Guide to Sugar #4: Is Sugar Wreaking Havoc on your Digestive System?

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If you’ve been to an acupuncturist, you are probably already familiar with our detailed and thorough questioning of digestion and elimination. It’s because the way your body processes food and waste gives us so much information about bodily functions, metabolism, and the health of multiple other organ systems. And nearly every one of my patients has complained about their digestion at one point or another. The bloating, constipation, loose stools, and gas are extremely common yet crucial signs of digestive dysfunction and leaky gut, and lots of the time due to excessive consumption of processed sugar and refined carbohydrates.


Leaky gut, or intestinal permeability, occurs when the intestines are unable to provide a strong barrier between the contents of the intestines and your blood stream. The intestines contain a variety of things including the good and bad types of bacteria, partially digested food, and chemicals eaten through food. And when these particles come into contact with the blood stream via weakened intestinal walls, it alerts the immune system. The immune cells, who are are just doing their job, attacks these foreign invaders, cause an inflammatory reaction to occur. This inflammation not only harms the digestive system but can become chronic and widespread leading to immune system dysfunction, autoimmune disease, and disrupts the development of other immune cells.


Symptoms of leaky gut include, bloating, food sensitivities and allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune disease, thyroid problems, nutrient deficiencies, anxiety, depression, skin disorders (acne, eczema), and inflammation. In fact, those who suffer from chronic inflammation often have leaky gut.


Extreme swings of blood sugar promotes the secretion of cortisol by the adrenals (like we talked about in the blog post Sugar and your Hormones). Cortisol inhibits the production of hydrochloric acid in your system, which is crucial for the digestive process and making the gut walls more permeable to damage.


Sugar disrupts the microbiome of the small intestines by feeding the wrong types of bacteria causing them to flourish and give little room for the good bacteria to do their necessary jobs. The good bugs control digestion, metabolism, inflammation, and even the risk of colon cancer. The good bacteria in your designed to help support metabolic health by producing vitamins and nutrients that sustains the body’s ecosystem and promotes symbiosis. The bad bacteria promote a microbiome that supports weight gain, causes insulin resistance, feeds the bacteria that promotes SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth), and causes inflammation. Sugar also helps the beneficial Canddida albicans turn into their not so friendly fungal form, causing them to grow quickly and destroy the intestinal lining even further.


High fructose corn syrup has been shown to be extra detrimental to the digestive system by dissolving holes in the intestinal lining allowing partially digested food molecules and toxic gut bacteria access to the bloodstream, promoting the mechanisms of leaky gut syndrome.

Eating to stabilize your blood sugar through reduction of processed sugar and refined carbohydrates is one of the important steps towards repairing your leaky gut symptoms. Give Acubalance a call at 604-678-8600 to schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation to see how our other tools and dietary advice can help you with any digestive discomforts.