Sugar – Part 2: Behavioral Effects of Sugar

Sugar – Part 1
Sugar – Part 2
Sugar – Part 3
Sugar – Part 4

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When we eat sugar and grains, there is a surge in blood sugar, followed by a surge in insulin, causing low blood sugar which then triggers a release of stress hormone from the adrenals triggering hyperactive behavior, anxiety, aggressiveness and poor judgment. When blood sugar falls, reactive hypoglycemia, the brain senses that fuel is dwindling and will shift these diminishing resources from the frontal brain to the primitive brain stem. This part of the brain is all about survival—food, sex, self defense and aggressiveness. The forebrain is where we have our common sense, our logical, thinking brain where our morals and empathy reside. We've all had the experience of saying or doing things we've later regretted, caused by reactive hypoglycemia.

A couple of years ago a followup was done in England on a study begun 40 years ago with then ten year old boys. Divided into 2 groups, one group ate candy about once a week. The other group ate candy daily. At a 40 year followup, 73% of the daily candy eaters had been in trouble with the law. Only about 15% of the weekly candy eaters had.

About 80 percent of us have hypoglycemia. Almost all alcoholics have it. Forty percent of neurotics and psychotics can attribute part of their problems to low blood sugar.

In the 1960's a probation officer named Barbara Reed saw a relationship between hypoglycemia and criminal behavior. She gave her charges a diet to counter hypoglycemia which had a great effect of reducing repeat offenses.

Food and Behavior Experiment
Children ages 5-9 attended a party, half were given healthy food, like apple slices, carrot sticks. The other half had party food – candy, potato chips and soda. Observers recorded their behavior:

Healthy Food  Party Food
Mean behavior069
Physical aggression863
Hyperactive behavior30163
Total Incidents of bad behavior120720

Much has been written about the association between hypoglycemia and criminal behavior. While you and I may not exhibit criminal behavior, the effects of hypoglycemia make it more difficult to exhibit emotional stability and to keep anxiety in check.

Hypoglycemia is capable of producing some very bizarre symptoms. These can range from severe anxiety and panic attacks, insomnia, racing heart, heart palpitations to fits of rage and uncontrollable anger or crying.

In children, teens and even adults, who typically have developed more self control, hypoglycemia can appear as difficulty in concentration and focus, learning disorders, anti-social behavior, even aggressive and violent behavior.

Sugar and Cancer
Sugar is a cancer cell's favorite food. There is a medical test for cancer called a PET scan. The patient is given a dose of sugar that is radioactively traced. Any place in the body the scan indicates that sugar is concentrating can be a tumor. As insulin rises in response to sugars and starches, so does IGF-1, or insulin-like-growth factor. IFG-1 is a growth factor that can drive tumor growth when in excess.

We all make estrogen in our livers, adrenals, bodyfat and for women, the ovaries. Excess bodyfat from sugar consumption can raise the production of estrogen-also a growth factor, which can both initiate and grow cancers.

The other thing that can happen with Insulin Resistance is a decline in progesterone production. Progesterone, counteracts the problems with estrogen dominance, reducing cancer risk for hormonal cancers.

Those with higher levels of glucose and insulin have greater rates of all cancers. A 13.5 year study showed that women in the highest glucose quartile were 63% more likely to develop breast cancer compared to the lowest quartile. Another study of over 33,000 women, those with the highest ranges of blood glucose were 75% more likely to develop cancer.

Elevated blood sugar and insulin increase mortality in cancer patients. Factor in elevated estrogens from bodyfat, and reduced progesterone from insulin resistance and you have some very fertile conditions for developing and growing cancers.

The University Hospital in Werzburg, Germany is researching the possible benefits of a low carbohydrate diet for cancer patients. “Over the last years, evidence has accumulated suggesting that by systematically reducing the amount of dietary carbohydrate, one could suppress, or delay the emergence of cancer and that proliferation of existing tumors could be slowed down.”

By limiting carbohydrate, you can decrease your risk of cancer, improve your chances of recovery, and slow down progress of existing tumors. The researchers concluded. “A low carb diet could be preventative against cancer.”

There are studies now investigating whether cancer can be “starved” by a ketogenic, or very low carbohydrate diet. Our bodies readily use ketones, energy units from fat, while cancer cells and tumors can only use sugar.

See Part 3: Hidden Sources of Sugar