Or, Is Sugar Harmful?

In the words of Doctor William Coda Martin, a working definition of "poison" was:

""Medically: Any substance applied to the body, ingested or developed within the body, which causes or may cause disease. Physically: Any substance which inhibits the activity of a catalyst which is a minor substance, chemical or enzyme that activates a reaction."
Dr. Martin thought of sugar as harmful to the human system because it fails to provide anything other than pure carbohydrate, with none of the naturally-occuring vitamins, minerals and proteins which would normally accompany sugars in a natural diet. Because of this, he believed that it detracted from the body's normal digestive role:
"Incomplete carbohydrate metabolism results in the formation of 'toxic metabolites' such as pyruvic acid and abnormal sugars containing five carbon atoms. Pyruvic acid accumulates in the brain and nervous system and the abnormal sugars in the red blood cells. These toxic metabolites interfere with the respiration of the cells. They cannot get sufficient oxygen to survive and function normally. In time, some of the cells die. This interferes with the function of a part of the body and is the beginning of degenerative disease."

White Sugar is Poison...

Unrefined sugar, on the other hand, supplies some of the additional nutrients required for proper digestion, although even that is potentially harmful by the above definition, as the required nutrients typically make up less than 1% of the volume. The raw beet or cane would provide these in abundance, but once the extraction process begins, only very few soluble nutrients other than the sugar are made available. By the above definition, unrefined sugar is just as "poisonous"!

The good doctor believed that ingesting refined sugar forced the body to release precious minerals to deal with the influx of sugar - sodium, potassium and magnesium (from ingested vegetables), and calcium (from the bones) are mobilised within the body and used in the blood, and also 'neutral acids' 1 are produced by the body to attempt to stave off acidosis.

Dr. Martin also felt that the subsequent buildup of glycogen in the liver would cause it to expand beyond its normal size, and that eventually, it would be unable to cope, resulting in the buildup of excess fatty acids in the bloodstream, which are eventually stored in the larger muscles, especially the gluteus maximus (the buttock muscles and thighs).

In the meantime, the quick "hit" of sugar actually depletes the body of energy, as it becomes "lazy" when it comes time to metabolise complex carbohydrates and fats. Allegedly. It's all looking very dubious to me.

In Other News...

There's also corn syrup, and all the conspiracy-theorists banging that drum, along with a train of people pointing to spurious biochemistry explaining how it does everything from cause heart attacks, ADHD and cancer. Personally, I think they've all had too much coffee.

I do have to add my two-penn'orth in though. Mexican coke, which is still made with real sugar, does taste better than that made in the US with corn syrup.

1 Whatever they are.
vuo says "Neutral acid" probably refers to buffering with weak acids. "Neutral acid" as a term is used as "electrically neutral acid". Non-neutral acids are ions, for example ammonium. This is certainly something different from buffering.

JerboaKolinowski says interesting, about sugar. I've a food fascist pal (a well-educated one) who maintains that molasses are what you get from sugar cane "after they've taken all the poison out". The "poison", of course, is then sold as white sugar :)

I also noticed the other day that in the local Food Co-op in Davis, the bulk sugar bin code number is 6666. Makes me wonder...

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