How Sugar Disables Your Immune System

How Sugar Disables Your Immune System

One of the easiest strategies to preserve immune function is to avoid refined sugar. Sugar has a significant disabling effect on our immune system which means, if you’re consuming it, you are more at risk of picking up what’s going around – and less able to fight something off should you catch it. In a nutshell, sugar has a negative impact on our immunity due to it’s similarity in structure to vitamin C which – when taken up instead of vitamin C – renders white blood cells (WBCs) vulnerable. Let me explain that in a bit more detail. Sugar Blocks Vitamin C In order to get why this is such a big deal it is important to understand the role of Vitamin C in healthy immune function and the way our body uses it, and therefore how detrimental it is when sugar affects this. Firstly, WBCs (especially phagocytes and t-cells) accumulate 50-80 times more Vitamin C than the blood they’re carried in – and for very good reason. In order to destroy germs, our WBCs produce highly toxic free radicals with which to destroy these bugs. To be more specific – in response to invading microorganisms (i.e. bacteria or viruses), phagocytic* WBCs actually release non-specific toxins, such as superoxide radicals, hypochlorous acid (‘bleach’), and peroxynitrite; these reactive oxygen species kill microorganisms but, in the process, can damage the WBCs themselves[1]. The accumulation of vitamin C to extremely high concentrations  is in order to protect themselves from the oxidative damage these toxins can do[2,3,4]  – and Vitamin C, through its antioxidant functions, has been shown to protect WBCs from this self-inflicted oxidative damage[5].  Vitamin C levels...
Sugar Shortens Your Life

Sugar Shortens Your Life

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time you will know I am President of the ‘I Hate Sugar Club‘ but, given we’re in the midst of the silly season of socialising, I thought this article on the hazards of sugar was timely. What am I talking about? Well, the American Journal of Public Health recently published an article (16-10-14) that revealed an association between drinking sugar-sweetened soft drinks and the presence of shorter telomeres. Now, don’t worry if you’re thinking ‘telo-what?!’ – allow me to explain. Telomeres are caps at the ends of chromosomes that naturally shorten with each cell cycle. Increased telomere shortening has been associated with oxidative damage, inflammation and chronic diseases, including diabetes. Basically the shorter the telomeres, the shorter the life of the cell… and ultimately you. This study included 5,309 men and women between 20-65 years of age enrolled in the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and the researchers: Analysed the participants 24-hour dietary questionnaire responses for sugar-sweetened soft drink, diet soft drink, noncarbonated sugar-sweetened beverage and fruit juice intake Measured white blood cell telomere length (at UCSF lab of study coauthor and Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD) Researchers found that increased sugar-sweetened soft drink intake was associated with a reduction in telomere length.   “It is critical to understand both dietary factors that may shorten telomeres, as well as dietary factors that may lengthen telomeres,” noted lead author Cindy Leung, of the UCSF Center for Health and Community. “Here it appeared that the only beverage consumption that had a measurable negative association with telomere length was consumption of...
Sugar Causes Brain Damage

Sugar Causes Brain Damage

A poor diet is not good for your body, or your brain. Added sugar is one of the single greatest dietary problems we face, not only because sugar is added to so many things but because it’s so addictive we can get hooked on it and actively seek it out! A new study in Neurology helps elucidate exactly how sugar damages our brain. It suggests that eating a lot of sugar or other carbohydrates can be hazardous to both brain structure and function. Diabetes, which is characterised by chronically high levels of blood glucose, has been linked to an elevated risk of dementia and a smaller hippocampus, a part of the brain critical for memory. This new study sought to identify whether glucose had an effect on memory even in people without the disease. In the experiment, researchers at the Charité University Medical Center in Berlin evaluated both short- and long-term glucose markers in 141 healthy, nondiabetic older adults. The participants performed a memory test and underwent imaging to assess the structure of their hippocampus (this part of the brain is critical for remembering!). Higher levels on both glucose measures were associated with worse memory, as well as a smaller hippocampus and compromised hippocampal structure. These findings indicate that even in the absence of diabetes or glucose intolerance, higher blood sugar may harm the brain and disrupt memory function. An earlier study demonstrated that high blood sugar can actually shrink your whole brain, not just your hippocampus! Future research will need to identify how glucose exerts these effects and whether dietary or lifestyle interventions might reverse such pathological changes. Let’s hope so! [Source: Scientific American Volume...
Want Diabetes..? Have a Sugary Drink!

Want Diabetes..? Have a Sugary Drink!

One sugar-sweetened soft drink a day can increase a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 22 percent, researchers in Britain say. Dr. Dora Romaguera of Imperial College London and researchers from the InterAct consortium analysed the consumption of juices, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and artificially sweetened soft drinks collected in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. The study, published in the journal Diabetologia, found roughly one can of a sugary drink drunk per day increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 22 percent. This increase in risk fell slightly to 18 percent after accounting for total calorie intake and body-mass index suggesting the effect of sugar-sweetened soft drinks on diabetes is not purely linked to body weight, Romaguera said. People who drank more artificially-sweetened soft drinks were also more likely to get type 2 diabetes, but this association appeared to be because participants with a higher BMI tend to drink more artificially sweetened drinks and are also more likely to develop diabetes, the study said. However, drinking pure fruit juice or diluted juices, sometimes with additives was not associated with diabetes risk, the study said. “The increase in risk of type 2 diabetes among sugar-sweetened soft drink consumers in Europe is similar to that found in studies in North America,” Romaguera said in a statement. [Source: Sugary drinks may increase risk of diabetes. 26-04-2013. Life...
Sugar is Bad for Your Brain

Sugar is Bad for Your Brain

The September 4, 2012 issue of the journal Neurology® published the finding of Australian researchers of an association between high normal plasma glucose levels and a decrease in brain volume in non-diabetic men and women. Although research has established an association between type 2 diabetes and cognitive impairment, the current study suggests an adverse effect on the brain for glucose levels considered by most authorities to be within a normal range. “Numerous studies have shown a link between type 2 diabetes and brain shrinkage and dementia, but we haven’t known much about whether people with blood sugar on the high-end of normal experience these same effects,” commented first author Nicolas Cherbuin, PhD, of Australian National University in Canberra. “These findings suggest that even for people who do not have diabetes, blood sugar levels could have an impact on brain health.” The study included 266 men and women between the ages of 60 and 64 enrolled in the PATH Through Life Study, which is a longitudinal study of aging. Fasting plasma glucose and other factors were measured upon enrollment, and those with glucose levels of 6.1 micromoles per litre (110 mg/dL, classified as impaired fasting hyperglycaemia by the World Health Organization) or higher were excluded. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the brain were conducted at the beginning of the study and four years later. Fasting plasma glucose levels ranged from 3.2 to 6.0 micromoles per litre (57.6 to 108 mg/dL) upon enrollment. Dr Cherbuin and his colleagues uncovered a significant association between a decline in volume in the brain’s hippocampus and amygdala (cerebral structures affected by aging and neurodegeneration)...
Sugary Drinks can Change Muscles in a Month!

Sugary Drinks can Change Muscles in a Month!

Sugary drinks lead to alterations in muscles similar to those in people with obesity problems and type 2 diabetes, researchers in Britain said. Dr. Hans-Peter Kubis of Bangor University in England said the research showed regularly drinking soft drinks changed the way muscles use food as fuel, making them prefer to burn sugars over fats. “This will lead a reduced ability to burn fat and to fat gain. Moreover, it will make it more difficult for our body to cope with rises in blood sugar. What is clear here is that our body adjusts to regular soft drink consumption and prepares itself for the future diet by changing muscle metabolism via altered gene activity — encouraging unhealthy adaptations similar to those seen in people with obesity problems and type 2 diabetes.” The study, published in the European Journal of Nutrition, found the switch to an inefficient metabolism was seen in the participants who were lightly active, lean male and females drinking soft drinks for only four weeks. “Together with our findings about how drinking soft drinks dulls the perception of sweetness, our new results give a stark warning against regularly drinking sugar sweetened drinks,” Kubis concluded. [Source: United Press...