On Valentine's Day, more than half of the consumers in the United States spent a total of $1.8 billion on one thing. Know what it was? It's something I never buy anymore for anyone and something no one ever buys for me anymore because they know it goes straight to the trash.
However, Valentine's Day is not the holiday where the most candy is sold. Those holidays are Halloween and Easter, where estimates are $2.75 billion for Halloween and $2.6 billion at Easter.
Friends, that is a lot of candy, and eating candy is like mainlining processed sugar. Most of that is sold with the intent of going to children; however, if the adults buying it are anything like I was 20 years ago, a lot of it is eventually consumed by adults.
It's interesting to me that we will try to minimize the amount of sugar our children and grandchildren consume, but many adults don't apply the same cautions to themselves.
Disease and Sugar
There are many diseases associated with our fascination for the sweet stuff. Recently, however, with the results of a nine-year study, a connection was made between the "s" word and the "c" word. Yes, research now shows that glucose from processed sugar is directly connected to many types of cancer.
So, if you haven't been listening to my cautions about the white stuff before, maybe you'll start listening now. I pray that you do.
First, we need a bit of history. In 2017 an article in PLOS Biology reported that a research project conducted between 1967 and 1971 by the Sugar Research Foundation revealed a connection between sugar and cancer.
Sugar and Bladder Cancer
Named Project 259, the study researched how sugar intake affected the digestive systems of rats. It compared conventional rats fed a high-sugar diet to those fed a high-starch diet. Results showed that sucrose (sugar) consumption could be associated with elevated levels of an enzyme associated with blander cancer in humans.
The study was terminated without publishing the results. As far back as 1971, the sugar industry did not disclose evidence that sucrose should be scrutinized as a potential cause of cancer.
Results of the nine-year study, also released in late 2017, revealed a direct link between processed sugar and the continued stimulation of the growth of cancerous tumors. More research needs to be done, but this is a foundational breakthrough, and news is just now coming out about this.
How Cancer Grows
Dr. Lewis Cantley, the Meyer director of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, has abstained from sugar for decades. "As we learn more and more about cancer metabolism, we understand that individual cancers are addicted to particular things. In a lot of cancers, that's insulin—and sugar," he said in a 2019 article on the MedicalXpress.com.
Probably the most important thing to understand from this research is that all cells need energy to function, and there are many types of energy sources. Glucose is the preferred source of energy in cancer cells. Cancer cells need more glucose than healthy cells, and they metabolize faster.
According to an article in the Daily Health Post in November 2019, cancer cells reprogram their metabolism to quickly and efficiently break down sugar to grow, survive, proliferate and maintain.
Discovered by Nobel Prize winner Dr. Otto Warburg, he found that tumors required enormous amounts of glucose compared to healthy surrounding tissue. Researchers have wondered if the Warburg Effect was related to how aggressively tumors grow and how cancer cells ferment sugar. It is this fermentation process that has now been linked to tumor growth.
According to researcher Johan Thevelein, professor at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium: "Our research reveals how the hyperactive sugar consumption of cancerous cells leads to a vicious cycle of continued stimulation of cancer development and growth.
"Thus, it is able to explain the correlation between the strength of the Warburg Effect and tumor aggressiveness."
Processed Sugar Is the Culprit
Perhaps the biggest eye-opener and direct application for every person is to understand the sugars that come from fruits and vegetables are different from processed types of sugar. Commercially made sources of sugar have been stripped of all cancer-fighting antioxidants.
Natural sources of carbohydrates that come from fruits and vegetables come with a variety of antioxidants, which help fight cancer. And many foods are good sources of antioxidants.
Here's a partial list of antioxidant-loaded foods: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, cranberries (not prepared with sugar or artificial sweeteners), oranges, spinach, kale and beans of all types including green beans, lima beans, navy beans and pinto beans (Note: Always cook beans).
Eat Real Food
Basically, if it is a real food grown on the vine or on a tree, it's better than anything processed or man-made. Frozen foods or home-canned foods are always a great second choice if you can't have fresh foods.
What all the research is boiling down to is, it's good to stay away from foods with added sugars and any ingredients that you can't pronounce.
I very much agree with what Dr. Cantley says, because it is the way I have learned to eat. He said, "I have a very simple rule. I eat fruit, but I don't eat anything that has sugar added to it. And I guarantee everybody would be better off if they ate zero sugar."
What God Said
This is what God told me back in 1977 and what I struggled with for almost 30 years. He told me to stop eating sugar. It was in regard to weight loss, but now I see how it was also in regard to healthy living.
I didn't know how to stop eating things made with sugar and flour; both were contributing to my weight gain and had already become strongholds in my life. Had I asked Him the simple question back then of, "How can I do that?" I probably would have saved myself decades of heartache and real physical pain.
One doesn't gain up to 430 pounds without a lot of both of those things. When I was finally ready to surrender sugar to Him, He showed me the way and gave me the strength to do it.
One thing I had to do for sure was totally give God every selfish, fleshly desire I had. "If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross daily [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me]" (Luke 9:23, AMP).
At the time, the only example I could think of regarding suffering was giving up the thing I loved the most in this world. Unfortunately, that wasn't God, my husband, my kids, my extended family, friends, career or even money. That was sugar.
When I took my hands off the thing that felt like my everything—protector, best friend, companion, comforter, provider, stress reliever—God became all of those things to me.
Habits Have to Change
I'll be talking more about this later, but for me, giving up sugar wasn't a quick detox thing. My sugar habit had turned into a stronghold and then into an addiction. Sugar was my drug of choice, and I was hooked.
I had to go through a process to get rid of it for good. I had to willingly admit my addiction and lay it on the altar. From there, it was all about habit change. An ingrained habit such as eating as much as you want of sugars and carbohydrates has to change, but that will not happen overnight.
It's time to start cancer-proofing your life, giving up your addiction or at the very least, becoming more healthy—body, soul and spirit.
Teresa Shields Parker is the author of five books and two study guides, including her latest, Sweet Journey to Transformation: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Live Healthy, and her No. 1 bestseller, Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds. She is also a blogger, spiritual weight loss coach (check out her coaching group, Overcomers Academy) and speaker at TeresaShieldsParker.com. Check out her new podcast, Sweet Grace for Your Journey.
This article originally appeared at teresashieldsparker.com.
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