As we bathe ourselves in coconut and fish oils and take every supplement under the sun, most people are coming to the realization that a “cure-all” doesn't really exist.
However (and this is a huge however), if a “panacea” does exist, it would be completely omitting sugar from our diets.
Sugar and immunity
But everything in moderation, right?
Nope. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Most people don’t realize this, but ever since the early 1970s, it has been proven that sugar literally shuts down white blood cell effectiveness immediately after it is consumed and puts the body in harm’s way for up to 5 hours. (1)
According to nutrition expert K.C. Craichy, just 100 grams of sugar inhibits our white blood cell’s ability to kill the pathogens in our body by up to 90 percent. And this happens within 15 minutes of consumption. (2)
To put this in more familiar terms, American Anti-Cancer Institute Founder Bob Wright confirms that data from a 1973 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition still holds true today: “One can of [soda] has enough sugar to shut down 50 percent of our immune system for a minimum of 4 hours,” Wrights say. (2)
Additionally, according to the American Anti-Cancer Institute:
When we consume sugar, we are simultaneously shutting off our defenses while pouring gasoline on the fire that is Cancer. When we take into account that “50 to 70 percent of our total immune system cells cannot see cancer … even on our best day,” the notion of adding it to our diet seems even more blasphemous (A.J. Lanigan, Quest for the Cures). (2)
More risks with sugar than previously expected
First off, sugar is arguably the most dangerous substance on the planet and should be avoided like the plague. Nancy Appleton, Ph.D. even claims that there are literally 141 ways sugar ruins your health. (3)
- Cause dental cavities.
- Cause skin conditions like acne and eczema.
- Contribute to hormone imbalance and adrenal fatigue.
- Deplete your body of natural energy and prevent mineral absorption in your bones.
- Encourage stomach ulcer formation.
- Feed candida.
- Greatly inhibit metabolism.
- Lead to osteoporosis and arthritis.
- Cause gallstones.
- Spike blood sugar levels.
- Suppress the immune system.
Second, the real danger of sugar is its proliferation. It’s literally everywhere.
In the words of the American Nutrition Association:
“According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the average adult in the United States takes in 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day, or a whopping 150 pounds a year, while teens pile in 34 teaspoons a day. That’s more than twice the amount of sugar we should be eating.” (7)
The sugar habit
Consuming sugar and simple carbohydrates can lead to an addictive dopamine cycle, which makes it extremely challenging to cut them out of your diet.
Research has actually shown that there is a neurochemical similarity between intermittent binging on sucrose and drugs of abuse: “both can repeatedly increase extracellular [dopamine levels] in the nucleus accumbens.” (8) In fact, sugar is more addictive than cocaine. (9) Eight times more addictive, to be precise, according to Mark Hyman, MD. (10)
This is why it's important to consume as many natural, whole foods as possible because they will trigger a gradual, moderate amount of feel-good hormones. Sugary treats will cause a spike in these feel-good hormones which then causes people to crash soon afterward.
Like narcotics, this dramatic fall back to Earth after riding high on the sugar clouds will create an intense craving in your body for another “hit.” Ever wonder why it's so challenging to eat just one cookie or have one slurp of a cola?
3 Natural sweeteners safe to enjoy
Thankfully, natural sweeteners abound and kicking the habit can be a cinch if you use these three instead of sugar.
- Stevia – By far the healthiest and sweetest natural sweetener, stevia is an herb that has been shown to help reverse diabetes and obesity. Stevia is the best natural sweetener for two reasons:
- It is a natural plant that has powerful healing properties.
- It has no calories and virtually 0 glycemic index, and when it is used instead of sugar (and even other natural sweeteners), blood glucose levels are not affected
Of the 350 scientific articles referencing stevia, we are starting to see that stevia can help with more than diabetes and obesity. The Nutrition and Cancer Journal, for example, recently published a groundbreaking study showing how stevia can actually help prevent and kill breast cancer. (11) Time will tell how truly effective this wonderfully sweet herb can be for our health and wellness.
- Raw honey – Ranking No. 2, most raw, unfiltered honey is a rich source of: (12)
- Amino acids
- B vitamins (B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid)
This cornucopia of nutrition has made honey an extremely effective wound healer. Honey has also been known to help with irritable bowel syndrome, acne, eczema, MRSA, tooth decay and a slew of other disorders.
Taking just one teaspoon of local raw honey has been shown to enhance immune function by building a tolerance to local pollen.
The International Archives of Allergy and Immunology published an article that discovered that pre-seasonal daily use of birch pollen honey decreased allergy symptoms by 60 percent! (13)
- Maple Syrup – Shown to kill colon cancer cells, maple syrup is a delightful replacement for most baked good recipes. (14) It is rich in calcium, iron, zinc, manganese and in the words of University of Rhode Island researcher Navindra Seeram:
“I continue to say that nature is the best chemist, and that maple syrup is becoming a champion food when it comes to the number and variety of beneficial compounds found in it,” Seeram said. “It’s important to note that in our laboratory research we found that several of these compounds possess anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which have been shown to fight cancer, diabetes and bacterial illnesses.” (15)
A note about agave and sugar alcohols
Both agave and sugar alcohols like xylitol have been praised for being “natural” sweeteners and many health care providers are recommending them because they are low on the glycemic index. First of all, they are anything but natural. Secondly, they are quite toxic to the body.
Ever since the 1950s, researchers have known that xylitol: (17)
- Cannot be properly metabolized by humans.
- Causes digestive issues like gas, bloating and diarrhea.
- Gets stored in the liver, which can contribute to long-term liver damage.
Agave is even worse. A great explanation came from a recent Dr. Oz article where the famed medical celebrity retracted his opinion of agave.
“After careful consideration of the available research, today I’m asking you to eliminate agave from your kitchen and your diet. Here’s why:
“We used to think that because agave has a low-glycemic index and doesn’t spike your blood sugar like regular sugar does, it would be a good alternative for diabetics. But it turns out that although agave doesn’t contain a lot of glucose, it contains more fructose than any other common sweetener, including high-fructose corn syrup.” (18)
When it comes to sweeteners, let common sense be your guide. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Stick with stevia, raw honey, and maple syrup – these three have been tested by both time and science to not only satisfy your sweet tooth but are also healing and abundantly life-giving.