Sugar in the body… doesn’t look so good

Although our taste buds may enjoy the indulgent of sugar, the rest of our bodies suffers as most to all nutrients are destroyed. No nutrients means no nourishment for the body, however, the worse crime is that sugar actually robs the body of nutrients in order for it to be processed in the body.

The mineral magnesium is one of the nutrients that are robbed from our cells and tissues in order for sugar digestion.

An interesting side note: side effects from magnesium depletion are muscle cramps, high blood pressure, insomnia, osteoporosis, and depression – all very common modern day problems.

Other nutrients affected are the b vitamins, specifically B1 or thiamine. Thiamine aids in glucose metabolism and has an important job of blocking pathways which excess blood sugar may cause tissue damage – in your blood vessels, kidneys, eyes and nerves. If we have an excess blood sugar then we have a greater risk of depleting our thiamine storage.

A sugar side note: The endocrine system in the body regulates hormones and is extremely reliant on nutrients (minerals like magnesium) to function optimally. As we age, our hormones decline yet we do not want to stimulate this more (or earlier) by eating too much sugar. Time to make a change now.

Sugar Suppress the Immune System

Bacteria, viruses, germs and tumors (think cancer) thrive on sugar. Sugar makes them strong, reproduce easily and very powerful. This is tough on the immune system’s army of white blood cells.

A HBD side note: Battle with the Bugs (the second case in the Human Body Detectives kids’ book series) writes about this. Check it out here: Amazon or HBD shop.

A sugar study: Loma Linda University studied the effect on the behavior of the white blood cell – neutrophil – after sugar was ingested by a subject. The subject’s blood was drawn before and after the study. After the initial blood draw, subjects were given a dose of 100 grams of glucose, and fructose. Their blood was drawn to determine the reactions of the neutrophils. It was noted in the study, that sugar eating didn’t decrease the number of neutrophils but actually decreased their responsiveness (not so good!). This ultimately means that every time you eat sugar, your white blood cells are not able to optimally perform which makes you vulnerable to many illnesses from bacteria, viruses, parasites and diseases.

A worthy side note: Dr. Sears mentions that sugar will depress the immune system for up to 5 hours!


Inflammation will occur in the body from a rapid rise in blood sugar and this may cause biochemical changes (glycosylation) in the cell. Staying away from sugar and high-glycemic (simple) carbohydrates, which the body rapidly converts to sugar, is one of the best ways to decrease inflammation. (re read this post: Classification of sugars)

C-reactive protein (CRP) is a key factor of inflammation. In a major study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, people with elevated CRP levels were 4 1/2 times more likely to have a heart attack. CRP is a good lab test to ask your doctor to run as it maybe a much better indicator of heart disease versus cholesterol. In addition, high CRP levels have turned up in people who are overweight, pre-diabetic, and diabetic.


Hypoglycemia occurs when there is an abrupt drop in blood sugar levels. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include fatigue, dizziness and even seizures. This can occur after a high sugar meal, which results in a peak of blood sugar and then a rapid decline. Many people will feel this “sugar high'” and then once the sugar levels drop will create a craving for more sugar. A very viscous (and potentially dangerous) cycle.

The Adrenal Glands

Each time there is a spike in blood sugar, the adrenals glands will release adrenaline. This adrenaline rush will raise your blood pressure, increase respiration, slow down digestion, and dilate the pupils. If the adrenal glands are constantly in this state, long-term effects on the body can lead to quite serious complications.

A sugar side note: When women enter perimenopause and menopause, their adrenals will help out the ovaries by making female hormones. If the adrenal glands are also exhausted from months or years of high sugar intake, then menopause may be a difficult.

A sugar side note: The gateway theory suggests that the use of softer type drugs may lead to the use of harder drugs. Some believe that children who overindulge in sugar may have a tendency for other addictions – like (sugar laden) alcohol – later in life. In effect they are trading in one addiction for another. And this craving boils down to a sugar addiction. Once this is determined as a route cause, and diet is addressed, a cure will be obtained.

The BIG take home:

  • Carefully choose foods that may contain sugar, that are also fiber packed.
  • This will help slow down the absorption of sugar thus giving the body time to optimally do its job.
  • Spiking of sugar highs and lows will not occur.
  • Fiber packed foods usually are nutrient packed therefore the body will not be robbed of its own reserves to metabolize the sugar.

Be well

Published on: February 09, 2012
About the Author
Photo of Heather Manley N.D.

Dr. Heather Manley, who in 2001 received her medical degree from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon, is a practicing physician whose primary interest is preventative healthcare for families.

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