How many times does a doctor hear this forlorn inquiry coupled with a look of hopelessness on his patient's face? "All too often" would be the answer.
On further questioning of such a patient, we often find that their daily diet includes sugar, refined carbohydrates or a quantity of fruit or fruit juice.
Why do I think this is significant? Let's look at some of the research on how sugar and refined carbohydrates affect the way we function.
To quote Dr. Page from his book Degeneration - Regeneration, "In a series of several hundred arthritics, nearly all ate large quantities of sugar. Sugar disturbs the blood calcium/phosphorus balance more than any other single factor. It disturbs it in the direction of higher calcium and lower phosphorus. When the effect of the sugar has worn off, there is a rebound in the opposite direction for action equals reaction."(1) Dr. Page believes that individuals can easily become addicted to constant sugar use to artificially keep calcium levels up in the blood, when calcium levels start dropping, they feel the need to reach for some more sugar.
Dr. Page`s research on human subjects showed that eating nine small pieces of candy throws the blood calcium and phosphorus levels out of balance within 2 ½ hours. The balance swinging first from elevated calcium and depressed phosphorus, then to depressed blood calcium, only to normalize after a range of 30 to 36 hours after ingestion of the candy.
Dr. Page puts his patients on a basic diet, which omits all sugar and even fruit (in addition caffeine and alcohol) till the blood calcium/phosphorus ratio has stabilized. For previously heavy sugar users, blood calcium may plummet at first because the sugar crutch has been removed, but then the blood chemistry stabilizes within a few weeks to a few months. He then allows a limited amount of honey and fruit, but fruit juice and all refined sugar remains taboo. On this maintenance diet, the blood chemistry remains stabilized. (Dr. Page also includes in his therapies the use of glandular substances, minerals and vitamins.)
Dr. Weston A. Price, dentist and researcher, traveled to several areas of the world, from the Arctic to the tropics, in his investigations. In place after place, he found that people who grew up on the traditional unrefined diet had good general health, good bone development and excellent teeth. As soon as the culture became civilized, e.g., added refined, sugared foods to their general diet, physical degeneration and diseases set in over a period of a single generation. Startling differences were even found in sets of twins, of which one would happen to grow up on the traditional diet and the other on a civilized diet. Dr. Price confirmed this fact with hundreds of before and after pictures of the teeth and bone development, etc., of the people in these cultures. He published these pictures along with his other health findings in a book entitled Nutrition and Physical Degeneration: A Comparison of Primitive and Modern Diets and Their Effects.
Refined sugar and flour were introduced to these cultures simultaneously and in quantities. Among western civilizations, the more gradual acceptance of these items into our diet has resulted in less noticeable degeneration over the last several generations.
William Dufty in his book Sugar Blues points out the fact that while Elizabethan sailors were severely plagued by scurvy (vitamin C deficiency), we hear of no such historic accounts about earlier seafarers such as the Vikings, the Phoenicians and the sailors of the Far East. A new addition to the diet of the English sailors, that earlier sailors had not had, were quantities of sugar. I find this relevant from my personal experience: if sweets or sugared products are around the house, I invariably overindulge (needless to say, for my own self preservation they are rarely around the house). The next morning I will notice on my thighs one or more tiny faint bruises, which are also commonly noted in individuals suffering from a vitamin C deficiency.
Subsisting for a period on water and sugar has been repeatedly proven more physically damaging than subsisting on just water. This is because large amounts of vitamin B complex and minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium, etc., are required to assimilate and metabolize carbohydrates. Sugar is a carbohydrate that has been stripped of all vitamins and minerals. Thus, in order to assimilate and metabolize sugar, the body is forced to use up its vitamin and mineral reserves. At least drinking water does not use up these precious nutrients!
Dr. Robert Atkins, in his book Dr. Atkins` Diet Revolution, cites the results of a series of tests headed by Dr. Walton Shreeve of the Brookhaven National Laboratory. "Feeding patients diets of alternately high sugar content and high starch content, the Brookhaven doctors found that the percentage of sugar converted to blood fat as a result of the sugar diet was two to five times greater than the percentage converted after the starch diet." The blood fat-producing effects of sugar was further exaggerated in women on birth control pills.(2)
Dr. Abrahamson points out the fact that troops in combat during World War II had fewer ulcers than those back in training camp. Emotional stress being intense on the battlefield, one would expect the reverse to be true. However, those in training camp had access to large quantities of sugared soft drinks, compared to the men in combat.(3)
When a meal is digested, the breakdown products of the food--amino acids from protein, fatty acids from fat and glucose (blood sugar) from carbohydrates--are conveyed in the blood directly to the liver. The blood glucose passes through the liver, largely unchanged at this point, into the general circulation. The pancreas is stimulated by this resultant rise in blood sugar to produce insulin. The insulin reaches the liver to take part in converting the glucose into storage form (glycogen) and also to take the necessary amount of blood sugar to the rest of the body cells for energy production. The adrenal glands then secrete glucocorticoid hormones from the adrenal cortex to convert the glycogen back into blood sugar as needed by your body. Thus, the adrenal glands and the pancreas are a balance to each other in maintaining a normal blood sugar level.
However, the chronic onslaught of eating quickly absorbed refined sugar for years oversensitizes the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. The pancreas begins over-reacting to the rapid and sharp rises of blood sugar, by overproducing insulin. Too much blood sugar is converted into glycogen. This results in a low blood sugar (often lower than before eating the sugar) and a feeling of exhaustion, if not offset by adequate glucocorticoid secretion by the adrenal glands. Low blood sugar carries the medical term hypoglycemia. (The basic constitution and physical inheritance of each individual determine how many years he/she can get by on a diet high in sugar before the pancreas becomes oversensitive.)
At Analytical Research Labs, we have found through tissue mineral analysis that about eighty percent of the adult population today shows a trend toward adrenal insufficiency. This trend is indicated by low sodium and potassium levels. Thus, in many people, an oversensitive pancreas cannot be offset by sufficient adrenal activity to maintain the blood sugar at an optimal level.
Hypo-adrenal individuals have a definite tendency toward the whole array of allergies, including colitis, headaches, hay fever, asthma, etc. During periods when the blood sugar is low, any allergies are intensified. Also, food cravings often occur at those times.
Periods of low blood sugar cause not only fatigue and a worsening of any allergies, but have been known to cause a vast array of symptoms. The most heartbreaking of which are the psychological changes, ranging from depression to suicidal tendencies, to full-blown psycho-pathologies. A 6-hour Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT) will frequently, but not always, confirm if a drop in blood sugar is causing these symptoms in an individual; the symptoms will appear as the blood sugar drops. The books, Body, Mind and Sugar and Low Blood Sugar and You provide excellent case histories of persons with these psychological reactions that respond wonderfully to diet and appropriate nutrient supplements.
The researchers Fabrykant and Pacella demonstrated that changes in blood sugar and the corresponding changes in blood calcium were accompanied by definite changes in a subject`s EEG recordings. (EEG or electroencephalogram is a recording of the electrical activity occurring in the brain.)(4)
Clinical research with hyperactive, schizophrenic and psychotic children shows an abnormally high family history of diabetes (another form of sugar intolerance, discussed further on), along with a dietary history indicating an excessive intake of sugar and sweets.(5)
More than eight in every ten hypoglycemics crave sweets, the very foods that are causing them to be tired and depressed. Such an intense desire for sugar is also characteristic of the type of alcoholic that alternates between bouts of intoxication and periods of sobriety. During the periods of sobriety, they tend to consume vast quantities of candy and sweets, which points to a hypoglycemia problem behind their desire for alcohol.(6)
Diabetes, or high blood sugar, is also a rapidly increasing phenomenon in civilized countries (i.e., countries that consume large amounts of refined sugar and flour products). One cause of diabetes is that in individuals with low blood sugar, the over reacting pancreas finally burns out; it simply can no longer produce enough insulin in response to blood sugar rises. People whose allergies clear up later in life might be in for a surprise if they were ever to go in for a 6-hour GTT.(7) Early diabetes does not produce the definite symptoms that low blood sugar does. The individual`s only symptoms may be an overwhelming urge to take a nap after lunch, or the need to urinate more frequently and in the middle of the night. Individuals often progress from low blood sugar to dysinsulinism (shown on the GTT as a diabetic curve followed by low blood sugar) to diabetes. In the dysinsulinism phase, it is common to suffer from alternating symptoms of diabetes and hypoglycemia.
Cutting out refined sugar from your diet includes cutting out the foods containing sugar, i.e., candy, cake, pie, cookies, ice cream, soft drinks, canned foods packed with sugar, chewing gum and processed foods with added sugar — read your labels!
Many natural cereals on the market contain as much as fifty percent refined sugar, under the guise of sucrose, dextrose, glucose and corn syrup.
Other processed, refined carbohydrates like white flour and white rice are also found to cause aggravation of low blood sugar symptoms.
There appears to be a difference in the impact of the natural sugars, as occurring in fruit or honey and that of commercial white sugar on the hypoglycemic.(8) However, many of us have over-stimulated our pancreases and depleted our adrenal glands to the point where even the natural sugars cause fatigue or depression. Severe hypoglycemics must even curb their intake of the natural starches such as whole grain bread and potatoes. For them, it may take a period of eating a diet high in protein and low in all carbohydrates, before becoming tolerant of even natural starches and sugars.