Would You Like an Extra Scoop of Body Fat with Your Sugar?

During your daily trek to and from work, have you noticed drivers acting particularly aggressive and agitated? According to some nutritional experts, the summer heat has nothing to do with commuters’ sour moods.

Eric John Wilson, author of the nutrition book, Sugar Society, said, “sneaky refined sugars in packaged foods and drinks may be contributing to the most moody, irritable, and obese nation we’ve ever seen.

“Refined sugars and carbohydrates convert to fat so quickly that they immediately overload glucose/glycogen supplies, and head straight for fat storage,” Wilson wrote. “Now you can see why, when consumed every day, refined sugars, high fructose corn syrup, and maltodextrin make it impossible to burn stubborn fat.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently reported that Americans consume 156 pounds of sugar each year on a per capita basis. Additionally, obesity rates increased in 16 states in the past year and did not decline in any state, according to “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2011,” a report from the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

While it’s no secret that consuming too much sugar provides nothing but empty calories, more health and wellness experts are claiming that refined sugars contribute to depression, premature aging, and cancer. Wilson even compared the sugars to another white powdery substance…cocaine.

“Upon further research and investigation, I found that refined sugar and cocaine are both cooked up and concentrated in almost the same fashion, and have very similar molecular structures,” Wilson said. “Refined sugar’s effects are just like a drug, because continuous doses of refined sugars cause the brain's endorphin sites (your natural feel-good chemicals) to slow production or close down. This causes slight to deep depression and a vicious cycle of addiction and aggressive and agitated behavior.”

A recent New York Times Magazine cover story, “Is Sugar Toxic?” explored whether sugars are detrimental to the body. In the article, Robert Lustig, M.D., an expert in childhood obesity at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, said, “Refined sugar is a poison by itself.”

And in Sugar Shock! How Sweet and Simple Carbs Can Derail your Life—And How You Can Get Back on Track, Nicholas Perricone, M.D., adjunct professor of medicine at Michigan State University's College of Human Medicine, wrote that sugar consumption creates an inflammatory response in the body, which causes aging, Alzheimer’s disease, certain cancers, and sagging skin.

However, the American Cancer Society reported that sugars do not directly increase cancer risk. Obesity and elevated insulin levels, a byproduct of overeating and an unhealthy diet, can increase the risk of developing cancer.

“When consumed in moderate amounts, current research does not support the premise that added dietary sugar has a detrimental effect on dental health, mental health and behavior, weight management, chronic diseases of lifestyle, or the intake of micronutrients,” stated a report published in the May/June 2011 issue of South African Family Practice (SAFP), official academic journal of the South African Academy of Family Practice/Primary Care.

Additionally, the FDA reported in The Journal of Nutrition that there is no conclusive evidence that demonstrates refined sugars are hazard to the general public, as long as they are consumed at moderate levels.

“The intake of added dietary sugars has escalated dramatically since the 1970s, mostly due to a global increase in the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, including soft drinks, sugared fruit drinks, iced teas, and sport drinks. Excessive consumption of these beverages is associated with weight gain and obesity,” the SAFP report stated.

Can “sneaky” refined sugars be blamed for depression, wrinkles, and the nation’s ever-expanding waistlines? Or is the sweet substance one component of a much larger problem of unhealthy diets, sedentary lifestyles, and overeating?

While the toxicity of refined sugars is up for debate, there’s no doubt that when consumed excessively, sugars contribute to weight gain.

So next time you’re driving home at the end of a long workday and find yourself honking at a car, don’t feel bad. Just blame it on the sugar.

Posted by Laura Swift on Aug 05, 2011