Are You Glucophobic?
You've heard of claustrophobia (the fear of closed spaces), agoraphobia (fear of public places), and arachnophobia (fear of spiders).
How about glucophobia?
I made this one up. But it's easy to figure out: the fear of sugar. This includes all foods that convert to sugar (glucose) in the body, such as foods made of wheat flour, cornstarch, cornmeal, rice starch, potato starch, and different sugars.
Now, not all phobias are unjustified. Take chemophobia, the fear of artificial substances. Given the proliferation of chemicals that surround us, from bisphenol A (BPA) in polycarbonate plastics, to perchlorate fertilizer residues in your produce, to the perfluorooctanoic acid in non-stick cookware (all of which, among other things, block thyroid function), it is certainly not inappropriate (within reason) to be aware that these chemicals have the potential to do us harm and avoid them.
Should you be glucophobic?
If glucophobia were an irrational fear, like ecclesophobia (the fear of churches) or hedonophobia (the fear of pleasure), then it might not be a good thing. (How about all three: the fear of obtaining pleasure by eating something sweet in church?) But I believe that fear of sugar is indeed appropriate. And it may not be entirely inappropriate to be extreme about its avoidance.
Why have your life ruled by glucophobia? I can think of a number of reasons:
Sugars increase small LDL particles
Or, in the cholesterol-speak most people understand, "carbohydrates increase cholesterol." It's counterintuitive, but carbohydrates increase LDL substantially, far more than any fat. This is the most common path today to heart attack.
Sugars increase blood sugar
Eggs don't increase blood sugar, nor do chicken, raw almonds, onions or green peppers. But a bowl of oatmeal or two slices of whole wheat bread will send your blood sugar skywards. If you haven't noticed, there is an epidemic of diabetes in the U.S.
Sugars make you fat
Sugars, whether in the form of wheat flour in whole wheat bread, sucrose in your ice cream, fructose in your "organic agave nectar," or high-fructose corn syrup in your dill pickles, all increase fat weight in the abdomen, so-called "visceral fat." These sugars provoke de novo lipogenesis, or fat formation. They also (except fructose, a dangerous exception) stimulate insulin, the hormone of fat storage.
Sugars cause glycation
High blood sugar, like the kind that develops after a bowl of oatmeal, triggers glycation, or modification of proteins by glucose (blood sugar). This is how cataracts, kidney disease, and atherosclerotic plaque develop. Small LDL is 8-fold more glycation prone than large LDL, providing a sugar double-whammy.
Throw into the mix: sugars trigger inflammation, sugars increase blood pressure, sugars contribute to behavior disorders like attention-deficit disorder and schizophrenia, sugars increase triglycerides, sugars damage the pancreas and can lead to diabetes.
Sugars certainly are not the cause for all human problems, just a lot of them.
If you develop glucophobia, should you flee in terror at the sight of a whole wheat bagel or doughnut? No, of course not. Just walk away quickly.