Nutrition - Sugar
( Originally Published 1954 )
Sugar as a food is used to excess. In the United States particularly, desserts made with sugar are eaten at almost every meal of the day. In some poor countries of the world sugar is considered a luxury.
In our country we have an abundance of more healthful sweets. The people hardly know how to differentiate between wholesome sweets and ordinary sweets that are processed with table sugar. Even brown sugar is not wholesome, as some people believe.
Ordinary table sugar is a type of disaccharide that does not digest as easily in the human alimentary canal as more simple sugars, such as honey and the sugar found in fruits.
It is really amazing that the medical profession does not take the scientific facts about sugar into account in prescribing diets for their patients. In infant feeding, particularly, sugar should not be pre-scribed, either for milk formulae or bulky baby foods. In this country we find too many young children sick with diseases of the nose, throat, and chest, as well as disease of the skin. All of these diseases in young people can be classed as inflammatory.
Inflammation, as a bodily pathological process, is recognized in medicine. It is traced to one or another type of irritant. The types of irritants that may cause inflammation are: (1) thermal, such as a burn, (2) bacterial, caused by germs, and (3) metabolic, caused by food. Sugar as a cause of inflammation is obviously metabolic.
When sugar is digested and assimilated by the body economy, its end-products must be excreted from the system. The end-products of sugar metabolism are carbon dioxide and water, or carbonic acid. A certain amount of these excretions is normal. When the body is overloaded with sugar mixtures at every meal of the day, some of the end-products of sugar digestion may decompose into vinegar-like compounds, formaldehyde-like compounds, or alcohol-like compounds- These products, when accumulated in the cells of the tissues, lower the natural vitality of the cells and make them susceptible to infection by germs.
The reader can thus comprehend how sugar is a basic cause of depleted health; in fact, many of the diseases that are characterized by swelling and the production of discharges can be traced to excessive sugar consumption.
More healthful sweets are honey, the sugar of grapes, and the sugar that is found in apples, pears, peaches, and berries. The percentage of sugar in fruits is comparatively low. The sugar found in figs and dates is already highly concentrated and these fruits should therefore be used sparingly.
According to authoritative sources, one of these being Dr. Kellogg's valuable book, The New Dietetics, the inflammatory diseases prevail among people in direct proportion to the amount of sugar consumed per capita.
About 160 years ago (during Revolutionary times), sugar in the country was consumed at the rate of 7 1/2 pounds per person per year. In our time the annual sugar ration per person has risen to the enormous level of 100 pounds per year.
In those former times tooth decay was not as prevalent as it is now. Yet today we have so many varieties of fresh raw fruits and vegetables that could actually prevent dental caries!
I have had the opportunity of observing a number of individuals from infancy to young adulthood. These persons have been free from tooth decay, from diseases of the tonsils and adenoids, from nasal trouble, and from throat inflammation because they adhered to diets which excluded cane sugar or ordinary table sugar. It is not good to season starchy foods such as cereals with sugar. Cooked cereal or dry cereal with milk tastes better when unsweetened.
Scientifically balanced meals should exclude white sugar from the dietaries of young and old alike. Many diseases of the stomach and intestines are also in a measure caused by excessive table-sugar consumption.
Appendicitis is a very common surgical problem. To a large ex-tent, this disease is caused by excessive amounts of sugar-sweetened foods in the diet. All the meals of the day include some sugar. Fermentation of sugar wastes causes inflammation of the large bowel and sluggishness in its action; the fecal mass remains held back in the secum, the pouch-like portion of the colon near the location of the appendix. This little blind gut fills up with fermented sugar wastes, and if the bowels are not emptied regularly and completely once or twice per day, the appendix becomes congested and swollen and in some cases reaches the disastrous stage of rupture.
The American public should be told how to prevent acute and chronic appendicitis. This can be done by educating the people in the knowledge that the bowels must move regularly every day.
Eating correct food combinations daily—combinations which need not be tasteless but which can and should be delicious and satisfying—would prevent appendicitis and the other diseases that are caused by the use of sugar.
The end-products of sugar consumption are, as mentioned above, acid in its chemical reaction. The blood can tolerate and eliminate only a certain percentage of acid wastes. Excessive amounts that may be produced by too much sugar consumption are transported into the tissue cells. This fact cannot be emphasized enough. This knowledge is at least three decades old, yet people know so little about it.
The blood-stream is a vital chemical, or rather biochemical, medium. It maintains a certain constant chemical reaction. Technically this reaction is expressed in PH value: normal blood has a PH value of 7.3. This PH value is maintained up to a very late stage of bodily ill health. Even in such diseases as cancer and diabetes the acid-base balance of the blood remains at a constant level until these diseases are in their very late stages.
The tissues are the recipients of excessive waste by-products when the blood cannot eliminate them with food alkali constituents. The food constituents that help to eliminate sugar waste products, among others, must come from raw vegetables and raw fruits. These food products are appropriately called alkaline buffers.
Alkaline buffers are known to medical biochemistry; the practicing physician receives this knowledge in the course of his college training. Yet he does not apply it in practice. This is a sad reflection on the teachers of medicine and on conventional medical practice.
If medical biochemistry were applied in the feeding of both the sick and well, there would soon be fewer diseases that are mysteries to the medical profession.
Many of the chronic diseases are considered to be unknown quantities. This would not be the case if food were related to the chemistry of healthy and sick bodies. Drugs are being so related, why not foods?
Drugs are unstable and highly potent in their effects on the body. They act more quickly on the organism than do foods. When they are properly chosen, foods are always safer than drugs in the prevention or treatment of ill health.
Foods as buffers of the blood could prevent demineralization of the bones, muscles, and nerves. The important role that food buffers play in the blood-stream is to protect the body from dangerous acid-saturation. If the food intake does not furnish adequate alkaline minerals, where does the blood obtain such acid-neutralizing elements in order to eliminate the end-products of food metabolism?
Scientific research proves that the human or animal economy is a most marvelous living laboratory. Biochemical balance is maintained in the blood system for a long time before imbalance can be discovered by objective studies. Subjective signs and symptoms of disturbed acid-alkaline relationships may be manifested before chemical ill effects in the body are dangerously far advanced. The individual (man or animal) often adapts to the imbalance, until nutritional disaster is far advanced.
It has been demonstrated, in the nutrition laboratories of Professor E. V. McCollum and others, that when birds or animals are, fed on the average American diets of proteins, starch, fats, and sugar mixtures, the), lose their mineral elements from the flat bones of the skull, the breast bone and the ribs. The long bones, the shafts of the bones of locomotion, resist demineralization for a relatively longer period of time. This points to the amazing fact that the intrinsic powers of the body protect the skeletal structures that are necessary for motion as long as possible.
Children are not different from birds in this respect. When they are allowed to consume sweetened cereals, puddings, jellos, candies, cocoa, chocolate, and soft drinks, their bone structures become de-mineralized.
Everyone would benefit by reading and studying an old book en-titled Starving America, by Alfred W. McCann, Sr. In this book, the father of our contemporary Mr. McCann stressed the facts and figures: how the American people starve because they consume refined food products, including sugar in excess. The present Mr. McCann, who lectures ever), day on a radio network, would do well to reread his father's excellent book. He might then be moved to tell his listeners about the essential food values of the raw fruits and vegetables.
In the last few years there has been an increase in the number of cases of poliomyelitis. By definition this disease is an inflammation of nerve trunks that supply the skeletal muscles of the body. It can be traced to faulty habits of eating.
Children who are fed diets without sugar (and there are many of them) are superior in physical health to the sugar-eaters.
Honey is an excellent sugar and should be popularized as a food sweetener. The foods that require sweetening are the fruits that are rather tart. Starchy foods should never be sweetened. When starchy foods are sweetened they are difficult to digest. Bread and butter, with-out jam or even honey, should taste quite delicious to a normally hungry youngster or adult. Cooked or dry cereals also are better eaten without any sweetening.
Maple sugar is used in the form of syrup for pancakes and waffles. Its composition includes a percentage of sugar that is similar to the disaccharide table sugar. Maple sugar could. be used to enhance the flavor of ice cream, fruit pie, or cake-
What about saccharine as a sugar substitute? Saacharine is a coal tar derivative- It has a tendency to form certain fixed compounds in the blood known as metemoglobin. This means that saccharine combines in the blood with the hemoglobin of the red blood cells and forms fixed compounds which are useless to the body economy. When used for a long time, saccharine may be a cause of anemia-
Saccharine has another ill effect on the body. It is recognized in materia medica as a cardiac depressant.
Saccharine is 280 times as sweet as ordinary table sugar. That is why a tiny tablet sweetens a cup of coffee or a bottle of "non-fattening" soft drink. Saccharine is often used as a vehicle in drug mixtures to sweeten syrupy bitter medicines. Since materia medica teaches that saccharine is bad for the body, why prescribe it in any form? Some authorities also claim that saccharine, when used regularly, may disturb the digestive process.
To summarize the important facts about sugar: It should be eliminated from the pantry shelves of every home. It should be eliminated from restaurant tables. Honey should be used as the sweetener for beverages, for pastries and other desserts.
There are various flavors of honey. Clover and orange-blossom honey are delicate in flavor as beverage sweeteners. Buckwheat honey is rather heavy in its flavor, but it is delicious and wholesome for baking pies, cakes and muffins.
When sugar is reduced to two pounds per capita per year, not per week, the health status of the nation will improve to an impressive degree.