recommend a supplement programme called ?Cellular Nutrition? designed to correct any nutritional deficiencies in your diet. It provides healthy plant protein plus various vitamins, minerals like chromium, magnesium and vanadium and herbs like cinnamon all of which help control sugar cravings. For persons on the go the meal replacement shake is an excellent option. Keep close at hand healthy snacks like nuts, fresh fruit, raw vegetables and protein bars and drinks.

Safe sugar substitutes: For those who want the sweet taste without sugar, a safer alternative is Stevia, a plant that is a member of the Chrysanthemum family and is native to Paraguay where it has been used since ancient times as a sweetener.

It is available as a liquid, a crushed leaf, or a concentrated white powder that is 300 times as sweet as sugar but has the slightly herbal taste of licorice. Honey is a healthier sweetener than sugar as it contains many vitamins and minerals but should be used in moderation especially in persons with blood sugar problems.

You may email Dr Vendryes at or listen to An Ounce of Prevention on POWER106FM on Fridays at 8:15 p.m. Details of his books and articles are available at