Whether you are on a low carb diet or not, sugar is damaging to the body in many ways.
The following is just a partial list of some of sugar's consequences from a variety of medical journals and other scientific publications. To find out more about why sugar is an addiction and how it upsets your whole body chemistry, read "Lick The Sugar Habit" by Nancy Appleton, PhD. The research in her book contributed to this article.
1. Sugar can suppress the immune system. This is probably the most important reason to avoid sugar, whether you are trying to stick to a low carb diet or not. The information here comes from two different research projects that have been done at Loma Linda University. The research evaluated the effects of sugar on phagocytes, the white blood cells of the immune system that eat up bad bacteria and foreign invaders. To put it simply, the more bacteria consumed by the phagocytes, the stronger the immune system, and the less chance for disease. One of the Loma Linda studies showed that sugar caused the phagocytic index to drop dramatically which had a negative effect on the amount of debris that could be removed by the immune system.
2. Sugar can upset the body's mineral balance. Minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, iron and zinc are crucial to bodily functions. If there is a shortage of just one of these minerals, the entire system can be thrown out of balance. With just two teaspoons of sugar, micronutrients in the body can change radically, throwing the blood chemistry out of balance. Some mineral levels increase, some decrease, and delicate ratios are upset. So, even a little sugar can negate the effects of consuming extra calcium or mineral supplements. If you are on a low carb diet and concerned about getting enough of the right nutrients, this is another good reason to avoid sugar.
3. Sugar can cause hyperactivity, anxiety, and concentration difficulties in children. Oh, and did we mention, obesity? Take a look at Saturday morning TV ads or the breakfast products on grocery store shelves and it seems that sugary cereals are part of the standard American diet for children. Sugar Smacks, Cap 'N Crunch, Corn Pops, Fruit Loops, Frosted Flakes, Lucky Charms and Trix are just a few of the cereals loaded with sugar that are still being eaten by kids everywhere before they head off to school. Even something as healthy as oatmeal is full of sugar in those instant flavor variety packs. You may think oatmeal is a good low carb, high fiber food, but once the sugar is sprinkled on it, oatmeal is no longer part of a low carb diet. In addition, look at all the sugar being consumed by children in sodas and other products that are loaded with high fructose corn syrup.
Writing for The Journal of Abnormal Psychology in 1986, J. Goldman noted in "Behavioral Effects of Sucrose on Preschool Children" that a dose of sugar equivalent to that found in a 12-ounce soda did indeed disrupt the performance of children at school. It caused their concentration levels to decrease and their inappropriate behaviors to increase. It is important to note that in 1976 the sugar industry found it was less costly to make sugar from corn than from beets or sugar cane. Since then, high fructose corn syrup has replaced sucrose as a sweetener in processed foods and sodas. It has been shown that fructose causes the white blood cells of the immune system to become inactive and unable to defend the body against harmful intruders. Anyone on a low carb diet should watch out for high fructose corn syrup.
4. Sugar can speed the aging process, causing wrinkles and gray hair. When sugar is consumed on a regular basis the pancreas can become over stimulated and secrete too much insulin. Excess insulin can cause a drop in normal blood sugar levels and hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, may develop. Symptoms of hypoglycemia can include fatigue, memory failure, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, tremors, headaches and depression. These may sound like diseases of the elderly, but more and more young people are experiencing these warning signs. If you notice any of these symptoms, try removing sugar from your diet and see what happens. If nothing else, sticking to a low carb diet with less sugar will probably give you more energy.
5. Sugar can cause arthritis. Arthritis is another disease that has been linked to old age, but now there are many indications that sugar is playing a role in younger people developing arthritic symptoms. As mentioned earlier, a body that is suffering a mineral imbalance may produce inflammation in the bones, joints and cartilage due to the accumulation of toxic minerals, mostly calcium. Once again, the delicate mineral balance has been upset by too much sugar. When one mineral decreases, another may increase, and in some cases, excess calcium will end up in joints, causing arthritic spurs and other problems associated with bone diseases. Simply eliminating sugar and consuming a low carb diet, may result in weight loss, which will help take some of the stress off those achy knees and ankles.
This is just a short list of the many ways that sugar contributes to health challenges. It is hard to avoid sugar in foods being sold at grocery stores. However, on the Internet, you can find low carb foods, healthy snacks for a child, nutrition for athletes and other all natural foods that are not loaded with refined sugar.
Have you ever heard of stevia? It is the one sweetener that may actually be good for maintaining normal blood sugar levels, and healthy for those on a low carb diet. Stevia is not an artificial sweetener as it is made from the stevia plant. Stevia has been used by indigenous peoples of South America for centuries as a nutritional food supplement.
So, there are ways to avoid over consumption of sugar, but it takes some diligence and awareness. Watch out for high fructose corn syrup, dextrose and dextrin. These are just as bad for you as eating refined, white sugar right out of the bag.