Why You Should Limit Your Sugar Intake

Last modified on September 28th, 2013

The American Heart association has just gone on record as recommending that sugar consumption be drastically reduced. I should point out that this is in stark contrast to their longly held assertions that saturated fat is the primary cause of heart disease, and carbohydrates essentially are harmless. So this is a warning to everyone that you should limit your sugar intake in the interest of good health.

I personally wouldn’t be surprised at all if you’ll continue to see these ongoing shifts in policy, up to the point where the policy has completely changed to recommend that refined carbohydrates be cut-out or severely limited as well. I mean, if the research ultimately shows that refined carbohydrate (including sugar) was the significant contributor to obesity, diabetes and heart disease, and the official position of the AHA was that these foods should form the basis of all heart-healthy diets, there could be a pretty a big problem for someone.

12 responses to “Why You Should Limit Your Sugar Intake”

  1. Alex says:

    Well I wouldn’t necessarily follow the recommendation of the AHA or any other official body as to what I need to eat less or more of. My understanding is that they are very closely involved with the food industry and their first priority is not people’s health.
    My common sense tells me that anything that has been highly processed, contains more than 5 ingredients, or ingredients that I don’t recognize shouldn’t go inside my body…

  2. VancityAllie says:

    I got a newsletter the other day that eating red meat (or eating meat frequently during the week or daily) is the leading cause to heart disease, cancer and obesity.

    Truth or no?

    Seems to be like sugar is so much more common in diets these days than meat…

  3. Duane Storey says:

    Depends who you believe. I absolutely 100% don’t believe that at all. Based on everything I’ve read, excess insulin is the prime culprit in heart disease, and it’s typically caused by diets high in carbohydrates, specifically refined. Also, red meat has a bad rep — if you took a porterhouse steak for example, more than half of the fat in it is unsaturated (i.e. good for you).

  4. Alex says:

    That’s the problem: who do you believe, right?
    I don’t know if you guys have heard of a book called ‘The China Study’. In this book Dr Campbell’s exposes the problems with sugar, refined carbs and animal products and their effects on one’s health. It’s really worth reading if you want to hear a different opinion.

    I know this subject causes a lot of controversy but there are some people out there who have been able to reverse serious diseases like diabetes and cancer by going on a plant-based diet and eliminating processed food completely. So no more meat, egg, dairy, refined sugar, refined carbs, etc…

    I’m thinking about Kris Carr who made this great doc called ‘My crazy sexy cancer’ (you can check out the trailer on youtube). Another documentary called ‘Reversing diabetes in 30 days’ (featuring Woody Harrelson, sorry I only mention it because I love that actor!) is also really interesting. They show how they took a bunch of diabetics in this health centre, put them on a plant based diet for 30 days and most of them were able to go off insulin after a couple of weeks! They were all off insulin when they left the centre. It took them 30 days! When you think that most diabetics are on insulin their whole life, go obese (insulin is a growth hormone), end up getting limbs amputated, go blind etc. it sounds like there is something wrong with occidental medicine, doesn’t it?

    I don’t really like talking about the science behind it because I am not an expert but I am very wary of what official bodies have to say…

  5. Duane Storey says:

    Well, first, if you’re on insulin your whole life, then you’re usually a type I diabetic, and they will always be on insulin as their pancreas no longer functions. The group you are talking about are insulin-dependent type-II diabetics. Type II diabetes is characterized primarily by a resistance to insulin, which ultimately causes blood glucose to be elevated. To counter this, many type II diabetics have to inject additional insulin to get their blood glucose down.

    Most vegetables are high in fiber, which is indigestible. So in a lot of ways a vegetable-only diet is a low carbohydrate diet (also because protein stimulates insulin, and once you remove protein, you lower insulin levels in the blood). If we’re including fruit, then most fruits are high in carbohydrates, and stimulate insulin to some degree. So I imagine you’d get mixed results with fruit in your diet.

    Many type II diabetics can come off of insulin by losing weight (since insulin resistance goes up with weight typically). In addition, the gold standard for treating insulin resistance is basically a low carbohydrate diet, which ultimately would lead to a decrease in symptoms for type II diabetics (and in many cases, the ability to stop injecting insulin).

    The most successful diet ever conceived for losing weight consists of nearly 100% fat. Since fat doesn’t stimulate insulin at all, the insulin in the blood goes down and the body starts processing fat quickly. In fact, for people that don’t have some type of insulin resistance already, a 100% fat diet is supposedly dangerous due to the speed with which fat is burned. Protein stimulates insulin moderately, so as you start adding protein into the diet, it becomes harder to lose weight. Carbs stimulate insulin directly, so diets that are predominantly made up of carbohydrates are ineffective for many people (and in fact, many studies have shown that the amount of fat lost in the diet, as a percentage of total weight lost, is inversely related to the amount of carbs in the diet – to say it another way, the more carbs in the diet, the more muscle your body will cannibalize in order to meet its energy requirements, probably because the insulin in the blood prevents the body from pulling out fat from the fat cells).

    Also, you need protein to survive. You can remove it from your diet for a while, but eventually your muscles will start breaking down. You can get protein from plant sources such as tofu and some nuts, but you have to work at it (I’m told).

  6. Alex says:

    Are you talking about the Atkins Diet? Sure you’ll lose wait by following it but being slim doesn’t mean being healthy…
    Meat is a very difficult food to digest, it takes about 8 hours to go through the human digestive system, uses up a lot of energy and, as we are unable to break it all down, some remains will rot in the colon (hello, colon cancer). The fat contained in meat and dairy is responsible for clogging the arteries and provoking heart diseases. This food is also the only one that has cholesterol (which we don’t need by the way, because we produce our own).
    Furthermore, meat dairy and egg based food as well as processed food are acid-forming which causes decalcification of the bones and promotes the development of cancerous cells.
    Going on a plant based diet doesn’t mean living on fruit and vegetables only. Nor does it mean that you don’t get any proteins or fat. In fact you get proteins from every plant except from fruit and vegetable oils. I don’t know where this obsession comes from but we don’t need anywhere near as much proteins as we all seem to believe (we are a society of excess). Plant based foods includes nuts, beans, root vegetables, whole grains and sprouts which are the base for a lot of nutritious and tasty dishes.
    Regarding carbs I’ll quote Brendan Brazier in the Thrive Diet: “Carbohydrates is abundant, present in most foods to at least some degree. For inactive people, a regular diet will supply the body with all the carbohydrates it needs. For active people, however, increased dietary carb is essential for maintaining energy levels and replenishing muscles post-exertion. Carbs also assists in the digestion and utilization of all other foods.
    Carbs are made-up of 3 components: sugar, starch and fiber. When grains are refined, the fiber is removed, increasing the percentage of starch and sugar. These are ‘bad’ carbs. Unfortunately, they are the ones most plentiful in the typical North American diet of refined carbs. White bread, pasta, donuts, and other such foods make up the vast majority of the average American’s carb intake. Fiber-rich whole grains and fruit in particular, on the other hand, are ‘good’ carbs, needed by the body in order to be healthy and function optimally. And, as you know, optimal health leads to optimal, lean body composition. In addition, refined, processed carbs cause inflammation to develop in the body. Inflammation is the precursor to visible signs of premature aging.
    In contrast, carbs derived from raw fruits helps reduce inflammation, contributing to quicker recovery from exercise and slowing biological aging.
    The first symptoms exhibited by people who limit healthy carbohydrates for a prolonged period are mental lethargy and increased general fatigue. If a carb-restrictive diet is maintained for an extended period, it can lead to internal organ damage and ironically , a reduction in lean muscle and the accumulation of excess body fat. Complex carbs derived from whole grains are an excellent source of fuel for the muscle and the brain”.

    (I can’t believe I just typed all that!)

    I am not saying that everybody should go vegan, or that being vegan means being healthy (fries are vegan) but I definitely believe that there is a lot of misconceptions about plant-based diet and a big powerful industry (the meat and dairy industry) that benefits from those misconceptions.

  7. Alex says:

    And I would not recommend the Atkins diet to anyone! (by the way I meant ‘weight’, not ‘wait’ earlier 😉 )

  8. Alex says:

    Oh and (I promised I am done after that), most people who suffer from type 2 diabetes end up taking insulin their whole life.
    And as crazy as it sounds, type 1 diabetes can be controlled with a plant based diet, much better than with insulin injection…

  9. Duane Storey says:

    No offense, but a lot of what you are quoting isn’t backed by any scientific research. Many populations survive on extremely high fat/protein diets (the inuit in Canada for example), and they have basically no heart disease at all.

    Meat is a very difficult food to digest, it takes about 8 hours to go through the human digestive system, uses up a lot of energy and, as we are unable to break it all down, some remains will rot in the colon (hello, colon cancer).

    Well, pretty much everything takes 8 hours to do through the digestive system. Colon cancer has several theories about its cause, and meat is only one of those theories. HIgh carbs is the other. It’s way too soon to tell.

    The fat contained in meat and dairy is responsible for clogging the arteries and provoking heart diseases.

    That’s absolutely not true. There’s almost no scientific evidence that fat leads to clogged arteries. In fact, some unsaturated fats raised HDL cholesterol, which is thought to help reverse heart disease. Almost all of the recent research shows that high insulin levels leads to heart disease, which is why many type II diabetics also end up having heart diseases.

    In contrast, carbs derived from raw fruits helps reduce inflammation, contributing to quicker recovery from exercise and slowing biological aging.

    There are lots of things in vegetables that help reduce inflammation, namely antioxidants, but those are in no way related to the carbs in the food itself.

    The first symptoms exhibited by people who limit healthy carbohydrates for a prolonged period are mental lethargy and increased general fatigue. If a carb-restrictive diet is maintained for an extended period, it can lead to internal organ damage and ironically , a reduction in lean muscle and the accumulation of excess body fat.

    You’re gonna have to post some links to research that supports that, but I’ve never read anything to that affect. The body is fully capable of running without any form of carbohydrates. In the absence of carbs, the body will break down fat and form ketone bodies. Those ketone bodies can be used by almost every organ. Some organs run far more efficiently on ketones than glucose — for example, the heart. For the organs that don’t like ketones, namely the brain, the body is capable of creating glucose through a process known as gluconeogenesis. While people who give up carbs for a few days may feel tired, it’s typically only because the body isn’t used to sustain itself on primarily fat. Once the enzymes in the body adjust, most people report increased energy levels, not decreased.

    I don’t believe your second point at all. Most carbohydrate restricted diets preserve lean muscle mass, not decrease it.

  10. Duane Storey says:

    Type I diabetics require insulin. End of story. You may be able to decrease the amount of insulin by changing your diet, but they’ll always need to inject insulin. You can’t change that, no matter what you may have read.

  11. Alex says:

    First of all, there is no question that different foods take different time to digest: fruit takes about 30 minutes, meat take about 8 hours, and the other food groups take between 3 to 5 hours. Did you ever feel like you need a nap after having a lunch at a steak house? That’s because your body is using up all the energy to digest the meat. You don’t feel that way after eating a veggie burger, do you?

    Regarding your point on carbs, unless you solely live on meat and dairy you will find carbs in pretty much everything you eat. I don’t know where you source your information but I’m getting the impression that you are saying that a diet based on meat and animal fat generally is the best way to prevent heart disease and a bunch of other stuffs… which, I’m sorry, makes no sense to me.
    I think that the reason why the Atkins diet got so popular (and apparently still is) is because people found that by following it they could eat as much meat and cheese as they wanted as long as they avoided carbs, and they would lose weight. Sure it works but what’s the point in being thin if you are literally setting yourself up for serious health problems along the line?

    As I said before, I am not going to get into more scientific details because I am not a specialist. I believe my sources based on my common sense and I guess our common senses differ. And that’s fine.

    I am happy to give you some references if you want to read different points of view:
    -‘The China Study, by Dr. T. Colin Campbell
    -‘Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes’, ‘The Cancer Survivor’s Guide’, ‘Eat Right, Live Longer’ by Dr Neal Barnard
    -‘The Thrive Diet’, by Brendan Brazier

  12. Duane Storey says:

    I get most of my information from research studies on pubmed.com. Feel free to browse them.

    I’m not advocating that people eat a strictly meat diet, but I am saying a very large portion of the population will see improvements in cholesterol and body weight by replacing carbohydrates with either protein or fats. And in terms of your example, many people will become tired after a high carb/protein meal (including your vegetarian example). It’s typically not because your body is processing the food, it’s because your insulin levels have spiked and are pushing that food into fat stores instead of your muscle cells, causing you to feel tired. Try eating 500 calories of potato for a meal and see how you feel an hour later, and then compare that to 500 calories of cream cheese the next day.

    What you’re missing about the Atkin’s diet is that many big universities (including Duke, which is a prestigious medical school) not only showed it worked for weight loss, but that cholesterol goes DOWN on it. And since cholesterol is the number one predictor for heart disease, basically Atkin’s is a better diet for your heart than a normal moderate carbohydrate diet. So I’m sorry if it doesn’t make sense to you — that’s what the research shows.

    Believe it or not, prior to 1970 or so, most people who used common sense thought bacon and eggs were the best breakfast food. That changed sometime around 1977 when the government intervened and said fats were bad for you (even though the research never showed it, and still doesn’t show that). The link was made on a massive leap of faith based on circumstantial evidence relating saturated fats to high cholesterol. But those links have basically been refuted over the years, making the initial recommendation mute.

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