If you’re looking for a reason to feel hopeful about the future, here it is.
Sugar has finally been outed as the secret killer in the modern American diet.
This surely is no “secret” to you — but mainstream America (doctors included) just the got the word on primetime TV via 60 Minutes.
In a scathing expose, the show’s medical investigator, Dr. Sanjay Gupta called sugar “toxic” and accused it of being the villain responsible for the current epidemics of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, stroke, hypertension, and a plethora of other medical conditions that are bankrupting our healthcare system by crippling and killing millions of us every year.
I honestly never thought I’d live to see this day
After decades of scapegoating dietary fat, salt, red meat, obesity, lack of exercise, pollution, and consumer laziness, the real culprit behind so many of our health woes is finally being unmasked.
People, this is a watershed moment in getting control over these utterly preventable degenerative diseases — because the very first step in healing any addiction is breaking the denial that there’s a problem.
Hats off to CBS and Dr. Gupta for having the courage to tell everyone the truth, even though it might offend their mega-buck advertisers that hawk sodas, beer, candy, fast food, breakfast cereals, and junky snacks hour after hour.
It isn’t the “calories” that make us fat and sick
This has been the main defense of Big Sugar and the manufacturers’ associations. They blame our obesity crisis and the outbreak of diet-related diseases on “over-consumption.”
The implication is that the overweight consumer is weak-willed and merely needs to “eat less and exercise more” – while it bombastically defends your Constitutional “right” to eat yourself to death, if you so choose.
But sugar isn’t just toxic because of its calories.
A new study just published in the medical journal Circulation found men who consumed a 12-ounce sugar-sweetened drink every day had a 20% higher risk of heart disease compared to men who didn’t drink them.
If sugar is so innocent, how can one soda a day give us a heart attack?
“It’s not about the calories,” says Dr. Robert Lustig, a leading authority on obesity at the University of California, School of Medicine in San Francisco. “It’s a poison by itself.”
Why sugar is so toxic
Dr. Lustig blew the whistle on sugar in a 2009 lecture entitled “Sugar: The Bitter Truth,” which was posted on YouTube. Since then, it’s been viewed nearly 1,000,000 times.
In the video, he explains why sugar is singlehandedly responsible for the global explosion of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and many cancers over the past 50 years.
There’s been a pile of research studies pointing to this as far back as the 1950s, but health officials have ignored and rejected the notion.
Instead, we’ve been scolded to “eat more fruits and vegetables … consume less fat, red meat, and salt … serve smaller portions … and get more physical exercise.”
In other words, today’s heath and weight problems are our own fault – not because of the mind-boggling amounts of sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) added to practically every beverage and food product on supermarket shelves.
How convenient for all the parties involved – except the unassuming consumer.
Big Food escapes any responsibility (or possible regulations) for the harm its sugar-spiked products are causing.
Media executives rake in billions from food/beverage ads that bombard us (and our children) every single day.
And Big Medicine profits by treating more and more patients for a growing list of sugar-related ills.
No one, it seems, is to blame except the “lazy” consumer — who now has diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, budding Alzheimer’s, early-stage cancer…
…and now, no health care!
The politically correct solution, as envisioned in Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” program is to eat less, move more, reduce portion sizes, and cut back on snacks.
This way, no industry gets hurt.
But isn’t this like the Surgeon General telling smokers to cut back, buy smaller-size cigarettes, and take up running – while closing his eyes to the fact that nicotine is more addictive than heroin and ultimately causes lung cancer?
Sugar is addictive like nicotine
For decades, Big Tobacco denied that nicotine is addictive and that cigarettes caused lung cancer.
Today, this is common knowledge.
Years from now, the dangers of sugar will be just as obvious and accepted, but we are in the early stages of this awareness – and Big Sugar is fighting it like crazy.
Just like Big Tobacco’s denial, the sugar and beverage groups aren’t acknowledging that sugar and sweeteners have an addictive side. They stimulate the very same part of the brain, called the “reward center” (technically, the striatum), as do nicotine, cocaine, caffeine, and alcohol.
Sweets stimulate the release of the mood-elevating chemical called dopamine in the brain which creates feelings of euphoria. Some people refer to this as a “sugar high.”
Give a crying baby a lollipop and what happens?
He stops crying and starts smiling, that is, until the lollipop is gone. Then, he’ll start crying again.
Only this time it’s because he wants another “lolly.”
Dopamine creates feelings of pleasure and euphoria in the brain. And it’s natural to want what feels good.
But today we have unprecedented access to substances that have this “feel good” effect on the brain: Recreational drugs, alcohol, painkillers, nicotine, caffeine … and sugar. And the more we use these substances, the more we want them.
This is because these substances drain our brain of our natural dopamine reserves, while simultaneously building up a tolerance to these drugs when we use them regularly. Result? We need a stronger and more frequent dose to get the same effect.
That’s the nature of an addiction
And because we’ve wiped out our natural reserve of dopamine, if we don’t get our fix, our brain slides into withdrawal, which makes us feel sad, depressed, irritable, angry, and negative.
This yo-yo effect explains why some people constantly crave sweets, sodas, and carbohydrate “comfort foods.”
What’s really happening is that they are “self-medicating” their emotional problems with sugar and carbs – but with devastating effects on their blood sugar, their bodies, and their health.
This becomes a vicious cycle: Eating sugar increases body weight and health problems, which further lowers self-esteem and represses positive emotions (such as hope, confidence, and the courage to change).
Relieving this stress with still more sugar turns the situation into a downward spiral that usually ends very badly.
How your body adds to this carbo craving
Sugar addiction is a double-whammy because your body gets into the act, too. Here’s how…
Eating sweets and carbs triggers a gush of insulin into your bloodstream, which perpetuates your craving for these substances.
You may remember that insulin’s job is to control your blood sugar (glucose) level because your body “knows” that too much of it in your bloodstream is very bad for you.
There are two primary ways the hormone accomplishes this: It either escorts glucose into muscle cells where it can be burned as fuel, or – if the cells have become “resistant” to it – insulin converts excess glucose into fat (triglycerides) and stores it in fat cells (usually around the belly area).
This makes the craving for sugar and carbs stronger
You see, when the bloodstream is cleared of glucose, hunger re-occurs because the body wants/needs quick energy (carbs). Besides making you hungry, low blood glucose makes you tired, sleepy, and fogs your brain.
The usual response is to reach for a soda or candy bar for a quick pick-me-up.
But guess what happens next? This snack triggers still more insulin.
And because insulin’s job is to keep glucose out of the bloodstream, its presence will not allow stored body fat to be released and utilized for nourishment (which normally happens between meals and during sleep, when insulin levels are supposed to be low).
So the result of chronically high insulin in your blood is a vicious cycle of constant hunger and the continual accumulation of body fat.
How to break the cycle
The easiest way to break this cycle is to eat protein and fatty foods, instead of carbs.
These two food groups don’t trigger the insulin response. And when insulin isn’t present to block the release of stored fat, it can be broken down into essential fatty acids (EFAs) which are released into the bloodstream, so that the nutrient-rich EFAs can feed and nourish the body.
In essence, you’re living off your body fat.
Interestingly, studies of starvation and fasting show that after the third day of not eating, hunger completely subsides and the body draws nutrition as needed from stored fat.
As Gary Taubes points out in his April 13, 2011 story for The New York Times Magazine, “Is Sugar Toxic?” your metabolism doesn’t care whether it’s being fed by calories from outside or inside. It just wants to be fed.
This is why diets that focus on high protein foods and healthy fats, such as the Paleo, Atkins, and The 30-Day Diabetes Cure are so successful for blood sugar control and weight loss.
These are also the most healthful diets
Diets that restrict sugar and refined carbs also dramatically reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, circulatory and heart disease, many cancers, and stroke and hypertension.
If the old “calorie-in, calorie-out” theory is correct, calorie-restriction would be an effective way to lose weight. But we know this method fails in 95% of all instances.
Calorie-restriction (commonly known as “dieting), completely ignores the underlying biochemical factors that cause overeating. It is not because we are gluttons or lack willpower.
Your body metabolizes calories from different foods differently
For instance, 100 calories from broccoli, fish, or cheese are metabolized differently than 100 calories of sugar or soda – and these metabolic differences on your blood sugar, your hormonal system, and your brain chemistry, are profound.
And today, we get most of our calories from refined carbohydrates!
The average American is consuming an incredible 180 pounds of sugar and HFCS annually – much of it “hidden” in processed foods.
This equates to a half-pound of the stuff every single day!
When you track the rise of sugar consumption in the US since 1900 alongside the increase of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, the paths are practically identical.
According to Taubes: “In 1980, roughly one in seven Americans was obese, and almost six million were diabetic, and obesity rates, at least, hadn’t changed significantly in the 20 years previously. By the early 2000s, when sugar consumption peaked, one in every three Americans was obese, and 14 million were diabetic.”
Rather, it is the type of calories we are mostly eating – sugar and refined carbs — (which are cheap to produce because of farm subsidies, highly profitable, and heavily promoted to us through advertising) that keep us constantly hungry and craving more of them.
This is a metabolic problem, not the lack of willpower – so don’t buy into the guilt-trip that obesity and diabetes are your fault because you eat too much and exercise too little.
Your best “sugar defense”
Because sugar and refined carbs are every bit as addictive and toxic as tobacco. And, as consumers, we must treat them as such.
Big Sugar has gotten a pass for more than 70 years.
It’s high time that the medical community and the mainstream media blow the whistle on what’s really making us so fat and sick.
Now that sugar has been unmasked as the real killer in the American diet, here are some tips that can help you conquer your sweet tooth and control your carb cravings…
Keep your insulin levels low. The best way to do this is to go “cold turkey” on sugar, sweets, sodas, beer, and desserts, plus anything made with white flour or refined corn. This includes baked goods, chips, and commercial snacks. In addition, because they have a high Glycemic Index rating (meaning they convert to blood glucose very quickly), you should also avoid white potatoes, pasta, and white rice. Pass on fruit juices too, because of their high sugar content and lack of fiber.
Eat real food. In general, if a “food” comes in bag or a box, leave it on the shelf. Pick foods as close to their natural state as possible. (Canned and frozen vegetable and beans are okay.) Following this strategy will insure that the foods you’re eating contain maximum fiber and nutrients to control your blood sugar and sugar craving.
Eat protein with every meal. Protein and fat quash your hunger – and satisfy you longer. Choose eggs for breakfast (a veggie omelet is ideal). Alternate with steel-cut “Irish” oats (not instant or quick-cook oatmeal), topped with full-fat, unsweetened yogurt, fresh berries, and a sprinkling of bran or flax meal. Try a protein smoothie with whey powder or spirulina, plus hemp milk, berries, and flax meal. Eat chicken or tuna salad for lunch. And enjoy some high-quality fish or meat for dinner. If you’re trying to lose weight, don’t eat anything after 8 p.m.
Have three meals and two snacks. Eating every three hours whether you’re hungry or not, will keep your hunger, blood sugar, and cravings under control. You don’t have to eat a lot, but train yourself to get in the habit of frequent meals. You might think this will increase your weight, but you’ll get just the opposite result. Studies show that people who skip meals actually eat much more at the next meal.
Pack your snacks and food with you. This is a great survival tactic in today’s carb-crazy culture. Make sure your snacks include some protein, fat, and complex carbohydrate. Good examples are nuts, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, natural meat jerky, crunchy vegetable slices, and nut butters.
Tote healthy beverages. Always carry your own water. For a change of pace, flavor it with a slice of lemon, lime, or orange. Chilled green tea or herbal tea is perfect, too. Hot tea and coffee are perfectly acceptable. Avoid diet sodas and artificial sweeteners. These actually increase your hunger and sugar cravings. If you need your beverage sweetened, use a tiny bit of stevia or non-bitter SLIMTEVIA. Neither will spike your blood sugar.
Be patient. If you have a strong sweet tooth, the first three days may be uncomfortable. But I encourage you to be strong and stick it out. The longer you abstain from sugar, the weaker your cravings will become. Break yourself from the habit of having dessert after every meal. (Have fresh fruit instead, if you simply must have something sweet.) During the day, if cravings get too intense, suck on an ice cube, a Lifesaver, or a frozen grape. Some people find that chewing gum helps – or a timely tooth-brushing.
Accentuate the positive. Behavioral scientists have found that the best way to break a bad habit is to substitute a good one. Instead of focusing on giving up sugar, think about “eating more healthfully”—plus all the good benefits that will be yours as a result.
What are your secret tricks for beating your sweet tooth?
Are you having trouble giving up sugar, sweets, and sodas? What seem to be your biggest obstacles?
Have you licked your sugar habit? If so, how did you do it? What techniques or tricks really worked for you?
If you have diabetes, do you monitor your blood sugar after eating sweets or drinking a soda? What effect do these have on your readings?
Please share your story here so all of us can offer you help – or benefit from your success.
I’m here to help you. And we’re all in this to learn from each other. So please share freely.
Your comments could make a big difference for someone!