William Duffy’s bestselling book, Sugar Blues, published more than 30 years ago, raised America’s awareness about sugar addiction and its prevalence in our diet. Duffy pointed out the connection between physical and mental illnesses and sugar consumption. He also taught his followers to read labels, to discover that sugar was added to our canned fruits and vegetables, drinks, crackers, bread, soups, and to nearly every processed food. But Duffy wasn’t the first. The hazards of refined sugar have been known since the late 1700s.
Refined table sugar comes from two sources: sugar cane or sugar beets. Sugar cane is crushed to extract its juice. The juice is boiled until it thickens into syrup. The syrup goes through multiple processes that purify it and separate the sugar crystals. It may be treated with phosphoric acid and/or calcium hydroxide and carbon dioxide, and filtered through activated carbon or bone char. The final result leaves pure sucrose crystals void of color.
Beets are washed, sliced, and soaked in hot water to remove their juice. The juice then goes through several steps for purification, much like cane juice, until it too is reduced to sucrose crystals.
Refined sugar is void of all nutrition. All of the vitamins and minerals once present in the sugar cane or sugar beet have been removed. In order for our bodies to digest and detoxify from sugar ingestion and regain proper ph (refined sugar is acid forming), the body must pull vitamins and minerals from the bones, teeth, and organs. The reason excessive sugar intake leads to tooth decay is because it leaches calcium from the teeth and bones. It also kills off the symbiotic bacteria in our intestines which produce B vitamins.
Nancy Appleton, PhD, author of Lick the Sugar Habit explains why sugar is linked to allergies. “Sugar suppresses the immune system – but first it depletes minerals. Minerals become deficient and we can’t digest food because every enzyme needs minerals to work. Some of this food that can’t be digested gets into the bloodstream. The body reacts to this putrefied spoiled food and decides this is the problem and becomes allergic to the proteins in this food just because it could not be properly digested.”
Sugar cane and sugar beets in their natural state do contain vitamins and minerals. Sugarcane juice is the least processed product of the sugar cane.
It contains protein, iron, phosphorus, vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, and C, calcium, and chromium. In Asian countries and India it is poured over ice and sold as a drink. For use
as a sweetener it is pressed from the cane and heated with lime to remove impurities.
The first two times sugar cane juiceis boiled the by-product is a light sweet molasses known as fancy or sulfured molasses. The third boiling produces blackstrap molasses, a very dark dense molasses rich in vitamins and minerals. One tablespoon contains 20% of the U.S. RDA of calcium, magnesium, and iron. The molasses from sugar cane is sold in all three varieties for human consumption. The molasses from sugar beets is not fit for human consumption; it is sold for animal feed.
Raw sugar is processed sugar. It may have minimal or no chemical processing, but generally is processed about half as much as refined sugar. It is dark in color because it still contains some molasses.
Brown sugar is white refined sugar coated with molasses syrup.
For many years the health food stance was “no sugar is a good sugar.” The recent organic movement has brought us “better sugar choices” from organic cane juice and raw organic sugar to organic agave nectar and organic honey. Is there a better sugar or should we avoid them all?
Common sense tells us that the more natural and unrefined the source, the more “whole” the source, the better we can digest and utilize its nutrients. This approach suggests cane juice is preferable to raw sugar and raw sugar preferable to refined sugar. But considering the fact that refined sugar is no better than a poison, is this saying much?
If you suffer from an overgrowth of Candida (yeast), it is best to avoid all sugars until you regain a proper balance of bacteria to yeast in your system. If you are acutely ill with a bacterial or viral infection, the same is true. Refined sugar promotes and feeds bacteria, candida, viruses, and parasites.
If you have cancer, realize that simple sugars feed cancer. In fact, Dr. Appleton reminds us that sugar feeds cancer so well it is used to diagnose tumors. Patients are given an injection of radioactively labeled glucose before a PET scan. This sugar injection helps to locate tumors because cancer cells absorb more sugar than normal body tissue cells.
While Doc Shillington agrees that the less processed the better, he also tells us that sugar shuts down the immune system. “Each time you eat sugar, the immune system takes a few days to recover and start working well again.”
While we can find a vast amount of research proving the link with refined sugar and disease, we are unable to find research to support the belief that eating cane juice,agave nectar, maple syrup, and other such products is harmless.
What we can suggest is a common sense approach. No refined sugar is good for you. It is poisonous to the body and leads to disease. Avoid it.
Once you eliminate processed foods and hidden sugars from your diet, the true taste of food shines through. For instance, rolled oats have a delicate nutty flavor. Real oatmeal is delicious. If you want to sweeten it, add raisons, dates, or other fruit.
When you use sweeteners, remember to choose nutrient dense sweeteners—sparingly. Strive to maintain even blood sugar levels. Every steep rise in blood sugar is followed by a crash. You’ll crave more sweets, no matter their source.
Remember, our goal is to eat a nutrient rich diet filled with whole vegetables and fruits. Raw, live, enzyme-laden food is best. Whether you call it poison, parasitic food, or dead, empty calories, there is no room in a healthy diet for processed sugar.