THE SUGAR MENACE
Stress is the greatest problem in Western society today. Excluding addictions from alcohol and drugs, the next greatest problem is probably sugar. Sugar is added to almost all of the prepared food that we eat. The real tragedy is that our children are eating more and more sweets, cakes and sugary food. This is destroying their bodies and setting them up for a life of hypoglycaemia and diabetes.
The average American consumes some 125 lbs of sugar per year. If we look again at our cave man theory, we see that the only sugar he ate was in the form of unrefined carbohydrates like fruit and grains. This carbohydrate was broken down slowly by the body into simple sugars which could be absorbed at an appropriate rate. Modern man learned to refine foods so as to make them more appealing to the taste buds and more available for taste and convenience. Processed food and drinks are easier to sell, especially to the young, and especially if they are sweet! We have become so accustomed to this sweet diet that we now consider it to be the norm, and we continue to add more and more sugar.
Refined sugar has a drug‑like effect on the body. It is a powerful stimulant. This is especially true for those people who have developed a dependency to it. What about that afternoon sweet you enjoy just when you feel like a lift? Or those mid morning biscuits that you have with your coffee. These valueless foods fill you up and provide an instant lift. They take the place of the food that your body needs. Lots of people consider these snacks to be perfectly normal. In Western society they ARE normal, and in the long term they are also extremely damaging.
Refined sugar enters your bloodstream very quickly. Your body has no chance to regulate the amount. Sugar is the main brain food and you get a definite lift from consuming any form of refined sugar.
As I've repeatedly said, we are all totally individual human beings, with totally individual systems and tolerances. Some people will be hardly affected by moderate amounts of sugar and others will be devastated. There are those born with very strong systems who will tolerate a bottle of Scotch and a packet of cigarettes every day and still live to ninety years of age and laugh at the rest of us. We tend to identify with these people and expect our bodies to be able to do the same. This is totally wrong. We have our own strengths and weaknesses and we must learn to know and understand our own bodies and work towards a healthy and satisfying life. It doesn't matter if the 'bloke' down the road can drink a bottle of Scotch a day. What matters is what is right for you! That same person doesn't realise it, but he could have probably lived to a happy and healthy 130 years of age if he had looked after himself, rather than abusing the gift that he was given.
THE LINK WITH STRESS
Sugar consumption is very much linked to the stress in our lives and vice versa. Just as we use alcohol and drugs as an inappropriate way to release stress, so too do we inadvertently support our stressed bodies by consuming rich and sugary foods to provide an energy lift. Unfortunately, this lift is very temporary and it leaves us feeling worse, rather than better.
So, let us examine what happens when we consume refined sugar. When I refer to sugar I am talking about refined carbohydrate of any sort ‑ they all have the same affect on the body. The list includes white and brown sugar, treacle, honey, chocolate, ice cream, sweets, cakes and biscuits. Looking at the number of available sources of refined sugars, it is not surprise that the quantities ingested are so high.
The pancreas is the principal organ involved in blood sugar regulation. Pancreatic function is intimately related to liver function and so both of these organs are very much involved. By blood sugar regulation I refer to the amount of sugar in the blood at any one time. Digested sugars are one of the body's main foods. They are the main energy food and are the principal brain food. Homeostatic mechanisms in the body work constantly to maintain relatively even blood sugar levels.
When we ingest carbohydrates in complex form they are digested and absorbed as glucose ‑ a simple sugar, which is then transported to the liver. This glucose is used to power the muscles and to provide energy for many functions including mental activity. That which is not used may be converted to fat and stored on the body, or converted to glycogen under the action of the pancreatic hormone glucagon and stored in the liver. Both fat and glycogen can be converted back to glucose if required.
Highly refined sugars begin to be absorbed into the blood stream as soon as they enter your mouth. Our bodies are well equipped to handle excesses of sugar for a short time. In addition to its production of digestive enzymes, the pancreas also produces the hormone insulin. Insulin is involved in regulating excess blood sugar. When we ingest a large quantity of sugar, and our blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas is called upon to produce insulin and thus break down the abnormally high blood sugar levels. Problems begin to occur when we dump large quantities of refined sugar into our systems on a regular basis. The strain on the sugar regulating organs becomes too great. They are called upon repeatedly to perform at a rate that they were never designed to cope with.
HOW MUCH SUGAR IS TOO MUCH?
So, how much refined sugar is too much? If we look again at our cave man model, we will see that the only refined sugar available to him was honey, and he probably only ate that occasionally. His body was well equipped to handle this occasional excess. The answer to the question 'how much is too much?' is that your already overburdened pancreas is not going to tolerate any refined sugar at all!! It is better avoided entirely.
OUR OVERWORKED PANCREAS
The result of a continuous strain on the pancreas is that eventually it begins to over respond by producing too much insulin. As a result, too much sugar is broken down and we end up with not enough in the bloodstream. This is called hypoglycaemia, or low blood sugar. Hypo means low, glycaemia means sugar. When you consider the importance of sugar as a food for energy and for the brain and nervous system, you will realise what far reaching effects a state of low blood sugars can have.
Hypoglycaemics get into a roller coaster rise of highs and lows. After ingesting refined sugar (cakes, sweets, soft drinks etc.) their blood sugar level soars and this can result in uncontrollable hyperactivity. Their already tired pancreas attempts to lower this excessive blood sugar level, but overreacts and provides too much insulin. The result is that too much sugar is broken down. This causes such lows in blood sugar and energy that the person heads for more sugar to give them the lift that they need, and the cycle repeats itself over and over. Most people have no idea that this is happening and that sugar is the primary cause of their erratic mood swings, sugar cravings and energy lows.
SYMPTOMS OF HYPOGLYCAEMIA
Hypoglycaemia will cause all of these symptoms, plus irritability and depression and can cause a vast array of other problems including schizophrenic behaviour, menstrual problems, hormonal disturbance and ulcers. These then become major contributing factors in marital break‑up, alcoholism, juvenile crime and mental disorders. You can begin to see how serious this problem is. In severe cases, hypoglycaemia destroys peoples' lives and it will be present for many, if not most of the people that are not quite well.
THE ORTHODOX MEDICAL THINKING
At this time the orthodox medical opinion is that hypoglycaemia barely exists and few doctors will even recognise it or understand it as a problem. Hypoglycaemia is, in fact, in epidemic proportions. Natural therapists and open minded medical practitioners agree that it is a major problem and probably affects about 10‑20% of our population.
HOW DO WE RECOGNISE POTENTIAL HYPOGLYCAEMIA?
As with so many of our modern degenerative problems, it is difficult to give precise guidelines. Orthodox medicine creates a rod for its own back by always attempting a precise diagnosis of any problem. It either fits the guidelines or it doesn't, and you either have it or you don't. As we are all in various degrees of health or ill health, depending upon which way you look at it, strict guidelines can become a self defeating, if not impossible model to work with. The array of symptoms with many of these modern degenerative problems are just too diverse and complex.
The Glucose Tolerance Test, or G.T.T. is the standard medical test for hypoglycaemia. In addition to the test, a thorough examination of the patient and a detailed history of diet and a description of their symptoms should be taken. Unfortunately, some busy doctors just don't have the time.
The G.T.T. is a blood test performed after an evening of fasting. Next morning the doctor takes a sample of blood and checks it to determine the 'fasting' blood sugar level. After this the patient is given a glucose solution to drink. An hour after the glucose solution is drunk, another blood sample is taken. five more blood samples are taken at hourly intervals. It is a six hour test. In a healthy individual the blood sugar level will rise only slightly and then slowly drop back to normal and then slightly below normal for a short period. In a diabetic the level rises far above normal and returns to the fasting level very slowly ‑ taking maybe 5 or 6 hours. In hypoglycaemics the natural rise will be followed by a rapid drop below the normal fasting range. The faster that it drops, and the degree to which it drops, determines the severity of the condition.
Hypoglycaemic reactions vary so much between individuals that the results from the G.T.T. can be very confusing. Unless the practitioner is an expert on blood sugar problems, the results may not be conclusive. Patients with virtually identical test results may demonstrate a radical difference in their behavioural patterns. 'Hypoglycaemia, a Better Approach', by Dr. Paava Airola, has excellent information on hypoglycaemia and a series of charts relating to the Glucose Tolerance Test.
The Glandular System and the Nervous System are the two avenues that our brain uses to deliver messages to the body and alter and control its functions. Stress, of any kind, initiates much change throughout the whole system. It will cause nervous stimulation and can cause prolonged overstimulation of the glandular secretions. If the body is in a constant state of stress, the pituitary gland will be activated to send a message to the adrenals to produce more adrenaline. Adrenaline is a hormone involved in preparing us for action. Adrenaline in the system brings about many changes. It stimulates the liver to release more sugar so that the body has the energy it needs to react quickly. It causes changes in the cardiovascular supply by directing blood to areas such as muscles which will be needed to handle any emergency. The thyroid gland will be affected. It will produce more thyroxin to advance the body's metabolic processes and thereby provide further energy to deal with the stress. There will be continued change in the homeostatic balance within the body. These examples are a great simplification of the glandular processes affected. Suffice to say that chronic stress causes an overstimulation of all systems within the body in an attempt to meet and deal with a perceived problem.
Stress often causes sugar cravings. This is the body's attempt to provide more fuel to meet an emergency. Sugar cravings produce stress. Low blood sugar is a highly debilitating and stressful state. So which comes first, the stress or the sugar addiction? It doesn't much matter. What matters is that we consider the body as a whole and assist with all areas of dysfunction. We must look at imbalances in a person's approach to life and their lifestyle and in their dietary habits. Hypoglycaemia is one of the classic examples of degenerative processes caused by nutritional abuses, constant stresses and a general health destroying mode of living.
THE RELATIONSHIP TO DIABETES
Simply put, hypoglycaemia results from an overproduction of insulin resulting in the destruction of too much blood sugar and the resulting hypoglycaemic (low blood sugar) state. Diabetes is the exact opposite but is intimately related. With diabetes, our tired pancreas produces insulin that is ineffective. The insulin is there, it just doesn't work. The result is hyperglycaemia or high blood sugar.
Hypoglycaemics are well on the way to becoming diabetics and both conditions are indicative of severe liver and pancreatic problems.
DIETARY ASSISTANCE FOR HYPOGLYCAEMICS
Regardless of the disease state, the human body will always show improvement when it is supplied with good quality food. With hypoglycaemia it is particularly important to remove the main offenders from the diet ‑ sugar, stimulants and refined foods. This is the very least that a hypoglycaemic individual must do. Improvement is usually immediate. Anxiety, confusion and mood swings become much less frequent, however, it is a long programme because the affected organs must be given an opportunity to regenerate and to do this they must be free of the burdens of sugar and refined foods.
Remember that disease of any sort is a warning sign. A sign that the body is not coping. If you recognise these signs and take action quickly, then the problem will be easy to correct. If you choose to ignore the warnings and leave a problem until you absolutely have to do something about it, then the road back to health will be much longer.
SPECIFIC DIETARY RESTRICTIONS
So, in addition to the quality eating programme that we have already studied, we must incorporate the following considerations.
Absolutely no sugar of any kind ‑ no sugar, glucose, fructose, treacle, honey, chocolate, sweets, cakes or biscuits. As a concession you can allow half a teaspoon of honey twice per day. (This is maximum).
No refined grains. These are valueless, filling foods and can be allergenic and addictive within their own right. This means, white flour and white rice, any processed breakfast cereal, pies, pasties, etc. None of the proprietary brands of bread are suitable. Only genuine whole rye or stone ground loaves are suitable.
Soft drinks, fruit juice drinks, coffee and even fruit juice are not acceptable.
Excesses of freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices are not allowed. Whilst juices are high therapeutic, they also contain far too much concentrated sugar for hypoglycaemia sufferers. Cleansing programmes which recommend half a gallon of carrot juice or similar per day would spell disaster for hypoglycaemics, or anyone for that matter.
The next very important point for hypoglycaemics is to keep enough food available to ensure a steady supply of blood sugar. Hypoglycaemic sufferers are permitted to snack on good quality food all day. Six small meals per day are advised, rather than the usual three large meals. This maintains blood sugar levels.
SUMMARY OF DIETARY GUIDELINES
So, let us summarise what we have:
1. No sugar or sweets of any kind
No white flour, white rice or bread from commercial bakers
No soft drinks or fruit juice drinks of any kind, or coffee
The consumption of salt and alcohol must be greatly restricted
No excesses of fresh juices
6 small meals per day, making sure that a substantial breakfast
is included and good quality snacks between meals if required.
As my policy is to always replace whatever you take away, let us examine what guidance we should be giving to make up for those things which are no longer suitable.
A concession of half a teaspoon of honey twice per day may be given ‑ no more than this. Dried fruits like sultanas can be added to breakfast cereals. About one dessertspoon is maximum. Dried fruits can be used for snacks, but this must not be abused because they have a very high sugar content.
Only best quality wholegrain breads should be eaten. In fact, it would be better to use only rice crackers, ryvita or vita wheat to avoid yeast for a while.
3. The intake of filtered, spring or distilled water should be greatly increased. At least 6 x 4oz glasses per day. Two fresh vegetable juices of half juice and water are a great cleansing addition to the diet. In emergencies, soda or mineral water is fine ‑ never coke or soft drinks.
Snacks must be good quality. Suggest rice snacks, nuts and seeds, thin slices of rye bread, carrot and celery sticks, a little cheese, yoghurt.
5. Herb teas, coffee substitutes or even the occasional weak normal tea is fine.
HYPOGLYCAEMIA AND ALLERGIES
Allergies can often be the cause of hypoglycaemia. The body treats all stresses in the same way. Its response to stress does not vary, whether that stress is caused by a sabre toothed tiger or by an allergen in either case, the body will respond by initiating the appropriate physiological response to meet the perceived threat. There will be increased activity of the pituitary, thyroid and adrenals, and there will be an increased requirement for sugar to provide energy.
Allergic substances are stressful to the body and initiate a stress response every time you ingest, or come into contact with one. If the allergen is not removed, the condition becomes chronic and the effects of this 'relentless stress' overtaxes and eventually destroys the organs responsible for stress and sugar regulation.
ADDITIONAL SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRIENTS
Nutritional problems are always a contributing factor in any disease. With hypoglycaemia there is a major breakdown of those systems controlling the sugar economy. Primarily this means the pancreas, liver, adrenals, thyroid and pituitary gland. It is appropriate to provide ample quantities of all nutrients when the body is suffering from any disease state, however, each problem has its specific requirements, which become a priority.
Chromium is a trace mineral which is required for the successful metabolism of sugar. It is used by the body to manufacture the 'glucose tolerance factor' or GTF, which regulates the blood sugar. It is of special importance for diabetics. Many trace minerals are deficient in the Western diet and chromium is one of them. Brewer's Yeast or the more palatable savoury yeast flakes are an excellent source of B Vitamins and Trace Minerals, including chromium. Yeast, however, is not suitable for hypoglycaemics because most will be suffering from some degree of Candidiasis. Use Chelated Chromium at about 500 mcg per day.
Zinc is a constituent of insulin and is required by the body for the healing of all tissues in addition to many other important functions. It is a very important mineral, especially for hypo and hyperglycaemics, and it is also grossly deficient in the Western diet. Best sources are meat, whole grains, seeds and nuts. Sunflower seeds and pepitas are very high in zinc. Long term supplemental use of 50mg/day of Chelated Zinc would be indicated, or up to 200 mg/day for 3 months.
Vitamin C and Vitamin B Complex
They are always indicated in any stress condition. Vitamin C and vitamin B5 are specific for the support of the adrenal glands. 'B' complex is necessary for carbohydrate metabolism and therefore energy production. Also for the pituitary gland. Suffice to say that the body requires Vitamin C in abundance. One to two grams per day would be advised.
Methionine is a sulphur containing amino acid. It is one of the ten essential amino acids and is the one most likely to be under supplied by the diet, especially vegetarian diets. Cysteine is another important sulphur containing amino acid which can be manufactured if there is sufficient methionine. Methionine is very effective in rebuilding organs, particularly the liver and pancreas. It should be supplied at 200‑500mg/day. Eggs are rich in Methionine.
Vitamin E is a magnificent protector of the body. In combination with vitamin C it helps remove scar tissue from damaged organs and provides the basis for new tissue structure. It protects the system against free radicals. Best sources are wheat germ, whole grains, nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables. Supplementally, everybody would benefit greatly from 100‑500i.u. of vitamin E every day.
Lecithin Granules 98% are an excellent source of Choline. This nutrient is required for many bodily functions, especially for liver function. Two dessertspoons of fresh lecithin granules will provide around 500mg of Choline.
Magnesium deficiencies can lead to rapid drops in blood sugar. Most hypoglycaemics are deficient in magnesium. This deficiency will translate as an excess of calcium and may well result in the formation of Calcium Oxylate in the kidneys (Renal calculi). Use 200‑400mg of Magnesium Chelate or rotate.
Hypoglycaemia is a degenerative condition resulting from a breakdown of the bodies sugar regulating systems. It is caused by stress and the abuse of refined carbohydrates (especially sugars). It is the likely forerunner of a diabetic condition.
Diet must be best quality
Sugar and Refined Foods must not be eaten
Juices and fruit must be taken in moderation
Meals should be small and regular ‑ six per day
Vitamins C, B and Zinc are the priorities. Magnesium
6‑8 small glasses of distilled or filtered water must be
Stress must be reduced. Long walks, massage, meditation,
Yoga and deep breathing will all assist. Counselling will help
to overcome inappropriate eating patterns.
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