Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tip #26: Limit the sugar

I know this is something we don't like to hear. But the more I learn about it, the more I feel we do need to cut down our consumption of sugar. All the books that I read about cancer and diet agreed on this point, even though they differed in other things, like eating meat or dairy or not. Even my nutritionist suggests that I should avoid sugar as much as possible, even in fruit. I should limit fruit to two pieces a day and select fruits that have other anticancer components, like berries or mango, and I should avoid oranges or bananas. For sweeteners, she recommends things like stevia, although I think even this should be used in moderation.

It makes sense that there is a connection with cancer, as being diabetic increases your chances of getting cancer and your prognosis is worse if you do have it. And a drug that treats diabetes, metformin, is also being now considered to treat cancer.

In "Sugar, enough  is enough," Dr. Fuhrman tells us that we do need sweets as carbohydrates for energy and for the many vitamins and phytochemicals to prevent illness, but that modern, refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup and other "white" carbs, which are devoid of real nutrition, are causing havoc in our systems. He does recommend eating lots of fruit, because of the many vitamins they have and also because they have the added fiber and I agree that for anyone not dealing with cancer or diabetes, lots of fruit is the way to go (but with the caveat of eating it whole and not in juice. The fiber is also essential).

And last April I saw this interesting segment on 60 Minutes, "Is sugar toxic?" which really convinced me that, in my case, I definitely have to be careful, and for my family, I don't want them to have too much sugar either. I urge you to watch it because it is quite an eye-opener.

As they explain in the video, the increase in sugar consumption since the 70s is so large because sugar (or other forms of it) is now added to so many products, from yogurts to soups, so it's not just candy or baked goods that would be the culprits here.

I think it is in our best interest to start limiting our sugar intake. It does not have to be all or nothing. Feeling deprived is not good for your health either, but you can start by first noticing how much sugar you consume and then, trying to limit it, little by little. As an added bonus, I do think sugar impacts my mood. Now that I'm a bit more relaxed and I sneak in sugar once in a while, I notice that if I overdo it, I feel depressed. Of course, I cannot say 100% that this the cause (as I don't want to eat sugar to test my theory), but because of the cancer connection, I feel it is in my best interest to be strict about this one in any case.

Let me know what you think and I really hope you watch the video! (And if you need more convincing, here's an article from the New York Times, that expands on the ideas of the 60 minute video).


  1. So I sat down, with grapes instead of the ice cream somebody left in my freezer (honest), and watched the 60 Minutes piece. Fabulously concise, excellent. I remember when the Times article came out and was talked about so much, but I haven't read it yet, so thanks for that - will do next. And then I want to go to 60 Minutes Overtime to hear Gupta's comments about how to find the hidden sugars. Thanks again Pilar!!! Keep it comin'

  2. Yo no sabia nada del azúcar, pero de siempre he tomado mas salado que dulce y mira por donde he acertado, me gusta tu comentRio porque das razonamientos para ello. enri