From rotting teeth and gaining weight, to crankiness and hyperactivity and even diabetes, sugar is the cause of much of what ails us, whether we realize it or not.
Would you believe that the average American consumes 39 teaspoons of sugar a day, and let me tell you, this is a recipe for a public health disaster… a recipe for some serious dis-ease in the body.
Yet, believe it or not, ‘sugar’ is now being hailed as a healing substance at the forefront of a revolutionary science called Glyconutrition. Before you start popping M&Ms or Skittles and other colorful candies as if they were some kind of miracle pills, be aware that it’s not that kind of sugar that holds the medicinal properties. There’s sugar, as in table sugar/pure cane sugar... and then there are sugars, as in natural sugars that are derived from plants.
There are over 200 sugar compounds in nature, technically known as saccharides, and these saccharides occur naturally in plants. And some of them have been identified as essential to optimal human health.
Two of those, saccharides, galactose, and glucose, are commonly found in the every day diet. Galactose is a milk sugar, and glucose is the sugar that sits on your table in your sugar bowl, if you have one. You can also find it in fruits and grains.
Both galactose and glucose are broken down in the body, and are used as fuel and energy. While the body can use other nutrients as fuel, like fat, the brain relies almost exclusively on glucose for the fuel to power its intense metabolic activity.
For the major portion of our human history, our ancestors dined on mostly plants, which contained all these other essential sugars, and they were part of their everyday diet. We know for a fact that 99 percent of the diet our ancient ancestors lived on was made up of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes. It was all plant based.
Nowadays… this plant based variety of sugars is for the most part, absent from our diet, thanks to all the processed foods made with refined sugar and people are literally addicted to it and sadly, they don’t even realize it. And almost everything at the grocery store is in a package, a box, or a can, so it’s been processed and filled with preservatives. And when preservatives are put in the ‘food’, it literally destroys pretty much all of the real nutritional value.
Refined sugar used to sweeten tea and coffee and it lurks in sodas, fruit juices, breads, cakes, pastries, desserts, etc. The problem is that it has not only taken the place of other essential sugars but it has been stripped of its plant source and, with it, its nutritional value. There’s no nutritional value whatsoever in table sugar.
Meanwhile, as already mentioned, the essential sugars are missing from our diet, and they are extremely essential and necessary. One of the major things they do is to coat nearly every cell in the body and help the cells to communicate with each other.
"They are like a Swiss army knife which the body can use for different tasks," says Emil Mondoa, M.D., pediatrician and co-author with Mindy Kitei of Sugars That Heal.
When these sugars are ingested, they combine with proteins and fats to create compounds (glycoproteins and glycolipids) that allow cells to communicate with each other. And no cells communicate more with each other than brain cells do.
Glycoproteins, for example, make up the receptors that neurotransmitters such as serotonin bind to on nerve-cell surfaces. So they are critical to every thought and feeling you have, not to mention overall brain function. Glyconutrients enhance memory, cognitive function, alertness, mood, and so much more as far as our brain function goes.
They also play key roles when a person is in a stressful state. Over activation of the stress response is now thought to be the primary mechanism of depression.
It’s a scientific fact that the stress hormones down-regulate the genes and create dis-ease in the body… and these can have long term negative effects.
There is a receptor in the brain called the corticotropin releasing factor (CRF), which is a neuropeptide that is a major regulator of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal system. This receptor is a glycoprotein.
The hypothalamus is a small region of the brain. It's located near the front base of the brain, near the pituitary gland. While it's very small, the hypothalamus plays a crucial role in many important functions, such as: releasing hormones, regulating body temperature, maintaining daily physiological cycles, controlling appetite, managing of sexual behavior, and regulating emotional responses.
The pituitary gland is often dubbed the “master gland,” because its hormones control other parts of the endocrine system, namely the thyroid gland, adrenal glands, ovaries, and testes. However, the pituitary doesn't entirely run the show, because these systems all function together.
The adrenal glands are small glands located on top of each kidney. They produce hormones that you can't live without, including sex hormones and cortisol. Cortisol helps you respond to stress and has many other important functions. With adrenal gland disorders, your glands make too much or not enough hormones.
Dysfunction of the receptor is considered by many to be the core defect in depression and anxiety disorders because those glycoproteins are missing from those particular cell receptors.
Now galactose specifically contributes to the makeup of galactolipids, which are the basic components of nerve cell membranes. They also influence the fluidity of the membrane and facilitate all transactions that occur in the cell.
On the wide frontiers of medicine, researchers are testing therapeutic applications of various glyconutrients missing from our everyday diet.
Just to give you a little recap, there have been many preliminary clinical trials and research studies that have shown that supplementing with glyconutrients enhances memory, supports a variety of higher brain functions, and helps curb the stress response.
So I want to end with this... when we put the proper nutrition in to our body… our body will respond the most amazing ways. And because of our food has been so over processed, filled with additives and preservative and the produce picked green, so it doesn’t rot while in route to the store and while it’s on the shelf… all the necessary nutrients our body needs to maintain good health or to improve our health has been depleted. It’s not there like it should be.
So if you haven’t already, I suggest that you seriously consider adding these ‘sugars’ to your diet on a daily basis.