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When I was a child, a bakery truck used to come regularlyto our house. If my mother was not around, I could buy anything I wanted and charge it. Iwould buy six donuts, four nut bars, coffee cakes, and hide them from my family and eatthem in private.

Although I did not realize it, I was a sugarholic andchocoholic. I craved sweets. In childhood, I was plagued by allergies-signs of unbalancedbody chemistry. As a teenager, and through my college years, I continued to crave sweets.

As an adult, I had reoccurring symptoms of boils, cankersores, varicose veins, headaches, constipation, fatigue, colds, flus, and pneumonia. Eachtime I contracted pneumonia, my recovery took longer. My immune system was being weakenedby dietary habits and lifestyle.

It took me until I was 40 years old to understand that Icould help myself and did not have to suffer. What I have learned since then points tosugar as my downfall. Sugar destroys the immune system through promoting phagocyticsuppression, mineral imbalance, and allergic reaction.

Phagocytes are white blood cells that eatup foreign invaders and debris; they are the Pac-men of the body. The more bacteria eatenby each phagocyte, the stronger the immune system becomes. The phagocytic index indicatesthe average number of invaders engulfed by a phagocyte.

A 1973 study at Loma Linda Universityexamined the effects of sugar (sucrose), glucose, fructose, honey, orange juice, andstarch on the phagocytic index. The starch caused a rise in the phagocytic index-thephagocytes actually ate up more bacteria after starch was ingested. The index was highestabout 30 minutes after starch was ingested. The other materials-all sugars-caused thephagocytic index to decrease greatly. The index was lowest two hours after digesting thesugar.

Researchers have also studied the actions of individualphagocytes under a microscope to observe the specific changes that occurred in thepresence of sugar. Where the glucose level was normal, the phagocytic cells were veryactive. Pseudopods (little arms that reach out from the cell) extended in all directionsin search of foreign objects. The higher the amount of sugar in the blood, however, theless active the cells became.

Minerals are essential to many bodilyfunctions-different minerals can give rigidity to bones and teeth, perform specificfunctions in the transmission of the nerve impulses throughout the body, and contribute inthe process of digestion. Two very important minerals are calcium and phosphorous. Theseare necessary for building strong bones and activating enzymes needed for important bodyfunctions.

For calcium and phosphorus to work efficiently, they mustbe in the proper ratio: ten parts of calcium to four parts of phosphorus. A dentist, Dr.Melvin Page, discovered that when patients had this ratio, the symptoms that led to toothdecay and gum loss, as well as many other negative symptoms, disappeared. He alsodiscovered that sugar caused the phosphorus and calcium levels to either increase ordecrease. When the calcium level decreased, the phosphorus increased, and when the calciumdecreased, the phosphorus increased. Excess calcium and phosphorus were unable to be usedoptimally because they were not in correct balance. When Dr. Page took his patients offsugar and put them on a diet of whole foods, their dental problems began to disappear.

Researchers have also discovered that sugar increases therate that we excrete calcium. If, when we eat sugar our blood calcium increases and wealso excrete it, we must be pulling the calcium from our bone and tissue. Calciumdepletion of the bones makes them fragile and leads to osteoporosis.

A proper mineral balance is also necessary for enzymes tofunction efficiently, and if sugar disrupts this balance, enzyme functions also suffer. Aswe will see in the next section, this disruption of enzymes is particularly important inregard to the enzymes that break down foods.

Research shows that many allergiesare caused by foods that are not properly digested. Undigested food is often due tounbalanced mineral relationships, which prevent digestive enzymes from functioningproperly. Nutrients in partially digested or undigested food cannot be made available tothe body, and this lack of nutrients compromises the body’s ability to functionoptimally.

When these undigested food microparticles enter thebloodstream, they can travel to different parts of the body and create havoc. If theparticles go to the head, the result can be a headache, fatigue, or dizziness; in otherparts of the body, the microparticles can cause joint pain or swelling, often in theankles, legs, or hands. We recognize these symptoms as food sensitivities or foodallergies.

How does the mineral-enzyme-allergy connection work? Whenprotein is properly digested, it is first broken down into polypeptides and then intoamino acids, which are absorbed in the bloodstream. When protein does not break downcompletely-when the enzymes charged with the job are incapable of performing properly dueto a mineral deficiency-protein can be absorbed through the intestinal wall and into thebloodstream, reaching tissue in partially digested form. The body’s immune systemcorrectly interprets this undigested or “putrefied” protein as foreign matterand goes on the attack, causing an allergic reaction.

When the immune system becomes exhausted through overuse,the symptoms of allergic reactions appear. At this point, there can be an acute reaction,such as hay fever, joint pain, or fatigue. If the body continues to be exposed, itproceeds through the other states of the degenerative disease process, and symptoms becomedisease.

An acute reaction is sudden and obvious.You know something is wrong. This could be sneezing, drowsiness, or an immediate swellingor breaking out. It is the body’s way of saying, “Stop, this is not good forme.”

As the body adapts to the foreign substance, the immunesystem continues to defend the body from undigested protein just as it would from bacteriaor viruses. This eventually leads to a weakening of the immune system.

With the weakened immune system, the body’s initialreaction to certain foods changes to a chronic one. Chronic signifies slow progress thatcontinues for a long time. During a chronic reaction, it takes longer for the body toreturn to homeostasis (equilibrium).

If you continue to eat a food that results in allergies,the more the body is forced to adapt. This leads to an exhaustion of the enzymes necessaryfor proper digestion, and of the immune system, causing the body to move from a chronicreaction and adaptation to degenerative reaction and a diseased condition.

Degenerative disease indicates a worsening of physical ormental qualities. In the case of such degenerative diseases as cancer, arthritis, andheart disease, the cells and tissues change. The functions of some cells and tissues maybe stopped altogether, and the body has a hard time returning to and maintaininghomeostasis. Eventually the entire biochemical balance needed for health is destroyed, andthe continued imbalance is the cause of disease.

We have now seen how sugar goes aboutunbalancing the body’s mineral relationships and weakening the immune system. Thedamage from sugar manifests itself in many degenerative diseases and harmful conditions.These include hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia (diabetes), constipation, intestinal gas,asthma, headaches, psoriasis, cancer, arthritis, premenstrual syndrome, candidiasis,obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, tooth decay, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory boweldisease, canker sores, gallstones, kidney stones, and cystic fibrosis.

We will all have cravings and addictions. However,ultimately, you are the one who is responsible for what goes into (and what does not gointo) your mouth.

You are also responsible for what comes out of your mouth,as well as what you think and how you feel. These responses can balance or upset your bodychemistry.

Health or disease. The choice is yours.

Nancy Appleton has a bachelor ofscience degree  in clinical nutrition and a doctorate in health services. Sheresearches, practices privately in Los Angeles, CA, and lectures extensively throughoutthe world. She is the author of Lick the Sugar Habit (from which this was adapted),Healthy Bones, and Secrets of Natural Healing with Food.

All forms of simple sugars can create problems.These include sucrose (all types of sugar; brown, etc.), glucose, fructose, honey, maplesugar, corn syrup, dextrose, dextrin, rice syrup, barley malt, and fruit juiceconcentrates.

bulletDon’t keep sugar-laden foods at home
bulletSnack on health food
bulletAlways read labels for sugar and chemical
bulletEat protein in small portions
bulletGet support from friends to stay away from sugar
bulletAvoid artificial sweeteners
bulletAvoid soft drinks