To Your Health: More Bad News About Sugar

To Your Health: More Bad News About Sugar

Editor’s Note: It all started with a Wellness Conference at The Peaks Resort & Spa. The talks featured part-time Telluride local Dr. Alan Safdi, a gastroenterologist who offered evidence-based medical findings for healthy living in easily digestible sound bytes. Telluride Inside… and Out attended a few sessions in the series and continues to offer nuggets from Dr. Safdi through a bi-monthy column, To Your Health.



Our government bet wrong. Back in the late 1970s, the powers that be decided to embark on a war on the fats in our diet and ignore sugar, a very ill-fated decision. What did they replace the fat with in your ice cream and salad dressings? The answer: all too often, sugar.

Some salad dressings have enough sugar added we should and could consider them deserts. And the effects of a high sugar content in our diets directly correlates to higher incidences of diabetes, obesity, even hypertension. Fats slow gastric emptying and make us feel full quicker. In contrast, simple sugars are very quickly absorbed into our blood stream and stimulate insulin secretion. Insulin blocks other hormones that make us feel full and in fact, makes us even hungrier by often taking our blood sugar below the baseline.

We were also told that when it came to hypertension salt is the enemy, but simple sugars play a big role in such afflictions.

Dietary efforts to control high blood pressure have historically focused on limiting sodium, but the added sugar in processed foods may be a far worse actor when it comes to hypertension than added salt. Fructose in particular may uniquely increase cardiovascular risk by inciting metabolic dysfunction and increasing blood pressure variability, myocardial oxygen demand, heart rate, and inflammation.

We need to focus on diets that call for eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, along with good dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, nuts and certain vegetable oils (like olive oil), and limit our intake of sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages, and red meat. Compelling evidence from basic science, population studies, and clinical trials has linked sugars, and particularly monosaccharide fructose, to the development of hypertension. Moreover, evidence suggests that sugars in general, and fructose in particular, may contribute to overall cardiovascular risk through a variety of mechanisms.

Several hundred years ago hypertension basically did not exist, but then as sugar consumption increased, so did hypertension, gout, obesity, and diabetes. What’s worse, our government even sponsored the production of high fructose corn syrup. The only place in your body that can metabolize and use fructose is the liver. If you take in fructose in excess amounts, it is converted into fats in our liver. It is often not the dietary good fats that cause a problem, but excessive amounts of simple sugars including fructose.

We should strive to eat foods as they come out of the ground or are otherwise natural. Is it natural for fish to eat corn, which is the case with farm-raised fish? Is it natural for cows to eat corn? No. Should we consume white bread or white pastas or white rice? When we harvest wheat it is brown, but we often remove the beneficial parts including the fiber and wheat germ. Eat whole oranges and fruits, but be careful when you make it into juice. When we juice, we remove beneficial fiber that lowers the negative impact on our blood sugar. Yes, you can have deserts, but consider them a rare treat and whole fruit as a much better option.

Bottom line: we were misled by our government’s recommendations from the 1970s and need to continue to reevaluate our eating habits.

About Dr. Alan Safdi: 


Dr. Alan Safdi

Dr. Alan Safdi

Dr. Alan Safdi is board certified in Internal Medicine and in Gastroenterology and is a Fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology. A proven leader in the healthcare arena, he has been featured on the national program, “Medical Crossfire” and authored or co-authored numerous medical articles and abstracts. Safdi has been involved in grant-based and clinical research for over 33 years and is passionate about disease prevention and wellness, not just fixing what has gone wrong. He is an international lecturer on the subjects of wellness, nutrition and gastoenterology.

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