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Chapter 4, Giving Up Sugar!

OK back to my story:

As I said earlier, I began taking herbal medicine less than a week after my diagnosis (September 15) and was also trying very hard to apply what I’d been reading in the 2 books I had to help in my fight against cancer—“A Cancer Battle Plan” and “Eating Alive”. Both books stressed the importance of good digestion and a healthy immune system. I brisk walked for a minimum of 30 minutes daily and continued my many-years habit of daily taking quality time reading the Bible and other spiritually nourishing material as well as praying earnestly for myself and others.

So, I was now fighting on four fronts: prayer, exercise, diet and herbal medicine.

When I knew my diagnosis was cancer, the full realization hit me that I would have to really get serious about my diet and try to follow the very strict regimen in the “Battle Plan”. I already ate quite a healthy diet, but I had my indulgences. I really enjoyed tasty food; loved Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai, Indian, Mexican, Italian and many other kinds of food. But things kept coming up in the book that ruled out most dishes I had been used to eating.

First, I needed to cut all sugar completely. You’d be surprised how many homemade, restaurant or packaged meals contain sugar! Now we’re talking about all kinds of sugar and nearly all sugar is refined or adulterated in some way. In fact, the term “refined sugar” includes all sugar which has been taken out of its natural food state—for example, extracted from fruit, beets, coconuts, sugar cane, corn, etc.—including raw or brown sugars, and honey. (More on honey and the nutritional benefits of raw, unprocessed honey is covered later, but honey is still classed as a sugar because of the way your body assimilates it.) Naturally, the more refined a sugar is—such as white sugar or high fructose corn syrup—the stronger its negative effect on your body.

A large percentage of people who write about the causes of cancer strongly warn against sugars of all kinds. I had long known the dangers of white sugar—the bleaching and refining that makes it look so “pure”. (Well, it is pure. Pure poison!) But I hadn’t realized honey and raw sugar could also do me harm.

Now I understand that while the body needs glucose, it doesn’t need to get it from refined sugar. Taking in refined sugar is unnatural and throws many things off balance in your body. It’s like a dose of poison, robbing your body of its ability to defend itself, to absorb helpful nutrients, and so much more. We were meant to supply our body’s need for glucose through eating foods that naturally contain or are converted into sugar by our body—like starches, fruits, and vegetables. Those are plenty to supply the dietary need for sugar. Sugar that has been taken out of its natural source and concentrated, even raw sugar, is not necessary in our diet on any sort of regular basis, and in fact is harmful if eaten too regularly.

If you eat a lot of packaged or prepared foods, you’re likely eating a lot of sugar. Too many products nowadays have sugar in some form added to them. It’s become one of the most common ingredients in processed or commercially prepared food. The way sugar is added to everything these days, you could easily be overdosing on it while firmly believing that you have a low sugar intake.

Some foods are easy to spot as being full of sugar and terribly unhealthy, such as sodas, commercial bakery products, fruit drinks, flavored yogurts, etc.Other foods that you wouldn’t normally think have sugar, like some fruit juices, chips or bread, some natural-looking box cereals‚ or sauces and other condiments and seasonings, also have sugar. Look at the ingredient list and you’ll see sugar in some form right up there at the beginning, as a major ingredient. Sometimes a product will state that it is “sugar-free,” but upon close inspection you will find it has artificial sweeteners, which aren’t good for your health either.

Artificial non–sugar sweeteners aren’t any better than sugar. Most are chemical compounds that are suspected cancer-causing agents, and you’d do better to eat white sugar than eat most of them. Natural is always better‚ and if you are going to use a sweetener, sugar is more natural than artificial sweeteners.

Molasses, especially blackstrap molasses, is more natural and less refined than other types of sugar. Blackstrap molasses has a lot of healthy nutrients in it, including high iron, calcium, and potassium content, as well as other important minerals. Other more refined types of molasses have some to very few nutrients. Generally, the darker and less sweet types of molasses have more good in them, and less sugar content. These are better than the lighter, purer and sweeter types of molasses. While blackstrap or other very rich and unprocessed types of molasses are one of the best forms of sugar available, molasses is still sugar, and should be treated as such.

Honey is a misunderstood sweetener. Raw, unpasteurized, and unheated honey is very good for you‚ and has many health benefits. Processed and pasteurized honey, on the other hand, is more or less the same as any other refined sugar. Most honey that is sold commercially is pasteurized and often strained too. The heat removes the natural enzymes that make up most of the good in honey, and straining removes the particles, including pollen, that can be helpful in overcoming allergies, for example. Look for honey that’s verifiably unheated and preferably not even strained. You want it as raw and pure as possible, and often you can only get this from local producers. Remember, though, that whether raw or processed‚ honey still has a heavy load of sugars, and thus you should be careful not to eat too much of it or eat it too frequently(”It is not good to eat much honey” Proverbs 25:27a).

More Reasons to Limit One’s Intake of Sugars

* Refined sugar lowers your body’s resistance because it’s very easily digested and goes quickly to the bloodstream. This in turn depresses the immune system because, basically‚ vitamin C—required by white blood cells to eliminate germs—competes with glucose for space in the cells, and higher levels of glucose in your blood mean less vitamin C can be absorbed. To put some skin on this: Two teaspoons of refined sugar can lower your resistance by about 25 percent for 4 or 5 hours.A large helping of cake and ice cream renders your white blood cells completely helpless (a 100% decrease in your resistance level) for the same amount of time.

* Excess sugar in the bloodstream stimulates the production of free radicals and inhibits vitamin E. Free radicals damage your body’s cells, causing aging and disease.

* Naturally occurring sugars, such as those in fruit, are bound to other sugars, as well as to the fiber and nutrition of the fruit. For example, in a piece of fruit there is naturally occurring fructose, which‚ in its natural state in the fruit, is also bound to sucrose, which helps the body digest and assimilate it better, and also means that more of it will be used by the body‚ and less will be turned into fat. The natural food (fruit, in this case) contains fiber, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals that slow down the digestion of the sugars, as well as help the body absorb them properly. Refined sugar contains none of these nutrients and fiber. Furthermore, refined sugar robs the body of micronutrients in order to help the body assimilate and use the sugar.

* Refined sugar interferes with your heart and body’s use of key minerals.

* Sugar reacts to certain foods in a way that decreases the digestibility and inhibits the metabolism of protein and, in some cases‚ can cause cancer. Refined sugar also affects your body’s metabolism negatively, increasing aging, decreasing the absorption of minerals, and more.

* Sugar is addictive because 1) eating even a small amount creates a desire for more. In some people, this desire is strong to the point that they can’t stop. And 2) when someone quits sugar cold turkey, there are withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, fatigue, mood swings, and possible headaches.

* Refined sugar also causes tooth decay, and, being high in calories, can cause weight gain.

Specifics regarding children and sugar

* In the long term, refined sugars affect insulin control, which decides how much fat a child will store for the rest of their life. Too much sugar can also wear out your body’s ability to produce insulin, causing diabetes.

* Studies suggest that children have a more pronounced response to sugar than adults. The body reacts to a certain level of glucose in the blood by releasing adrenaline. The more refined a sugar is, the more quickly it is released into the bloodstream. Too much adrenaline causes hyperactivity. The body’s counter-reaction—too much insulin—removes too much glucose from your bloodstream, causing a depression-like low.

* Fruit contains natural sugar, which, when eaten in moderation, is healthy and good for the body. If children eat too much fruit, however—for example, replacing all other snacks and cravings with fruit (especially the fruits that are high in sugar, like apples)—it can add up to an unhealthy intake of sugar for them, and can weaken their teeth and cause cavities. It’s not bad for them to eat fruit; fruit is very healthy for them. But in excess, it’s an overload of sugar for their little bodies. Raw vegetables are a healthy snack that could be alternated with fruit, for example. Bottom line: Children do not need all that much sugar, even from natural sources.

(Excerpts from a CBC news article:) In a recent report released by the World Health Organization entitled “Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases,” leading health experts are making new recommendations for governments on diet and physical activity to combat rising chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and various cancers.

One of the most controversial recommendations urges people to limit their daily consumption of free sugars. “Free Sugars” (including refined sugars from cane, beet and corn) are all added to foods by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, plus sugars naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juices.

While consuming less sugar seems easy enough, it’s actually a little trickier than you’d think.

“I don’t think as individuals we really know how much sugar we’re getting at all,” said nutritionist Beth Mansfield.

No one is telling us to worry about the natural sugars in fruit. After all, our bodies, our brains, wouldn’t function without some sugar.

“If we were all just eating fruits and vegetables and getting our sugars just from there, we’d be way better off,” Mansfield said. “We’d have lower risk of heart disease‚ cancer, you name it.”

Examples of how much sugar‚ on average, is found in various sweets and foods

(tsp=1 teaspoon)

3 tsp in a 21-gram brownie.
5 tsp in 1 plain donut.
4-6 tsp in 1 tablespoon of jelly or jam (this amount of sugar is possible because it dissolves into the fruit/liquid and then cooks down).
4 tsp in a half cup of Jell-O/jelly.
3 tsp in 1 white hamburger bun or 1 white hot dog bun.
10 tsp in a 350ml soda.
5–20 tsp in a 30-140 gram candy bar.
3-4 tsp in a half cup of sweetened fruit juice (packaged).
9 tsp in 1 cup sweetened fruit yogurt.
1-2 tsp in every tablespoon of ketchup
Ice cream is on average 12-16% sugar.
Commercial breakfast cereals are on average 10-50% sugar.

Comments»

1. JBBC - June 18, 2009

wow! great post – very comprehensive – with your permission I would like to put it on my blog (will reference you of course) http://beyondbreastcancer.wordpress.com/

2. Sugar–Again! « My Gift of Cancer - November 10, 2009

[…] of breast cancer when compared to rats on a regular diet.“ I have felt so much healthier since I kicked the sugar habit! It isn’t exactly a subtle difference, but of course eliminating sugar wasn’t the only […]


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