My last article covered additional issues caused by sugar overconsumption. In this final article in the series, I'll talk about the history of sugar consumption.
Many researchers consider sugars to be the major dietary cause of degenerative diseases. Some of their effects are due to the fats (triglycerides) into which our body converts excess sugars. Triglycerides produced from sugars can create major health problems for our body, especially when they have been oxidized due to lack of antioxidant minerals and vitamins.
If one compares changes in total sugar consumption, total fat consumption, and consumption of altered vegetable fat substances with the vast increase in degenerative disease over the last 100 years, one finds the best correlation between altered vegetable fat substances and disease, a less strongly positive correlation between sugar consumption and disease, and an even less strongly positive correlation between total fat consumption and disease. All three, however, do show positive correlations to degenerative disease.
Here’s a historical (hysterical) anecdote. When refined white sugar first appeared on the market, so a story goes, people did not want to use this pure white stuff, because they were unfamiliar with it and therefore did not trust it. The producers set about changing people’s perceptions.
An artist in an advertising department invented and drew an imaginary ‘bug-monster.’ The ad showed a big picture of this ‘bug-monster’ and the copy read: “White sugar never contains any of these.” The ploy worked. The rest is history. Sugar consumption increased from 5 pounds to 135 pounds per person per year.
Paying for the Industrial Revolution
Before the Industrial Revolution, only rich people could afford to eat white, fiberless flour. It had to be hand-sifted, which was slow, hard work. As a result, degenerative diseases that result from deficiencies of nutrients and fiber afflicted mainly the wealthy: kings, noblemen, aristocrats. The poor ate whole grains.
‘Refined’ people ate ‘refined’ products. The common man’s foods were ‘crude’, like his upbringing and manners. Poor people struggled to become ‘refined’. To be able to afford ‘refined’ foods was a sign of upward mobility. The connection between refined foods and degenerative diseases was overlooked. The fact that ‘refined’ foods are actually ‘nutrient-impoverished’ (and should be so named) escaped peoples’ notice. Their perspective on foods and health was wrong.
In Japan too, this misconception about refined foods is widespread. Popular opinion holds that only poor people eat brown rice.
The processing technology invented during the industrial revolution made ‘refined’ foods available to everyone. Now everyone can eat the foods once restricted to the privileged minority, and all can suffer the degenerative conditions once confined to the world’s elite.
If that is the price of privilege, perhaps we should strive for poverty? You can read more about the relationship between sugar and fat in my book “Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill”, available on Amazon.