Sugar: It Can Make You Sick
This is the second of two articles
on sugar and its effects on health.
In my last column I gave a bit of the history of sugar and discussed different forms sugar comes in. I also mentioned that high intakes of sugar can lead to a number of serious medical conditions. Let's take a look at a few of these conditions more closely.
Sugar and Tooth Decay
Although it is well known that sugar promotes tooth decay, it is less known that sugar also leads to periodontal disease by promoting the formation of plaque, a sticky conglomerate of bacteria and other factors which accumulates on the teeth within hours of brushing. Accumulations of plaque lead to gum inflammation, known as gingivitis. Studies indicate that sugar contributes to this inflammatory process. The situation is compounded because sugar also undermines the effectiveness of the white blood cells in destroying bacteria. The bacteria in tooth plaque also uses the sugar to produce an acid that causes the tooth decay.
Sugar and Acne
Sugar and other refined carbohydrates has been shown to increase sebum production in males with acne, leading to a worsening of the condition.
Sugar and Reduced Immunity
Sugar consumption seriously inhibits immune function. Almost 25 years ago, an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that ingesting as little as three ounces of sugar at one sitting significantly inhibits the ability of white blood cells, which are the heart of the immune system, in destroying bacteria and viruses. This applies at all sugars, including fruit juices. This immune suppression starts about 30 minutes after the ingestion of sugar and can last for up to five hours.
Other studies have also documented the immune system lowering effects of sugar, leaving us vulnerable to opportunistic infections which our immune systems would normally keep under control.