many people believe eating sugar is OK if done in moderation. This isn’t true. There is a major difference between sugar and foods such as meats or vegetables, which have vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino acids. Sugar has nothing to assist in its digestion and absorption, but does provide empty calories.

The average person consumes about 2 to 3 pounds of sugar each week. This isn’t surprising considering that sugar is processed into most foods we consume, such as breads, cereals and juices.

For example, store-bought orange juice, once pasteurized, no longer has any live enzymes nor does it have the vitamin and mineral content it had before pasteurization. The orange juice is now equivalent to refined white sugar.

The amount of sugar found in soft drinks alone is alarming, containing anywhere from 30 to 50 grams per serving. In 1976, a study was published in the journal Dental Survey. In this study, J.R. Ringsdorf found that drinking 24 ounces of cola depressed the activity of a kind of white blood cell called a neutrophil, which eats bacteria. He found that this reduction in activity lasted for at least five hours.

In 1973, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study by A. Sanchez et al, “Role of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis,” (November issue, pgs. 1180-1184), showing that ingesting 100 grams of simple sugar lowers white blood cell activity for up to five hours. He obtained this result using processed honey, table sugar and processed orange juice. This means that the white bloods cells’ ability to consume bacteria has been reduced by 50 percent due to the consumption of sugar. Sugar lowers white blood cell activity, thus lowering your immune system and lowering your body’s ability to fight infection.

The consumption of sugar also has a great effect on blood sugar levels. The glycemic index is a measure of how different foods affect our blood sugar levels. Foods with a low number have a slower absorption rate, providing a more gradual absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. Those with a higher number increase our levels rapidly, amplifying the amount of insulin needed to decrease blood sugar levels. These insulin spikes place undue stress on the body and are very unhealthy.

These are just a few of the many negative effects sugar has on the body. So people serious about their health should greatly reduce the intake of sugar in their diet.

Billy Katz and Hudson Ellis are the co-owners of Simply Fit gyms, located throughout the New Orleans area. Please e-mail your health and fitness questions to health@renpubllc.com.