The Sugar Siren. Part I

January 23, 2018


There is no doubt about it. Sugar is a powerful siren. More powerful  than the mythical Sirens of Scylla  that lured men and their boats to destruction. Sugar is killing us, killing us legally and we allow it to continue killing us. More about that later. First let's go to the beginning.

In the beginning sugar cane was domesticated about 10,000 years ago. Natives picked cane and ate it raw. To them it was magically medicinal. It was an elixir and a cure for every ailment.  It even appeared in ancient myths where one of the first men made love to a stalk of sugar cane thus propagating the human race.


Sugar spread slowly reaching the Asian mainland around 1000 B.C. It has been stated that when Alexander the Great and his armies crossed into India his men refused to march further because they were intoxicated with the high they got from chewing on the new elixir from sugar cane. By about 600 the art of processing sugar from cane had spread to Persia. From there it spread to wherever the Arab armies went. The first Europeans to fall in love with sugar were British and French crusaders in the 11th century. They came home with visions and memories of eating sugar.

The first European market for sugar was built on the trickle that was carried across the dessert by traders. It was so expensive that it was consumed only by nobility and so rare that it was considered a spice. The dawn of the western sugar era began with the cultivation of sugar cane in the new world. As more cane was planted, the price of sugar fell and demand increased. By the mid 17th century sugar changed from being a luxury spice to a staple.

At first sugar was available to the nobility. Then access to it trickled down to the wealthy, then to the middle classes then to the working classes. Nevertheless we were not inundated with soft drinks, soda, cookies, crackers, desserts, cakes, pies and you name it until well into the 20th century.

Now we have a situation where one-third of adult worldwide have high blood pressure, when only 5 percent had it in 1900. There are twice as many diabetics and obesity is rampant. What is the cause?  Blame most of these problems on sugar.

We will explain why in the next blog.

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Dr. Sanford L. Severin

Dr. Todd D. Severin

San Ramon, CA 94582 USA

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© 2020 by Sanford Severin, MD