Sugar: The Total Body Destroyer
Cut out the white stuff — it’s as addictive as heroin
Published: Friday, April 13, 2012
Updated: Friday, April 13, 2012 17:04
I’ve talked about it, I’ve written about it, and I’ve pled undeterred to the masses: limit your sugar intake, as it produces terrible effects on your body.
We know now it’s addictive (because it tastes so good), and we know it leads to obesity and the resultant diseases. Now brave researchers are coming forward with the scientific proof that sugar is the direct cause of heart disease.
For years, doctors have been educating their patients to undertake low-fat, low-cholesterol diets in the pursuit of heart and cardiovascular health (think Cheerios). Dr. Dwight Lundell mentions in a recent article that despite the huge number of people with heart disease that are prescribed cholesterol medication, we are reaching a point where more people will die from heart disease than any time in history. He identifies the culprit: arterial inflammation. That inflammation has been linked to sugar intake (again, think Cheerios). Type “is sugar toxic” into Google and see what comes up.
I’d love to continue this beat down of sugar’s reputation (which is kinda fun), but this column has always been about how you can improve your life today. So what foods have sugar? Well, pretty much everything has added sugar (remember it tastes awesome, and is addictive). If you start looking at the ingredient lists on food you’ll find sugar everywhere, and not just in candy and soda. For example, those dried seaweed things that I see everyone at Stern eating? Sugar. The rotisserie chickens you buy at supermarkets? Injected with sugar to make them taste better. And, yes, my personal favorite, peanut butter, has added sugar too.
But what about “natural” sugars? Naturally occurring high sugar foods include every grain imaginable. Corn, wheat, and rice all have sugar in a form and concentration that our bodies are not adapted to handle. Some of you may be familiar with my own diet choices: I follow a regimen that excludes all grains. Why? Because our “caveman” ancestors did not grow things, and they didn’t process wheat and other grains into powder and bake with them (think Cheerios again). If you eat a piece of uncooked corn, it pretty much comes out the same way it went it. If you grind it up (don’t break your teeth) then your body will get a sugar injection that it wasn’t originally accustomed to. This not only adds calorie dense food to your diet, it also causes the dreaded inflammation (don’t ask me how that works).
Conclusion: No added sugar and no grains (legumes are on the no-no list too, for the same reason as grains). This sounds awful to most people. Grain = flour, so no bread, pasta, cookies, cheerios, or even alcohol. So I officially ruined life for everyone, but isn’t it interesting that as I tell you the list of things not to eat your brain automatically starts to tell you that you couldn’t possibly live without bread or pasta. Well, that’s the addiction talking.
So what can you eat, or more importantly, what are some non-psycho steps you can take to approach this lower-sugar intake lifestyle? Fruit is pretty good, as it has nutrients. Berries are best because they have less sugar that all other fruits. Sweet Potatoes are a better form of starch. There are some advocates of white rice as the “best” grain (quinoa not on that list amazingly). But immediately move to drinking coffee with no added sugar (no honey, no splenda, no nothing). Skip the soda (diet variations produce an insulin response in the body, so they suck too). Keep candy out of the everyday diet. If you’re not hungry enough to eat a strawberry instead, you’re probably not that hungry.
You have to decide best how to approach this sugar thing on your own. Slowly wean yourself off the white stuff (as addictive as heroin, remember), or cut it out completely.
I’ve barraged you now with the scared-straight version of the reduced sugar life, so let’s look on the bright side of the issue: if you cut the sugar from your diet, weight gain and loss will never be a problem. Additionally, I promise regular real foods (like fruits and veggies) will taste better.
So do not mourn. Instead, rejoice and have a cheeseburger (because that’s OK again). Just remember to order one without the bun.