Sugar Coated Sickness
By Dan L. White
I hail from the sickest state in the Union.
I know what makes people sick.
West Virginia consistently ranks as the lowest state in health. John Denver’s song “Country Roads” said that West Virginia is almost heaven; I’ll say that it’s also junk food heaven. The main reason health is so bad there, I think, is because they customarily eat so much sugar. When I visit back there, I may see folks still following those same customs of pop, cake and candy, to their detriment.
I personally experienced the pitfalls of pop, cake and candy. I thought that being sick for much of the winter was just normal. When I went off to college, my diet changed radically. Processed and unclean foods were gone, as was most of the sugar. When we taught our two year olds to read, the “candy” we gave them as reward was raisins. (I am willing to write this now only because I think that all five of our grown kids realize that raisins are not really considered candy.) When I cut out the junk food, my health totally turned around and after that, I had no more kidney stones, bleeding sinuses, liver problems, etc. So I realize more than most people how much difference food, particularly sugar, can make in health. I learned that it is not normal to be sick off and on all winter.
The Hebrew scriptures list many statutes that apply to health, applying to food, sexual practices, and general hygiene. In the Greek scriptures, Paul set forth this principle.
1 Corinthians 3:16-17
(16) Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that God’s Spirit lives in you?
(17) If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is holy, which you are.
He was talking specifically about spiritual conduct, but the same principle has to apply to physical conduct and health. Surely God does not want us to purposely tear ourselves down physically, as he showed by giving his statutes about health and hygiene. Physical health and fitness can be made into a fetish, but most people have the opposite problem, of not being careful enough with their health.
Sugar has been shown to lower immunity. That was certainly the case with me. Numerous times in past years I have indulged in some little sugar-sweet and then within a few hours came down with a sore throat or bug. The old saying is that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. I’ll add a new rhyme here: having a sweet a day will send you to sick bay.
I just made that up.
Recent articles have shouted that sugar is addictive, based on this experiment.
“In the most recent headline-grabbing research, a study in rats found that a brain region important for pleasure was activated more strongly when the animals were exposed to Oreos compared to cocaine. A 2011 study found that the brains of people with “food addiction” reacted to junk food the same way that the brains of people with drug addictions react to drugs.”
Arguments are carried on over the semantics of whether or not sugar is technically addictive. In a practical sense, the fact is that the substance is harmful to the body yet people can’t give it up.
Sugar not only lowers short term immunity and rots teeth but also causes diabetes, a very serious, sugar-coated modern plague. Although everybody knows how bad sugar-sweets are, and most people would like to eat less of this junk, very few people will give up their candy, cake and pop. Rat poison artificial sweeteners are no help; they are associated with diabetes even more than sugar. Many homes have the custom of having a bowl of little candies continuously sitting on a table, constantly tempting the family to indulge, always keeping their immunity lower, always eating away at their teeth, and always adding extra calories. That’s an extremely unwise and unhealthy practice.
Parents who give their kids sugar-sweet treats tell themselves that they are showing love to their children by making them happy. This is similar thinking to parents not spanking their children because they love them too much. There is a great lesson there. The parent is actually self-indulging, refusing to make the hard choice. If the parent makes the kids avoid sweets, then the parent would have to give them up, too. Almost all American parents today, then, take the easy way out, share love and a candy bar with the kids and feel good about it. They should feel very bad about it. Any parent who feeds this junk to his kids is robbing his child’s future to feed his own gluttony.
The only sensible thing to do is just get rid of the junk. Don’t allow it in your home. You can use natural sweeteners, but it is unnatural to continually consume concentrated sweets of any kind. Serve fruit for dessert instead. Fresh fruit from the grocery is expensive, but consider it a beneficial luxury. When fruits are in season, find particularly delicious varieties and freeze or can them. After a period of being off the junk, then the pop, cake and candy itself becomes repulsive and fruit becomes far preferable.
As with the rest of life, giving up the bad simply takes character. Character is being able to do what you know is right. Character is overcoming selfish desires. Character is putting your children ahead of your own appetites.
We are in a time now when very serious diseases are all around us. The American reaction to the Ebola plague is arrogance and conceit. The official opinion is that the disease cannot become a plague in America because of our superior health care system. However, when the Ebola victim in Dallas was turned away from the hospital, the ‘perfect’ system failed, because of imperfect people. The patient deliberately lied and the hospital goofed.
Obviously it is more important than ever for people not to compromise their own immune systems. The blunt fact is that if a parent constantly feeds sugar-sweets to their children now, they may be immediately endangering their lives.
The one biggest thing that most people can do to improve their family’s health is simply to cut out the sugar. There are other things, like exercise, attitude and overall diet, but the single biggest benefit, I think, is just to stop consuming pop, cakes and candy. Simply substitute fruit or fruit pop. You can consume all you want, it tastes better and will make you healthier. Simple choice.
But most people won’t do that, of course. They are slaves to their appetites. That’s exactly why gluttony is a sin, like stealing or lying. Gluttony is self-love imbibed.
Normal wintertime bugs can be mostly avoided by avoiding junk and including health giving foods and exercise. This winter, if you allow your children to catch these common bugs by lowering their immunity, you may find your family under Ebola suspicion.
Got a fever?
And it seems that some will in fact catch Ebola or enterovirus or whatever the latest curse is.
The wise thing is to help your family stay healthy, not help them get sick.
Photo by ☺ Lee J Haywood