Processed Sugar Is Poison
Updated: Apr 25
We have all heard that too much processed sugar is bad for us. However, it is so difficult to turn it down when it is added to almost everything. Go down any grocery store aisle, pick up something, and look for the word sugar in the ingredient list. Nine out of 10 times, we will find sugar in the ingredient list. I'm not talking about sugar from fresh fruits. I'm talking about the added sugar in condiments, sauces, dressings, peanut butter, drinks, oatmeal, yogurt, cereal, granola, bread, granola bars, protein bars, and cookies. I grew up eating these foods every day like most Americans. We are a society hooked on sugar and it goes deep. We are hardwired to love sugar, along with salt and fat. It's in our DNA. Processed foods quench this natural desire for sugar, salt, and fat but they keep our bodies deficient in vitamins.
Our ability to fight infection and think clearly comes from how many vitamins we have. We have animal bodies and like any animal, if you give it too much food, especially inflammatory food that doesn't contain vitamins, it gets sick. This is what is happening to us. This is what has been happening to us since the industrialization of food. Sugary processed foods are the number one cause for all disease and death. This addiction to sugar is not our fault. Just look at sprinkles! How fun! Commercials tell us to eat fast food, drink alcohol, and eat processed foods. It is no wonder we are all hooked. Then, go to any major grocery store or gas station, and we will see numerous aisles of human made choices, all with added sugar, for us to choose from. We are constantly tempted with junk food that poisons us and makes us feel bad.
Sugar weakens our ability to fight viruses and bacteria, increases inflammation, creates insulin resistance, ruins our mental health, and causes cancer. It accelerates aging, wrinkles, and the destruction of our brain. Research shows that high blood sugar levels lead to higher rates of Alzheimer's. Sugar poisons us by changing the environment of our stomach and mouth. These are ecosystems of bacteria that protect us and defend us from tiny invaders and stop bad bacteria from overgrowing. These bacteria also regulate inflammation. We populate these ecosystems with bacteria from our mothers when we are born and through breastfeeding. These ecosystems of bacteria create our immune system and brain as we develop. We can change these ecosystems by what we eat and drink, what we go through, and our environment.
Protective bacteria feed on fiber, protein, complex carbs, and fat. Disease causing bacteria feed on sugar from processed foods. When we eat sugar regularly, inflammation and bad bacteria grows. This leads to cavities, tooth decay, bad breath, and gum disease. In the stomach, sugar leads to way more than digestive issues: skin problems, anxiety, depression, irritability, diabetes, arthritis, gout, food intolerances, chronic pain, frequent colds, thyroid problems, liver problems, adrenal problems, kidney problems, and cancer.
When good bacteria can't feed on fiber from vegetables, fruits, grains, organic meats, legumes, and seeds, they begin to feed on the mucus layer in our digestive tract. This mucus layer is the only thing protecting us from tiny invaders (such as bacteria, virus, mold, gluten, pesticide, metal, plastic, parasite, worm) entering the bloodstream and making us sick. The digestive tract is also where we absorb our vitamins from the food we eat. When we tell kids to eat your vegetables, we should be saying, eat your vitamins.
Weakened immunity does not happen over night. We can eat sugary foods for 10, 20, or 30 years with little to no symptoms. The body is so resilient in this way. It will fight for us and repair itself as long as it possibly can but without vitamins, proper rest, water, beneficial bacteria, rest, peace, and movement, it can only run for so long before breaking down. Most people do not realize that they are weakening their immune system every day by eating too much sugar. Even healthy packaged foods contain sugar. This is why we must be our own health advocates and avoid foods with added sugar in the ingredient list on a daily basis.
Most people do not know how good they can actually feel until they begin avoiding sugary foods and drinks. Most people are walking around with brain fog, anxiety, depression, joint pain, digestive issues, skin problems, chronic pain, excess fat, memory issues, concentration issues, and chronic illnesses because they are eating too much sugar. Cutting out sugar can be very difficult. I'm not saying it is easy and I'm not saying that we should never eat sugar. Let's be realistic. We should enjoy all of life's delights from time to time but people who are getting sick are eating themself to death. It's the daily sugar that weakens immunity and poisons us from the inside out. It's the daily consumption of Starbucks drinks, soda, condiments, sauces, yogurt, candy, baked goods, granola bars, cereal, and ice cream that causes disease. To preserve health, sugary foods should be reserved for holidays, birthdays and special occasions.
Eating healthier takes time and discipline. Discipline gives us freedom; freedom to move, think, and feel well. It took me seven years to get off of sugary foods like ketchup, barbecue sauce, peanut butter, cereal, yogurt, candy, cake, and cookies. We have to tell ourselves not to buy the things that we have been buying our whole life. This is difficult! We have to parent ourselves and practice self control. We have to find daily alternatives to sugary foods such as fresh fruit rather than cookies or a delicious smoothie with berries, greens, and almond milk rather than ice cream or a bowl of steel cut oatmeal with berries over a piece of cake. It's a good time to develop self awareness around our eating habits.
Many of us are addicted to sugar deep down but it's important that we do not feed that addiction every day because our health pays for it. When we go to sugar or any substance for comfort, we need to ask ourselves what we really need and then practice giving that to ourselves. Maybe we need a hug or a walk or time alone to move through an emotion that is uncomfortable. I know that feeling emotions can be uncomfortable but we must practice processing our emotions rather than eating them. Sugar cravings can also occur from an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the body or a stealth infection. Digestive function and microbiome test can be very beneficial for someone who has severe sugar cravings. The stomach is the foundation to health. Sugar poisons this foundation.
Here are ways to integrate this knowledge:
To preserve health, we have to eat real, whole food. Real food provides vitamins for us to function and feel well. Sugary foods and drinks leave our body deficient of vitamins. Real food includes vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts.
Read the ingredient lists and choose products that do not contain added sugar. Sugar is found in protein bars, granola bars, cereals, oatmeal, bread, sauces, condiments, dressings, drinks, peanut butter, granola, and so much more.
Completely ignore marketing claims on the front of any packaging that say it is healthy, all natural, fresh, gluten free, homemade, artisanal, and hand crafted. These are all marketing words to make us believe that the packaged food we are looking at are healthy.
Completely ignore commercials that highlight fast food, alcohol, and sugary processed foods. These commercials are made by corporations who do not have our health in mind. These corporations are focused on shelf life and taste.
Make vegetables the bulk of meals. More plant fiber will help the body repair itself from the damaging effects of sugar.
Cutting out sugar and refined carbs from processed foods while increasing Omega 3 fats can prevent, and even reverse, pre-dementia and early dementia. Omega 3 fat sources include flaxseed, pumpkin seed, chia seed, hemp seed, avocado, olive oil, avocado oil, and seaweed, algae, walnuts, kidney beans, brussel sprouts, edamame, brown rice, and tofu.
To avoid accidentally consuming a lot of sugar, watch out for the following names of sugar in ingredient lists: beet sugar, brown sugar, buttered sugar, cane sugar, caster sugar, coconut sugar, date sugar, golden sugar, invert sugar, organic raw sugar, evaporated cane juice, and confectioner's sugar, carob syrup, golden syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, malt syrup, maple syrup, oat syrup, rice bran syrup, and rice syrup, barley malt, molasses, cane juice crystals, lactose, corn sweetener, crystalline fructose, dextran, malt powder, ethyl maltol, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, galactose, glucose, disaccharides, maltodextrin, and maltose.
Replace sugary drinks with water, water with fruit, water with herbs, and herbal tea.
Use alternatives to sugar in baking such as banana, applesauce, and dates.
Replace high sugar desserts with whole food alternatives. For example, replace cake, cookies, or ice cream with a bowl of steel cut oatmeal or buckwheat topped with coconut milk, fresh fruit, walnuts, low sugar yogurt, and hemp seeds or a delicious smoothie made with berries, spinach, almond milk, ice, and banana.
Enjoy sugary foods at holidays, birthdays and special occasions.
Try cutting out one processed sweet food each week. For example, replace a cookie after dinner with an orange or apple. Start putting less sugar in your coffee or cereal. Over time, we will lose our need for that sugar taste. The less sugar we eat, the less we crave it.
Cutting out sugar is very difficult. Most of us are addicted to it. Be patient. Consider working with someone who can help with this process.
Following a sugary food, follow it with water and healthy foods such as salad or vegetables. Here is a recipe to help you make vegetables delicious: https://www.drfelty.com/post/plantbaseddietdeliciousandimmuneboosting.
Not all sugar is bad. Sugar in fresh fruit does not damage the body like processed sugar in packaged foods and drinks.
Dr. Felty is a holistic naturopathic doctor who educates and empowers people how to use evidence based natural medicine to feel better. She teaches people how to use food as medicine. She can help you get to the root cause of illness. Contact her for nutrient, food intolerance, digestive function, and microbiome testing. For individualized guidance, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more at www.drfelty.com.