We know that dietary fat has been blamed for decades as the primary cause of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. However, research over the past several decades has shown in study after study that sugar is the real danger. The conclusions from these studies is that sugar should be eliminated from the diet whenever possible. This includes all the hidden sugars eaten in manufactured and canned foods, soda pop and snacks.
While some researchers have advocated eliminating both wheat (one of the leading sources of gluten, an inflammatory protein that is coming to be recognized as harmful to the human gut) and processed carbohydrates from the diet, many doctors have gone so far as to label sugar a "poison" to our peripheral nervous system.
The author of, "Sugar Crush: How to Reduce Inflammation, Reverse Nerve Damage, and Reclaim Good Health," Dr. Richard Jacoby, a peripheral nerve surgeon in Scottsdale, Arizona, was quoted as saying sugar causes a surprising range of illnesses, including ALS, Alzheimer's disease, autism, Bell's palsy, cancer, carpal tunnel syndrome, diabetes, gallbladder disease, heart disease, migraines, and multiple sclerosis. His recommendation is to avoid sugar as much as humanly possible and eat more good fats, such as olive oil, avocados and other omega-3 fatty acids.
Research has shown that sugar irritates the lining of the heart arteries, causing cholesterol to stick to the lining like glue. In contrast, omega-3 fatty acids prevent heart disease because they keep the lining smooth so that little can stick to it. This may help explain the lower incidence of heart disease among those eating the classic "Mediterranean" diet.
The worst type of sugar is high fructose corn syrup. Upwards of eighty percent of the prepared and processed foods we eat as Americans contain some level of high-fructose corn syrup as an additive. It impairs liver function and suppresses leptin (the critical hormone that regulates appetite). This suppression of leptin is one of the major reasons people who drink sodas or eat large amounts of snack foods can't easily give up the habit and are very likely to become obese and diabetic over time. The epidemic of obesity in seniors and adults, not to mention our pediatric and teen populations can be directly linked to this highly toxic product in so many of our foods today.
How to achieve and keep optimal health is still a developing opinion among many experts. Opinions vary from getting healthy fats back into our diets (wild-caught salmon and fish, grass-fed or open-range meats and organic butter from grass-fed cows) to including many more berries and plant-based foods in our diets. And, of course, regular exercise now has broad consensus among researchers and primary care providers alike as being absolutely necessary to achieving and keeping optimal health. But it appears that one of the most important things all of us need to do immediately is eliminate as much sugar from our diets as possible. It's been shown to truly be one of the most significant health hazards in this country today.