Sweet poison

Studies show consuming excess sugar can lead to wrinkles, liver damage, even loss of limbs

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More than 1,500 American soldiers lost limbs during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. During that same period, more than 1.5 million people in the United States had their limbs amputated owing to complications of Type 2 diabetes.

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Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/11/2014 (2824 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

More than 1,500 American soldiers lost limbs during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. During that same period, more than 1.5 million people in the United States had their limbs amputated owing to complications of Type 2 diabetes.

This startling idea was put forth by primary-care physician Dr. Dean Schillinger in his Oct. 5, 2014, opinion piece for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Schillinger contends that sugar — particularly sugary pop — is a “major contributor” to the Type 2 diabetes-related limb losses that he refers to in his editorial. (Limb amputation is one of the more grisly complications of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, in many cases, is a so-called lifestyle illness related to inactivity and a diet high in refined carbohydrates).

MARIE-FRANCE COALLIER / THE CANADIAN PRESS Limb amputation is one of the more grisly complications of diabetes.

Schillinger and 11 colleagues have taken their passion about sugar to the Internet. They recently founded SugarScience.org, a website dedicated to educating people about how sugar can be toxic.

The scientists say they have rigorously reviewed 8,000 scientific papers that have led them to the information presented on their website.

Here are some statistics found on SugarScience.org that are bound to make you think twice about how much sugar you consume and the way you consume it:

  • Too much fructose can damage your liver just the way too much alcohol can. (Fructose, the sugar found in fruit, is often isolated from fruit and added to processed foods under the guise of “natural” sugar. Fructose is the only sugar processed in the liver.)
  • About 31 per cent of adults and 13 per cent of kids suffer from non-alcohol fatty liver disease.
  • People should not be concerned about eating small amounts of fructose found naturally in high-fibre foods such as vegetables and fruits. Instead, watch for fructose and all its forms added to processed foods.
  • Sugar is added to about 74 per cent of packaged foods, including savoury items such as ketchup and pasta sauce.
  • Scientists have observed a link between sugar consumption and aging, including skin wrinkling.
  • The average person consumes 30 kilograms of added sugar in a year or 78 grams of sugar daily.
  • The World Health Organization recommends that sugar make up no more than 10 per cent of a person’s daily calories (and ideally, less than five per cent). That includes the sugar found in honey, syrups and fruit juice.
  • The sugar in one can of pop is equal to the amount of sugar found in one orange, 16 strawberries and two plums combined.
  • Using brain-scanning technology, scientists at the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse have shown that sugar causes changes in the brain similar to those addicted to substances such cocaine.
  • Eating too much sugar disrupts the body’s hormone balance. Excess insulin circulating in the blood can lead the body to store more fat than usual, particularly around the mid-section.
  • Studies have shown that in healthy people, eliminating added sugar can reduce the stress that previous sugar consumption places on organs such as the pancreas and liver.


Have an interesting story idea you’d like Shamona to write about? Contact her at shamona.harnett@freepress.mb.ca.

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