Magnesium, Sugar and Your Health – Safe Alternatives

At any one time there are only 2 teaspoons of sugar in your blood stream. But when you drink a large flavored soda such as a Big Gulp size drink, you are drinking 35 teaspoons of sugar plummeting your pancreas, insulin and blood glucose into a roller coaster ride.

Physiologically sugar causes a surge in the hormone insulin and also alters the way the liver metabolizes the simple form of sugar, glucose.

Sugar promotes oxidative stress and internal inflammation which is similar to rusting. This internal rusting causes aging, wrinkles, etc., because it damages cells.

Sugar taxes the adrenal glands and the immune system. When adrenal function is impaired or weak, a person may suffer from low blood sugar, low blood pressure, low body temperature and fatigue/exhaustion.

Most dark colored sodas contain phosphates. Phosphates bind with magnesium inside the digestive tract, making it unavailable to the body. Although you may be eating a balanced diet, by drinking soda with your meals you are flushing magnesium out of your system.1,2,3

The average consumption of carbonated drinks today is more than ten times what it was in 1940.4 This huge increase is responsible for both reduced magnesium and calcium availability in the body.5,6

Refined sugar is not only a zero magnesium product but it also causes the body to excrete magnesium through the kidneys. The process of producing refined sugar from sugar cane removes molasses, stripping the magnesium content entirely.

And sugar does not simply serve to reduce magnesium levels. Sweet foods are known by nutritionists as “anti-nutrients”. Anti-nutrients like sweets are foods that replace whole nutritious foods in the diet, yet actually consume nutrients when digested, resulting in a net loss. Because all foods require vitamins and minerals to be consumed in order to power the process of digestion, it’s important to choose foods that “put back” vital nutrients, and then some.

The more sweet foods and processed baked goods you have in your diet, the more likely you are deficient in magnesium and other vital nutrients.

Additionally, sugar enhances the growth of yeast/Candida in the intestines. Yeast produces 178 different yeast toxins – alcohol and acetaldehyde (the hangover chemical) are two of the most toxic. So, by eating sugar that feeds intestinal yeast, you have your own still in your gut.

Sugar causes magnesium deficiency because 28 molecules of magnesium are required to metabolize one molecule of sucrose (table sugar) and 56 molecules are required to metabolize one molecule of fructose.

And magnesium is a necessary factor for the breakdown of acetaldehyde.

Bottom line is, sugar stresses the body and depletes magnesium, a mineral that is important to over 700-800 enzyme actions within our body including insulin control and energy production. Magnesium as one of the key electrolytes is an excellent example of a weight loss and energy nutrient, since it activates enzymes that control digestion, absorption, and the utilization of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Because magnesium is involved with hundreds of enzymatic reactions throughout the body, deficiency can affect every aspect of life and cause a score of unhealthy symptoms including weight gain.

In a Huffington Post article entitled: “The Vast Majority Of Us Drink Too Many Sugar-Sweetened Beverages: Blame Big Soda for putting a huge burden on public health”  found that sugar-sweetened beverages are hurting everyone, and just about everyone is drinking too much of them. The scientific journal Plos One and the journal Circulation published research findings about the public health impact of sugary drink consumption. This study found that: Sugary drinks cause preventable deaths and disabilities in high-, middle- and low-income countries.

The researchers attributed 184,000 worldwide deaths per year — from diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer — to sugar-sweetened beverage consumption. The U.S. ranked 26th out of 187 countries for the most sugary beverages consumed, amounting to 1 serving per person, per day. Extensive research shows that sugary drinks a major contributor to obesity in the United States. The obesity epidemic costs the country an estimated $190 billion per year, treating obesity-related conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, according to the Harvard School of Health.

Carolyn Dean, MD, ND

Sugar guarantees weight gain at any age. That’s because it can spike blood sugar, triglycerides, and the fat storing hormone, insulin. It also disrupts satiety (causing you to overeat) and gives rise to age accelerating molecules known as AGE products (advanced glycation end products). These aging molecules are responsible for causing unsightly wrinkling and age related blindness.

So what’s a safe alternative to sugar?

Four Criteria for Finding Safe Sweeteners

Under the most rigid definition of safety, a safe sweetener must meet four criteria.

1. It must not raise blood glucose or trigger the release of our fat-storing hormone insulin.

2. It must not give rise to deadly AGE products (advanced glycation end products.

3. It should not prevent your body from producing anti-aging and muscle building hormones.

4. And finally, it must be nontoxic.

Stevia (300 times sweeter than sugar), the sugar alcohol erythritol (60 to 70 percent as sweet as sugar) and, to a bit lesser degree, agave (as sweet as sugar) fit the rigid criteria of being safe sweeteners. Each of them has proven safe and effective in various nutritional supplements. Whether they are used in a drink, a protein powder or even a healthy cake, these naturally occurring sweeteners will not negate the benefits of any nutritional supplement.

Choosing which natural sweetener to use depends on which one tastes best to you. Agave nectar usually wins. It stimulates taste buds exactly the same way sucrose does. But unlike common table sugar, very little of its active ingredient, inulin is absorbed. Therefore, you are protected from the dangers of sugar addiction.

All of these natural sweeteners are known to help control appetite, keep insulin and blood sugar low and prevent the formation of AGE products. None of them are addicting, nor will they diminish your lifespan or aesthetic appeal.

Excerpted from “Over the Counter Natural Cures, Expanded Edition” by Shane Ellison, M.S.

Medical Disclaimer:

The ideas, procedures and suggestions contained in this article are not intended as a substitute for consulting with your physician. All matters regarding your physical health require medical supervision. Neither the author nor the publisher shall be liable or responsible for any loss, injury or damage allegedly arising from any information or suggestion in this article.


1. Dean C. The Magnesium Miracle. New York: Ballantine Books; 2007. [↵] [↵] [↵]

2. Weiss GH, Sluss PM, Linke CA. Changes in urinary magnesium, citrate and oxalate levels due to cola consumption. Urology 1992;39:331-3. [↵]

3. Brink E. J., Beynen A. C., Dekker P. R., Beresteijn E.C.H., Meer R. Interaction of calcium and phosphate decreases ileal magnesium solubility and apparent magnesium absorption. The Journal of Nutrition. 1992; 122:580-586 [↵]

4. Vartanian L, Schwartz, M, Brownell, K. Effects of Soft Drink Consumption on Nutrition and Health: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. American Journal of Public Health. 2007;97(4):667-675. [↵] [↵]

5. Seelig M, Rosanoff A. The Magnesium Factor. New York: Avery Books; 2003. [↵] [↵] [↵]

6. Heaney RP, Rafferty K. Carbonated beverages and urinary calcium excretion. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2001; 74:343–347. [↵]


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