Sunday, February 2, 2014

Food For Thought: Letting Go of Sugar. The Sugar Series

Celeste Buckingham-Run Run Run

First off, Punxutawney Phil has let me down. Apparently there will be 6 more weeks of winter.

I wonder if I'm the only one who prefers to watch Downton Abbey over the Super Bowl? Nevertheless, in honor of Superbowl Sunday this post will be about sugar.

(1) Very interesting interview from a physician proponent for banning sugar. This interview dives into the history a bit behind the economics of sugar.
Bottom line: Production/consumption of sugar, like any other commodity, is a profitable business. There is fear of "the nanny state" but it is the government's duty is to serve the people and take concern in our welfare. Government action will be required eventually down the road (whether it be an extra tax of some sort on sugar or the ban from sugar much like the recent ban on trans fats) as more and more of us are killed from diabetes. Diabetes and obesity are already epidemics and are major public health concerns.
Here's more stuff from Lustig's group including a study published in Nature.

It's really not a matter of whether there's evidence about artificial sweeteners causing obesity or diabetes. Many of the companies that manufacture these sugars have a much more powerful lobbying arm in congress to prevent FDA regulation revisions and curtail NIH/government-funded studies that would further substantiate the evidence that is already out there against sugar. Common sense should be employed to recognize that as humans we ought to consume things that allow us to survive and thrive. Sugar (namely the artificial fructose kind added in nearly everything) deceives us into thinking we are thriving, but it in fact does the opposite. Your body does not need fructose or these additives to survive. Don't wait for the evidence to pour in to quit or limit your sugar intake. It took over 60 years between the time cigarettes became mass marketed in the early 20th century in the US and the first report from the surgeon general was released with evidence and warning of cigarettes' health effects. Let's not wait around for bad evidence or the regulations from the FDA against sugar for us to take control of our own health. When those start to come in there will be extreme and heavy resistance from the food industry because for them it means less profits.  What we know to be bad or addictive should be consumed in rations only (if at all.) (on a different note, the rat sitting on the oreo was the kind of rats I used to do animal surgery on in our study. I'll never not be afraid of them.)

This is all biological evolution, we are a surviving species because our ancestors consumed natural sugars from fruits and did not die. Thus we are not wired to avoid sugar or even consider it as a toxin. With the advent of artificial/processed sugars the story is entirely different. We consume it because we don't have immediate negative biological/physiological consequences, but overtime those sugars are related to increasing rates of diabetes and they will eventually kill us.

(3) Another article describing the toxicity of sugar.
Here's the highlights:
 -The study found "medical inference of causation by linking dose (the more sugar that’s available, the more occurrences of diabetes); duration (if sugar is available longer, the prevalence of diabetes increases); directionality (not only does diabetes increase with more sugar, it decreases with less sugar); and precedence (diabetics don’t start consuming more sugar; people who consume more sugar are more likely to become diabetics)." This is an incredibly sound study that put into check as many controls as possible (basically the best laid out study aside from some longitudinal randomized controlled double-blind study performed in-house.)
-"for every 12 ounces of sugar-sweetened beverage introduced per person per day into a country’s food system, the rate of diabetes goes up 1 percent"
-"all calories are not created equal...calories give off the same amount of energy when burned, but your body treats sugar calories differently, and that difference is damaging."
-"Metabolic syndrome is a result of insulin resistance, which appears to be a direct result of consumption of added sugars."

Bottom line: sugar alone can cause diabetes regardless of whether you are obese or not (obesity also causes diabetes but that's a different story.) The question for many readers now might be "how do I deal with this?" I'll dive deeper into this again, but as with any highly addictive substance there are many ways two of which are:

(1) the best is to cut out added sugar from your diet entirely. The more you consume it the more you will want it (it even trumps fat.) It is as addictive as cocaine (if not more.)
Here's more evidence of that
And another
This is all because "sugar more effectively recruits reward and gustatory regions, suggesting that policy, prevention, and treatment interventions should prioritize reductions in sugar intake."
The longer you keep consuming it the longer you will want it. This is tricky so read your labels. There's even sugar in things like salsa and hamburger/hot dog buns since the food industry already figured out (A) it's a great way to preserve the shelf life of products so things can be mass-produced and save companies money and maximize their profit and (B) they understand that artificial sugar is addictive so they add it into products that have no business needing it in order to compel consumers to keep buying more. The basic and easy ways to remove it from your life is replacing things like soda with green tea or water, reading your labels, avoiding packaged foods that have added sugar. Even just drinking less soda will decrease your rate of developing diabetes. A way to cut cravings is to add some healthier carbohydrates into your actual meal (ie carrots, radishes, beets, squash, yams etc...see this list for more) This will effectually trick your brain into thinking that you already consumed carbs so you will not crave dessert as much. Another way is to eat more natural carbohydrates also high in fiber such as brown rice (NOT WHITE RICE!) and other similar items like bulgar wheat. At least this way if you do eat some sugar the fiber will slow the absorption.

(2) The more plausible approach is wean yourself off sugar by taking small steps to replace even 1 sugar item one week with something healthier and then build up until you remove it entirely.

I know this is hard and unconventional and goes against the grain (pun intended!) I am a big Cookie Monster but let's try this together! 


  1. You have an uncanny habit of posting exactly what I need to hear when I need to hear it. :)

    1. awww any way I can help...just a little telepathy!