More Evidence of Sugar’s Toxic Effects
I’ve been saying for years that you should just say no to sugar if you want to foster good health and long life. Evidence is mounting that sugar is not only bad for your waistline, but for your health in general. Some of this has to do with the addictive nature of sugar. When we eat this highly concentrated carbohydrate, it breaks down into glucose and fructose, two simple sugars. These sugars quickly reach the bloodstream, and the body rapidly responds by sending a surge of the hormone insulin. Insulin’s job is to remove glucose from the bloodstream, and shepherd it into the body’s cells, where glucose is burned for energy.
But table sugar provides far more glucose than the body is equipped to handle easily. Excess sugar in the bloodstream is damaging to blood vessels and nerves. Many of the complications of diabetes occur because the body loses the ability to regulate blood sugar levels.
A growing number of researchers note that simple carbs like sugar activate reward circuits in the brain, much like dangerous street drugs, such as cocaine. And like cocaine, they argue, sugar is addictive. It triggers a sense of reward, followed by a crash as insulin spikes and removes sugar from the bloodstream, which is followed by the intense desire to repeat the cycle to help boost mood again. And so on.
Research has shown that restricting calories is one of the most reliable ways to extend lifespan among creatures ranging from yeast to mice. The same is believed to be true of humans. In laboratory studies, scientists have shown that limiting glucose extends the lifespan of human cells growing in culture. It also starves cancer cells. Conversely, sugar in the diet is believed to help promote cancer cell growth. Think about it: If sugar were viewed a drug—which is how it behaves in the body—it would be strictly regulated or outright banned, like other addictive or cancer-promoting substances, such as tobacco.
Yuanyuan Li, Liang Liu, and Trygve O. Tollefsbol. Glucose restriction can extend normal cell lifespan and impair precancerous cell growth through epigenetic control of hTERT and p16 expression. FASEB Journal, 2009; DOI: 10.1096/fj.09-149328