…be my little sugar, and love me all the time. (‘Sugartime’ song written by Charlie Phillips and Odis Echols and published in 1958. The McGuire sisters made it popular at the time—and, strangely (for me), ‘The Man in Black,’ Johnny Cash, also recorded it in 1961, six years after ‘Folsom Prison Blues.’)
But back to sugar…yes, it would never do to live in our world of convenience foods and not like sugar. The trouble is that sugar is the current demon responsible for the epidemic of obesity in the Western world–the root cause of high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritic joints, etc., secondary to the excess body fat produced by over-consumption, perhaps.
And it’s hard to avoid sugar, if one uses convenience foods. Food manufacturers put it in darn near everything that they process, package and sell. I once wrote a letter to Dempsters, telling them that their multigrain bread was TOO SWEET. If I want a sweet bread, I’ll buy a sweet bread (although I would never want a sweet bread). I can make French bread in my bread machine and not put a grain of sugar in it—so why can’t they?
A problem (maybe THE problem) with sugar seems to be that it turns off our ‘satiety switch’…the physiological indicator that we’ve had enough and can stop eating. So the point at which we should want, or need, to eat any more food at one sitting is thereby hidden from our awareness and consequent behaviour. We continue to eat to the point where our stomach is stretched beyond its normal dimensions–if the doctors performing gastric bypass surgery on the “My 600 lb Life” television program are to be believed. So, if we eat to the point of discomfort–until we’re in pain and our eyes bug out–next time we feel hungry we’ll need more food. And so the fat is larded-on to our skeletal frame with consequent health problems of all sorts.
And sugar is implicated in other disease processes, not necessarily related to obesity (although possibly connected in some cases)…cancer for one. It has been noised abroad that cancer cells somehow feed on sugar/glucose in our systems.
This is from the Canadian Cancer Society site:
Over the past few years, there have been reports, e-mails and websites that say eating sugar feeds cancer or that sugar makes cancer grow faster. All cells in your body consume sugar as they grow and divide, but eating sugar does not make cancer cells grow faster.
Hmmm, okay…but let’s examine that further…
I’ve read anecdotal evidence of people with certain cancers changing their diets to follow the macrobiotic diet–just for palliative purposes, to alleviate some of the symptoms of the cancer–and then after a time experiencing a remission of their disease.
But you’ll wait a long time before you can find any medical acknowledgement of this possibility. (Please note that I’ve said POSSIBILITY.) And why is that, we wonder? I just did a quick search on ‘macrobiotic diet and cancer’ and hit on this link from the U.K…
They say (the emphasis in all cases is mine):
“Available scientific evidence does not support claims that a macrobiotic diet can treat or prevent cancer.”
“Some people think that a macrobiotic lifestyle may help them to fight their cancer and lead to a cure. There is no scientific evidence to prove that a macrobiotic diet can treat or cure cancer or any other disease.”
“Some organisations say that a macrobiotic diet and lifestyle can help people with cancer and other health conditions. But researchers have not tested macrobiotic diets in randomised controlled clinical trials as a way of preventing, treating or curing cancer. So we don’t know whether they work.”
The trouble is that the earlier statement, “available scientific evidence does not support claims that a macrobiotic diet can treat or prevent cancer” indicates to me that the “available scientific evidence” is the result of investigation. Then there’s the later statement, “there is no scientific evidence to prove that a macrobiotic diet can treat or cure cancer.”
Ah, SO…if there IS NO scientific evidence, WAS there an investigation, we ask? And the third statement is the clincher, “researchers HAVE NOT TESTED macrobiotic diets.”
AHA! we say. So THE EVIDENCE doesn’t support it—but wait a minute–THERE IS NO EVIDENCE—and why not?–because researchers HAVE NOT TESTED macrobiotic diets in connection with cancer treatment.
That is my biggest gripe with the medical profession…that they somehow feel justified in claiming that something does-or-doesn’t help, OR is-or-isn’t bad-or-good DEFINITIVELY, as a bald statement of FACT, even though they really don’t know one way or the other. Because they don’t have any proof.
I’d prefer that they said, “Well, there’s anecdotal evidence that this is helpful, but there are no scientific studies to support it.” And then go on to assess whether the alternate therapy would help or hinder in terms of a particular person’s overall physical condition and stage of disease. What would be wrong with that?
Maybe because then they’d have to explain why there are no scientific studies, for or against. I hate to cast aspersions, but the pharmaceutical industry (Big Bad Pharma) would not profit from a prescription for a macrobiotic diet. There’s no MONEY in it.
And then there’s this from “Oncology Nutrition,” from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (https://www.oncologynutrition.org/erfc/healthy-nutrition-now/sugar-and-cancer/):
The idea that sugar could directly fuel the growth of cancer cells can lead some people to avoid all carbohydrate-containing foods. This is counter-productive for anyone struggling to maintain their weight while dealing with side effects of cancer and treatments. More importantly, the inevitable anxiety of trying to completely avoid “all sugar” creates stress. Stress turns on the fight or flight mechanisms, increasing the production of hormones that can raise blood sugar levels and suppress immune function. Both of these things may reduce any possible benefit of eliminating sugar in the first place.
Much research shows that it is sugar’s relationship to higher insulin levels and related growth factors that may influence cancer cell growth the most, and increase risk of other chronic diseases. Many types of cancer cells have plenty of insulin receptors, making them respond more than normal cells to insulin’s ability to promote growth.
All carbohydrates you eat are broken down to simple sugars in the intestine, where they are absorbed into the blood, increasing blood sugar levels. The pancreas releases insulin in response, which travels throughout the blood stream, and performs several important jobs…
Good grief. Trying to avoid sugar in one’s diet might produce stress at a level sufficient to trigger the ‘fight or flight mechanism’? Very bizarre statement. One would have to be pretty neurotic to experience an adrenaline rush from the stress of declining the chocolate cake after a meal.
“When our fight or flight response is activated, sequences of nerve cell firing occur and chemicals like adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol are released into our bloodstream. These patterns of nerve cell firing and chemical release cause our body to undergo a series of very dramatic changes. Our respiratory rate increases. Blood is shunted away from our digestive tract and directed into our muscles and limbs, which require extra energy and fuel for running and fighting. Our pupils dilate. Our awareness intensifies. Our sight sharpens. Our impulses quicken. Our perception of pain diminishes. Our immune system mobilizes with increased activation. We become prepared—physically and psychologically—for fight or flight. We scan and search our environment, “looking for the enemy.””
Yes, where lurks the murderous mousse, the killer cake, the predatory pudding? This is the stuff of which nightmares are made.
And what’s wrong with me that I don’t get this…they appear to be saying that sugar does not directly fuel the growth of cancer cells BUT that research shows that, “it is sugar’s relationship to higher insulin levels…that may influence cancer cell growth” AND that “many types of cancer cells have plenty of insulin receptors, making them respond more than normal cells to insulin’s ability to promote growth.”
So, they say:
SUGAR = HIGHER INSULIN LEVELS = HIGHER CANCER CELL GROWTH RESPONSE.
But that sugar is not implicated in cancer in any way.
And we’re supposed to believe that.
We started with a song and we’ll end with a song…
For a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,
the medicine go down, the medicine go down.
Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,
in a most delightful way.
I’m sure you’re right, Mary Poppins.