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Sugar’s the Main Villain in My Book October 8, 2009

Posted by mygiftofcancer in breast cancer, cancer, health, healthy living, sugar, traditional herbal medicine.
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It’s hard to believe that I’m writing about sugar again, after several earlier posts and more-or-less promising I’d leave the subject alone. I suspected that many of you were tired of hearing about it. But I was happy to read 2 more confirmation recently that there are still plenty of people out there who firmly believe that sugar (especially large amounts of it) is to be avoided if one wants to stay healthy.

As I mentioned before, I have a voracious sweet tooth when I indulge it, and I did indulge it when I was young. However, I cut back considerably during most of my adult years, but until quite recently could still easily binge when temptation overtook me. Apparently, according to my herbal doctor, it took its toll on my body in more ways than one.

He says I must continue to severely restrict my sugar intake even though my body is now healthy (after drinking his specially made herbal tea for one year.) This is not his recommendation for everyone, but it is part of his tailor-made plan for me.

It seems my sugar addiction wore down my system’s ability to bounce back completely and I now have this “permanent” weakness. I personally believe there is a strong connection between this and the breast cancer I developed. I don’t minimize the role of other toxins I inhaled or ate or rubbed into my body, but I definitely believe there’s a connection between high “added sugar” intake and low immune system response. How could my poor body process all that extra sugar I kept giving it without some negative consequences?

Check out these two articles:  Does a spoonful of sugar help the flu take hold? and  Sugar Consumption Limits Urged by Heart Association

Does a spoonful of sugar help the flu take hold?

By Kim Painter, USA TODAY, October 5, 2009

When one of pediatrician Jim Sears’ kids asks for a soda or other sweet treat, he sometimes asks them a question: “Is this a good time to be suppressing your immune system?”

Sears, who is co-host of The Doctors TV show and a contributor to the popular AskDrSears parenting website, is a firm believer in a widespread idea: A big dose of sugar can immediately suppress your immune system and make you more vulnerable to colds, flu and other infections.

So, at a time when people are especially keen to protect themselves from H1N1, or swine flu, it’s worth asking: Is it true? Can a few spoonfuls of sugar really help make you sick?

Denver nutrition therapist Kate Pfeiffer has no doubt. “Limiting sugar should be the first line of defense against infectious disease,” she says.

She wrote a column for Examiner.com titled: “Worried about the Swine Flu? Avoid Sugar!” In it she cites a 1973 study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The same study is cited at AskDrSears.com and on many alternative-medicine sites.

In the study, researchers at Loma Linda University gave volunteers 100 grams of sugar (20 teaspoons, roughly the amount in a liter of soda). The researchers then drew blood from the volunteers and mixed in some bacteria. They found that infection-fighting white blood cells from people who had just gorged on sugar gobbled up many fewer bacteria than those who had just fasted or eaten an unsweetened starch.

But Robert Frenck, professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics, says: “I have not found any (studies) that show sugar changes your resistance to infection.”

Christine Gerbstadt, a registered dietitian and physician who is a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, combed through hundreds of studies and came to the same conclusion. She even found a recent study that suggested a sugar surge might boost immunity–at least in mice forced to run on treadmills and fed various diets.

But it’s unlikely any one food is the key to a strong or weak immune system, she says. Instead, she says, “we can optimize the building blocks for immune system by eating a healthy, balanced diet.”

Sears says he agrees wholeheartedly that overall nutrition is more important than any one substance. But he still says there’s something about a sugar overdose that makes people vulnerable. He says he expects to see some evidence soon–when his office fills up with sick kids after Halloween.

Sugar Consumption Limits Urged by Heart Association

By Ron Winslow and Shirley S. Wang, WSJ, August 25, 2009

Most women should limit sugar intake to 100 calories, or six teaspoons, a day. Men should limit their consumption to 150 calories. That won’t be easy. A 12-ounce can of cola has 130 calories, or eight teaspoons.

The American Heart Association is taking aim at the nation’s sweet tooth, urging consumers to significantly cut back on the amount of sugar they get from such foods as soft drinks, cookies and ice cream.

In a scientific statement issued Monday, the organization says most women should limit their sugar intake to 100 calories, or about six teaspoons, a day; for men, the recommendation is 150 calories, or nine teaspoons.

The recommendations are likely to prove challenging for many consumers to meet. Just one 12-ounce can of cola has about 130 calories, or eight teaspoons of sugar.

Data gathered during a national nutrition survey between 2001 and 2004 suggest that Americans consume on average 355 calories, or more than 22 teaspoons, of sugar a day.

“We’re trying to make reasonable recommendations around the amount of sugar in a diet that enables people to achieve or maintain a healthy weight,” said Rachel Johnson, associate provost and professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont in Burlington and lead author of the statement.

The heart association has encouraged consumers to moderate sugar consumption, but the new statement is the first time it has suggested specific limits. The recommendations apply only to what are known as added sugars–those that are added to foods during manufacturing, or by consumers. They don’t include sugar that occurs naturally in fruits, vegetables, dairy products and other foods.

Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University who wasn’t involved with the document, said it was a significant departure from previous recommendations, in part because “nobody has ever said it quite so forcefully.”

The statement heightens the battle against foods that many public-health officials say contribute to the higher risk of such problems as diabetes and cardiovascular disease among the nation’s overweight and obese consumers. A recent unrelated study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the medical costs associated with treating obesity-related conditions may have reached $147 billion last year, up from $74 billion a decade ago.

The chief sources of added sugar in the diet include soft drinks, candy, desserts such as cakes and cookies, fruit drinks and sweetened dairy products, including ice cream and yogurt, the statement says. Sugar in alcoholic beverages also counts as added sugar, Dr. Johnson said.

Added sugars “offer no nutritional value other than calories to the diet,” Dr. Johnson said. “The majority of Americans could reduce their risk of heart disease by achieving healthy weight and the evidence is fairly clear that reducing the amount of sugars can help with that.”

Quillian Haralson, 38, of Waldorf, Md., says he would try to adhere to the recommendations and pay special attention to the sugar intake of his two children.

But, he said, it would be challenging to figure out how much added sugar is in different foods.

Mr. Haralson, a high-school teacher, said he is attentive to his three-year-old son’s sugar intake, for instance, but he said he couldn’t estimate how much the child is currently consuming. “That’s the sad part; I can’t tell you,” he said.

Current food labels don’t list sugar content in calories or teaspoons and don’t distinguish between natural and added sugars, Dr. Johnson said.

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