October 5, 2014

The Toxicity of Sugar


I had the pleasure of attending a Blue Stocking Salon speaker event at Stanford on Thursday featuring Dr. Robert Lustig.  Dr. Lustig is the UCSF pediatric endocrinologist who has done extensive research on the effects of sugar on our health, delivered the viral You Tube lecture, “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” and is now passionately fighting the FDA and the food industry to make the addition of added sugars mandatory on all nutrition labels.  His talk was titled, “The 3 Hidden Myths of the Food Industry” and I thought I would highlight my notes for you since I only saw one of you at the event.  🙂

Most of you know that this is also a topic that I am passionate about as we are literally killing our kids and ourselves with all the sugar drinks and processed food.  I still cannot understand why anyone brings processed food and gatorade/sodas/fruit juice for post game or practice snacks, PLEASE stop bringing these items, this food is really toxic.  And if I was passionate before, I am overly passionate now.  I do not want to come across as judgmental or preachy, EVER, but I do want you to know that I care about your health and the health of your children, so at least think about the information in this blog and how you can make a few changes that might have a lasting impact on the health of your family.
Myth #1 – It’s about obesity
We have a WORLD HEALTH CRISIS and it IS NOT OBESITY!  The health crisis is about metabolic dysfunction for which obesity is a result not a cause.  Chronic metabolic diseases account for 75% of all healthcare dollars – and this is preventable!  Normal weight and obese people are almost equally at risk for metabolic dysfunction, with obese people at a slightly higher risk.  There are plenty of very healthy overweight people and plenty of very unhealthy thin people.  The food industry wants you to believe that the problem is about obesity because then it becomes about “personal responsibility” – which ironically was a term introduced by the tobacco industry.  If it is about “personal responsibility”, then it lets them off the hook.  The food industry grosses 1 trillion dollars a year yet we are losing 1.4 trillion to food related diseases, that means that we are all paying the price both with our health as well as financially (drives our insurance costs WAY up).
Did you know that before 1980 there were ZERO cases of type 2 diabetes in children?  Type 2 diabetes in children is on the rise and has increased by 30% in the last 5 years.
Myth #2 – A calorie is a calorie
Every diet works for 2 months, but most people regain the lost weight within the first 6 months after losing it.  Why?  Diets don’t work unless you change your lifestyle.  Different calories are metabolized differently depending on the fiber content.  A cup of carrots has approximately 50 calories, but you only digest about 3/4 of those calories due to the insoluble fiber.  Processed food is FIBERLESS food.  We have a limited ability for our livers to metabolize fructose (sugar) – we are only designed to metabolize 6 teaspoons a day.  YES, that is what I said, SIX TEASPOONS A DAY!!!
Exercise if one of the best things you can do for you health, but if you want to lose weight, you have to address your diet and lifestyle.
Myth #3 It’s about personal responsibility
As I mentioned earlier, it is not about personal responsibility, it is about the government sleeping with the food industry and caring more about their profits than your health – PERIOD.  They spend BILLIONS on advertising to brainwash you into thinking differently, so please, do not let them!
So, what can you do?
1.  Invest in your health, you and your family are worth it!  Buy and eat real food, preferably organic fruits and vegetables, grass fed meats, and wild caught fish.  Farm raised fish (which are corn fed) and corn feed cattle are unhealthy.  Did you know that it takes 18 months for a grass fed calf to mature and fatten up enough to be slaughtered, but takes a corn fed calf SIX WEEKS.  That is disgusting!
2,  Educate yourself and your kids.  Watch the movie Fed Up for movie night, pop some organic popcorn at home cooked on the stove in coconut oil and have a great time.  The more our kids understand the issue, the better informed they are to make healthy choices for themselves.   Other resources are the PBS special “Sweet Revenge” and a new website which is launching in November – sugarscience.org.
3.  Try to discourage parents from bringing snacks to practices.  Let each child bring their own snack if they need one.  If you serve meals at the end of sports games, encourage parents to make them healthy meals with limited sugar offerings.
4.  Be mindful of what you are eating, read the food labels, look to see if the food has added sugar or unwanted chemicals.  You can make small changes over time that will have a lasting impact on your health.
5.  When you eat dessert, make it worth it!
If you would like to read more, Dr. Lustig has written several books including Fat Chance:  Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease.  There are many interviews and published articles featuring Dr. Lustig including this one, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/dietandfitness/9160114/The-bitter-truth-about-sugar.html, and there is always the You Tube lecture.
If you would like help in improving your family’s diet/lifestyle, please let me know.
We are now in week six of our Back to Basics Shape Up Challenge.  Please continue with weeks 1-5, but this week, try to make either one day a vegan day or you can make 3 meals a week vegan meals.  Let me know if you have any questions.