One of the most important determinants of our health is the level of inflammation in our body.  There are many causes of inflammation as well as solutions.  This month, I’d like to discuss a major cause of inflammation - -  that caused by sugar that’s added to foods and beverages, and also refined carbohydrates (which convert to sugar after we eat them).  I'll generally use the term "sugar" as short form for "added sugars and refined carbohydrates."

We looked at many ill effects of added sugars in our newsletter of November 2010. Just to review, the naturally occurring sugars found in fruits and vegetables are not the problem.  It's the refined white sugar (most brown sugar is white sugar with added molasses - no better), the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), the glucose-fructose, the liquid invert sugar and other manufactured forms of sugar that are the real problem (as well as refined carbohydrates).
   Are All Added Sugars Created Equal?

There is really very little to choose among different types of sugar. However, the most unhealthy is HFCS, which is in virtually all processed foods, including yogurts, sauces, breads, and, of course, sodas/soft drinks.  Don't think you can avoid problems by switching to artificial, no-cal sweeteners - the problems with most of them are, if anything, greater.  The exceptions are xylitol and stevia.

Honey is often lumped together with other sugars as unhealthy, and that is appropriate for pasturized honey.  However, raw or unpasturized honey has many health benefits when used in moderation, including as many antioxidants as spinach.  It is helpful as an aid to digestion - just take one teaspoonful after dinner to minimize your risk of acid indigestion.

   What Are the Harmful Effects of Excess Sugar in Our Diet?
  • Fructose is used by cancer cells to increase their proliferation; cancer cells did not respond to glucose in the same manner.  Specifically, pancreatic cancer cells responded to fructose in this way; cancer of the pancreas is the most deadly type of cancer.
  • Fructose that is metabolized by cancer cells creates lactic acid as a byproduct.  This generates a lower, more acidic pH in cancerous tissues as well as overall physical fatigue from lactic acid buildup.  This causes physical fatigue.
  • Fructose, but not glucose, drives up your uric acid levels.  In addition to the risks of heart disease and cancer, this introduces an increased risk of gout.  Uric acid levels can be used as a marker for toxicity from fructose.  Elevated uric acid decreases nitric oxide (see our newsletter of February 2013) which contributes to raising your blood pressure.
  • Researchers have found an association between sugar consumption and unhealthy levels of blood fats.  This includes high triglycerides, and low HDL (good) cholesterol levels.  In this study, added sugars had an effect that was independent of obesity.   Study participants who ate the least sugar had the lowest triglyceride levels and highest HDL levels.
  • Sugar specifically promotes belly fat, which, in turn, is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes as well as heart disease.
   How Does Sugar Cause Inflammation and Why Is that Important?

Fructose increases uric acid, as discussed above.  This leads to chronic, low-level inflammation, which has far-reaching health consequences.

  • For example, chronically inflamed blood vessels lead to heart attacks and strokes.  Some consider uric acid levels to be more important than cholesterol levels in predicting cardiovascular disease and overall health.
  • Cancer thrives on inflammation apart from the specific mechanisms discussed above.
  • Arthritis is aggravated by inflammation, and gout is also extremely painful.
   Sugars Suppress the Immune System
  • Studies have shown that consuming 75 to 100 grams of sugar, the amount contained in 2 average 12 ounce soft drinks, can suppress the body's immune responses.  Simple sugars, including glucose, table sugar, fructose, and honey caused a fifty-percent drop in the ability of white blood cells to engulf bacteria.  Complex carbohydrates did not have this effect.
  • The immune suppressing effect of sugar starts less than thirty minutes after ingestion and may last for five hours.
   What Should I Do?
  • Keep eating fresh or frozen fruit (with no added sugar) in moderation.  Even though fruit can contain fructose, it also contains vitamins and other antioxidants that reduce the effects of fructose.
  • Avoid juice because it is loaded with fructose and a lot of the antioxidants are lost.
  • Eat lots of vegetables and whole grains.
  • Avoid processed foods - virtually all contain HFCS, the worst type of sugar.
  • Avoid soft drinks.  Period.  That includes those sweetened with artificial sweeteners.
  • The World Health Organization recommends ideally restricting sugar intake to less than 5% of your dietary intake.  That's about 30 mg of sugar a day, and includes all sources, including natural sources of sugar, e.g. fresh fruit.  The WHO concedes that this may be unrealistic for many people especially if they eat out a lot.  They suggest the next best goal is to aim to keep calories from sugars to no more than 10% of one's daily calorie intake. 
  • This contrasts sharply with data from the 2004 (most recent) Canadian Consumer Health Survey that shows that on average Canadians consumed 110 grams of sugar a day, the equivalent of 26 teaspoons of sugar.  This amount makes up 21.4% of the average Canadian's total calorie intake.
  • Be wary of advice to consume higher quantities of sugar where the source is some component of the food industry - they have a financial investment in our continuing to consume too much sugar.


For example, this label is for a cereal, and you can see it contains 23 g of sugar per serving.  One teaspoon of sugar is 4 g, so this is almost 6 teaspoons of sugar.


You can see that the claim that soft drinks contain 10 teaspoons of sugar (at 4 g per teaspoon) is true! 

Remember, the goal is not to eat added sugars.  Check the nutrition label of everything you buy carefully - you may find more sugar than you bargained for!

For additional information, please email; or call Ramilas Healing Arts Clinic at 613.829.0427 for an appointment.  Please continue letting friends and family know about this newsletter.  Also on our website, please see back issues of this newsletter, additional information about products, order products, and see information about our Clinic.

  1. Mercola J. Fructose: this addictive commonly used food feeds cancer cells, triggers weight gain, and promotes premature aging. April 20, 2010.  Accessed March 17, 2014.
  2. Mercola J. Sugar promotes heart disease and cancer. December 11, 2013.  Accessed March 19, 2014.
  3. Liu H, Huang D, McArthur DL, et al. Fructose induces transketolase flux to promote pancreatic cancer growth. Cancer Res 2010;70:6368-6376.
  4. Kam K. The truth about sugar. WebMD Feature  Accessed March 17, 2014.
  5. Kirkpatrick K. 10 things you don't know about sugar (and what you don't know could hurt you). July 30, 2013. Accessed March 17, 2014.
  6. Sears A. Harmful effects of excess sugar.  Accessed March 17, 2014.
  7. Branswell H. Eating sugar causes massive health problems. March 5, 2014. Accessed March 17, 2014.
The suggestions and recommendations in this newsletter are not intended to be prescriptive or diagnostic. The information is accurate and up to date to our knowledge, but we are not responsible for any errors in our sources of information.

These newsletters will help you make better choices for better health. The choices that you make today can either have a positive or negative impact on your overall health. Begin by choosing better. It is a step toward longevity.


Ramila Padiachy
Ramila's Healing Arts Clinic