Why is Refined Sugar So Bad for Your Health?

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM Published on , Last Updated on June 8, 2015


Sugar consumption has steadily risen in recent years and the USDA now reports that the average American consumes around 150 pounds of sugar per year. [1] Sodas are a major source of refined sugars in the American diet. Energy drinks are close behind, and even fruit juices are working against us. Don’t let the word “fruit” fool you. Some of these fruit drinks are stripped of all nutrients and have more additives and sugar (as much as 90%+) than soda.

Sugar Contributes to Diabetes

The World Health Organization recommendation for sugar consumption is no less than 10% of calories, [2] but arguably, this recommendation should be much less. Those that are overweight, pre-diabetic, or suffering from any kind of health issue should limit and/or avoid sugar. Free sugar, meaning sugar that isn’t bound to fiber in fruit, can lead to inflammation, blood sugar instability, and, over a period of time, type 2 diabetes. If you don’t have exercise in your life, then the likelihood you’ll develop these problems goes through the roof.

Sugar Affects Body pH

A daily dose of sugar causes altered internal pH levels resulting in a more acidic body. It is believed that an acidic environment is a breeding ground for disease, whereas an alkaline body promotes good health. [3] To correct any type of imbalance, the body draws on mineral stores. For example, to protect the blood, calcium is drawn from the bones and teeth — enough to weaken bones. This precipitates osteoarthritis.
Refined sugar may even be damaging to the digestive system, particularly for those who have difficulty digesting carbohydrates.

Sugar Has Many Hidden Sources

Around ¼ of the American diet is comprised of refined sugars, and when you take a look at the foods available at most supermarkets, this fact is hardly surprising. [4] Grocery store shelves are littered with junk foods–some of which are disguised as being healthy–that contain massive amounts of sugar. In fact, some prepackaged sports foods, like energy bars, contain more sugar than a candy bar! What’s more, many foods contain hidden sugar, or sugar that is masked by other names such as high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, and sucanat. While sucanat is probably better for the body than HFCS, the effects of sugar on blood sugar and internal organs are similar.

Do you avoid sugar? What have been your results? Please share with us your take in the comments!


  1. United States Department of Agriculture. Dietary Assessment of Major Trends in U.S. Food Consumption, 1970-2005. USDA.
  2. World Health Organization. Healthy diet. World Health Organization.
  3. Gerry K. Schwalfenberg. The Alkaline Diet: Is There Evidence That an Alkaline pH Diet Benefits Health? J Environ Publc Health. 2012, 2012: 727830.
  4. Barbara V. Howard, PhD; Judith Wylie-Rosett, RD, EdD. Sugar and Cardiovascular Disease. Circulation. 2002; 106:523-527. doi: 10.1161/01.CIR.0000019552.77778.04.

  • Liz

    so what about fructose? im eat mostly fruit.

  • Ruth Mitchell

    I gave into temptation last night and ate a candy bar from the trick or treat candy I stashed away for Halloween. My arthritic knee is so swollen and painful today, I need a cane to walk. My first instinct was to blame my compression hose. Next, I determined the problem was not staying off my feet enough yesterday. Then the generic brand of my nsaid was insufficient. Alas, I concluded it must have been something I’d eaten. I spent the weekend out of town visiting my best friend. We had coffee cake, brownies, etc. I was fine yesterday (Monday) so it couldn’t have been that. Then I remembered having a big candy bar.
    It wasn’t worth the few moments of pleasure. Alcoholics move over.
    Sugar is an addiction and is toxic. Something I already knew and have been avoiding. Details provided for others in denial.

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