(NaturalNews) While sugarcane remains one of the world's leading crops, its refined version has become the subject of escalating scrutiny. The white crystals are devoid of nutrients and have a slew of negative effects on health, including diseases such as metabolic syndrome (Type II Diabetes, Obesity, Cholesterol), brain atrophy, substance addiction, cancer and fatty liver disease.
A recent study from the American Academy of Neurology argues that even within the upper levels of the normal range (approaching 110 mg/dL), blood sugar accounts for 6 to 10 percent of the brain shrinkage in the hippocampus and the amygdala. These two brain structures are part of the limbic system, also known as the emotional brain. They regulate autonomic and endocrine functions and affect associative learning, focus, memory, and fight or flight responses. Shrinkage in these areas leads to depression, mood swings, rage, aggression, Alzheimer's and other dementia and emotional diseases.
Over one-third of Americans are affected by insulin resistance, which is attributed to the excessive consumption of sugar and other refined carbohydrates. Such foods trigger the pancreas for a constant supply of insulin to reduce glucose levels in the bloodstream. The continuous flow of insulin in the body causes disruptions to the cells and results in insulin resistance. A recent study from the Mt. Sinai Journal of Medicine found insulin resistance to be an underlying cause of Metabolic Syndrome (MetS), a condition affecting 50 million Americans. MetS is a combination of health factors that includes high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterols, elevated blood pressure, and abdominal obesity.
Induces drug-like dependency
A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information supports the mounting belief amongst health practitioners about the addictive nature of sugar, explaining that even sugar's intermittent use can lead to behavioral and neurochemical changes, which mimic the effects of substance abuse. Depending on the level of sugar dependency, addiction can manifest four components: bingeing, withdrawal, craving, and cross-sensitization with drugs of abuse such as amphetamine and cocaine. Sensitization to sugar also increases hyperactivity and the intakes of other substances from cross-sensitization.
Feeds malignant cells
The prominence of sugar in cancer cells prompted a new study in September 2013 from the University of Copenhagen, which found sugar molecules to be assisting in the growth of malignant cells by binding to them in a process called glycosylation.
Fatty liver disease
The liver is responsible for digesting the foods and drinks we consume, cleansing the blood, and storing enzymes and glycogen for later energy expenditures. While fruits and vegetables are rich in complex sugars and metabolize slowly, processed foods and sugary sweets inundate the liver with a heavy rush of glucose. The excess sugars are then stored as fat, gradually causing progressive problems starting with fatty liver (fat deposits), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (inflammation), and the more advanced stage non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (severe inflammation and scarring). In the absence of a diet change, disease will eventually progress to cirrhosis or liver cancer.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, Americans consume 156 pounds of sugar each year. That figure is predicted to increase, as manufacturers entice our appetites with added sugar in their packaged foods and drinks that already account for over 80 percent of this sugar consumption.
"In the 21st century, a different kind of slavery is being fought. There are a billion overweight people on the planet, 300 million who are clinically obese. The Big Sugar diet is all they can afford, it enslaves them." To free them, Marion Nestle, the Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition and Food Science at New York University, said: "Big Sugar must be prosecuted like Big Tobacco."
About the author: Anita is a researcher, a writer and a passionate believer in the healing power of food. Using her culinary skills and amateur photography, she regularly creates new recipes and shares her techniques on her food blog at www.myfreshlevant.com. Questions and suggestions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org