Disease of The Month.

MARCH 1998.



This disease symptomology is one which was requested by a visitor to The Alchemycal Pages. The term 'sugar blues' comes from a book of the same title written by William Dufty a couple of decades ago and refers to the modern addiction for refined sugar and the consequences this has on our physical body as well as our emotional and mental condition.

Sugar, in the form of glucose, is absolutely necessary for us to live and our blood stream needs to have between 60-95 mgs/100 ccs of glucose at all times. If the blood carries more than 95 mgs/100ccs we have what is called hyperglycemia or too much glucose and if we have less than 60mgs/100ccs we have hypoglycemia or too little glucose. Simple sugars are found as monosaccharide glucose, a single molecule found only in refined sugar, or as disaccharides, the double molecules fructose and lactose. Fructose is present in fruits and lactose, which is present in milk and dairy products. There are also polysaccharides which are multiple chain sugars which are found mainly in whole grains.

Sugar metabolism is a complex arrangement whereby sugar is absorbed in the blood stream in the digestive tract and the level of sugar is regulated to maintain the range of 60-95 mg/100ccs at all times. The main organs responsible for regulating the glucose levels in the blood are the pancreas and the liver. When the blood sugar level rises above the normal range it stimulates the secretion of insulin by cells present in the pancreas which produce more insulin as the blood sugar level rises too high. This hormone sends a message to the liver to convert the excess sugar into glycogen which is stored in the liver, thus lowering the blood sugar levels to normal. If the blood sugar level falls too low, then different cells in the pancreas secrete a hormone called glucagon which sends a message to the liver to convert the stored glycogen into glucose which is released into the blood stream, thus raising the blood sugar level to normal.

This is the homeostatic process whereby the blood sugar levels are maintained constantly within the normal range at all times. However, what we need to know is what can upset this balance and lead to disturbances in the process which either leads to there being too little or too much insulin leading to hyperglycemia (in the former case) or hypoglycemia (in the latter case).

Insulin is a more yang hormone and glucagon a more yin hormone, relative to one another. Therefore the stimulation of secretion of insulin is a more yin condition, created by the excess glucose, which is more yin than minerals, protein or fats. The problem with excess glucose in the blood is that what happens is the liver cannot store more than 2 kilograms of glycogen. Once this amount is reached we have the body storing the excess sugar as fat and the blood itself becomes fatty, which also means the cholesterol level rises.

The fat deposition initially takes place in the hips, waist, buttocks, legs, shoulders and neck and then it begins to be stored in the organs and tissues themselves. Furthermore, once the capacity of glycogen storage in the liver is exceeded the blood sugar level tends to constantly exceed the upper levels of the normal range. This means the cells in the pancreas are constantly being asked to produce more insulin and they eventually become exhausted in their capacity to do so and we become insulin deficient and the body begins to become diabetic.

The symptoms of diabetes are excessive urination which contains sugar. Once the blood sugar level gets over 110 mg/100ccs blood, there is chronic fatigue and tiredness, and there is increased thirstiness. There is also loss of minerals because the overly yin condition of the blood caused by the increased blood sugar levels leads to minerals (more yang) being leached out (yin attracting yang) of the bones(osteoporosis) and tissues causing brittle tendons, ligaments and joints making them more easily injured by exercise etc.
This why modern athletes are so injury prone. I call sports injuries "sports drink disease" and the minerals are lost during the excessive urination which along with the loss of sugar makes us become more hungry and thirsty. This in turns leads to increased fluid intake and overeating.

Other symptoms include weakened and rough skin which is easily bruised and if we get a cut it does not heal easily. There is poor circulation of the blood especially in the periphery of the body and we thus experience constant cold in our hands and feet. Also our eyes become weaker and we have glaucoma. Emotionally we become depressed, whiny and irritable and mentally we tend to be unable to focus our thinking which becomes cloudy and our memory becomes poor.

In the case of their being an over secretion of insulin before the cells in the pancreas become exhausted and their insulin secretion is too little, the condition which develops is hypoglycemia which manifests as weakness and tiredness, the muscles become weak, thirst increases, there is mental irritability and neurosis and in extreme cases convulsion and coma. Here we can correct the problem temporarily by eating more sugar but of course we then cause secretion of more insulin and eventually we get diabetes.

Obviously modern medical has no answer for either of these conditions other than the simplistic approach of prescribing insulin to people who are diabetic and their condition continues to deteriorate because the underlying cause is not addressed, leading to blindness, heart disease, gangrene, especially in the lower limbs requiring amputation, and death. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. And I know people who have gone on a macrobiotic dietary program who had diabetes and have thrown away the insulin, no longer needing it. In one case, the person had been taking insulin for 50 years and got off it with the macrobiotic approach.

The question is how do we become addicted to simple sugar, the table sugar we buy in the grocery store and use to make cookies and cakes, put in our tea and coffee, in our sports drinks, in our beer and wine and liquor, and in the candy we consume constantly. The addiction to sugar of the population of the United States is illustrated by the fact that in 1900 the average per annum per person consumption was 4 lbs; in 1985 it had reached 130 lbs.

When we eat of animal fats and proteins as our main daily food two processes are set in motion:

1.) These foods are very yang relative to the human organism's dynamic of yin and yang and makes us seek extreme yin foods in an attempt to make balance with them. Thus, if we eat animal foods daily, we are constantly attracted to eating extreme yin foods which are sugar, alcohol (which is fermented or processed sugar), fruits and dairy food, as well as drugs.

2.) The digestive system of the human organism is not designed for the digestion of animal proteins and fats and this lead to the build up of stagnated mucus both in the lumen of the intestines and eventually also in the tissues of the walls of the intestines. The build up of this mucus leads to the small intestine having more difficulty in absorbing sugar, so we tend to crave it more. And we satisfy this craving by eating the simple sugars which are absorbed directly into the blood stream in our mouth; since they are simple sugars they do not need to be digested the way complex carbohydrates are before they can be absorbed as simple sugars.

This need to eat sugar as simple sugars also means a weakening of the digestive processes occurs. Thus, if we want to have neither diabetes nor hypoglycemia we need to change to a macrobiotic diet. Now, there are slight but significant variations in the macrobiotic dietary approach if we wish to correct diabetes or hypoglycemia since the former is more yin condition and the latter a more yang condition. The chief difference is that in the case of hypoglycemia no salt is used in cooking the main foods to begin with, and the cooking style is more yin and in the case of diabetes it is important to use millet as well as brown rice on a daily basis as well as winter squashes like acorn, butternut and hokkaido pumpkin. I will have more to say on helping the pancreas heal itself in the Healing With The Seasons page when I do the Soil State of Transformation.

One of the problems people have when they start a macrobiotic diet is that the main source of glucose is cooked whole grains. These are complex carbohydrates which after cooking and chewing thoroughly are gradually broken down so that by the time they enter the small intestine they are reduced to glucose, which is then absorbed by the small intestine. Since people starting a macrobiotic dietary program have a digestive system abused by a diet of animal foods it is in a weakened state and has problems in digesting and assimilating the complex carbohydrates. This accounts for the fact that many times people starting on a macrobiotic dietary program are always hungry and eat large quantities of food and lose a lot of weight at the same time, if they are overweight to begin with, which is the case with the vast majority of people. We also tend to crave sweets.

More on Diabetes

Comments or questions can be sent to the address below as I check this address every few weeks. Please mention Alchemycal Pages in the subject line. Thank you. Patricia


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