Sugar: Myths and Facts

Updated: Jan 21, 2019

You have heard a lot about sugar. It used to be good, now it's bad. Here's the truth.

Sugar is a basic organic molecule. Warning: science is ahead. There are actually several different kinds of sugar. The first one is glucose; this is what your cells use as fuel. Then we have fructose which is the sweet taste in fruits and honey. Galactose is the sweet taste in raw milk. When people saw "sugar", they mean sucrose which is 2 molecules of glucose stuck together and then replicated.

This is bad sugar.
Sugar itself is not bad. Your cells actually need it to survive.

Now here's the interesting thing about sugar--it is the only fuel your cells run on. Literally everything that you eat including any "protein" (I will have another post on that later) and any organic or non-organic piece of food whatever it is gets turned into sugar so that your cells, tissues, and everything else can actually run and function. This is especially true for your brain. This is why after a piece of candy, fruit, or even a cookie you somehow think clearer. The main problem is when you get this sugar craving, like the one I'm getting as I write this, the body overestimates just how much sugar you actually need. This is because our bodies haven't really changed in 10,000 years; basically your body is assuming that it is going to have to walk a couple of miles to find something sweet so it is adding the energy requirement to what it has already found to keep the brain working at the level of learning something.

Myth 1: Sugar causes cancer.

Read this very carefully: sugar does not cause cancer. If it did, then basically there would be no hope for humanity, we would be seeing a stark drop in populations in all "industrialized" countries caused by cancer, and basically everyone involved in the production and sale of sugar would be brought up on international charges of mass murder. So given that every single day we have more people than the day before, and we are getting better every single year of not only treating cancer but having more people survive it, I'm willing to state without any doubt that sugar does not cause cancer.

Cancer cells do however run on sugar; this is because they are cells and all cells run on sugar specifically glucose. So when people try to deprive cancer cells of sugar they still weaken because the cancer cells and the normal cells in the body convert other things to sugar like proteins. This is why in cancer treatments we focus on using the nature of cells to our advantage and tricking the cancer cells into eating poison while we rebuild the immune system.

Myth 2: Sugar causes diabetes.

There has been a lot of debate and studies done on whether sugar causes diabetes. The weird thing is all the studies have come up with one of two answers, yes and no. Some have concluded that it is the sugar causing the condition because eating sugar causes the body to release massive amounts of insulin which the cells stop accepting because there is so much of it and they can't take the sugar in anyway because they can't use all of that so it just runs around in the blood. Other studies however, have found that some people have issues with insulin. Interestingly, I actually have a patient who has type 2 diabetes and she struggles to keep weight on. All of her doctors have done double takes at her labs because according to the data she should be 100 pounds overweight and eat at least 1 donut every day. Sorry not the case.

So what causes diabetes then Mr. Smart-guy?

Well, it's actually a combination of things. Sugar is a contributing factor. There are also the factors of weight, body composition, stress level, activity level, quality of food, and amazingly living conditions along with your specific genetics. Each of these impact your probability of developing diabetes. So, the best thing to do is exercise, eat a diet that works for you and is hardly processed (I do advise that you cook your food), add bitter foods and drinks into your diet, and try to moderate your effective stress level.

So now let's say that you have diabetes and you come to me for help. As far as I know, once you have the condition there is no reversing it. I have heard stories, but I discount them as hearsay. What I would do however is help you control the condition. According to Chinese Medicine, there are actually 3 different kinds of diabetes. There is the Lung type which basically creates weird and almost random areas of excess and deficiency regarding fluid and sugar because your body is not able to get things where they need to be, which is the function of the Lung in Chinese Medicine.

The second is the Kidney type. Unlike the Lung type, everything is getting to where it needs to be, the problem is a significant portion of your water supply is being evacuated at an alarming rate and it is loaded with sugar. This is the type my patient has, because this type tends to leave the person in an obvious deficient condition.

The third and most commonly thought of is the Spleen type. As an aside, the Spleen of Chinese Medicine is basically the entire digestive system. This person is almost always hungry, because at least at one time their diet was not good. This person also tends to be sedentary and very overweight. So, the stereotypical diabetes patient. This is because their Spleen is basically shot. It has been overworked and damaged and is now running at minimal capacity.

So, how would I as an acupuncturist and master herbalist treat diabetes. First I have to figure out which version of the condition you actually have. Then I pick my points; I can almost guarantee that 5 points (SP 3,6,9, ST 36,40) will be part of the treatment. As far as herbs go I always put in Tian Hua Fen which is Trichosanthes Root. This is because this herb is specifically indicated for all forms of diabetes. Depending on the version of the condition will influence the other herbs in the formula. This is one of the few times that the patient is placed on herbs for a long period.

Myth 3: Sugar makes kids hyper.

Sigh. No it doesn't. What does make kids hyper and cranky is having fun with other kids or holidays or they are just in the mood to play. They are kids. Kids do not have discipline. Kids are by nature loud, rambunctious, and prone to getting into trouble. I do understand that you might like quiet. I know I do. But assuming that giving a child sugar makes them act out is totally wrong. While I'm at it, just because a kid wants to run and play does not mean that they have any sort of mental or developmental condition. So calm down, give the kids time and room to be kids, and learn to enjoy this time.

Myth 4: High-fructose corn syrup is evil.

As I wrote before, fructose is glucose but rearranged. Your body knows what fructose is. Your cells know how to change fructose into glucose so it can be used by the cells for fuel. The problem with the corn syrup is the concentration of sugar. It's pretty high, and a lot more than what your body actually needs. So if you're looking for a lot of calories and a super sweet flavor, then corn syrup is your sugar form. However, if you are looking for volume and not necessarily calorie count then I would use raw sugar instead.

Now a little bit won't hurt you. But just like everything else, a lot of it will hurt you. So, a piece of candy, a cookie, a can of soda every once in a while like once a month is perfectly fine. It's when this becomes a staple in your diet that you have an issue.

Well, that's about all. Remember everyone you need sugar to live, but you don't need a lot of sugar to live. Moderation in all things, and I do mean all, is key to health.

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