DAY 17 – A slip & the Chinese understanding of Sugar

I am fascinated and encouraged by surge of international press regarding sugar; its addictive qualities, the diseases that are a direct result from over consumption – especially Type 2 Diabetes, and of course the obesity epidemic for which a sizable portion of blame has been put on the sugar industry.

I have been reading all of this from the point of view of Western Medicine and the research that has been done in this field; however, my personal interest comes from linking it to the Chinese Medical understanding of overconsumption of sugar.

The Chinese have known for a long time that the overconsumption of sweet food does, what they term as ‘injuring the Spleen’, which essentially means it damages our digestion and then goes on to cause ‘Damp’ which we can roughly translate as ‘mucous’. Mucous in the system slows everything down; our systems become bog like, sluggish and heavy. On top of this when there is a slowing down of the internal flow stagnation occurs and sometimes heat – if we imagine a part of a river that has been cut off from the flow we see the water becomes thicker, it starts to smell and is generally pretty revolting! Well that is what sugar is doing to us – on a very basic level, which is why we feel so sluggish, lethargic and apathetic when we over indulge…after a possible high – of more below.

Chinese Medicine also understandssugar to have ‘heating’ qualities. Its at this point that I have to admit that I fell off the wagon yesterday! (It was a special occasion although I know that doesn’t mitigate the fact I essentially have cheated – sorry!!) I ate a piece of cake and a little chocolate in the evening at a dinner party when my willpower was at an all time low due to tiredness, and the most fascinating thing happened. After I had eaten the cake and chocolate my face started to burn up – I went bright red and felt as if someone had just turned my internal thermostat up by 10 degrees! As well as this I felt an incredible ‘rush’ – a speeding up of everything, vague mania and a lessened ability to concentrate – which if we think of heat and fire is totally understandable.

I saw first hand what the Chinese talk about when they say that sugar causes “damp heat” – I was boiling hot and I have woken up this morning extremely sluggish, almost as if I have a hang over – the damp.

While one evening isn’t going to cause lasting damage or disease it is easy to see how continual consumption can cause Damp, Heat and Stagnation all of which stop the happy flow of our internal organs and therefore over time result in serious disease.

I am now back ‘on the wagon’ again, and am realizing just how addictive sugar – - wow we have to keep vigilant at first if we are to succeed in packing it in for good!