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Originally published in November-December 1997

Sugar weakens the immune system, and recent evidence shows that excessive sugar consumption is implicated in more than 60 ailments. A book called Get The Sugar Out (Harmony Books) by Ann Louise Gittleman, divulged forgotten information that’s been stacked against sugar.

How Sugar Weakens Immunity

Excessive sugar consumption suppresses immune function directly and indirectly, studies show. Just 100 grams of sugar in any form decreases the germ-killing ability of white blood cells for up to five hours after ingestion (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1973, vol.26). Sugar also reduces production of antibodies – proteins that combine with and deactivate foreign invaders such as viruses.

In addition, excessive sugar interferes with transport of vitamin c, blocks absorption or increases excretion of many minerals, and neutralizes action of essential fatty acids – all of which further weaken the immune system.

Besides inhibiting the body’s ability to defend itself against illness, overindulging in sugar may cause deadly diseases. According to Get The Sugar Out, researchers in the 1970’s presented evidence that increases in cardiovascular disease and diabetes could be traced to accelerated sugar and refined carbohydrate intake.

Sweet Hazards

Besides affecting how you feel, sugar can influence how you look. Sweets play a part in obesity because they contain only empty calories. Even natural sweeteners and too much fruit can lead to weight gain because of the fat-promoting hormone insulin.

When you eat any form of sugar, your pancreas responds by producing insulin, a hormone designed to take excess sugar out of the bloodstream and move it into fat storage. Therefore, avoiding sugar is a good way to lose or maintain weight.

Skin appearance is also affected by sugar. A researcher who’s studied the role of sugar sensitivity in acne uses the “skin diabetes” to describe the disorder. Based on these findings, individuals afflicted with acne are advised to eliminate concentrated sugars from their diets.

Natural sweeteners such as honey and fruit juice concentrates are good substitutes for refined white sugar because they supply more vitamins and minerals. Refined sugar is stripped of virtually all its nutrients during refining, and our bodies have to use some of our own mineral reserves to digest it.

To lose weight, boost immunity or reduce your risks of disease, start slashing the sugar in your diet by following these guidelines from Get The Sugar Out:

  • Eliminate refined white sugar from your diet. Use natural sweeteners such as date sugar, maple syrup, honey, molasses and barley malt in place of refined sugar.
  • Avoid using artificial sweeteners, which are associated with unpleasant side effects and health risks.
  • Read food labels and try to keep your total daily intake of sugars to under 40 grams. If you have immune dysfunction or any type of serious ailments, keep your daily intake below 20 grams.
  • Avoid sugar-rich processed foods. Instead, emphasize unrefined whole foods such as fish, lean meats, whole grains, legumes and vegetables.
  • Choose sweets that have less than five grams of sugars per serving and preferably ones that contain blood sugar-balancing fiber, protein and fat to slow down the release of sugar in your system.
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth mainly with natural, sugar-rich, fresh fruit and sweet vegetables in moderate amounts – no more than two or three servings daily.