Sugar

Shame on You, Sugar

We all now know that sugars are to blame for so much of our chronic disease and contracting life spans, right? Diabetes, heart, obesity, senility, possibly even certain forms of cancer (although cancer sounds like a stretch to me). But even more evidence is surfacing that missing the mark on the cause of increasing rates of disease was not mere negligence but downright malfeasance in both our government and our industries.

If you missed it, JAMA reported in its November 2016 edition that it had clear evidence that the sugar industry knew that sugar was the cause of rising heart disease in the 1950’s. So they promoted publicity to blame heart attacks on animal fats instead of sugars, and funded false-result studies to support their claims. The result was to form a tripartite force of food processors, the USDA and sugar businesses whose goal was to blame beef and pork for disease while adding foods like sugar and hydrogenated vegetable oils to our diet. They cut off government funding to any researcher who dared to suggest otherwise, and pilloried anyone who used private funding to question their false claims. Wow. We all lost our innocence with this one, yes?

News Flash!

Correspondence discovered that sugar industry paid harvard to rig the results to convince public and our government that animal fats, not sugars, were the cause of heart disease. Following those “studies”, the leading collaborator became chief of nutrition at the USDA. Disgusting.

We now know that animal fats do not cause heart disease (though grass-fed fats do act affirmatively to protect our hearts) and that sugar is the culprit. So when you see “Low or No Fat” on the label, BEWARE! They probably added sugar to make the product palatable.

Sugar = Poison?

Do I go too far with this question? Maybe. But evidence seems to be taking us in that direction. Add this very personal anecdote to the troubling effect that regular doses of sugar have in our health equation.

HoniAnn has a paternal family history of arthritis. Her grandmother, aunt and great aunts had it, so when it started showing up in her body, especially in her hands, she assumed it was just in her genes. As it grew to a point of really limiting her favorite activities, she reluctantly resorted to her doctor and the prescription drugs which treat but have many deleterious side effect warnings. While the drugs did bring quick relief, they also steadily raised her blood pressure. When that reached a dangerous level, she was taken off the drugs. The pain returned almost immediately.

Then along came my brother, Danny, visiting from Vancouver, B.C. at Christmas time. He has been our long-time holistic medicine doctor ever since graduating with his doctorate in Chiropractic healing, and a good one at that. His suggestion: get refined sugar and simple carbs out of your diet — completely! No exceptions. Honi was intent on taking his advice but learned it was not so easy to do because sugar is everywhere. It’s not just in the usual suspects like candy, cookies and pies. It’s everywhere. Vinegar and oil-based salad dressings and oatmeal being two of the prime surprises where added sugar is found.  Read those food labels and try to find something that doesn’t have sugar in it. Sugar is omnipresent. But Honi was dedicated to the proposition and went Paleo to the extreme.

The result? Complete relief. Almost immediately. Between our family Christmas party and New Year’s eve, the pain and disability was gone. I’m talking complete relief here, not just a little better! But when she slipped back into some sweets and champagne at our New Year celebration, the pain returned, then left just as quickly when she resumed its exclusion on January 1st.  She and we were amazed.

So what’s going on here? Can sugar be our greatest health villain? Do we add arthritis to the long list of diseases caused by our ridiculously high consumption of sugars? Stay tuned. 

Book Review: Fat Chance, by Dr. Robert Lustig

Dr. Robert Lustig’s new book, Fat Chance, lays the statistical foundation which identifies the cause of obesity in the world’s population (yes, Mildred, it is world-wide). Not surprisingly to most, it is sugar, specifically the fructose variety of sugar. In exposing the cause, not just the correlation, he relies on documented quantification of food supplies, their increase, and the types of food constituting that increased availability. Wherever an increase in fructose consumption occurs, obesity and all of its resulting diseases follow close behind.

I’m hoping that our increasing understanding of dietary dysfunction will ultimately get it out of our heads that Fat is the cause of obesity. Good fat is a good thing. I find that it is self-regulating as well, meaning you will not over-eat like you will with sugar products. As good as it tastes when your body needs it, it tastes as bad when you have had enough. Have you noticed that too?

Eat for Health and Sustainability

I have long believed (on instinct more than proof) that a diverse and balanced diet with a proper dose of protein and fat included was the healthy “whole food” way to eat for health and sustainability. We see more and more proof of that as true science begins to explore good and bad eating habits. And the most interesting study found that the same number of calories taken in sugary and simple carb doses would actually cause more weight gain than the same amount of calories in whole foods. (Note that the study was too small to allow for firm conclusions but instead will cause follow up). Another point made by this study was that of the three diets used, the best diet for sustained weight loss was the one highest in fat. I am convinced that it has never been the fat but the sugars that led us into poor health. Fats are so satisfying as to become self-regulating; sugars make you hungry. Make sense to you?

It's the Sugar, Stupid

A recent study suggests that only one sugary drink a day makes men 20% more likely to have a heart attack. Drink more than that and your risk goes higher.  Linked to adverse changes in HDL, triglycerides and C-reactive proteins, sugar consumption produced similar results in women.
 
What about diet drinks? Not an answer - diet sodas have been linked to metabolic changes (see also my previous “Getting Fat on Diet Cokes”).