How Sweet It Isn’t: What happened to me when I gave up sugar – Part 3

…continued from September 1/2014

infographic-sugarsI notice that my appetite has diminished. I grew up a farm girl and I’ve always had the appetite of a hired hand, proudly able to keep up with my brother or my dad when it comes to putting away a piled up plate of food. I am also less prone to snacking in the evenings.

And the scale continues to show it. Five months into the “experiment” I am down 30 pounds.

I notice my knees no longer crackle when I climb stairs, something that I had heard off and on since my 20’s. It makes sense. Sugar causes inflammation, which leads to lots of debilitating diseases like arthritis, perhaps even crackling knees!

I also notice that I have no pain. I spend one weekend moving ten pickup truck loads of furniture with my daughter. The old me would have been unable to get out of bed the next day with stiffness and soreness from using muscles that are usually inert. But I have no pain.

I have not had a headache, backache or any other body-part-ache since stopping sugar. I no longer keep over the counter pain medication in my home. It is not relevant.

Before stopping sugar I had done a hormone profile in an effort to address post-menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats. Four of the five hormones they measure were so low they didn’t register. I didn’t know it because I forgot to get my results until June. When I went for the results I suggested that I should redo the profile given that I was feeling so different. We did another profile.

The results were astonishing. All my hormones were in the middle of the normal range. My health care professional was astounded that removing sugar could make such a profound difference.

I am very happy about my own results but also sad to know that so many women are on risky Hormone Replacement Therapy when one simple change in their diets could bring them relief. And so many other benefits.

Altogether I lost 35 pounds, stabilizing in the last six months at the ideal weight for my height, a goal I have only achieved a couple times in my life and with great effort. This has been virtually effortless. My goal was not weight loss but I am happy to experience that benefit.

I am amazed by my energy. My husband says, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” Right now, I have to say 30! That is almost half my age. I know I can outrun and outwork most 30-year-olds. I keep up with my granddaughters (grandtoys) biking and hiking.

People often comment that I don’t look like a grandmother. I’ve started to reply, “I eat right” and I am amazed by how people are taken aback at this simple mantra.

Many people say, “Oh, I could never give up sugar!” I used to think that too.

I didn’t do it overnight. For years I was oblivious to the need for eliminating sugar, believing cutting back was good enough. It was a good start and looking back, it prepared me for quitting. It simply wasn’t enough.

I learned that it doesn’t take much of this poison to cause crazy things to happen to your body. I never would have experienced all those benefits if I had not given up sugar entirely.

You might have great success simply by cutting down on sugar. I have to give it up because I can’t eat just one cookie; I need the whole bag. I can’t eat a two-inch piece of cake; it ends up being six inches! Remember my doughnut story? I am a sugar addict. One doesn’t need to drink alcohol to be an alcoholic. (Incidentally, I suspect alcoholism is a sugar addiction).

Currently, sugar has little appeal. In fact, I think it stinks. I never thought sugar smelled but since I’m off it I can smell a chemical/plastic odor when I’m in the presence of doughnuts, candy or cake.

I now find sweet fruits like pineapple, grapes and ripe bananas too sweet to eat. In the last few months, I’ve eaten less fruit. Mostly, it’s a snack or a treat once or twice a day. I usually gorge on in-season fruits like cherries. We’ll see if I have the same appetite for them this year.

Many people ask me about sugar substitutes. I avoid them (the sugar substitutes, not the people asking me!) as they all fall under the processed food category. There is evidence that the body doesn’t quite know what to do with fake sugars (and other fake foods). They are suspected of contributing to, not preventing, as they claim, obesity. Even more alarming, sugar substitutes are implicit in the diabetes epidemic.

“What about in your tea and coffee?” I am frequently asked. I never was a coffee fan and I drink herbal teas that have an implied sweetness like mint or some of the fruit blends, without honey or sugar. I most often drink hot water with lemon. Lemon helps the liver (which is affected by sugar and other chemicals in our food and water.) If you sweeten your beverages, gradually cut back then switch to a small amount of stevia, maple syrup or honey. Eventually you will do without.

“I’m okay. I drink Diet Coke,“ some folks assure me if the topic of sugar arises. I don’t always get into it but they think it’s a good thing to have sugar-free drinks. I do not. Aspartame is a known neurotoxin. Evidence points to its contribution to Gulf War Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, even some cases of Parkinson’s Disease.

Trading one toxin for another possibly more dangerous toxin does not make sense. Yet my friends send me recipes calling for Sucralose or Cool Whip (fake fat with fake sugar) and they drink Diet Coke! (If it’s not diet, it might be sweetened with high fructose corn syrup another unfood that the body doesn’t know how to process. All sodas contain phosphoric acid, which essentially leeches calcium from your bones).

One of the most dangerous things about sugar is that it is everywhere, in almost every processed food. When we embraced low-fat diets, manufacturers substituted sugar for the fat. To avoid sugar successfully, one must avoid processed foods. They may not seem to have much sugar but manufacturers trick us by using several different sugars. That way, they appear lower down on the ingredients list, leading the consumer to believe that sugar is not the main ingredient, when in fact, it is.

How much sugar is too much? Recently the World Health Organization slashed their recommended limit of sugar calories to 5% from 10% of the diet. The new levels equate to three teaspoons for women and five for men per day. For perspective, a bowl of cereal or a half-cup serving of yogurt typically contain six teaspoons of sugar. A can of Coke has ten teaspoons of sugar, two days’ allotment for men, three days’ for women!

The average North American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar each day; the average child, 32 teaspoons each day! Then we wonder about the scary cancer statistics threatening that one in two of us will develop cancer in our lives.

Why don’t these stats come partnered with the message that sugar feeds cancer and that when sugar is removed from the diet, tumors shrink? Why? Because food manufacturers and lobbyists don’t want consumers to know that their products are killing them.

We never hear that cutting sugar decreases our risk of heart disease because inflammation, (not cholesterol) is the cause of heart disease. Sugar causes inflammation. And statin drugs (anti-cholesterol) are some of the most profitable pharmaceuticals invented, so nobody wants to step forward to say “stop eating sugar and you won’t need this medication”.

Astoundingly, the sickness care business is oblivious to sugar’s role in the mushrooming diabetes rates, affecting younger and younger children. Type II diabetes was once called “adult-onset diabetes” but so many kids have it, that name no longer accurately describes the condition. Sadly, much money is made on diabetes treatments and monitoring, and the health companies aren’t about to start telling us the truth about why we have diabetes.

I believe most cases of diabetes could be prevented if we eliminated processed food and sugar from the diet. A few years ago an experiment was conducted at the London Zoo. A number of volunteers were confined to the zoo and fed what a gorilla would eat: up to ten kilograms of raw fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts each day. After one month the results were incredible. All participants lost weight. Many had to get off their medications for diabetes and heart disease. They enjoyed many other surprising health benefits.

Some online searching will reveal many success stories of people going back to eating the way nature intended: whole real food. People have cured themselves of cancer, diabetes and heart disease, the big killers, and a host of other ailments by adjusting their diet. We don’t hear about these miracles because there is no money to be made treating disease with food.

Not every eating plan works for every person. You can’t go wrong with eating simple foods, mostly raw, mostly plants and not too much of anything.

I strongly recommend you weed out the processed sugar (and even the fruit sugar if you’re overdoing it). I suspect you will be surprised and delighted with the changes you’ll see in your body and how you feel in general.

I am personally astounded by the magnitude of the changes in my body and overall feeling of good health and energy simply because I consciously eliminated processed sugar from my diet.

Good health is a journey. We are all on different places on the path. I feel like I am many steps closer to my goal of optimum health because I gave up sugar. Knowing what I know now, I am convinced I will never go back to consuming copious amounts of sugar like I once did.

I have discovered that sugar isn’t so sweet after all.

Salt of the Earth

saltAre you afraid of salt? Is that fear based in fact?

Sodium is key in the operation of all signals within, as well as to and from, the brain.

Salt is so essential to the body that if you drink too much water it can flush salt out of your system and cause fatal hyponatremia.

Consumption of too MUCH salt can be deadly: about 1 gram of salt per kilogram of weight will kill you. In the western world we are constantly reminded to lower our sodium intake.

Obviously salt, like anything else, can be used for good or for evil. There are variables. For example, the kind of salt you ingest really matters.

Ideally you consume unrefined sea salt. All salt came from the sea at some point. The difference is in the refining. Table salt is heavily refined where sea salt is generally sourced by evaporating water out of sea water, leaving salt.

Sea salt isn’t white. It can be grey or yellowish or pink. But never white. White is a sign of refining. Refining is a sign of reduced nutrients.

Sea salt contains as many as 84 trace minerals in addition to calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Table salt is primarily kiln-dried sodium chloride with anti-caking agents added. (18 food additives are allowed in salt!) Kiln drying involves scorching salt at high heat to remove moisture. Trace minerals, as well as calcium, magnesium and potassium are also removed creating a product that is unnatural to the body, contributing to high blood pressure, heart trouble, kidney disease and eczema, among other problems.

Besides quality, the quantity of salt ingested is a major factor. The average North American consumes two or three times the recommended daily allotment for salt, about 1500 mg. Some experts believe our health woes could be dramatically reduced (by up to 50%) if we cut our salt intake in half.

The majority of salt consumed in North America comes from processed and restaurant foods. Food manufacturers understand that salt (along with its fellow criminals, sugar and fat) is highly addictive. They have gradually added more and more salt to their products, conditioning their customers to that taste in food. They also liberally use another offensive salt, monosodium glutamate or MSG, a known neurotoxin, which excites the taste buds, providing the illusion of better taste.

If you avoid processed and restaurant foods you can better control the amount and the quality of salt in your diet and therefore control the health problems it causes or exacerbates. There are other benefits too: fewer transfats, more fibre, less sugar, etc.

Leave the shaker off the table. Or don’t cook with salt but add a little at the table, to taste, meaning taste first, then sprinkle.

Choose sea salt; it’s more expensive but you will use less of it.

Be aware of hidden salt. Soft drinks, for example, are major sources of sodium.

Many companies make salt substitutes; I prefer those made with organic herbs and spices. They are good transition products to help your taste buds return to their natural state. Be careful not to eat too little salt.

At first you may find that you miss salt but I assure you that you will quickly get used to using less. You will find that food tastes different, better and requires less seasoning in general.

Then you will find that processed and restaurant foods are often too salty to eat. I can no longer stand to eat soup in a restaurant or out of a can: too salty!

Don’t be afraid of salt. Its historical significance is no coincidence. It is vital for life.

(I first became aware of the effects of salt when I was pregnant with my first child over three decades ago. My doctor advised me of the dangers and identified some of the hidden sources of sodium. Reducing sodium gave me immediate benefit and I have been vigilant about salt ever since).

Sources:

Michael Pollen has written a number of good books including “In Defense of Food” where he discusses fat, salt, and sugar.

Mineral content of sea salt:

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/list-minerals-sea-salt-8907.html

Hyponatremia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyponatremia

Three Sinister Substances

msgnonoSurprisingly, many Canadians don’t bother reading labels on the food products they buy. Even for those who do read them, they are often confused.

 

In general, food manufacturers are ashamed of many of the ingredients they put into our food so they do everything in their power to mislead consumers.

 

Here are three examples of ingredients that are prevalent in processed foods: Monosodium glutamate or MSG, high-fructose corn syrup or HFCS and trans fats. Most people know that it’s best to avoid consuming these “foods” but they are unaware of the pseudonyms that are employed to fool us into complacency.

 

Monosodium Glutamate: MSG is added to enhance the flavor of food. It is common in restaurant foods, canned soups and dinners, frozen dinners and many other processed products. Why it’s not good for us: MSG is a neurotoxin, exciting areas of the brain artificially and causing severe reactions in some people. Others have minor reactions.

 

Here is list of the names by which it can hide on food labels:

 

annatto, autolyzed yeast, barley malt
,brown rice syrup, calcium caseinate, carrageenan, citric acid, dry milk solids, glutamate,
glutamic acid, guar gum, hot dog analogs, hydrolyzed corn gluten, hydrolyzed protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, isolate,
lecithin (if from hydrolyzed soy products), malt extract, malt flavoring, maltodextrin, milk powder, monopotassium glutamate, natural chicken, beef, pork flavoring, bouillon & broth, natural flavor(s) & flavoring(s), protease,
 protein enzymes,
 protein fortified, rice syrup, seasoning, smoke flavor or flavorings, sodium caseinate, soup broths, bouillon, soy protein, soy sauce, spice, texturized vegetable protein, whey protein, yeast extract, yeast food, and anything enzyme modified, soy fortified and fermented, could be hiding MSG.

 

High Fructose Corn Syrup: HFCS is a cheap alternative to sugar made by adding chemicals and enzymes to and significantly altering corn. Manufacturers love it because it is sweeter than sugar so they need less, it’s cheaper than sugar (largely because of government corn subsidies and taxes on sugar imports), and there is some evidence that it is more addictive than sugar, ensuring repeat business.

 

Why it’s bad: Experiments on rats show the message of satiety usually sent to the brain after sugar consumption is altered or non-existent from HFCS. This explains the addiction and the over-consumption of products containing HFCS and why this product is suspected of significantly contributing to the obesity epidemic.

 

Studies also suggest it often contains mercury, for which there is no safe level.

 

The HFCS industry touts it as “natural” because it is made from corn, which is a very bad joke. By the time corn is bombarded with various chemical processes, it is far from natural.

 

Here is the list of HFCS aliases:

 

agave syrup (but not always), chicory, corn syrup, crystalline fructose, dahlia syrup, dextrose, fruit fructose, glucose syrup, glucose-fructose syrup, glucose/fructose, high maltose corn syrup, inulin, isoglucose, maize syrup, maltodextrin, syrup powder, tapioca syrup. Corn producers have recently petitioned the FDA for the right to call it “corn sugar”.

 

Beware that unscrupulous producers add HFCS to honey and maple syrup. Know your suppliers!

 

Trans fats: Because of recent media coverage, most people know that they should avoid trans fats but they don’t know why or what they really are.

 

Decades ago Ancel Keys hypothesized that the consumption of saturated fats, mostly from animals, had a direct effect on heart disease. Keys selectively used the data he collected in six countries (ignoring data from 22 others that didn’t fit his theory) to prove his foregone conclusion that saturated fats are unhealthy.

 

In collusion with governments and health care providers, manufacturers rushed to replace animal fats with cheaper vegetable oils, chemically treated to be solid at room temperature and therefore mimic animal fats. They enjoyed the added bonus of longer shelf life for their products, reducing costs and food waste.

 

Unfortunately the human body does not recognize these fats as real food and doesn’t digest them properly. Ironically they are thought to cause heart disease, diabetes and cancer and contribute to the rise in obesity in North America.

 

There is no safe level of trans fat consumption.  In Canada, if a product contains less than two grams of trans fats per serving, the manufacturers can claim that it’s trans fat free. Of course they often base their claim on ridiculously small serving sizes: ever see anybody eat just ONE cookie?

 

Trans fat pseudonyms include:

 

edible oils, hydrogenated vegetable oil, margarine, non-hydrogenated plant shortenings made from naturally saturated palm oil, coconut oil and palm kernel oil, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, partially-hydrogenated plant oils, shortening. Most fried food contains trans fats as high heat also alters the composition of oils.

 

Avoiding these three substances is easier if you stick to whole real food. Prepare larger quantities of homemade foods and freeze extras in individual portions to replace canned and frozen dinners. Replace prepared foods with fresh vegetables, salads and fresh fruit.

 

Use real oils like coconut oil and butter for frying, (which should be done infrequently) and use extra-virgin olive oil and raw nut oils in salad dressings and marinades.

 

Honey, agave and stevia are the best sweeteners to use. Better still, satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh fruit, which comes with the added bonus of fibre, and vitamins and minerals to help your body manage the sugars they contain.

 

When dining out ask for MSG, trans fat, and HFCS-free choices or frequent those establishments whose policy is to serve whole, real food.

 

Happy eating!

 

Sources for this article include: Google, Natural News.com. Wikipedia.com