Over the weekend I attended a functional medicine symposium where pharmacists came together to learn more about how they could help their patients naturally. Of the many great topics we learned I had to share what I learned about sugar. I am passionate about educating my patients about nutrient depletion and the problems it has created in our society. I was never exposed to the following information involving sugar either as a pharmacy student or as a pharmacist.

Drugs when taken for long periods of time deplete micronutrients, which lead to the need for more drugs. This is easy to understand, as someone taking a antibiotic needs a good multivitamin and a probiotic.

So if drugs lead to the need for more drugs. Then it is the excess sugar in combination with lifestyle choices that are causing the initial drugs for hypertension, cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes to be needed. For example in an article published in 2016 the others showed that when too much sugar was used it could hinder energy production. This article published in Open Heart in 2016.

This study also suggested that added sugars may deplete nutrients from other foods that have been consumed, as well as from body stores, in order to enable their proper oxidation and liberate their calories as energy.  This has been known since 1948, yet it isn’t taught in pharmacy school. Additionally, the consumption of added sugars damages the mitochondria and impairs energy generation. Too much sugar can actually cause internal starvation (via leptin and insulin resistance) leading to further hunger signals in the body. This produces the perfect opportunity to promote obesity.

Thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin are necessary for the oxidation of glucose, and phosphates are stripped from ATP in order to metabolize fructose, which leads to cellular ATP depletion.  The metabolism of fructose also leads to oxidative stress, inflammation and damage to the mitochondria, causing a state of ATP depletion.  So the more sugar that is consumed, the more nutritionally and energy depleted once may become.  When whole foods are consumed in their unrefined forms, they typically contain at least some of the nutrients required to unleash their energy.

When we are talking about sugar we also have to consider carbohydrates. When they are metabolized from carbs to sugars. It is important to realize when we think of sugar we need to think about soft drinks, cookies, crackers, bread, breakfast cereal, granola bars that are made from refined grains with additional sugars and sweeteners.

Glycolysis- the process that allows glucose to yield 2 ATP requires magnesium, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid to work properly.  B-Vitamins are required again for the proper function of the citric acid cycle which will produce an additional 36 ATP. Carbohydrate rich foods include sweet potatoes, white potatoes, beets, provide minerals and B-Vitamins required for the proper use of these foods in the body.

Soft drinks consumption has been associated with lower intakes of calcium,  especially in in children.

In Conclusion: If you ever try eliminating sugar it can be really hard.  As a functional pharmacist I think it is imperative to eliminate sugar and carbs through an elimination diet and detox program.   If you would like to learn more about how our services can help schedule a Free 15.

-Dr. Z.

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