Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Is Your Sweet Tooth Killing You?

I have heard it said that "we are digging our graves with our teeth," and I think that is a fairly accurate statement. I would add to that and say, "we are drinking ourselves to death," as well. After watching a medical lecture called "Sugar The Bitter Truth" I feel even more compelled to educate on just how evil sweeteners are. The presentation is a full hour and a half and is filled with statistics and diagrams that would bore most folks to tears; but for me, it was riveting. If you are able to sit through it, and actually grasp what is being said, you will never look at fructose the same again. For those who don't have an hour and a half to spare, I am going to summarize some of what I learned. You can also read this article published in the New York Times, "Is Sugar Toxic", by Gary Taubes who, like me, is convinced that Dr. Lustig is onto something.

But before I delve into the dangers of sugar, humor me and allow me to go off on a rabbit trail for a minute. I need to first address what NOT to do in response to what you are about to learn about fructose. Even though artificial sweeteners weren't addressed in the lecture, I think it is important to draw your attention to some of the side effects that come from using Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal, Amino Sweet) and Sucralose (Splenda). I find it disturbing that so many people in the health and weight management industry encourage the use of artificial sweeteners like Aspartame and Sucralose. Not only are there numerous reports and studies that suggest they are dangerous, there is little evidence they help with weight loss. In fact, according to Consumers' Research Magazine, "There is no clear-cut evidence that sugar substitutes are useful in weight reduction. On the contrary, there is some evidence that these substances may stimulate appetite."

If you want to check a list of 92 different documented side effects of Aspartame you can see them here. Another good reference, if you want to know more about the history of Sucralose and its safety, can be found here. There are a few sites that will defend the use of artificial sweeteners, but you'll notice they have a vested interest. I have never found a true health advocate encouraging the use of artificial sweeteners. So my suggestion for those who use artificial sweeteners is: do your due diligence. Research for yourself the many side effects, and then ask yourself is the risk worth the benefit. With research suggesting that there IS no benefit, making a decision to remove them from your diet should be easy. Actually following through may prove more difficult than you think though because they are addictive just like caffeine. If artificial sweeteners are a part of your daily life, prepare yourself for withdrawals when you make the decision to quit!

Now, with that off my conscience, let's get back to fructose and the bitter truth about sugar. Fructose is a fruit sugar right? And if you believe the ads that are being run, there is no difference between high fructose corn syrup and sugar. If you will to take the time to listen to Dr. Lustig, you'll learn what makes both of them detrimental, and why high fructose corn syrup is the greater of the two evils. In 2009 he participated in the UCSF Mini Medical School for the Public and his lecture was posted on youtube titled: Sugar The Bitter Truth (with over a million viewers to date.) In the hour and half presentation he helps the audience see how America has been hoodwinked. As the amount of sugar consumed has skyrocketed (now an estimated average of 141 pounds per person yearly) we have seen a similar rise in obesity. The statistical graphs he presents are astounding. As we reduced our fat intake as per recommendations beginning in the early 80's, our sugar intake has increased. Interestingly there has been an almost identical rise in obesity. Coincidental? I don't think so! I can't do his research justice here, so if I have piqued your interest click on the title above to watch it yourself.

He goes on to demonstrate that it is actually fructose that is causing the rise in heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. What if he is right? These are all conditions that are occurring at epidemic rates. And they are all preventable, and reversible…contrary to what the drug companies want you to think! An easy way to determine if Dr. Lustig is on to something would be to add the healthy fats back into the diet, and get the fructose out. It is doubtful that we'll see a nationwide campaign to make that happen, but it can certainly happen on an individual level.

If you are a person who is already plagued with one of the above conditions, or if you'd just rather not get to that point, a good place to start would be to make pure filtered water your drink of choice.
Eliminate sodas and juices (even the 100% fruit juices) completely. When the fiber is stripped from the fruit, the fructose laden juice that is left over becomes almost as unhealthy as soda. "Don't drink your calories" is a good motto to have, but don't fool yourself into believing that "diet low calorie" drinks are okay either. They are toxic, addictive, and have too many side effects for me to even list on this forum.

If water is too bland for your taste buds, squeeze some fresh lemon into it. You don't have to give up your Java, but limit yourself to one cup. I'll even give you permission to sweeten it as long as you only use a teaspoon of sugar. If you are hung up on low calorie, choose stevia. Be careful of the brand you pick though. Pick one that is naturally processed. "Stevia in the Raw" is a good choice. "Truvia", on the other hand, is manufactured by Coca Cola. Need I say more? Wine, in moderation, is actually good for you, and would be an exception to the rule about drinking your calories. Red wine is better for you than white, and a glass per day is even recommended by some doctors. Milk will have to be the topic for another blog; but unless it is raw, it should be avoided. If your only options are the grocery store, the best choice would be almond milk, with rice coming in second, and soy being among the list of "never consume" foods. Changing your drinking habits should only be the beginning. Ideally, you should eliminate all high fructose corn syrup from your diet, and reserve indulging in sugary confections for special occasions.

If you have been inspired to make changes, great! If you haven't… watch the video! My short blog post only offers a taste of the bitter truth that Dr. Lustig so eloquently serves up.

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