In the industrialised world, sugar consumption is particularly high during the month of December, for obvious reasons! It is, however, far too high all year round, and has been so for many decades.

In the USA, in one year, the average consumption of sugar is startling. P G Linder reports that each man, woman and child, on average, consumes 45 kg of refined sugar, 300 cans of carbonated soft drink, 200 sticks of sugar-containing chewing gum, 8 kg of sweets, 63 dozen doughnuts, 22 kg of cakes and biscuits, 91 litres of ice cream – plus whatever gets sneaked into prepared savoury foods! On top of this, there are of course, other sugar sources such as fruit juice, maple syrup and honey.

What effects does sugar consumption have on human health?

Simple sugars (such as table sugar, orange juice, honey, syrups, fructose, glucose, maltose, dextrose, etc.) almost instantly depress the immune system. The ingestion of 100 grams (3 oz) of sugar substantially reduces the capacity of neutrophils (the white blood cells which form an essential part of the immune system) to envelope and destroy bacteria. This effect begins half an hour after ingestion and lasts for about five hours – and at its most pronounced, there is a 40% reduction in neutrophil activity during the period from 1 hour to 3 hours after having the sugar.

Since neutrophils constitute about 65% of the total white blood cells in circulation, shutting down that defensive capability will significantly compromise immune competence for a time, each time sugar is consumed.

By contrast, a controlled naturopathic fast (such a fast must never be continued for an excessive period and should be undertaken under the supervision of your naturopath) during the first 48 hours of an acute infectious illness has been shown to be therapeutically beneficial, since it results in a sizeable (up to 50%) increase in the phagocytic index (i.e. how much bacteria ingested).

Other sugar related health problems

In a study of about 500 non-diabetic, pregnant adolescent women, C M Lenders reports that the ratio for the delivery of a small-for-gestational-age infant of those in the top 10th percentile of total dietary sugar was double that of the remainder of the group.

Apart from the above, plus obesity, diabetes, and ‘candida’, sugars have also been clearly implicated in the following seven groups of specific health problems:

Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease; Thrombophlebitis and Peripheral Vascular Disease; Gastric Cancer; Gallstones; Kidney and Bladder Stones; Elevated Blood Pressure and Myopia.

All this refers to the effects of simple sugars only, and not to the complex sugars (the carbohydrates).

And finally something positive …

In the fairly recent past, French phytotherapeutics researchers reported that betaine, a natural constituent of Beta vulgaris (common Sugar-beet), had a lipid-reducing and an anti-toxic liver function similar to the artichoke.

Betaine is white and has a sweetish taste. It acts on the methylation cycle in liver cells, promoting the regeneration of liver cells and converting the triglycerides into transport fat. It is similar to methionine, an amino acid. It has no harmful effects and is well tolerated. Therefore, it may be regarded as a good beet-sugar derived liver remedy. A German proprietary product (‘Flacar’, made by Wilmar Schwabe) contains betaine in combination with natural sorbitol derived from Sorbus acuparia (Rowan berries). Betaine is now also frequently combined with HCl and pepsin for the purpose of gastric acid supplementation in cases of low stomach acid production.

About the Author:
Dr Harald Gaier is a naturopathic physician based on Harley Street. Dr Gaier has nearly four decades of clinical experience and writes for several of today’s leading alternative medicine publications. For more information see: www.drgaier.com
For more interviews with Dr Gaier listen to PASSION for the PLANET radio or search this site for interview available on-demand.

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