Cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes were virtually unknown in the early 1900's, yet they have begun to dominate as the top ten killer diseases in modern Singapore. This is not surprising however as sugar has been infused within a plethora of food products over the turn of the century. Currently, sugar can be found ubiquitously in processed food products sold all over Singapore which include breakfast cereals, bread, sauces (ketchup, chilli sauces), peanut butter and other bread spreads such as jam and margarine, and a wide selection of microwave meals (commonly available in convenience stores such as 7-Eleven). Is sugar truly the bane of a modern day Singaporean? We shall find out shortly.


First and foremost, sugar elevates insulin levels. What is insulin any way? It is an important hormone produced by the pancreas to promote glucose absorption by bodily tissues. Regular consumption of sugary substances would increase insulin resistance as cells are attempting to defend themselves from the toxic effects of excessive insulin. Over a period of time, the pancreas will release more insulin to circumvent the resistance brought up by the cells. Unfortunately, the pancreas would eventually deteriorate leading to the onset of Type II Diabetes. A person suffering from Type II Diabetes would be unable to respond appropriately to insulin and the overabundance of insulin present in the body would heighten the risk of kidney failure and even heart disease. Insulin resistance syndrome, formally known as Syndrome X, has been found in families with a history of early heart disease.


Insulin resistance can also deplete magnesium stores as insulin is responsible for the storage of magnesium within bodily tissues. Once cells become resistant, magnesium is lost through urination. Without sufficient magnesium, blood vessels begin to constrict, causing a phenomenal rise in blood pressure. On the other hand, sodium absorption will be augmented, leading to the rise of fluid retention (edema). Edema is a precursor for high blood pressure and congestive heart failure.


Additionally, recent studies proclaimed that obese children, who are most likely to have supernormal levels of insulin, have an equally high amounts of homocysteine. Homocysteine is notorious for causing heart disease, stroke and even birth defects.


It is widely known that insulin is a primary hormone essential for regulating anabolic hormones such as testosterone, progesterone and growth hormone. As insulin resistance has a subtle influence over the anabolic process, the impaired production of anabolic hormones would mitigate bone formation as calcium excretion increases.


A spike in sugar levels would result in the excessive production of insulin. Aside from aiding glucose assimilation, insulin encourages the storage of fat thus increasing triglyceride levels. High amount of triglycerides within the body would effectuate the nascency of stroke. In fact, people who have 200 mg of triglycerides per dl of blood were more prone to strokes (both ischemic stroke and transient ischemic stroke) and cardiovascular disease. Fortunately, high triglyceride levels are easily remedied by radically reducing the amount of simple sugars and grains present in one's diet. Substitute the aforementioned food items with green leafy vegetables for example, which has a low glycemic index. Another simplistic way of reducing triglyceride levels is ample exercise.


White blood cells require high amounts of vitamin C to combat invading viruses that assail the body. As glucose and vitamin C share a strikingly similar chemical structure, they would compete with one another upon gaining entry into the cells. A high glucose concentration in the blood would prevent white blood cells from obtaining vitamin C, hence impairing the immune system. Simple sugars are also notorious for aggravating asthma, instigate mental illnesses while hastening hypertension and arthritis. As refined sugar are deficient in minerals and vitamins, the body utilizes nutrient stores for catabolism. Without adequate nutrients, metabolization of cholesterol and fatty acid will be disrupted, resulting in higher blood serum triglycerides. Obesity would ensue eventually if the problem is not rectified.


Cancer cells thrive on glucose. Simply denying cancer cells their preferred energy source would inhibit cancer growth. Thus it is mandatory that cancer patients maintain an optimum blood-glucose level through supplementation, exercise, diet and prescription drugs if necessary. The fermentation of sugar permits cancer cells to produce large quantities of lactic acid which is eventually transported to the liver. The metabolization of glucose to lactate begets lower pH values within cancer tissues, inducing rapid cancer growth. Thus it is widely accepted that larger tumors exhibit a more acidic pH. In conclusion, controlling blood-glucose levels is essential when it comes to the inhibition of cancer growth while enhancing the immune system simultaneously.

-- Julian Low

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