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Health Hazards of Sugar

Updated on January 5, 2012


Gone are the days when sweets were prepared in the purest form by the sweetmeat manufacturers. Seldom do we now see a sweet shop selling unadulterated sweets, though they look attractive owing to the addition of artificial sweeteners which are injurious to health.

The extensive and unnecessary intake of artificial sweets, especially in the form of candies and syrups, is responsible for a large number of ailments of the digestive organs. The liver and kidneys are severely affected by the increased formation of toxic substances and the consequent accumulation of acids in the blood which form a catarrhal condition of all the mucous membranes. The refined sugar, molasses and syrups of commerce consist of essentially three elements — oxygen, hydrogen and carbon — while the human body is composed of 15 elements all of which are of paramount importance in the formation of healthy and firm tissues and the various physiological functions of the organism. Scientific experiments have demonstrated that animals fed on white flour and refined sugar died sooner than those not fed with these which is explained by the fact that these artificial foods instead of replenishing the tissues break them down more rapidly than they can be renewed.

Manufactured sugar and glucose are artificially extracted from the organic combinations which are necessary for the building of tissues and bones, for the proper functioning of the nervous system and also for the purification of the blood, which accounts for their injurious effects.

The organic tissue salts of potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and iron which have the power to restore the acidified blood to the normal state of alkalinity are entirely deficient in artificial sweets. As free sugar has a great affinity for these elements they will rob the digestive juices of these very elements. The process of digestion and assimilation of other foods is thereby retarded and fermentation in the alimentary canal is the sad result. Sugar contains high bad calories and its intake occasions in the craving for more of it and eventually this sweet may become bitter, figuratively speaking.

Right Use of Sugar

The quantum of sugar in a normal adult diet should not exceed, say, half a dozen teaspoonful’s per day. This is to be taken along with tea or coffee or cold drinks. If taken in excess, it is, by and large, injurious.

During occasions, the temptation to consume a wide variety of colorful sweets will be irresistible. Even the diabetics clandestinely consume them in some cases. Furthermore ghee, an essential ingredient of sweets, is cent per cent fat and a causative factor for obesity. A single gram of fat contains as much as nine calories.

White sugar in the process of being refined is robbed of many nutrients like minerals, amino acids and so forth, and gets stuffed with myriads of unwanted and at times unhealthy chemicals. Some of the ingredients that are mixed with white sugar to prepare delicious sweets are refined flour, maida, cream khoya, besan etc., along with ghee or vanaspati. These ingredients are disadvantageous in terms of health and become convenient carriers of other health hazards.

Whole wheat flour, for instance, contains vitamin B-complex, minerals, zinc etc, which are chiefly found on the outer layers and during the refining operations these are eliminated and only the carbohydrates remain intact. Maida doesn’t contain any fibre and is therefore bad not only for teeth but also for bowels.

Therefore, sweets prepared out of maida stick to the teeth firmly and at times even gargling will not remove it. This also kills the eater’s appetite. Sugar is the most commercial source of bodily heat and energy. It has been proved by many scientific experiments but we should always discriminate between the sugar, as it exists in fruits, and the refined sugar of commerce, albeit their chemical composition is the same. The former is intimately associated with other elements making a complete food while the latter is a chemically isolated food which cannot maintain health and vitality save for a very brief period. It simply acts as a stimulant with its necessary reaction and eventual weakening of the organism.

Experiments have proved that the regular use of refined sugar, whether in the form of candy, syrup or soft drink, acts as an irritant, the same as salt and various condiments and in time produces catarrh of the stomach and induces various disorders of the digestive system.

Jaggery for Sugar

You can substitute sugar with jaggery as the latter eliminates at least the nutritional drawbacks of refined sugar. Another good substitute is honey. It can be taken even by the diabetics in small quantities. Honey is also nutritious and an energy-builder. It has relaxing properties and is good for the nerves.

In the intestines it acts as an antiseptic and wipes out harmful germs. It improves breathing and builds strong teeth and bones. A sudden rush of sugar in the bloodstream may speed up the ageing process, it has been found.

The earliest suspicions surfaced in 1975 when work on sugar-ageing links began in a medical biochemistry lab at the Rockefeller University in New York City where Anthony Cerami, PhD, and his colleagues had pursued sugar’s role in the ageing process.

It was Cerami who first noticed that the same chemical process that makes a steak tougher and turns brown during cooking — a spontaneous reaction between sugar and protein called the “browning reaction” – occurs in human cells, particularly as they age. Indeed, approval to market a drug designed to halt this reaction was given after protracted trials. It may help solve many age-related problems from wrinkles to cataracts to certain types of cancer.

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