The Holiday Red Zone – Watch Out for Fumbles

by drpaul

In football jargon, the area within twenty yards of the goal line is called the Red Zone. There is nothing more disheartening to a football fan (and team) than when their team makes it inside the 20 yard line but fumbles the ball away to the other side. Both fans and coaches will go ballistic if their team loses possession from a fumble or an interception inside the 20 – turnovers are never good in football, but when they occur inside the Red Zone, at best it’s a momentum shift; at worst, it can be a game changer.

For our health, the ‘Red Zone’ is the holiday season – the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. As it is, the seasonal change from Fall to Winter is hard on our immune system, and it’s the beginning of cold and flu season. Without a doubt, this time of year is made worse by the abundance of unhealthy food choices that overwhelm us during the holidays. From people bringing baked goods and candies into offices to the numerous parties and family celebrations that seem to be anchored around Christmas cookies, pies, and cakes, temptations are all around.

The double … no, triple … no, quadruple whammy This is not an idle threat – not only is sugar bad for our health, but pies, cakes, cookies, and crackers are made with refined flour, which acts just like sugar when digested, and flour comes with inflammation-promoting gluten. So pies and other holiday “treats” create a triple whammy of sugar and refined flour, both of which cause rapid increases in blood glucose levels, resulting in decreased immune function, and finally, some disease-promoting inflammation. And finally, as a quadruple whammy, eating nutrient-poor sweets causes us to not eat (or displaces) the nutrient-dense foods we should be eating for our health in general and the immune system in particular.

Sugar Decreases Immune Function It’s long been known that sugar intake causes decreased immune system function. Studies have shown that the immune system is weakened substantially within minutes of eating refined sugar; the more you eat, the more your body’s insulin response system is compromised. The body’s cell-mediated immunity uses specialized white blood cells called neutrophils to attack tumors, viruses, and bacteria,  and is decreased when there is elevated blood glucose, which is caused by eating refined carbohydrate foods such as sugar and white flour. [Sanchez A, et al. Roles of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis. Amer J Clin Nutr 1973; 26:1180-1184. (view article)].  What’s more, not only are we more susceptible to getting colds and flu, even our body’s ability to fight cancer is compromised when we eat sugar. [Ely JTA, Krone CA Controlling Hyperglycemia as an Adjunct to Cancer Therapy. Integrative Cancer Therapies 2005; 4(1): 25-31. (view article)]

Don’t Fumble – Hold Onto the Ball So, how does one avoid the temptation of all those seemingly “yummy” foods that we’ve grown up with? First, we must own up to the fact that “a little won’t hurt” is a lie – sugary foods will hurt your body, and the more you indulge, the more it hurts your body – yes, it’s cumulative (in case you were wondering, that’s how people end up overweight, with heart disease, diabetes, and cancer). Second, if the temptation is at the office where holiday cookies, cakes, candy canes, etc. are everywhere, pack nutritious snacks and lunches to take to work – if you have strong fall back foods, you’ll be less likely to indulge. Third, if you’re headed to an office Christmas party or some other holiday celebration where you know there are going to be ample opportunities to indulge in an array of ‘disease foods,’ here are some good strategies: (a) eat healthy foods before you leave for the party; (b) bring some healthy munchies yourself – look at it as an opportunity to share how great a Paleo diet style can be; (c) when eating at a party, focus on eating the veggies and other healthy, nutrient-dense foods first; that way, your appetite will be satiated before hitting the desserts or other non-food health ‘derailleurs’.

You can do it!

Yours in health, Dr. Paul

The Dietary Trifecta – Sugar, Salt & Fat: How To Eat Them Responsibly

by drpaul

Sugar is good. Sugar is bad.

Salt is good. Salt is bad.

Fat is good. Fat is bad.

All true statements, in a way.

Our bodies need all three, but probably not as much as you might be eating … or in the form you’re eating … OR more importantly, the source they’re coming from, etc.

Boy, are we confused in today’s culture. Studies now show that people are so confused about what’s good to eat and what’s bad to eat, they’re simply giving up. This isn’t a case of a little is good and too much is bad. The truth is that sugar, salt and fat are all good under certain conditions or when they meet certain criteria; and not simply because a little sugar (or salt or fat) is good and a lot is bad. It turns out the quality and type of sugar, salt and fat are the critical issues.

Good Sugar
There are sugars found naturally in foods such as bananas, dates, and honey. They are part of the natural food supply within our environment and can be considered good or healthy sugars. Because these “natural” sugars, when found within whole foods, are bound to fiber and combined with enzymes, vitamins, phytonutrients, minerals, co-factors and other natural nutrients that allow or cause the body to digest and metabolize them through healthy pathways and timelines, they are considered healthy sugars.

However, what’s not natural or healthy is an unlimited supply or overindulgence, even of natural or “healthy” sugars. Over the past five hundred generations as human biological requirements were being formed, abundance wasn’t a concern; famine was. Therefore, our bodies are designed to withstand famine but not indulgence or overconsumption of any foods, including healthy sugars found in natural foods. Early man did not have an unlimited supply of bananas, honey or strawberries (nor did those fruits resemble some of the hybrid fruits grown today to accentuate their sweetness). It should also be mentioned that because fruit juice comes from a natural source does not mean that it qualifies as a good or healthy sugar – it’s no longer bound to the fiber and other nutrients that are the hallmarks of a healthy food – it has become a refined sugar product with the same negative health effects as refined sugars.

Bad Sugar
A general statement can be made that any sweetener added to food is almost always going to be a refined, processed concentrated sugar of some sort; the exceptions being raw honey, dates (not date sugar) molasses, xylitol, and Stevia. It’s been only recently (in the last 3-4 generations), that man has devised ways to create highly concentrated “unnatural” sugars such as sucrose (table sugar), high fructose corn syrup, crystalline fructose and the myriad of sugar derivatives. Similar to the risk of overabundance, during the eons of time when the current human genetic code was stamped into its present form, humans never experienced these unnatural, man-made, concentrated sugars. They are very toxic and deleterious to our health. These manufactured, super-sweet sugars cause the body to react in unhealthy ways resulting in damaged organs, tissues and cells in the form of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and obesity.

Good Sugars:

  • Whole fruit
  • Raw honey
  • Whole dates
  • Blackstrap molasses

**Even natural good sugars should be consumed in moderation, even fresh fruit.

Bad Sugars:

  • Sucrose – table sugar (including dextrose, fructose)
  • Corn syrup
  • High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • Crystalline fructose
  • Extracted, filtered, pasteurized fruit juices
  • Fruit juice concentrates

When we eat any foods that cause an abnormal spike in our glucose levels, which in turn causes abnormally high insulin levels, we put our bodies on a path to destruction. The foods that cause these abnormal conditions to occur are unnatural, concentrated sweeteners, such as those listed directly above. Eating unnatural concentrated sugars causes:

  • Insulin resistance
  • Impaired glucose tolerance
  • High insulin levels
  • High triglycerides
  • Hypertension
  • Weight gain

NOTE: Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal) or sucralose (Splenda) are an entirely different topic with their own story to tell, none of it good.

NOTE 2: Grains act like sugar when we eat them – meaning they too cause high insulin levels.

Worth Your Salt?
In ancient Rome, soldiers were paid part of their wages in salt (the modern word salary is derived from the Latin word “salarium” – salt money); that’s where the term, “He’s not worth his salt” came from.

Salt is an essential substance used by nearly all living creatures, including humans, and is vital for survival. Salt, in solution with water, provides many regulatory metabolic functions within our bodies. Proper health is in part determined by the delicate balance of mineral salts and water that exist inside and outside our cells.

Salt as a food additive or seasoning has been around for nearly 6,000 years and has always been valued as a spice or condiment.  In its natural form (i.e. unrefined sea salt), it provides necessary minerals and trace elements and can therefore be considered healthy – but with major qualifiers: (a) unprocessed; and (b) not over consumed.  Unfortunately, table salt used commonly today is not natural and does not contain the valuable nutrients common to natural unprocessed sea salts.

Salt Found in Foods Naturally – GOOD
Salt, also known as soduim, does contain natural minerals including magnesium, calcium, sulfur, silicon, potassium, bromide, borate, and strontium and trace elements. What most people don’t realize it that all of the salt that you need is already found in many natural foods like fruits and vegetables. There is no need to add additional salt to foods.  In fact, too much salt can be deadly. You can easily get enough salt through eating a whole foods based diet.

Processed Table Salt – BAD
Most American’s grow up with Morton’s Iodized Salt – salt that typically contains 98% sodium chloride and 2% chemical additives and has been processed using high heat (1200°F), chemicals, and finally iodine added to it. This industrial processing changes the chemical structure and strips away valuable nutrients that are naturally occurring and health promoting. The end product is simply sodium chloride with added fillers (sugar and aluminum silicate , anti-caking agents) to stabilize the added iodine and to make the salt flow better.

The USDA says that people 19 and over should have no more than 2400mg of salt per day.  Based on what we know about the USDA, use this number as and extreme upper limit for salt intake. The problem is that most Americans are eating many times this amount per day, mostly from processed foods. Up to 75% of the extra salt that Americans are eating is from processed foods, with 20% coming from table salt. Only 5% of salt is coming from natural, healthy sources.  For instance, one McDonald’s Angus Bacon and Cheeseburger contains 2070mg of salt.  That is 85% of the absolute maxium amount of salt you can consume each day. The lesson here is to stick to fruits, veggies and healthy meats.  And kick the Morton’s to the curb.  For the foodies out there, if the thought of tossing your table salt makes your culinary ego cringe, do not fear.  Much like salt, a squeeze of fresh lemon can bring out the natural flavors in food, not to mention, the vitamin C will help you kick your squelch your salt cravings.

The Skinny on Fat
If there’s one thing health science has learned over the past 25 years, it’s that sufficient intake of quality fats is essential for health; this even includes saturated animal fat, long considered a taboo amongst so-called health experts. But don’t let the simplicity of that statement mislead you – it’s not an endorsement to eat any animal fat, deep fried foods, milk shakes, chips made with oils and the like; far from it – the quality AND source of fat is critically important.

First, the concept that eating fat will make a person become overweight is not an accurate statement. In fact, the current obesity epidemic began when Americans adopted the low-fat, non-fat, dietary regimen in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s that still persists today. Unfortunately, this “myth” of ‘avoiding fat because it will make you fat’ extends to the present, and as a culture, we’re paying dearly for it. What’s at the center of the obesity epidemic is not the need to avoid fat, it’s the consumption of grains, sugars, and processed vegetable oils which elevate insulin, the “fat storage hormone” that’s making our culture obese (in combination with sedentary lifestyles and chronic stress, which also cause abnormal insulin and fat metabolism).

As it turns out, our bodies utilize fat for nearly every metabolic process including brain function, immune system, and hormone production and regulation, to name just a few. These important bodily systems require a consistent supply of good fuel throughout each day in the form of fat (along with quality protein, and abundant complex carbohydrates in the form of vegetables). There are a special group of fats called essential fatty acids (EFA) which like the name states, are essential – our bodies can’t manufacture them, they must be consumed. The most important fat our bodies need in good supply (and are almost always lacking) is omega-3 essential fatty acids, commonly found in wild (not farmed) fish, grass- or pasture-fed animals, walnuts, avocados, and other raw nuts and seeds. The other principle essential fat is omega-6 fats which are found primarily in processed vegetable oils and grains, which unfortunately predominates the Standard American diet. Here’s the rub: for optimal health, we should eat a balanced 1:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 EFA; however, today, scientists have calculated that most people are eating a diet giving them a ratio of 1:20 or even 1:50 in favor of omega-6 because the average American eats a diet dominated by grains (breads, pasta), cereals, chips, fried foods, baked goods, etc. that contain or are made with omega-6 vegetable oils and worse – hydrogenated vegetable oils which are very harmful to the body, causing heart disease and cancer.

Good Fats:

  • Extra virgin olive oi
  • Walnuts
  • Avocado
  • Wild caught fish
  • Pasture-fed, grass-fed meats
  • Fish oil supplements

Bad Fats:

  • Deep fried foods
  • Processed vegetable oils (found in nearly all packaged foods such as chips, snack foods, breads)
  • Hydrogenated oils
  • Grain-fed meats
  • Cured meats (deli or “lunch meats”)
  • Processed dairy (pasteurized, homogenized milk, ice cream, cheese)

Mastering these three critical food groups is similar to learning how to successfully merge onto an interstate highway – if done correctly, your journey to health will be smooth and uneventful; done poorly, it can be fatal.

Related Resources:

New England Journal of Medicine Study on the Effects of Salt Intake on Cardiovascular Disease

MSNBC: American’s Consume Too Much Salt

How To Manage A Salt Addiction

Why Salt Addiction is Hard to Kick

25 Suprisingly Salty Processed Foods

CDC: Few Americans Meet Salt Guidelines

Sugar – the devil’s food

by drpaul

After the Jesuits’ introduction of sugar in 1751, sugar became less expensive to produce (thanks in large part to slavery), and sugar/sweetener consumption has risen steadily (per person/per year):

sugar

  • 1821:     10 lbs.
  • 1880:     38 lbs.
  • 1970:  119 lbs.
  • 1990:  132 lbs.
  • 2007:  158 lbs.

It’s contained in many, many foods; it wreaks havoc with many of the body’s physiologic systems and plays a central role in the current heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity epidemics. The culprit: plain old sugar, and its thinly disguised evil cousin, high fructose corn syrup.  Yes, they will kill you. Maybe not overnight, but over time, sugar and corn syrup-derived sweeteners will erode your health, leading to many fatal diseases.

Sugar is a super-concentrated, unnatural food – the fact that it comes from something natural doesn’t make it natural to the body (gasoline comes from something very natural – oil – and is therefore essentially a natural product, but you wouldn’t want to eat it).

In the past 75 years, our modern industrial culture has seen a unique convergence of many negative lifestyle factors that have lead to a dramatic increase in ‘lifestyle behavior diseases’ which include heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, senile dementia, and cancer (yes, cancer is a lifestyle disease, not a genetic one as is commonly believed). This “Perfect Storm” of disease-producing lifestyle behavior choices includes the following:

  • A decrease in the intake of micro-nutrients and trace elements within our food supply due to commercial farming practices utilizing year-round growth cycles and nitrogen-based petrochemical fertilizers, creating epidemic nutritional deficiencies or malnutrition within modern industrial nations, as well as food processing methods that strip nearly all nutrients from our food.
  • An increase in toxicity of our food supply due to the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides in combination with modern food processing techniques utilizing chemical additives, and preservatives.
  • An increase in consumption of food that has been processed to the point where there is little to no nutritive value.
  • A pronounced decrease in physical activity levels unprecedented in the history of mankind.

 

More

Paleo in a nutshell

by admin

What’s Paleo?
Paleo refers to the period about 50,000 years ago when the blueprint for human physiology – our genetic code – was stamped into its present form, during the what’s called the ‘Late Paleolithic’ period.

What’s that mean?  Well, let’s first look at how our prehistoric Paleo hunter-gatherer ancestors ate – they gathered plants and hunted or scavenged wild animals. So, our ancestors ate nuts, seeds, lots of plants (mostly vegetables and some fruit), and wild animals. Do you notice what’s missing from that list? That’s right – there wasn’t Starbucks, McDonald’s, Domino’s, supermarkets, Red Bull, Dunkin’ Donuts, Twizzlers, refrigeration, salt, chemical preservatives, processed vegetable oils – you get the idea.

Grains – the Lucifer of foods
But, most notably, what’s missing from that list above, what our ancestors didn’t eat was … grains. That’s right, no cereals, breads, pasta, pizza, crackers, bagels, cookies. Humans started utilizing agriculture approximately 10,000 years ago and this is CRITICALLY IMPORTANT: because grains weren’t part of our environment for the eons leading to the formation of our genetic code, the human body doesn’t digest or metabolize grains well at all . In fact, GRAINS ARE VERY BAD FOR HUMANS.

Yes, that flies in the face of what most people have been led to believe, even some misinformed doctors and of course, our lobbyist-influenced governments who make recommendations for eating multiple servings of grains as part of a “healthy diet” (think Food Pyramid). The truth is that eating grains will result in a loss of health over time because eating grains causes inflammation, and promotes high insulin levels – both of which are hallmarks of nearly all disease processes.

Milk does a body … BAD
The other major food  that wasn’t part of our ancestor’s environment or food supply was dairy products in general and milk in particular. Although milk doesn’t contain gluten like its evil twin grains, milk does cause elevated insulin levels, which, as  mentioned above, is a major contributor to many disease processes.

So what am I supposed to do?
Eat lots and lots of vegetables, nuts and seeds, and pastured or wild animals. This means incorporating plants with your breakfast, salads and vegetables with lunch AND dinner. Snack on nuts and seeds with a little fruit. Make treats using ingredients such as coconut, raw chocolate (or unsweetened cocoa), nuts, seeds, coconut oil, almond flour, hazelnut flour, coconut flour. For example, a huge hit for all of us at Bonfire are Raw Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

Don’t forget your HEALTHY FATS
Fat is the body’s preferred source of energy - so make sure you eat lots of healthy fats. What’s a healthy fat? I’m glad you asked. Healthy fats come with eating healthy animal protein – pastured or grass fed beef, lamb; cage-free organic chicken, and wild caught fish. Healthy fats also include things like walnuts, avocado, olive oil, and coconut oil.

Avoid UNHEALTHY FATS
Unhealthy fats include the obvious foods – milkshakes, french fries, chips, and fried foods. What most people don’t realize is that processed vegetable oils in the form of corn oil, canola oil, soy oil and the like have become so common place within our modern processed food landscape that they’re in virtually all packaged foods.

Last, but not least … SUGAR
Another food that didn’t exist “back in the day” was sugar.  A healthy Paleo diet does not include sugar. Yes, our ancestors probably had periodic opportunity to eat raw honey and fresh fruit, but it wasn’t readily available to eat at will, whim or craving. Sugar is highly toxic to the human body – please read ‘Sugar – Your Second Worst Enemy’.

Last, and most importantly … move toward eating well.
The goal isn’t perfection – it’s progression. Start here with the basics.

 

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT PALEO:

Paleolithic - Wikipedia
Paleolithic Diet – Wikipedia
The Paleo Diet
by Loren Cordain – considered the ‘father of Paleo science’
The blog of Robb Wolf
, author of The Paleo Diet Solution

The Big Lie

by drpaul

Living Out of Balance – The Key to Health

Where did ‘Everything in moderation’ come from? Is it some remnant of earlier puritanical times to prevent people from engaging in overt excessiveness? Does it come from some fear of denying ourselves the things we think are pleasurable? Or is it simply the ultimate rationalization of our denial that we as a society engage in disease-producing lifestyle behaviors?

If science has shown what the optimal levels of exercise and sleep that areDunkin donuts needed for optimal health, and if science has shown what foods bring us not only toward health but away from disease, does it make any sense to ‘moderate’ them and ‘balance’ them out with seemingly pleasurable but negatively impactful lifestyle choices, such as eating nutrient-poor, health-robbing, processed foods full of sugar or artificial sweeteners, unhealthy oils, man-made chemical additives, flavors, and preservatives? Is it really okay to eat donuts, pasta, deep fried foods, and get too little sleep, in moderation? Is there a moderate amount of hydrogenated oils, MSG, artificial sweeteners, or soda pop made with phosphoric acid and high fructose corn syrup that our bodies can metabolize and still remain healthy? Is that even a discussion we should be having? No way.

  • Should we only drink a moderate amount of water? Or should we drink the right amount, the optimal amount? 
  • Should we exercise moderately or optimally? 
  • Should we eat the optimal amount of vegetables which provide the vitamins, minerals, trace elements, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and fiber that are essential for every cell in our bodies? 
  • Or should we eat vegetables only in moderation, balancing those health-promoting foods with pizza, fried chips, soda pop, white flour, and processed dairy, foods nonexistent when the genetic code for optimal health physiology was being formed?

If something you eat or drink doesn’t cause immediate toxicity, but will ultimately undermine your health, is it okay to consume them over time, leading to disease? In other words, if science has shown beyond a shadow of doubt that certain lifestyle choices lead to a breakdown in health over time, is it okay to engage in those behaviors ‘in moderation’?

Seeking Pleasure and Avoiding Pain – Our Genetic Blueprint
As science has come to learn what the neurobiological mechanisms that drive us toward certain choices or behaviors, which are, in their simplest or most primitive form, the seeking of pleasure and the avoidance of pain, it is quite understandable why we would choose to satisfy cravings and desires. The problem lies with the choices available to us in today’s modern world.

During the time of our genetic molding approximately 40,000 years ago in the Paleolithic era, there weren’t the food choices that carried the burden of toxicity and disease that exist today. As early humans, we of course sought out pleasurable foods such as sweet berries, honey, fatty animals, and ripened fruit and vegetables that served to satisfy both our body’s physiologic needs for health and our pleasure drives. Foods that could cause epidemic rates of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and obesity either didn’t exist, required tremendous amount of energy expenditure to acquire, or were seldom consumed. For example, the choice between fresh water and foul, stagnant water was ‘no-brainer’; stagnant water didn’t taste good and it made you sick. Today, though, we have Frappuccinos, Diet Coke, Monster Energy drinks, and other unnatural, processed foods made with chemical ingredients that taste great due to their ability to hyper-stimulate pleasure centers in the brain and lead to a myriad of health conditions including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity, senile dementia, and osteoporosis – food choices that were nonexistent in the history of man until very recently. We now have intensely sweetened foods and foods seasoned with a group of chemicals called neuroexcitotoxins such as MSG, that literally hijack the pleasure centers of the brain, creating unnatural neuroadaptive responses, leading to inappropriate lifestyle behavior choices driven by unnatural cravings.Cropped Red apple

The solution? Whenever you are about to buy or eat any food, ask yourself ‘Was this food 20,000 years ago?’  If you can’t answer yes, then don’t eat it; chances are, it’s what I like to call sick and sad food.

Live Excessively
Do all the things science has now shown to promote health, in excess! Exercise, drink lots of pure water, eat lots of organic vegetables and fruit, raw nuts and seeds, grass-fed lean animals, and cold-water fish in excess (hint: you can’t do these things in excess; try drinking too much water – the body self-regulates naturally). Don’t ‘moderate’ them, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s okay to ‘balance’ those health-promoting lifestyle choices with disease-producing behaviors done in moderation. Just because they won’t kill you overnight, doesn’t mean they won’t kill you.

Pursuing health through mitigation or moderation is simply a false paradigm.

Yours in health, Dr. Paul

 

The Kids Are On Crack

by admin

If you’re following natural sleep patterns, you probably didn’t catch Jimmy Kimmel Live last week. (Its airs a bit late to accommodate my generous sleeping habits.) However, Jesse and I randomly caught this clip on Hulu. Jimmy asked people to videotape their kids’ reactions when parents jokingly told them that they had eaten all their Halloween candy. The results were hilarious. They are also very telling of the kind of hold that sugar has on our kids.

You would have thought you were telling some of these kids that a nuclear war was breaking out. What kind of news would you have to receive in order for you to react like that?

Can we really blame the kids? We know that food is essentially manufactured to be addictive. Its power over some is similar to street drugs, hence the name of this post. I have a particularly strong sweet tooth, myself.

Are there any mothers out there that indulged in sweet cravings during pregnancy? Or even breastfeeding? Eating something processed to be sweet during pregnancy, or “sugar bombs” as we call them around the office, can impact your children’s desire for sugary foods later in life. That third scoop of Cherry Garcia after a long day in your third trimester isn’t looking so justified anymore. The good news is that tastes can change, even our kids’.

So how do we get the kids off the sugar or at least loosen its drug-like hold on them (and us)?  Even though it sounds extreme and tough to manage, the best bet would be following in Gisele Bundchen’s footsteps (never thought I’d say that). People reacted in surprising ways when she announced that her son “thinks broccoli is dessert”. People thought she was depriving her child of something; cake on birthdays and a bucket full of sugary crap on Easter. But maybe that’s not so crazy. Think about how much easier it would be to be healthy if we simply didn’t have the desire to ingest sugar. What if some fresh blackberries or a few beets completely satisfied our sweet tooth? Our hunter-gatherer ancestors didn’t have “fun size” snickers bars or freeze pops, and they didn’t have any problems with diabetes.

My advice? Focus on progression, not perfection. Start talking about healthy snacks like they are coveted treats around the kids. Get them excited about nutrition. Teach them the difference between sick and sad foods and happy and healthy foods. Make them understand that food is fuel for their bodies. If we’re honest with ourselves, its probably a good reminder for all of us.

Sugar: Your Second Worst Enemy

by drpaul

It Tastes Sweet, But It Will Kill You: Sugar – The Ultimate Disease Food

It’s contained in many, many foods; it wreaks havoc with many of the body’s physiologic systems and plays a central role in the current heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity epidemics. The culprit: plain old sugar, and its thinly disguised evil cousin, high fructose corn syrup.  Yes, they will kill you. Maybe not overnight, but over time, sugar and corn syrup-derived sweeteners will erode your health, leading to many fatal diseases.sugar

Sugar is a super-concentrated, unnatural food – the fact that it comes from something natural doesn’t make it natural to the body (gasoline comes from something very natural – oil – and is therefore essentially a natural product, but you wouldn’t want to eat it).

In the past 75 years, our modern industrial culture has seen a unique convergence of many negative lifestyle factors that have lead to a dramatic increase in ‘lifestyle behavior diseases’ which include heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, senile dementia, and cancer (yes, cancer is a lifestyle disease, not a genetic one as is commonly believed). This “Perfect Storm” of disease-producing lifestyle behavior choices includes the following:

  • A decrease in the intake of micro-nutrients and trace elements within our food supply due to commercial farming practices utilizing year-round growth cycles and nitrogen-based petrochemical fertilizers, creating epidemic nutritional deficiencies or malnutrition within modern industrial nations, as well as food processing methods that strip nearly all nutrients from our food.
  • An increase in toxicity of our food supply due to the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides in combination with modern food processing techniques utilizing chemical additives, and preservatives.
  • An increase in consumption of food that has been processed to the point where there is little to no nutritive value.
  • A pronounced decrease in physical activity levels unprecedented in the history of mankind.

Added to this…after the Jesuits’ introduction of sugar in 1751, sugar became less expensive to produce (thanks in large part to slavery), and sugar/sweetener consumption has risen steadily (per person/per year):

  • 1821:     10 lbs.
  • 1880:     38 lbs.
  • 1970:  119 lbs.
  • 1990:  132 lbs.
  • 2007:  158 lbs.

When found in nature as fruit (think strawberries, bananas, etc.), sugar is in the form of a complex carbohydrate bound to fiber, which functions to slow down or inhibit the breakdown and absorption of the sugars into the blood stream, creating a gradual flow of sugar (glucose) into the blood stream. Refined sugars (simple carbohydrates), such as sugar (versus sugar cane) or apple juice (versus an apple), have been stripped of their natural fibers, allowing for rapid digestion into the blood stream, which causes blood glucose levels to spike. This results in over-secretion of insulin, the carrier hormone that transports glucose from the blood to the cells and tissues. Normally, insulin secretion is gradual, corresponding to the gradual absorption of sugars found in complex carbohydrates. When eating refined sugar or corn syrup, the sudden demand for insulin becomes acute and insulin is ‘dumped’ into the bloodstream. This acute demand for insulin production and secretion overwhelms the pancreas, the organ that produces and secretes insulin. It gets worse: over time, sustained levels of insulin (from continuing to eat refined carbohydrates such as sugar, corn syrup, and white flour – the diet of Americans) results in insulin resistance, a chronic but deadly condition where the body’s cells don’t respond to insulin in a normal or healthy manner, causing even more insulin to be secreted (think of the pancreas as ‘shouting’), thus aggravating insulin resistance syndrome even further, creating a self-perpetuating cycle which ultimately leads to many disease processes including atherosclerosis (clogging of the arteries), cancer, diabetes, weight gain/obesity, high blood lipids (abnormal LDL:HDL cholesterol levels), and mineral depletion.

Now with an unlimited supply and unlimited access to foods containing sugar or corn syrup, as a society, we’re totally hooked – sugar is without a doubt, addictive. To verify this for yourself, try going 2, 3, or 7 days without any refined sugar; one, it’s hard to even find foods that have none; two, if you’re like most people, your body is habituated/addicted to the sweet poison.

Sugar Destroys Your Health

  • Causes Obesity and Diabetes
  • Causes Mineral Loss
  • Disrupts Hormone Function
  • Depresses the Immune System
  • Causes Chronic Disease
  • Increases Cancer Risk

Sugar Decreases Immune Function
It’s long been known that sugar intake causes decreased immune system function. Studies have shown that the immune system is weakened substantially within minutes of eating refined sugar; the more you eat, the more your body’s insulin response system is compromised. The body’s cell-mediated immunity, which uses specialized white blood cells called neutrophils to attack tumors, viruses and bacteria, is decreased when there is elevated blood glucose, which is caused by eating refined carbohydrate foods such as sugar and white flour. [Sanchez A, et al. Roles of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis. Amer J Clin Nutr 1973; 26:1180-1184. (view article)]

What’s more, not only are we more susceptible to getting colds and flu, even our body’s ability to fight cancer is compromised when we eat sugar. [Ely JTA, Krone CA Controlling Hyperglycemia as an Adjunct to Cancer Therapy. Integrative Cancer Therapies 2005; 4(1): 25-31. (view article)]

As an illustration, let’s look at one of the worst sugar foods out there: soda pop.

SODA POP – THE ULTIMATE SUGAR DELIVERY SYSTEM
As has been mentioned, there are many huge problems affecting our health today:

  • We no longer eat fresh, natural, whole, organic, nutrient-dense foods; instead our diets are now dominated by processed foods devoid of nutrients and filled with toxic chemicals, synthetic fats, and artificial sweeteners.
  • Neglecting the critical nutrient of movement or exercise in our lives, which – like fresh foods – is genetically essential for health, the vast majority of people now live sedentary lives, which further hastens the onset of virtually all diseases.

As a result, the current statistics are staggering: 1 out of every 2 people will die of heart disease; 1 out of every 3 people will die from cancer; 1 out of every 4 people will develop diabetes; 60% of adults and 35% of children are obese (by the way, obesity is the defining risk factor for heart disease, cancer, and diabetes).

The most startling aspect of those statistics is that all of those diseases were nonexistent, or very rare occurrences, in earlier times amongst the hunter-gatherer cultures that determined the genetic code that our bodies live by today. In other words, the diseases so common today are best described as lifestyle diseases, or behavior diseases.

One of the central players in this cultural health maelstrom (def: a situation marked by confusion, turbulence, strong feelings, violence, or destruction) is our nation’s habit of consuming sweetenhigh-fructose-corn-syrup3ed beverages that destroy our health – in particular, Americans love soda pop. Soft drink manufacturers make enough soda pop for every person to drink 54 gallons per year. That works out to be 576 12 oz. cans per year, or 1.6 cans per day. It also works out to be over 15 teaspoons of sugar (150 calories) per day. Making matters worse is that soda pop is most often sweetened using high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners, both of which have even greater health risks than sucrose (table sugar). By the way, eating 50 extra calories per day for five years will cause you to gain 50 pounds. Hopefully you are starting to understand the connection between the consequences of our lifestyle choices and their effect on our health (i.e. the ever-increasing diabetes and obesity epidemics).

SODA POP DESTROYS YOUR HEALTH IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS:

Soda pop causes calcium and bone loss:

  • When carbonated liquids go into the stomach (stomach cells are not genetically equipped to handle carbonation), the stomach responds by ‘pulling’ calcium from the blood, creating an antacid to neutralize the carbonic acid; the body, with its incredible innate intelligence, knows that maintaining calcium levels in the blood is critical to many things, including brain and muscle function, and replenishes blood calcium levels by drawing calcium from bones.
  • The phosphoric acid in the soda pop also causes an imbalance in the delicate ratio of calcium-magnesium-phosphorus, causing the body again to draw calcium from the blood and bones to maintain this critical mineral balance.

Soda pop causes diabetes and insulin resistance:

  • Twelve ounces of soda pop contains almost ten teaspoons of sugar; now we have super-sized servings in thirty-two or even sixty-four ounce Big Gulps®, which contain twenty-nine and fifty-three teaspoons of sugar respectively. This incredible dose of refined sugar is immediately absorbed into the bloodstream, wreaking havoc with the body’s ability to manage insulin production and blood glucose levels, leading to diabetes, insulin resistance, heart disease, obesity, and metabolic syndrome.

Soda pop causes cancer:

  • Refined sugar intake is associated with increased cancer risk.
  • Because carbonated beverages contribute to acid reflux, drinking soda pop is associated with increased risk of esophageal cancer.

Soda pop disrupts the critical pH of the body: high-fructose-corn-syrup

  • Soda is 100,000 times more acidic than water. The body’s pH (the balance between alkalinity and acidity) must stay within a very narrow range; when the pH shifts, the body will do virtually anything to correct it to avoid catastrophic breakdown in physiological function. The body neutralizes acidity by pulling minerals such as calcium out of the blood or wherever possible, including bone. This is yet another contributing cause of osteoporosis (another cause of osteoporosis is milk consumption – yikes, more on that later).

Soda pop causes weight gain, contributing to the obesity epidemic, in three ways:

  • #1: Extra calories always cause weight gain, no matter how you look at it. The body stores excess carbohydrates as fat. As mentioned above, as little as 50 extra calories per day over a five year period will result in a fifty pound weight gain.
  • #2: When processed by the liver, fructose is preferentially converted to fat.
  • #3: Fructose doesn’t cause the body’s satiety mechanism (feeling satisfied) to be activated, as does glucose, so you will keep eating.

Soda pop causes atherosclerosis (clogging/hardening of the arteries), high blood pressure, and heart disease:

  • Because of how fructose is converted into fat by the liver, soda pop consumption increases LDL lipids (“bad cholesterol”) and decreases HDL (“good cholesterol”), leading to a build-up of plaque within arteries, which narrows the blood vessels, leading directly to high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes.

Some people reading this will be thinking ‘Isn’t that a bit extreme? After all, what’s more American than having a soft drink at a picnic or my son’s baseball game?’ (not to mention that soda is usually served with a hot dog or chips that have been deep fried, and a sandwich made with processed flour, and cured meats – boy, we’ve got this disease-food thing down to a science don’t we; unfortunately, an evil science). Or my favorite, ‘I just have one once in a while – if it’s in moderation, it can’t be that bad, can it?’ There are two types of toxicity or poisoning: 1) Acute: resulting in vomiting, fainting, convulsions, death, etc.; 2) Slow or chronic accumulation of toxins, which ultimately break down the body’s physiological function. Soda pop falls into the second category (diet soda is even more toxic than the regular sugar-poison variety). My cynical response to the “everything in moderation” paradigm is to ask ‘Is it okay to do crystal meth or cheat on your spouse, in moderation?’

Should you have any further doubts about the dangers of soda pop, high fructose corn syrup, and their direct correlation to the obesity and diabetes epidemics that are CRUSHING Americans of all ages, I encourage you to watch this video:

 

Wondering what your FIRST worst enemy is?  Don’t make the mistake thinking that diet sodas containing artificial sweeteners like sucralose (Splenda®) or aspartame (Nutrasweet®, Equal®) are safe – they are far from it; and they cause weight gain (if you think about it, who’s always drinking diet soda? Yep, overweight people). Furthermore, scientific research links artificial sweeteners with leukemia, brain cancer, migraines, depression, and blindness – more on that topic here

 

Below is the trailer for the award-winning documentary Sweet Misery:

To watch the fantastic, full-length documentary film Sweet Misery about the TERRIBLE DANGERS of eating or drinking any food containing aspartame, click here.

The take-away: make water your predominant beverage – it’s what you are genetically designed to drink. You can do it!

Stealthy Sugars: Understanding Your Body’s Response to Sugar

by admin

Ever walked through the breads section in a store and thought “mmmmm?”  Ever noticed how sweet the smell is?  That’s because breads (even whole grain), along with other processed grains such as pastas, tortillas, pitas, etc. are really fairly simple, fiber-less sugars disguised in a more fluffy form.  Why is that a big deal?  Well, here is the gist.

Processed foods (foods no longer in their natural form, the only way you eat grains) have very little fiber and therefore a huge glycemic load.
This means your stomach digests that food down to sugars that enter your blood stream very quickly.  The problem with that is that historically, in nature we would never come in contact with a food like that (except maybe honey and that would only be around seasonally, along with some angry bees).  Pretty much all other natural foods (i.e. from the earth:  veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, lean meats) are loaded with tons of nutrients, one of them being soluble fiber which slows the absorption of those sugars into your blood stream.

Where are you getting your fiber?
A common misconception is that cereals and whole grains are a good source of fiber, but when compared to fruits and veggies, they pale in comparison.  Per 1000 calories, processed grains have roughly 6-24 grams of fiber, whereas fruits have 41 grams and vegetables have a staggering 185 grams! (Paleo Diet for Athletes p 101).  Slowing the absorption of sugars is important because high blood sugar is stressful to the body.  One of the major reasons high blood sugar is stressful to the body is its negative role on your immune system function.

The Immune System
You see, your immune system is a powerful system of white blood cells (WBC) that police your body, finding and destroying foreign objects (bacteria, viruses).  Now these WBCs require, amongst other things, Vitamin C to function properly.  Think of the WBCs like the police force in a city and the Vitamin C is like the weapons that are given to the cops to deal with criminals.  Sugar (a.k.a. grains/bread) has a structure very similar to that of Vitamin C, so the Vitamin C absorption sites are blocked and the WBCs get bogged down with sugar and can’t get the Vitamin C that they need.  This has a terrible effect on the efficiency of your immune system.  Have you ever heard that a can of Coke or a candy bar decreases your immune system function?  This is why.

This is exactly why people are told to take Vitamin C when they are sick.  Vitamin C supplements boost the amount of that essential vitamin in our blood, allowing the WBCs a chance to get the weapons they need.  This does not mean that we should always be taking Vitamin C; it means we need to eat a diet rich in veggies and fruits because they are naturally loaded with Vitamin C and other nutrients, and their sugars are released much more slowly.  This natural way of eating keeps our immune system healthy, rather than treating a toxic super-sugary lifestyle.

Grains and Diabetes (Our Children’s Cancer)
Did you know that of the children born in the year 2000, 30% are predicted to be diagnosed with diabetes during their lifetime.  Diabetes Type II (Diabetes Melitus) is now the 7th leading cause of death in the US. Click here to see more statistics about Diabetes Type II.

It’s also completely preventable, avoidable, and reversible.

Insulin
When you eat sugar or processed grains (a muffin, piece of toast, bowl of pasta or cereal), your blood sugar spikes very quickly, causing your pancreas to put out insulin.  Insulin is a hormone that is required to allow sugar to enter into our cells.  You should think about insulin like a door man, knocking on the cell’s door to let it know that there is sugar outside for use.  Without the doorman (insulin), the sugar just floats through the bloodstream, causing eventual havoc on our tissues.  This is a brilliant system; you eat food, it’s broken down into sugars, and insulin gets it into the cells.  Here is the problem:  the western diet, with its high amounts of processed foods (grains, sugars, fiber-less food substances) and low amounts of vegetables and fruits, is the exact recipe to keep super high amounts of sugar in our blood.  This means that our pancreas is always stressed, producing more and more insulin, which then is constantly pounding on the cell’s doors yelling “Hey cell, there is some sugar out here, hey, hey HEY!!”   Well, cells are just like you and me, and that constant knocking is not only annoying but stressful, so your cells will down-regulate their insulin receptors (decrease the number of doorways for the sugar).  This down regulation results in something called insulin resistance.  Insulin resistance is when your cells become resistant to insulin, so they no longer listen to the doorman.  This is the definition of type II diabetes (Diabetes Miletus).

Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance results in a constant high blood sugar content which is damaging to our tissues.  In addition, insulin is used not only to get sugar into the cells, but it also it serves as a door man for many other nutrients.  This means that insulin resistance (DM II) causes nutrient starvation.  Once insulin resistant, our cells have a difficult time getting calcium, magnesium and a host of other nutrients because the door man has annoyed our cells for too long, and many of the doors have been boarded up.  Insulin resistance plays a role in many adaptive physiological processes, such as osteoporosis due to decreased storage of calcium, and high blood pressure due to decreased magnesium uptake.

Another interesting fact surrounding insulin resistance is that not all of our cells board up their doors (down-regulate insulin receptors) at the same rate.  First, our liver down regulates, then our muscle cells, but it is our adipose (fat) cells that are some of the last cells in your body to become resistant.  This means that your fat cells will continuously grow and store that sugar in the form of fat.

When we eat in the manner that we were designed to eat (hunter-gatherer; wild meats and fish, fruits, nuts, vegetables, seeds), our insulin or nutrient storage system works like it should, and we express health.  Diabetes II is 100% preventable, correctable and avoidable when we use our bodies as they were intended, by eating, moving and thinking in the manner which we were created/evolved.

For more info on diabetes:

How 6 People Got Rid of Their Diabetes in 30 days

The Paleo Diet

Dr Paul Kratka’s Blog Post on Insulin