If sugar were discovered today, would it even make FDA approval as a food additive? Unless there was some payola (a good possibility) I think there would be no way to defend using it in the food supply. It changes blood chemistry, it changes mood, it’s addictive, and it creates numerous health problems. The only reason it is even legal is that people are just used to it.
Gary Taubes is stirring things up again with another article that challenges the conventional wisdom (CW) about sugar. It starts out with a discussion of a Youtube video about the dangers of sugar that has been viewed 800,000 times.
This is from the New York Times-
…Lustig is a specialist on pediatric hormone disorders and the leading expert in childhood obesity at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, which is one of the best medical schools in the country. He published his first paper on childhood obesity a dozen years ago, and he has been treating patients and doing research on the disorder ever since.
The viral success of his lecture, though, has little to do with Lustig’s impressive credentials and far more with the persuasive case he makes that sugar is a “toxin” or a “poison,” terms he uses together 13 times through the course of the lecture, in addition to the five references to sugar as merely “evil.” And by “sugar,” Lustig means not only the white granulated stuff that we put in coffee and sprinkle on cereal — technically known as sucrose — but also high-fructose corn syrup, which has already become without Lustig’s help what he calls “the most demonized additive known to man.”
It doesn’t hurt Lustig’s cause that he is a compelling public speaker. His critics argue that what makes him compelling is his practice of taking suggestive evidence and insisting that it’s incontrovertible. Lustig certainly doesn’t dabble in shades of gray. Sugar is not just an empty calorie, he says; its effect on us is much more insidious. “It’s not about the calories,” he says. “It has nothing to do with the calories. It’s a poison by itself…”
Pretty strong stuff.
It’s no secret that obesity and type 2 diabetes are becoming more widespread every day, and public health authorities are very concerned. What’s odd about it is the reason is staring them in the face, and it’s as if they don’t see it. It’s in the sugar. The increase in sugar consumption is directly related to the increase in obesity and type 2 diabetes. There is no reason at all to beat around the bush. It’s just the way it is.
The NYT article is pretty long and covers a lot of ground. It’s a good idea to make some time and read the whole thing. Pass it on.Share on Facebook
Last week, I posted “Can “Working Out” Actually Backfire for Some People?”, and it got a couple of very interesting comments from Mary Shomon’s Facebook Group page.
This one was about my own experience with trying to lose weight after years of ulcerative colitis and a colon surgery by riding a lot of motocross, and it just didn’t work at all. At least it was fun. I didn’t know at the time how screwed up my blood chemistry was, or how to find out. On the advice I got from the hospital, I was on a “low fat” diet.
It concluded “Blood chemistry first, exercise second.” This is what I tell people when they ask about losing a lot of weight, and how important exercise is. Here’s the comments that were helpful and got me digging a bit more-
Mary Shomon: Thyroid Patient Advocate, Author: Steve — you may also want to read the Primal Blueprint book — he was a body builder who eventually figured out all the cortisol pumped out during aerobic exercise can burn out adrenals. Also read “The Slow Down Diet” by Marc David. BRILLIANT book, and he explains some of the reason of what’s happening to you, though I think you have a more dramatic/extreme response than most.
and this one…
Leslie Berger Blumenberg : Steve, if you were producing excess cortisol, that’s probably why you couldn’t lose fat. Then, by exercising your cortisol would go even higher… storing more fat. You might want to try a different type of exercise. I’ve had great successwith T-Tapp More, which is a slowed down version of T-Tapp for those who have medical problems, extra weight to lose and those who are older, like me. Here’s a discussion I started at the About.com thyroid forum:
Good clues! Sisson does go over it a bit in his book, but you can even get a longer discussion from two entries on his website-
Part 2- “More Chronic Cardio Talk”
Motocross would qualify as cardio, at least mine would, because we had worked up to two 30 minute sessions a day, 3 or 4 times a week. It would qualify as high-intensity as well, because it’s a strenuous sport and even when you get used to it, you still get off the bike huffing and puffing.
I was 245 lb when I started, and months later, I was 245 lb. Net weight lost = zero. Nothing. I don’t have much data from then, but I do remember when I went to see a doctor, my triglycerides were at 1,600, with the normal range 75-100.Share on Facebook
It’s frustrating to read the news and reports about the modern “epidemic” of type 2 diabetes. It should be no big mystery. People get too much sugar and simple carbs, and it’s wrecking just about everyone’s blood chemistry. There are people that have explained this very well, but they are being ignored.
I have been through this myself, so I know what it’s like, and what “experts” are missing.
It’s Not Rocket Science
Throughout most of human history, people consumed maybe 80 grams of sugar a day. Today, people are consuming about 350-600 grams, maybe more. This explains the type 2 diabetes problem, insulin resistance, and what is now being called “diabesity,” the combination of a wrecked blood chemistry and out of control weight.
It’s not rocket science. The answer is not more drugs. It’s simply to get the sugar consumption back to a reasonable level. Doctors and experts are acting puzzled about this problem and the answer is staring them in the face. It’s frustrating to see, because they really should know better.
It’s the Insulin, Stupid!
When troubleshooting a problem, doctors typically look at a patient’s blood glucose (blood sugar), and if it is OK, they say “Fine, you are not diabetic.” What they should say is “You are not diabetic-yet.”
What they need to be looking at is insulin as well. You can be taking in way too much sugar, and be well on your way to diabetes, have serious weight problems that stress the system, insulin resistance, all that, and doctors are not even looking in the right place. A high insulin level is easy to spot, but they don’t look!
My favorite explanation is that it is like the oil pressure warning on your car’s engine. The light comes on when oil pressure drops, which is not much help. It’s pretty much a light that tells you “Oops, your engine is toast now, call a tow truck.” If you knew all there was to know beforehand, like maybe the oil is leaking or has turned to mud, maybe you could have done something about it first.
This happened to me as well. I was asking doctors for years to explain what was wrong, and they would say “Blood sugar is fine, you are not diabetic, so no problem there.” One doctor, the one that was helpful, also looked at insulin, and was immediately able to explain what the others missed, and had a plan to do something about it-get insulin down to a normal level. This worked.
Insulin is a hormone. It does a lot of things. When there is too much of it, it screws a lot of things up. Why this is not part of a standard checkup is just a mystery to me.
What Do I Care?
Your insulin level doesn’t print out for you by itself. If you want to know what it is, ask your doctor next time you get tested for whatever. If you are starting a diet or exercise program, you should know what it is so you can plan accordingly. It may explain a lot of things, in fact, it probably will!
Some Very Good Reading
Here’s a very good summary of what you should know from Mark’s Daily Apple-
Share on Facebook
1) The levels of blood glucose stay higher longer because the glucose can’t make it into the muscle cells. This toxic glucose is like sludge in the bloodstream clogging arteries, binding with proteins to form harmful AGEs (advanced glycated end-products) and causing systemic inflammation. Some of this excess glucose contributes to a rise in triglycerides, increasing risk for heart disease.
2) More sugar gets stored as fat. Since the muscle cells are getting less glycogen (because they are resistant), and since insulin inhibits the fat-burning enzyme lipase, now you can’t even burn stored fat as easily. You continue to get fatter until eventually those fat cells become resistant themselves.
3) It just gets better. Levels of insulin stay higher longer because the pancreas thinks “if a little is not working, more would be better.” Wrong. Insulin is itself very toxic at high levels, causing, among many other maladies, plaque build-up in the arteries (which is why diabetics have so much heart disease) and increasing cellular proliferation in cancers.
4) Just as insulin resistance prevents sugar from entering muscle cells, it also prevents amino acids from entering. So now you can’t build or maintain your muscles. To make matters worse, other parts of your body think there’s not enough stored sugar in the cells, so they send signals to start to cannibalizing your precious muscle tissue to make more – you guessed it – sugar! You get fatter and you lose muscle. Woo hoo!
5) Your energy level drops, which makes you hungry for more carbohydrates and less willing to exercise. You actually crave more of the poison that is killing you.
6) When your liver becomes insulin resistant, it can’t convert thyroid hormone T4 into the T3, so you get those mysterious and stubborn “thyroid problems”, which further slow your metabolism.
7) You can develop neuropathies (nerve damage) and pain in the extremities, as the damage from the excess sugar destroys nerve tissue, and you can develop retinopathy and begin to lose your eyesight. Fun.
Eventually, the pancreas is so darn exhausted, it can’t produce any more insulin and you wind up having to inject insulin to stay alive. Lots of it, since you are resistant. Congratulations, you have graduated from Type 2 to Type 1 diabetes.
Can “Working Out” Actually Backfire for Some People?
This question has bugged me for at least 10 years. Is it possible, for some “big” people, to have blood chemistry issues that are out of whack enough that doing exercise without getting the issues solved first can actually be counter-productive?
I have searched and searched online, and just can not find anyone willing to challenge the assumption that exercise always helps, for everyone, no matter what. I guess I am the only one.
People ask me for advice a lot, and part of that advice is “don’t worry about exercise so much if know you have some blood chemistry issues to address first.” In other words-
“Blood chemistry first, exercise second.”
Why say such a crazy thing? Because I have talked to enough big people that are frustrated with exercise just making them tired and not helping. These are people that have some issues that clearly need attention…their thyroid meds are not working, their triglycerides are way high, or they are so hooked on sugar that they clearly have issues with insulin, and just don’t know it.
Plus, some crazy things happened to me too, 3 times, and I just can’t explain it. Maybe someone will read this and add some wisdom to the comments section.
My own experience-
Obviously this is not a typical example, but I’ll explain things to make the point. Sometimes when things are way, way off, they help us understand how things work (or don’t work).
Many years ago, almost 20, I get a relatively new surgery to address chronic ulcerative colitis, which was tearing me up for about 5 years. About the last 2 years of this, I was on a lot of a strong steroid called Prednisone. It wasn’t working so the colon had to come out. It was replaced by a “j-pouch,” with is a replacement made from small intestine, and it is done to avoid using a colostomy bag. It was a pretty radical thing to do, but it’s beats colon cancer.
A dietician visited me while I was recovering and gave me the speech about staying on a “low fat” diet, and getting enough exercise once I recovered. This was the worst diet advice I ever got, but we will save that for another blog entry.
A few months after recovery, my weight starts climbing steadily. I took the “low fat” advice seriously and was very strict about it. Everything I touched had to be low fat, or non fat. I decided to work off the weight by cycling.
I get a mountain bike, found a route that was 11 miles round trip from my house and rode it every single day after work. I was determined to get the weight to start going back down, and decided that I would not stop riding every day until it worked. It never did. The diet was the same, but after at least 3 months of 11 mile bike rides, I gained 5 lb, right in the stomach. Additionally I was just getting tired doing this, and just gave up. All this talk about exercise making you feel better didn’t seem to apply. It wore me down.
Fast forward a few years. I have moved to another state, weight is still creeping up. I find my old friends from school days that are still racing motocross. Motocross is very strenuous. Any racer will proudly tell you that the sport is ranked second to soccer as the most physically demanding sport of all. I decide that the only way I am going to work this weight off is with something like this, because I will never get tired of it like I did cycling.
Long story short-It took a lot of effort, but I was able to work up to two 30-minute sessions on the bike (motos) a day, and this was 3-4 times a week. A close friend was a local pro at this, and I went along so he would not train alone. I was 245 lb when I started. We did this for at least 6 months, when an injury forced me to quit. I was 245 lb when I stopped.
How can this be? I was not a big eater, and stayed strictly low-fat. I didn’t drink either. Anyone else would have been 170 after this much riding. (I am 5’8″) For hydration we drank Gatorade, which I know now was a huge mistake.
I go to see a doctor to ask for a complete physical, and ask what could this j-pouch (and no large intestine) have to do with this? I really want to know. All he really found was that triglycerides were 1,600. This is so high, that it is 3 times the danger level, and 16 times the upper scale of 100! Normal is 75-100.
Do a google on high triglycerides right now and every entry you find will tell you that exercise will bring it down. I hate to be difficult, but that just can not be right. This dr was totally stumped, and wanted me to use some powder you mix with water to bring down cholesterol. I moved to Houston due to a job change, and a grad student at Baylor who was working on his Phd in hypertriglyceridemia was good enough to consult with me to try and understand it. I explained about the weight increase following the pouch surgery, the failed attempt at cycling, and the crazy results after all the motocross. He was stumped too. It was impossible to explain.
After another job change, and no luck with doctors, I keep gaining and start to show the signs of a thyroid disorder. I get TSH checked, and it is supposed to be between 3.5 and 5.5. (This is from memory, the numbers drift a bit over time). My TSH is 131! That is about 24 times the upper limit. Again, this is just off the chart crazy. I get put on Synthroid, a synthetic T4 thyroid hormone that is used to get TSH to go back to the normal range.
I ask my new doctor, “What about this jpouch? That’s a big change isn’t it? Can’t this be a clue? I have exercised very, very hard, and nothing. And can you explain triglycerides at….”
“That has nothing to do with it. We just need to get you to get your TSH in line with this Synthroid… and eat a healthy diet. Here is your lab sheet. Lab is down the hall…”
I get frustrated enough that when I was walking to the lab with my lab sheet, I stopped and looked it over for more tests to add myself. I checked “triglycerides,” and did the test. The next day the doctor calls me at home, “Can you come back here, I need to see you, something is really off.” “Ya think!?”
I have to give this doctor credit, I think she had figured out how to google high triglycerides. “We think you have insulin resistance, here is some reading, and I want you to try this…” I leave with an additional prescription for more junk intended for people with high cholesterol. It’s expensive stuff.
I hit the bookstores and found a few things to read… There are a lot of researchers calling this “metabolic syndrome,” insulin resistance,” or even the mysterious sounding “Syndrome X.” I also found an Atkin’s book, and found that it helped a little and addressed the symptoms, but weight loss was minimal. At least I had figured out that minimizing carbs was helpful. It just didn’t really solve the problem.
OK, this is getting long, but we are working up to the exercise thing for the third time.
After a few years of Synthroid, it’s just not working. Weight is going back up, and I’m feeling fatigued. I can’t be as active as I was (I was a full time photojournalist at off-road motorcycle races, and pretty active, despite the weight.
While in Pittsburgh to shoot an event there, I am getting desperate so I ask to see someone at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, a nice place where I had done a feature for Men’s Health before about some of the racers. I thought maybe getting them in a big magazine might put them in the mood to help me out!
I was able to see someone, but I didn’t like what I heard. They said stay on the Synthroid, do Weight Watchers, and give it 6 months. I go “6 months! I have been doing this for 6 years. Something is very wrong here. What about the triglycerides? There MUST be something else for problem cases. I know this is not working. We have to be missing something and I want to know what it is.” I lost that argument.
After whining about this online, a reader that I will always be grateful for referred me to the Holtorf Medical Group, which is linked in the “Best Health Info” Page above. I won’t go into all that here because this is getting very long, but soon, I was off the Synthroid, getting my hormones in shape, and losing 10-15 lb a month with no exercise program at all. It was all diet, hormones and relaxing.
Obviously, I’m pretty pleased to at last have the answers. Still working down from over 300lb is a long haul and I get impatient. I want to lose it even faster. I get a bicycle, nothing fancy, just something to get out and get my heart rate going.
Within a week, I put on 5 lb, and put the bike away, puzzled. This was not due to leg muscle either, it went to my stomach.
I wait a month, and try again. Same thing.
A month later, maybe it will be different this time. It wasn’t.
I finally gave up after 6 tries.
Of course, your results may vary! I went over all this detail for a reason. We know that I did in fact have insulin resistance, high insulin, hormone imbalance, and many things wrong that were on their way to getting right. My triglycerides went down to 64.
I would really like to see some valid medical literature that can explain why is it that someone with some of these problems gains when they exercise instead of loses. All I ever see is “exercise works, it always does.”
I can’t believe that, because I lived the opposite, and I doubt I am the only one.
I’m sticking with this advice…
“Blood chemistry first, exercise second.”Share on Facebook