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Posts Tagged ‘sugar’

sugar industry buys studies copy

Nutrition experts recommend women consume less than 25 grams, or 6 teaspoons, a day of added sugar (9 teaspoons for men). Yet the average American consumes almost 20 teaspoons a day! And that doesn’t even include fruit juice, a known sugar bomb.

How did we allow ourselves to stray so far? Powerful lobbyists with deep pockets played a big role in our overly lax boundaries with a substance that is tanking the world’s developed nations.

Recent findings show that 50 years ago the sugar industry quietly paid for research to blame fat for heart disease and minimize sugar’s role.

(Of course, now we know that the highly inflammatory effects of excess sugar are a major contributor to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases.)

Unfortunately, the propaganda campaign didn’t stop 50 years ago; it’s still going strong today.

Sickly sweet sales and marketing

For instance, a grape-juice funded study shows grape juice is good for brain function, despite it packing a whopping 36 grams of sugar per cup, more than what a person should consume in an entire day. Sugar is so degenerative to the brain that scientists now call Alzheimer’s type 3 diabetes.

Coca-cola spent more than $130 million dollars to fund research essentially saying exercise is more important than diet in the weight loss battle. While exercise is indeed important, how you fuel your body is equally important. We’ll assume Coca-Cola did not fund the studies showing a link between the obesity epidemic and soda consumption in the United States.

And, in a brazen show of hubris, the National Confectioner’s Association funded research that concluded children who eat candy weigh less than those who don’t. Despite being naysaid by one of its own scientists, the study nevertheless went on to be published in a respected journal.

Although food giants can buy their way into scientific journals, investigative journalists find these studies are poorly designed, incomplete, and only highlight the positives while ignoring the negatives. Because the average journalist is not trained in how to discern good research from bad, bad studies get ample press.

To spotlight these problems, one science writer conducted a hoax study that concluded eating chocolate causes weight loss and watched the media play it up.

Can you believe science? Yes, be mindful of fads

Does that mean you can’t believe any science? No, plenty of good research is still happening.

The trick is to ferret out the nutritional guidelines based on hundreds of solid studies and read the headline grabbers (chocolate linked with weight loss) with healthy skepticism.

At the end of the day, some nutritional truisms have held fast over the years:

  • Eat lots of different vegetables every day
  • Eat a whole foods diet (avoid processed foods)
  • Avoid or minimize sugars, junk foods, sodas, and juices
  • Eat healthy fats
  • Avoid the foods to which you are sensitive (gluten and dairy are common ones)
  • Exercise daily
  • Cultivate positive experiences, habits, and thoughts

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sugar and diabetes

For years, medicine has pegged obesity as the number one cause of diabetes. However, results of a recent large epidemiological study suggest it’s sugar that plays a pivotal role in diabetes. The study also illustrates that how many calories you eat isn’t as important as what makes up those calories — the study found calories from sugar is more damaging than calories from other foods.

Researchers looked at the correlation between sugar availability and diabetes in 175 countries during the last ten years and controlled for such factors as obesity, calories consumed, diet, economic development, activity level, urbanization, tobacco and alcohol use, and aging.

They found the more sugar a population ate the higher the incidence of diabetes, independent of obesity rates. According to Sanjay Basu, MD, PhD, the study’s lead author, “We’re not diminishing the importance of obesity at all, but these data suggest…additional factors contribute to diabetes risk besides obesity and total calorie intake, and that sugar appears to play a prominent role.” The study provides the first large-scale, population-based evidence for the idea that perhaps it’s not just calories, but the type of calories, that matter when looking at diabetes risk.

All calories are not created equal

One thing is clear from the study – although by definition all calories give off the same amount of energy when burned, sugar is uniquely damaging to the body.

The study showed an additional 150 calories from any food source caused a 0.1 percent increase in the population’s diabetes rate whereas an additional 150 calories of sugar caused it to raise a full 1 percent. That’s a ten-fold increase. To put it into perspective, a can of soda contains roughly 150 calories of sugar. Consider the average American consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day, or about 350 calories’ worth, and it’s clear why diabetes is the fastest growing disease in history.

The study also showed the longer a population was exposed to excess sugar, the higher the diabetes rates were. The clincher: Diabetes rates dropped when sugar availability dropped, independent of changes in calorie intake, physical activity, or obesity rates.

Does sugar cause diabetes?

Does sugar cause diabetes? It’s too early to say definitively, but this study clearly shows a correlation and spotlights the need for more research. Dr. Basu suggested sugar affects the liver and pancreas in ways that need more exploration.

What can you do to prevent or manage diabetes?

While there are various forms of diabetes, Type II diabetes, which is caused by diet and lifestyle, accounts for 90 percent of all cases of diabetes.

What can you do to minimize your risk for diabetes? Reducing your sugar intake is a great place to start. In functional medicine we understand that every body is unique. We start with a careful evaluation of your health history, lifestyle, heredity, nutritional status, and environmental risk factors. We help you customize a program that includes diet, exercise, stress management, nutritional support, detoxification, gut health support, and dampening of inflammation — all of which can dramatically affect your insulin and blood sugar levels and hence your risk of diabetes. This can reverse the path to diabetes and sometimes even the disease itself.

Ask my office for more information on support with blood sugar imbalances and diabetes.

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2 7 sugar makes you stupid

A recently published UCLA study shows what many have suspected all along: Eating too much sugar makes you stupid. Scientists found that just six weeks of bingeing on sweets and soda will sabotage both learning and memory. Fortunately, consuming omega-3 fatty acids can counteract some of the damage.

The study looked at the effects of fructose — in the form of cane sugar (sucrose), high-fructose corn syrup, and corn syrup — which is found in the American diet in everything from soft drinks to baby food. A whopping 156 pounds of sugar per year is what the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates an average American consumes, including 82 pounds of fructose, the sugar that was studied. In total, we Americans are consuming 150 more pounds of sugar per year than we did in 1822. Put another way, our sugar consumption has increased by almost a pound of sugar per person per year. Every year. That’s a lot of sugar.

Sugar lowers the brain chemical needed for memory

While sugar’s role in obesity, diabetes, fatty liver, and even Alzheimer’s Disease has been established, this is the first study to show how sweeteners directly affect the brain.

Sugar reduces the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a brain chemical necessary for the formation of memories and for learning and recall. As expected, those with diabetes or pre-diabetes (insulin resistance) show lowered levels of BDNF. Additional research links low BDNF levels to depression and dementia.

DHA can help protect the brain from sugar damage

In the UCLA study, two groups of rats were given a fructose solution for six weeks in addition to their regular feed. One group of rats also received omega-3 fatty acids in the form of flax seed oil and DHA, an omega-3 compound that protects the brain from damage and facilitates memory and learning.

The rats were trained to learn a maze in five days. After six weeks of being given the sugar solution, they were then put back into the maze to test their memory. The rats that received the omega-3 oil and DHA were able to negotiate the maze much faster. The brains of the DHA-deprived rats showed a decline in synaptic function, poor communication between neurons, and worsened memory. These rats also developed a resistance to insulin, a hormone necessary not only for blood sugar regulation but also for brain function. Insulin controls synaptic function, and so imbalances in insulin may disrupt neurons and cause memory loss.

The study clearly suggests that fructose impairs memory and learning. It also suggests that a daily intake of DHA, such as through salmon, walnuts, flax seed, or a supplement, can help protect the brain from the harmful effects of sugar.

DHA cannot stand up to 156 pounds of sugar

Of course, simply adding more DHA to your diet isn’t going to counteract the damage of eating 156 pounds of sugar a year. The best way to stay smart is to cut out the sweeteners and moderate your carbohydrate intake to a level that doesn’t disrupt blood sugar balance. A bonus side effect of this lifestyle change is a way out of your daily energy highs and lows, and who knows, maybe even a dropped pound or two.

For help getting started on a brain-healthy diet, contact my office.

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