General Articles

Sugar, Cancer’s Sweet Treat

Sugar, Cancer’s Sweet Treat

Cancer loves sugar. It feeds on it. It desires it.

Well known our sweet-tooth cravings are bad for our teeth and waistlines but there is a sugary secret you may not know; sugar is cancer’s food of choice. So what does that mean to you?

Any excess sugar you consume is stored in your fat cells, more to the point: our ever-expanding waistlines have become smorgasbords for cancer.

While it seems obvious that cancer cells are different from healthy cells, the actual difference is interesting. The difference lies within the metabolic rate of the cancer cell. Cancer cells have an urgent need to feed on glucose (sugar). Healthy cells do not.

Vicious Cycle

As cancer consumes sugar, lactic acid is produced and processed through the liver which affects the health of the liver. The compromised liver causes general fatigue and significantly limits the liver’s ability to release nutrition to the body. The cancer in essence chooses to survive by effectively starving its host.

Starve the Cancer

While the solution is complex and multi-faceted, one answer is abundantly clear, starve the cancer by cutting off its food supply.

Blood Sugar

Food falls into three categories: protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates not used by your body convert to sugar but avoiding carbohydrates is not the answer. Understanding that carbohydrates fuel the body’s engine and they are all not created equal is critical.

Carbohydrates, Simple vs. Complex

Carbohydrates are comprised of two groups: simple and complex.

Simple carbohydrates like sugar, syrup, soda pop, and white breads convert quickly to sugar due to their simple cell structure. Conversely complex carbohydrates like whole grain bread, brown rice, and lentils convert to sugar more slowly because of their complex cell structure.

While yes all ingested carbohydrates, simple or complex, not used by the body become sugar it is the conversion to sugar that is important to understand.

Think of this visually. The simple carbohydrate is the sprinter. The complex carbohydrate is the long distance runner.

Envision eating a spoon of white sugar, simplex carbohydrate. The white sugar races through the body turning itself into sugar (glucose) placing immediate demands on the pancreas to create insulin so the body can assimilate the sugar. This is often referred to as the “sugar spike”!

Now envision eating a spoon of brown rice syrup, complex carbohydrate. The brown rice syrup takes the scenic route, and at a slower gradual rate is makes its way through your body breaking down more slowly placing a less urgent and gradual demand for insulin production. This slower conversion to sugar allows the body the opportunity to absorb and use the sugar versus merely storing it in the liver.

The Goal

The goal is not to eliminate all carbohydrates from your diet, instead use moderation and make informed choices. Eat whole wheat bread vs. white bread. Eat whole grain cereals vs. processed sugary cereals. Choose brown rice over white and adopt whole grain pasta in place of its white counterpart. These simple choices are significant if you are diabetic, fighting cancer, concerned about your weight or simply desirous of better health.

There are a growing number of food companies concerned about your health and offering nutritional and tasty food choices. When making decisions about your nutrition, choose companies that are dedicated to creating healthy food options free of preservatives, sugar, cholesterol and that chose to create complex carbohydrates over simple. You will be surprised that you need not sacrifice taste for health and that you really can “have your cake and eat it too!”

Know your carbohydrates and eat well!

It is important to discuss your health and nutritional needs with your healthcare team.