LESS Sugar Provides Good Liver Health

A healthy liver can not be maintained when high amounts of sugar are consumed. It is a primary contributor to fatty liver disease, but reducing your intake will go a long way toward reversing liver damage.

Imagine sitting down at breakfast, lunch and dinner and shoveling in over 10 teaspoons of sugar at each meal. You probably wouldn’t do that because you’d view it as extremely unhealthy, yet the average person does it every day without even realizing it!

According to the American Heart Association, from 2001 to 2004, the usual intake of added sugars for Americans was over 22 teaspoons per day. As unbelievable as that may seem, according to a CBSNews.com article, published on April 1, 2012, that number is now closer to 32 teaspoons (a third of a pound) per day!

How much is okay? Is there a safe amount for our hearts and livers?

Here's the facts for girls and guys......the AHA recommendations:

  • Most American women should consume no more than 100 calories per day, or about 6 teaspoons, of the sweet stuff.
  • Most American men should consume no more than 150 calories per day, or about 9 teaspoons, of sweetener.

While I still view this as high (because people often have other sources that are naturally occurring in their diet) it’s a good start and your liver will feel the difference.

Watch out soda drinkers. The average soda contains about 9 teaspoons per 12 ounce can!

And, watch out for sugar aliases. Reading food labels is a habit we all need to develop. Keep in mind that it has many different names. The following is a list of some of the more common aliases:

  • Brown, cane, invert and raw sugar
  • Corn fructose, corn sweetener, corn syrup, and high fructose corn syrup
  • Dextrin, dextrose, fructose, fruit fructose, sucrose, lactose, and maltose
  • Mannitol and sorbitol
  • Molasses, syrup, honey, and fruit juice concentrates

Remember that the further the sweeteners are down the list of ingredients, the better for your liver and health. But, watch out if there are several different sweeteners listed even if they are further down the list!


A Healthy Liver, High Fructose Corn Syrup, and Cancer

Americans take in large amounts of liver damaging, high fructose corn syrup. It's a mixture of fructose and glucose that is used in sodas, bread and a wide range of other foods that I don't recommend for a healthy liver.

Several of the big food and beverage companies have argued that a sugar is a sugar, but research is proving otherwise when it comes to high fructose corn syrup.

A news article that I read on the National Institute of Health (NIH) website reported this: Pancreatic tumor cells use fructose to divide and proliferate, U.S. researchers said about a study that challenges the common wisdom that all sugars are the same.

They said their findings, published in the journal, Cancer Research, may help explain other studies that have linked fructose intake with pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest cancer types.

By the way, U.S. consumption of high fructose corn syrup went up 1,000 percent between 1970 and 1990, researchers reported in 2004 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. That's alot of hard work for alot of livers!


The Sugar-Cancer Connection

It's not only high fructose corn syrup that feeds cancer cells. Any form of sugar can encourage the growth of cancer cells.

Nutritionally oriented doctors have known about the refined sugar-cancer association for decades. More than 70 years ago, Dr. Warburg won the Nobel Prize in medicine when he discovered that cancer cells require glucose for growth.

Cancer cells consume as much as 4 to 5 times more glucose than normal, healthy cells. In fact, cancer cells are unable to multiply rapidly without it.

The cells that are dividing, the fastest have the highest requirement for energy so they can sustain that accelerated growth. Therefore, cutting out the source of their energy, is similar to cutting off the blood supply - though not quite as drastic, it's certainly worth a try.

I am so amazed that this basic knowledge, that sugar feeds cancer, hasn't become the number one rule in any cancer fight. Anyone fighting cancer should stop eating sweeteners immediately.

Obviously giving it up is not the cure for cancer. But it should be recommended STRONGLY to anyone with cancer or, ANY other illness or health disorder.

Please keep in mind that the body also breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, so a diet that is heavy with high carbohydrate foods can also fuel cancer cell growth as well as other health problems that are known to be linked to excess blood glucose.


Excess Sugar=Unhealthy Liver=Disease

According to a 1912 Journal of the American Medical Association article, cardiovascular disease, for example, was so rare that research wasn’t even conducted on it until 1912--and that first study examined only four cases!

So what has changed so dramatically between then and now to bring on devastating conditions like cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and liver diseases?

Consumption of sugars is a major contributor......as consumption has risen, so too has the incidence of degenerative health problems.

Excess consumption is extremely hard on the liver and if your liver can't do it's job, disease will be the result. The following is a condensed list of health problems related to sugar consumption:

  • Suppresses the immune system leading to problems as ordinary as the common cold to serious degenerative disease such as cancer, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, liver diseases, and more.
  • Causes mineral deficiencies and imbalances in the body.
  • In children, as well as adults, it can cause hyperactivity; anxiety; difficulty concentrating; and crankiness; affect their grades in school; or cause drowsiness and decreased activity.
  • May produce a significant rise in triglycerides; reduce helpful HDL, elevate harmful LDL, and increase total cholesterol levels; increase risk of heart disease; cause hypertension; and cause atherosclerosis.
  • May cause digestive and gastrointestinal disorders such as acidic stomach; ulcerative colitis; and Crohn's disease.
  • Can weaken eyesight.
  • Promotes tooth decay and periodontal disease.
  • Can cause hormonal imbalances; fluid retention; headaches and even migraines; and yeast overgrowth.
  • May cause kidney damage; increase kidney size, or produce pathological changes in the kidneys; and kidney stones.
  • Speeds the aging process, causing more wrinkles and gray hair.
  • Can cause depression and mood swings in children and adults.
  • May cause food allergies; asthma; or eczema.
  • Can cause liver cells to divide increasing the size of the liver, and increases the amount of fat in the liver.
  • May overstress the pancreas and the liver, causing damage.
  • And of course, it contributes to weight gain and obesity.

Reducing sweeteners in our diet is a very real, and positive, step each of us can take for ourselves and our children.

It requires effort, but reducing our daily load of sweeteners is of key importance for our liver health and total body health.


Are You Addicted to Sweets?

Achieving a healthy liver requires us to break our addiction. Sugars meet all criteria for an addictive substance:

  • It stimulates the release of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine and serotonin, in a similar way as alcohol, cocaine, and other abused drugs.
  • People often eat it compulsively, despite all of the negative consequences, and despite their intention to stop.
  • With continued use, people develop a tolerance to it's effects which makes them want to eat even more.
  • Heavy consumers have trouble functioning without it.
  • When they stop consuming it, withdrawal symptoms will occur.

Food manufacturers count on this liver damaging, addiction when they load sweeteners into sodas, cereals, soups, salad dressings, spaghetti sauces, ketchup, and even those "healthy" energy bars that we love so much.

Sugar addiction is both physical and emotional which requires a combination of physical and psychological approaches. One simple thing to remember is.....

The less you eat it, the less you will crave it.


Here are some tips on making it easier to overcome the addiction:

  1. If you get withdrawal symptoms, know that they will only last a few days and then you will feel more in balance and more energetic than ever, mostly due to the load of work that has been taken off of your liver.
  2. Remove temptation. Keep sweeteners and sugary foods out of the house.
  3. A good place to start is by simply cutting back on the amount of you use in things you eat and drink everyday such as cereal, oatmeal, or coffee and tea.

    Start with cutting it down to half as much and then continue from there. Instead of adding sugar to cereal or oatmeal, try fresh fruit like bananas or berries.

    If you like the taste of cinnamon, try stirring your coffee with a cinnamon stick to add a little sweet taste.

  4. Cinnamon is a sweet spice, is good for your liver, and a little can go a long way.

    Try reducing the amount of sugar in your recipes by as much as one-third to one-half and add a little cinnamon, nutmeg, or flavored extracts such as vanilla or almond.

    (I've used this cinnamon technique with much success.)

  5. There are several substitutes, natural and chemical, out there that you can consider. I do have concerns about the use of chemical sweeteners, and they could be harder on your liver than a little sugar.

    The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) website strongly encourages people to avoid foods and drinks sweetened with aspartame, saccharin, and acesulfame-K.

    If you have to avoid sugars completely due to blood glucose issues then you may want to consider a substitute such as the herbal sweetener, stevia.

  6. Eat regular meals each day of healthy foods to keep your hunger satisfied. For some people that is three meals, and for some it may be four to six small meals; it is up to you to decide what works for your lifestyle.

    Include plenty of liver-friendly vegetables, whole grains, fruits, lean meats, and healthy fats. Healthy fats are beneficial to your liver. They include low fat dairy products, omega 3 foods, olive oil, and more.

    Your goal is to support your liver in maintaining a steady blood glucose level throughout the day to help reduce that sweet craving.

    Eating a diet high in fiber helps reduce cravings also!

    Once you have cleared most of the sugar from your diet your taste buds become more sensitive; healthy foods taste better; and you feel more satisfied when you eat.

  7. Take a high-quality multivitamin and mineral supplement and an omega 3 supplement. Chromium Picolinate and L-glutamine have been shown to help reduce cravings in some people.
  8. Exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep. When you are exercising daily you're not so tempted to eat sweets and you sleep much better!

    Exercise also relieves stress and anxiety, which can sabotage your new healthy liver habits real fast!

    When anxiety happens try to manage the stress in other ways such as take a walk, call a friend, read a book, meditate, or take a hot bath. Relaxation will actually help to balance your blood sugar levels and reduce the cravings!

  9. Always keep a healthy snack handy, especially if you are going to be at an event where there are going to be sweets!

    Fill your belly with some healthy, liver-friendly foods so you aren't ravenously hungry when you go out.

  10. Now if you do overindulge........

    accept that you slipped, and get back on track. Don't feel guilty. Eating sugar is unhealthy for your liver and your well-being, but it is not a sin.

    As with any addiction, it doesn't matter that you may need more than one attempt to quit, what matters is that you persist until you reach success and support that liver!


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