Thoughts on sugar: Should it be regulated? Fructose linked to cancer and sugar to a wealth of health issues

How is everyone doing on the sugar cleanse? (It’s not too late to join us, by the way!) Keep in mind that the first 3 days are the worst. With everyone in those first couple of days, I thought I’d share some research that should encourage you in your quest to remove refined sugar from your diet.

First, in the journal, Nature, commentary provided by researchers from the University of California found that sugar is so toxic that it should be regulated as strictly as alcohol. They propose taxes on all foods containing sugar, as well as banning the sale of sugary food in or near schools as well as placing age limits on the purchase of sugary foods!

As someone who is concerned about having too much government interference, I don’t think I could support such extreme measures. However, I can most definitely support schools and families who choose to self-regulate in this manner. One thing that crossed my mind was that while alcohol can have devastating effects on those who become addicted to it or over-consume, sugar has been linked to far more health issues. The fact is, alcohol could have health benefits when consumed on a regular, moderate basis.  Sugar? Probably not.

And if sugar is a health concern, we should be even more concerned with our current American diet, “…the sugar trend is getting worse, with the average amount of added sugars now constituting 15.8 percent of the daily calories consumed by the average American, an increase from 10.6 percent in the 1970s, the researchers said.” Sugar in Diet hurts cholesterol, too.

From the same article, “Some of these sweeteners, such as high-fructose corn syrup, didn’t exist a few generations ago. Now, it seems, most of the top killers — diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and stroke — all are linked to sugar and its sweet cousins. These are additives (and risks) that could be avoided simply by ending our addiction to processed foods.”

I also wrote last year how sugar is linked to depression and another study showed that fructose promotes pancreatic cancer (and most likely other cancers as well).

Sugar makes us fat, prone to depression, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and strokes, yet we still eat it. Why is that?  We are addicted to it.

I should clarify that I don’t see it as my mission to remove all sweets from everyone’s diet. We enjoy a sweet taste, and that’s not bad. However, when you eat a lot of overly sweetened food it changes your taste buds so that you can only enjoy really sweet foods. Our taste buds should savor a crisp apple, a handful of berries, a slice of ripe melon, or a cup of lightly sweetened cocoa. I find that after really doing a good job on cutting out sweets, my taste- buds change so that I can enjoy my food more, not less. True, my readers will sometime start to complain that my desserts aren’t sweet enough, but to me, they are heavenly.

So be encouraged that by going through the struggle of removing sugar from your diet, you are on a worthy endeavor that could have lasting, good effects on your life. Plus, you will enjoy food in a new way once it’s done.

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. says

    It may be a good idea to regulate it to a point that it is no longer an ingredient in almost everything on the shelf, even if its a small amount. Not sure how that would work since I’m sure it would be abused. Maybe a warning like what you see on alcohol or cigarettes if it contains sugar of some form as an added ingredient? Maybe a skull and crossbones icon like on poisonous chemicals if it has more than a certain amount 🙂

  2. says

    I agree with the warning label. It still amazes me at how many foods have added sugars and it surprises me even more how so many people don’t even realize it!

  3. christy says

    our culture has sex and food at about the same level. and sugar is right there at the top. it is so engrained and considered normal that people think how can you eat without it ? it is EVERYWHERE. and because it is addicting and so connected to our emotions, such as food in our culture is, it would take some serious advertising in big places to cause people to think twice. people don’t read food labels. I just stared to when I got ulcerative colitits several years back and really started paying attention to what I put in my body. I read a book that woke me up to viewing sugar differently…as a drug instead of a food…”Sugar Blues”. that really helped me face sugar as not a food (which we hear and think, oh food, its ok for us) but as a drug. (oh, drugs, bad for us.) it feels different and helps change our thoughts about it. change thoughts, will lead to change in belief, which will lead to change in action. hopefully =)

  4. Isabelle says

    I wish they would put taxes on junk foods and use the money to subsidize good quality whole foods so more people can have access to them.

  5. says

    It is interesting how taste buds do change. As my husband and I progressively cut back on our sugar intake over the years (and cut out refined sugar), we now find many common desserts far too sweet for us. There are certain desserts or sweet items we used to like that we no longer even like because the sweetness is overwhelming. And we honestly enjoy our few and far between low-sugar desserts–they really taste good to us! I share that for anyone starting out–we don’t feel deprived and we’re not settling for blah-tasting food just “to be healthy.” Your tastebuds really do change, and we love our food as much (if not more) than we did before. (We are big foodies at heart.)

  6. Heather says

    Honestly, I would completely get rid of the government departments involved in regulating various industries. Why? Every. Single. One. of them works in collusion with the industry they are supposed to protect people from, and against the people, while most of the people think they are being protected so they are not at all on their guard when they so desperately need to be. I see no way to make the current arrangement work “right”. Instead, I would like to see REALLY strict, well-enforced, truth in labeling and advertising laws, as well as giving the people online access to ALL published research.

  7. KimiHarris says

    You know, I was thinking about this issue and wondering why strict regulations on sugar don’t sit quite well with me-even though I agree that sugar could be a health hazard. I think there are two reasons. First, there are a lot of differing viewpoints out there about what “healthy” food is. Right now, from the white house to the FDA, a more veganish diet is being pushed upon us. I don’t want my organic beef coming with warning labels on it, but according to some in authority, it is a “health risk” to eat beef. I think that the solution is not to take away liberties (that is, children can’t buy candy), but rather education and parental involvement. After all, Weston A Price’s last words were “You teach, you teach, you teach”. Not, “regulate, regulate, regulate”. If we were being responsible for our health and our children’s health, that would be the most appropriate way to monitor sugar intake.

  8. Patricia says

    Really don’t like the idea of banning or specially taxing sugar (because I think we should have choice) but labeling would be good. You will be happy to know that my niece is raising my great nieces (9, 7 and 2 1/2) with minimal sugar. They LOVE fruit and veggies. You should see them go after cherry tomatoes. They eat and like everything including kohlrabi, kale, collards, etc. Favorite fruit is kiwi. As for myself, in the last few years my sweet tooth diminished hugely to my great astonishment. Don’t eat desserts now except for special occasions like birthdays and prefer rich but barely sweet desserts. So sugar cravings are not my problem, thank goodness!

  9. says

    The only wrench in the works is for diabetics. On Monday, due to a drug reaction, my blood sugar took a rapid nose dive. If I didn’t happen to have a jar of Nutella in my cupboard I would have at least ended up in hospital if not dead. Sugar is medically required in some cases and it can be life saving. That said, I typically don’t eat the stuff and try to avoid it as much as possible. I’ve even resorted to making my own yogurt so that there would be no sweeteners in it. The Nutella was leftover from Thanksgiving. BTW, I’m not diabetic, I just had a bad reaction to a new med.

    I believe that regulating sugar would only result in worse crap being added to foods such as splenda. This one is a toughie to solve. More education is needed. And home ec needs to be taught in schools again so that kids learn how to cook real food.

    • Maggie says

      While I understand the need to treat hypoglycemia, refined/processed sugar is certainly not necessary to treat hypoglycemia. A piece of fruit (or whole grain bread) would treat a low sugar very well and a handful of nuts after the blood glucose is improved would help to hold the blood sugar up. Nutella (while it certainly worked in your situation) is actually not a good choice to treat severe hypoglycemia due to the high fat content (slows the glucose response).

  10. says

    This 3 days has been a great awakening for me. I pray it’s just the beginning! I’m definitely addicted to sugar – of this I am now sure. That being said, these three days have not been insanely difficult – I’ve been doing stage 3 with fruit. The low mood and cravings are well worth it. I really don’t know what to expect from this point on, but I am interested to find out.

  11. Lucy says

    I’m excited to see some research coming out that actually points to and voices the dangers of sugar! I’m not sure what I think about the government regulating it, but the problem is that most people aren’t educated enough to make good decisions. Hopefully research articles like that one and sites like this one will change that!

  12. Michelle says

    I am very much opposed that the gov’t should regulate what goes in our mouth (including alcohol) However, it would be nice if the gov’t stopped subsidizing GMO corn, which is then made into corn syrup. The reason its in everything is because its cheap, its cheap because the gov’t pays people to grow it.

  13. misterworms says

    A consumer side tax on sugar-containing products would be ridiculous. Step one would be to quit subsidizing its production like Michelle said.

    In part because of subsidies, giant food manufacturers have access to extremely cheap raw materials for processed food. Would they really be able to produce a $2 liter of soda without taxpayers’ contributing to it? How much soda would people be drinking if it was $10/liter?

    If normalizing the cost of crappy GM corn doesn’t curb consumption, I think food manufacturers should be hit with a tax on the raw materials, such that Real Food can compete on a more level playing field. I think it would be fair if the science pans out on its addictive, toxic nature. There’s no way food manufacturers should be allowed to take advantage of a substance that overrides humans’ better senses and specifically preys on those of lesser means without paying for it.

    We could shift the subsidies or taxes collected to making fresh, real food affordable for more people. I don’t see how refined sugar can really be compared to other food – it’s really more like a drug.

    Sugar has a high cost any way you slice it. Right now, food manufacturers are reaping the profits and we’re paying with our health. I don’t know if we have the collective will just yet to shift the cost but our resources for dealing with the damage are limited so one day something has got to give.

  14. Jessie says

    I’m not sure a tax would reduce consumption. It hasn’t really reduced cigarette consumption or alchohol consumption. In Philadelphia, there is a special by-the-drink tax if you drink alchohol at a restaurant or bar w/i city limits. Tons of people still come out & drink.

    Philadelphia also proposed a sugary drink tax that was really high and it failed. In some ways, I think people want the taxes for the revenue at least as much as they want them to promote a health concern.

    It’d be pretty hard for people who want raw milk legalized (which many blog readers would) and then turn around & regulate something else.

  15. Christine says

    I resist, resent, and will refuse to have any know-it-all-government nobody tell me what to eat when
    it is politically motivated. Do you really think the veggie crowd will yell to regulate veggies when emergency rooms are loaded with severely constipated customers? The sin of the heart, cancer contro-
    versy is gluttony. Parental laziness. Moderation , people, moderation!

  16. says

    dont regulate!!!! not only does regulation cost us more in tax $$, but regulation is the exact reason that many people have difficulty getting raw milk.

    now, obviously we think raw milk is healthier than sugar, but health decisions should be made by the consumer, not the government.

    we need MORE freedom in america, not less.

  17. Vikki Kay says

    Reducing/warning/regulating sugar would just allow chemical companies to swoop in and smother everything in artificial sweetners instead. Not a desirable outcome.

  18. Sarah L says

    I just heard a report from NPR that childhood obesity in the USA has gone down by 40 % in the last decade. They attributed it to less soda pop being consumed.

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