by Christel Swasey
“All I want for Christmas is some diabetes, some heart disease, and some cancer cells. Gee, if I could only have my heart clogged up, then I could wish you Merry Christmas.”
How bad does that sound? Is your high-sugar diet really so dangerous?
It is a bad situation. What we are doing when we gift our loved ones with way, way too much of the high-sugar, high-fat, high-cholesterol chocolates, cookies, gravies and home-baked treats that we see as signs of love around the holidays is not very merry.
What many of us are doing to ourselves and our families, at Christmas, Valentine’s Day, the Fourth of July, and birthdays, is giving a gift that often amounts to poison, in the long run.
Excess sugar, cholesterol and fat have led some to call the way we eat in North America the S.A.D. diet, (The Standard American Diet) because we have almost completely eliminated the wholesome things from our diets, (“What are leafy greens?” “What is a legume?” ) –while consuming massive amounts of unhealthful, low-nutrient, artery clogging sludge (“Pass the cholesterol, please”).
An almost terrifying university researcher and Professor of Pediatrics at UCSF, Robert Lustig, MD, has an interesting –and passionate– lecture about sugar (that is now available on YouTube at http://youtu.be/dBnniua6-oM.)
His lecture, “Sugar: The Bitter Truth,” explains that the bad news about sugar has “has nothing to do with calories; it’s poison.” He makes no distinction between high fructose corn syrup and sugar. And yes, he uses the word poison repeatedly.
Dr. Lustig explains that while the Atkins Diet and the Japanese Diet look very different (one virtually eliminates carbohydrates, the other virtually eliminates proteins) they have something in common: they both eliminate sugar.
His lecture’s main theme is that sugar consumption, not overeating in general, is the cause of American obesity today. He cites the following statistics:
Natural consumption of unrefined fruits and vegetables would be about 15 gm. per day. Before the modern time of refining sugars had become our norm, that’s all people would consume: 15 gm. When corn syrup hit the market in the 1970’s, Lustig says, sugar consumption rose to 37 gm. per day. That’s about 8% of a person’s caloric intake.
By 1994, we were up to 55 gm. per day. Today, adolescents consume 73 gm. per day, roughly 12% of the daily caloric intake!
Dr. Lustig also calls corn syrup an economic evil, so cheap that it’s found its way into even hamburger buns, and into almost every processed food we buy.
And what can we do about these frightening facts? Eat less sugar. Watch out for it, in the factory-made foods we so readily –and unwisely– ingest.
Don’t eat those refined, processed foods. Don’t mistake corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, cane juice, or anything else for a healthy alternative to white sugar. It’s all the same, says Lustig– excess calories without nutritional benefits.
And make heart-healthy, anti-diabetic recipes the norm, rather than the exception, in your home.
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