If the Heart Foundation and Dietitians Association didn’t exist, would the food industry need to invent them?

By | Big Fat Lies, Conflicts of Interest, Sugar, Vegetable Oils | 7 Comments

The Dietitians Association of Australia and the Australian Heart Foundation spend quite a bit of their time attacking what they call “Fad Diets”.  Unfortunately, their flat out disregard for the evidence is making their statements sound more and more like press releases issued by the processed food industry.

I don’t pretend to know what is motivating either of them, but I do know that both have financial backing from the industries which stand to lose the most if there is widespread adoption of many of the diets they declare to be fads (for example reducing sugar, seed oils, or more recently paleo).

The Dietitians Association’s sponsors include Nestle (the second largest manufacturer of breakfast cereals in Australia and no slouch when it comes to moving other forms of sugar either), Unilever (largest margarine manufacturer in Australia) and the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council (a lobby group funded by all the major breakfast cereal manufacturers)

The Australian Heart Foundation is not overtly sponsored by anyone.  But the processed food industry has found a way to rent the Heart Foundation’s healthy halo.

It’s called the Tick Program. Processed foods can gain endorsement from the Heart Foundation by doing what they were going to do anyway. They wanted to use seed oils instead of animal fats because they are loads cheaper. Tick – foods that use seed oils are given preference. They wanted to use tons of sugar because food with sugar sells better than food without. Tick – sugar is not a criteria. They want to sell breakfast cereals because they are vehicles for sugar (and the margins are stupendous). Tick – whole grains are encouraged for their fibre.

The program is a nice little earner for the Heart Foundation, pulling in $2.8m in 2013 alone. The only problem is that, through the Tick Program, the Heart Foundation now finds itself in the position of having endorsed hundreds of products that the science says are very dangerous to our health.

The World Health Organisation, the Canadian Heart Foundation and the American Heart Association all regard sugar as a dangerous additive to food because there is convincing evidence that it is “associated with heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, cancer and tooth decay.”  But the Australian Heart Foundation is earning millions from its endorsement of products like ‘Mayonnaise’ that has more sugar than Coke, a children’s snack which is 73% sugar and spreads made of the very oils which science says almost doubles the risk of heart disease death.

That is what we lawyers call a conflict of interest. When doctors experience a conflict of interest (say by accepting gifts from pharmaceutical companies), the regulators tighten the rules and (no matter how much it hurts the doctors) attempt to put the brakes on the gravy train.

The same thing happens in just about any profession we depend upon for expert knowledge. We have to be able to trust paid specialists. And no matter how morally astute they believe they are, we cannot allow them be led into temptation by conflicts of interest. If we do, we can never be sure if they are giving us advice based on the best evidence or on their own financial interest.

And if by chance you think that the existence of, say, a tick program makes no difference to the advice being dispensed, you need look no further than the Canadian Heart Foundation.  In June, they killed off their tick program.  Before June, they were happily handing out ticks to Slush Puppies and children’s snacks where sugar was the primary ingredient.  After June they were attacking the sugar sellers like they were on commission for the sale of Sweet Poison.

So when the Dietitians Association and the Heart Foundation fly into a frenzy to decry a diet which asks people to avoid processed food, any thinking person would ask, why?  Is there science behind this or have these two venerable organisations simply become mouthpieces for the processed food industry that provides them with such significant financial support?  Such is the corrosive power of conflicts of interest.

There are now very persuasive reasons to worry about their advice that we should consume seed oils (vegetable oils). And there is just as compelling evidence that ignoring sugar is taking a daily toll on the health of all Australians.

We need the Heart Foundation to follow the lead of the Canadian Heart Foundation and immediately trash its Tick program. And we need our dietitians to throw off the yoke of corporate sponsorship and provide evidence based dietary advice untainted by the smell of food industry money.

We don’t need the guardians of our health attacking a scientifically (and logically) defensible aversion to processed food. We need them guarding our health without fear or favour (especially without favour).

The Canadian Heart Foundation comes down hard on Sugar

By | Conflicts of Interest, Sugar, Sweet Poison | 7 Comments

In June this year that Canadian Heart & Stroke Foundation (the Canadian HSF) killed off its ‘Health Check Program.’  Just like the Australian Heart Foundation’s ‘Tick Program’, the HSF Check had been plumbing new lows in prostituting health advice to the interests of the food industry.

Perhaps it was when it took money to put a ‘Check’ on Slush Puppies or maybe it was when they endorsed a children’s snack that was 80% sugar.  Maybe it was just the combined weight of the evidence against sugar, so neatly summarised by the World Health Organisation in January.  But whatever the cause, eventually they did the right thing and said no to Food Industry money.

Now that the interests of their sponsors count for naught, they have released a powerful position statement on sugar.  In a single document they have catapulted themselves from handmaiden of the processed food industry to the world leader in health policy.  They have looked at the evidence and made a persuasive case for immediate action on sugar.

Pay attention Australian Heart Foundation they are making you look like the fools that you are.

In Canada In Australia
No less than 17 major studies are cited in support of a statement that sugar is associated with:

  • heart disease,
  • stroke,
  • obesity,
  • diabetes,
  • high blood cholesterol,
  • cancer and
  • tooth decay.
“sugar … [is] only important in relation to [tooth decay]. … There is no scientific consensus that sugar … causes heart disease.”
Sugar consumption (from all sources) should be no more than 10% (12 teaspoons per day – less than half current Canadian consumption) and preferably less than 5% (6 teaspoons).  “Rather than making choices based on sugar content alone see what else a food offers nutritionally.”
Food labelling needs to be significantly improved to show sugar content properly [sound of crickets]
The Government should:

  • act to reduce the amount of sugar in the food supply
  • tax soft drinks
  • support education programs aimed at reducing sugar
  • restrict marketing to children
  • avoid partnerships with producers of high sugar foods
  • Ban the sale of sugary drinks in hospitals and schools
  • Educate parents on how to avoid sugar in the lunch-box
[more crickets]
The Heart Foundation recommends people avoid packaged and prepared food. The Heart Foundation earns money from the sale of packaged food where sugar is a primary ingredient in the product.

 

Addicted to the sweet stuff? Here’s how to cut sugar from your diet

By | Books, Media, Print, Sugar, Sweet Poison | One Comment

Need to get the sugar out of your diet? Read this extract from The Sweet Poison Quit Plan by David Gillespie for tips.

Sugar addiction is such an integral part of our society that we don’t even have a word (like “alcoholic”, “chocaholic” or “workaholic”) to describe people addicted to sugar. “Eaters” are addicted to sugar, but you can eat without sugar. So I’m inventing a new word for sugar addicts: “sugarholics”. Sugarholics today are in the same position that smokers were in the 1950s.

You used to be able to smoke any time at work. You didn’t have to stop work and stand alone in the middle of a field. You weren’t vilified for lighting up a cigarette in a restaurant. Quite the opposite; if you didn’t smoke, you were the weirdo. Today, sugarholics rule the roost. Everybody is addicted from birth. Not eating the birthday cake in the tea room marks you out as the weirdo. Make no mistake: the task you are about to undertake will not be easy, but it is not an exercise in willpower.

Despite what everybody tells you, if you are a sugarholic, you do not have a personality defect. You are not a glutton. You are not weak-willed. You are chemically addicted to a substance in the food supply called fructose. And until you treat that addiction as the powerful biochemical force that it is, you will never loosen its grip. There are five steps to breaking your addiction.

There are lots of downsides to sugar addiction and the only upside is that you feel normal when you have a hit. Do you really have cause to feel deprived? No, but willpower diets demand that you feel deprived. They ask you to “go without” and to “give up” a treat. Feeling deprived will simply drive you back into the arms of addiction.

If you want to succeed, you mustn’t feel you are being deprived of anything. You need to take pity on the poor hopeless addicts who are all around you ingesting poison. You need to view any offering of sugar not as a temptation to be overcome, but as an attempt to poison you (perhaps a little extreme, but you get the idea).

So, don’t feel deprived. You are not giving up anything. You are simply stopping a dangerous and harmful addiction. It really is that simple to break an addiction. If you have the right attitude, staying sugar-free becomes a lot easier than you could possibly imagine.

A critical step in breaking your sugar addiction is identifying the habits associated with the addiction. For me, watching TV was a means of relaxation, and it still is. But my sugar addiction had infiltrated that pleasurable experience and made it its own. Sugar had become an integral part of the relaxation process.

The pleasure I gained from watching TV was directly associated, in my mind, with the dopamine hit I got from the sugar. It’s possible to disassociate the two activities, but you won’t do it by abstaining from both using willpower. The trouble with addictions is that they frequently attach themselves to otherwise-pleasurable experiences and it becomes impossible to distinguish the two.

Those habits will really test your resolve because of the strong association, and in some cases the strong peer group pressure (such as at birthday parties, Easter and Christmas) to conform. In many instances, the only rational way to deal with the problem is to avoid the habitual events associated with consuming sugar until you break the addiction.

So, if you are in the habit of relaxing in front of the TV with a chocolate at the end of the day, stop watching TV and find some other way to relax in the evening for the next month. Or you could continue your TV habit but replace the chocolate with nuts, for example.

This step is all about giving you the shopping strategies you need to prevent too much fructose from contaminating your food supply. You are going to need some shelf space for all your fructose-free food, so the first thing you need to do is throw out all the food in your pantry and fridge that is too high in fructose.

Chocolate of any description must be sent to a happier hunting ground. The same goes for anything you picked up in the confectionery aisle at the supermarket. Sweet biscuits are slightly less bad than confectionery. To make your cupboards truly fructosefree, all the sweet biscuits should go in the bin.

The only drinks you should have in your cupboard or fridge are unflavoured water and unflavoured milk. If you prefer your water with bubbles, then by all means have unflavoured mineral water or soda water. Alcoholic drinks are okay for the recovering sugarholic as long as they don’t taste sweet and they are not mixed with other drinks that contain sugar.

You can keep the dry wines, beers and spirits, but you need to toss out the dessert wines, ports, sweet sherries, liqueurs and mixers (unless they are diet mixers). If you see honey or sultanas in the name of a cereal, it’s usually a good idea to check the sugar content carefully. Don’t be fooled by the branding of new ranges of flavoured oat cereals, either. Unlike their unflavoured cousins, they are usually extremely high in sugar.

Walt Disney once said, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” And that is the point at which we have arrived on our mission to break your sugar addiction. There’s nothing fun about the withdrawal period, but it does end. And once it does, you’ll be completely free from the desire to eat sugar ever again. A plate of bikkies will hold all the attraction of a plate of raw broccoli.

If you are going cold turkey, have one last supper of your favourite sugary treat. Get that Mars Bar or that can of Coke. Sit down and consciously enjoy the very last time in your life that you will eat (or drink) sugar. If you can just get past the next few weeks of danger, you will enjoy the health that sugar has sucked from your life to date. Then, all of a sudden, your desire for sugar will vanish. I know it sounds strange, but it just plain goes. Bang! And you will never want the stuff again.

Re-stock and live your life

Once you start the withdrawal, you’ll need to re-stock your now-bare cupboard.

Fruit: Whole fruits do contain fructose (the addictive and harmful half of sugar) – in some cases, very large amounts. But they also contain a fairly large amount of fibre and water.

Vegetables: There is no such thing as a bad vegetable. All vegetables contain some level of fructose, but it is an insignificant amount and is vastly overwhelmed by the fibre content.

Nuts: Like vegetables, there’s no such thing as a bad nut. Some have more fructose than others, but even the worst of them, from a fructose perspective, have huge amounts of fibre.

Meat: Meat does not contain any sugar, so knock yourself out. The only possible word of caution is around some of the fancy marinated meats. The marinade is usually very high in sugar and this type of product should generally be avoided.

Eggs, yoghurt, milk and cream: Only choose the tartest of European and natural yoghurts and avoid flavoured milk or whipped cream that you buy in a can.

Cheese: Cheese will have sugar on the ingredients list, but it is all lactose, so there’s no need for concern.

Bread: All breads contain some sugar. All of the standard unflavoured white breads lie somewhere between 0.5 and four per cent sugar (two per cent fructose). Multigrain and brown (wholemeal and rye) breads are low-sugar and have approximately twice as much fibre.

 

This is an edited extract from The Sweet Poison Quit Plan by David Gillespie (Viking).
Originally published in Body+Soul

The 2014 North American Sugar Free Shopper’s Guide

By | Books, Sugar | No Comments

The 2014 North American Sugar Free Shopper’s Guide is the must-have navigator for your local supermarket if you plan to buy anything in a package.

The guide contains comprehensive listings of the most commonly purchased categories of packaged food available in US stores. Each category has been scoured for brands that have less than 3 grams of sugar per 100 grams.

It’s a guide that removes all the bad products from the supermarket shelf and makes it easy for you to select simply and quickly from the good ones that are left.

But wait. There’s more. It also includes a similar analysis of the popular fast food options on offer in most US cities.

Buy Now(Paypal also accepted just click the button)
Also available for Kindle – click here
 

Use the buttons above to get the guide for the introductory price of US$6.45 (normally US$9.95).  You’ll be emailed the PDF immediately so can have it on your smartphone, iPad or tablet or print it out if you prefer and have it with you all the time.

Alternatively you can subscribe to howmuchsugar.com and not only get the shopper’s guide (and updates as part of your membership) but also detailed sugar guides to the sugar content of all foods in a given category, great recipes that you can make at home, the members forum to share your experiences and extras such as the Vegetable Oil Ready Reckoners and other handy shortcut tools that I regularly create and share with members.

Like this product? Spread the word about it and earn 30% of the purchase price on sales you refer. Click here to join David Gillespie’s affiliate program »

When Fructose Free means Full of Fructose

By | Big Fat Lies, Sugar | 3 Comments

Freedom Foods is being cute with legalistic definitions but the discerning fructose avoider should avoid their products.  The company known for its “Free From” range of foods is now touting a Muesli product which it boldly boasts is “Fructose Free”.  

3 Grains closeup

The 3 Ancient Grains Super Muesli has a giant fructose free logo emblazoned across the front of the pack, but close inspection of the fine print on the back tells you that one of the ingredients is “Sugar” and that the product is actually 5.8 per cent sucrose (which is of course half fructose).

When a concerned customer asked what was going on, he was told “The fructose free claim on pack meets current labelling regulations as the product contains no fructose”.  Strictly that’s true, the product does not apparently contain any free fructose, but what about the sucrose?

Ah well, say Freedom, “Sucrose needs to go through a conversion process in the stomach to convert to glucose and fructose.”  

Oh I see.  That’s where the misunderstanding lies.  Apparently they apply an ‘outside the body’ definition of metabolism.  But strangely this doesn’t seem to apply to fat.  

When it comes to fat they don’t just say it contains fat, they break it up into saturated fat and total fat.  Saturated fat does not of course appear as a discrete substance (separated from other fats) until it hits our lymph system.  I’m sure that if I were to ask them about that, they’d point out to me that they are required by law to separately identify the saturated fat.

So is that the difference?  They get to play amateur lawyer and be cute with definitions because at the moment the law lets them get away with it?  It would seem so.  Never mind that by the time sucrose hits our bloodstream (in other words, where it actually becomes useful to us) it is indeed fructose.

Slapping a ‘fructose free’ label on a product you know will be fructose by the time it hits the bloodstream is just plain deceptive.  It pushes the legal boundaries almost to the absolute breaking point.  I expected better from a company that boasts it will  “never stop pushing ourselves to bring you the very best”

Another 5 Ways Fructose will mess you up

By | Sugar | 3 Comments

Last month I threw together an infographic on the 12 Ways Fructose Destroys Your Body.  It’s a good summary, but the lawyer in my loves footnotes.  So here is the detail behind the claims that picture makes.  Well it’s the detail behind the last five of them.  You can read the detail behind the first seven here.

1.      Fructose destroys erectile function

Around 1 in 5 US men now suffer from erectile dysfunction.  But one of the more recent studies tells us that one in two men with Type II diabetes will suffer the problem.

We know exactly what causes most of it.  It is a lack of nitric oxide, the same beastie that prevents high blood pressure (see next point).  When its production is suppressed erectile function becomes seriously impaired.  Viagra, Levitra and Cialis work by temporarily encouraging the production of nitric oxide.

We know that the opposite of Viagra is uric acid.  It dramatically reacts with our home grown nitric oxide thereby effectively deactivating it.  If we have large amounts of uric acid in our bloodstream, we can expect our nitric oxide to be rendered ineffective.  No effective nitric oxide means no erectile function.

Nitric oxide is a muscle relaxant which allows all the relevant sphincter muscles to loosen their grip enough to encourage inbound arterial blood flow long enough to be useful (so to speak).

It should also then come as no particular surprise that erectile dysfunction is so closely aligned with the other symptoms of overindulging in fructose, namely heart disease, obesity and type II diabetes and that the number of men needing assistance is also increasing as rapidly as the incidence of those diseases.

Perhaps if sugar were renamed anti-Viagra people might think twice about consuming it?

2.      Fructose creates high blood pressure

Trial after trial conducted between 1972 and 2005 has shown that we’re twice as likely to suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure) if we have high uric acid levels. Because uric acid deactivates nitric oxide, the smooth muscle cells of our arterial walls are less relaxed and therefore more constricted.

This means that the diameter of our arteries is smaller than it might otherwise be, and our blood pressure is higher (as any plumber will tell you, a thinner pipe means higher pressure). Recent human studies have conclusively demonstrated that all you need to do to give healthy volunteers hypertension is feed them fructose.

The reason for all the interest is that there are drugs (drug companies have much deeper pockets for this kind of research) that can be used to lower uric acid levels. Recent human trials have shown that those drugs do indeed lower blood pressure, but the evidence is clear that there’s a much simpler preventative measure for all the conditions related to uric acid – kidney disease, gout and hypertension. Don’t eat or drink sugar.

3.      Fructose takes out your Heart

Throughout this section I refer to Heart Disease.  What I mean when I say that is all the diseases that are caused by Atherosclerosis (the blocking of arteries).  This group includes myocardial infarction (what most people call a heart attack), ischemic stroke and arterial thrombosis (the blocking of arteries in the limbs).  It affects all arteries but is most common in the big ones transporting the highest volume of blood, such as the ones near the heart and brain.

Some of the fat generated by fructose in the liver stays there (and causes the problems I set out in the last post), but the rest is exported into the bloodstream.  Because fat is not soluble in a water based solution like blood, it is transported by specialised proteins called lipoproteins (‘lipo’ is Greek for fat).

Lipoproteins come in a variety of sizes according to how much fat they can carry.  And scientists are now certain that having lots of large lipoproteins puts us in the lowest risk category for heart disease.  People like that are called ‘Pattern A.’  People who have lots of very small lipoproteins are called Pattern B and those people are the ones who are most likely to suffer from heart disease.

We use lipoproteins to transport the fat we eat as well as the fat we make from fructose. We know now that a diet high in saturated fat will produce Pattern A lipoproteins.  In other words, eating saturated fat lowers your risk of heart disease.  If you’re thinking this is the opposite of what we’ve been told for the last 50 years, you’re right.

We also now know that the most efficient way to convert someone from Pattern A (safe) to Pattern B (at risk) is to feed them fructose or put them on a low fat diet or, as many now do, both.  When we are fed fructose, the fat made from that fructose is exported from our liver in small dense lipoproteins.  Having more small dense lipoproteins converts you to Pattern B and sets you up for heart disease and stroke.

4.      Fructose makes you depressed (and anxious)

We can become depressed because things aren’t going well. If having your cat run over doesn’t alter your mood (one way or the other depending on how you feel about cats I guess) then you were probably built by aliens. But the science suggests how long we stay depressed has more to do with biochemistry than the state of Fluffy’s road-safety skills.

Food makes us happy (shocking, I know). Even seeing food improves our mood. This is because the anticipation of a feed, fires up the hormones responsible for how we feel. The sight (or smell) of food gives us a squirt of the pleasure hormone, dopamine. Dopamine focuses our attention, makes us think more clearly and helps us move faster and more effectively. It’s an important signal to our body that we are in for something good and we need to pay attention. And that was probably pretty handy in times gone by.  If you have to chase your food, being sharper was definitely an advantage.

Once we actually start eating, another hormone, serotonin kicks in. Serotonin is the ying to dopamine’s yang.  It’s our chill-out-all-is-good hormone. The serotonin makes us feel happier and less stressed. We relax, our mood improves (Fluffy will still be road kill, but we’ll feel better about it) and our minds can turn to less important things than eating.  Sex, another thing important for keeping humans around has exactly the same effect.  Anticipation produces dopamine and ‘achievement’ produces serotonin.

Researchers have known for a long time that severe depression is strongly associated with an inability to properly absorb serotonin in the brain. No (or low) serotonin absorption makes it much harder for us to come back from unhappiness. And this can translate into anxiety and depression if it’s sustained for long enough. The primary anti-depressant drugs available in Australia (Cipramil, Luvox, Prozac, Lovan, Aropax and Zoloft) all work by targeting the serotonin system. They give the brain more time to absorb the serotonin. Some other drugs (Ecstasy, Amphetamines and LSD) work by enhancing the amount of serotonin we produce (but you might find it tricky to get a prescription for them).

If all is well with our hormone system then severe depression should be an extremely rare disease. But it’s not. Depression is a major chronic health problem and it is getting much worse at a very rapid rate. Something is messing with our serotonin system and the evidence is starting to mount that the something is fructose. Fructose is the only carbohydrate which produces a significant spike in our cortisol levels. Cortisol is our stress hormone. It’s terribly handy for confrontations with unexpected bears (for example) because it ramps up dopamine (to focus the mind and sharpen the movements). It also rapidly increases the amount of dopamine we can absorb. But it does so at the expense of our ability to absorb serotonin.

We like dopamine. It is our reward drug. It tells us we are about to get good stuff (like food and sex). Frequent hits of fructose mean frequent hits of dopamine. This leads inevitably to fructose addiction and that is exactly the mechanism used by other man-made opiod drugs (like nicotine and cocaine). The trouble is that it seems the upregulating of dopamine at the expense of serotonin can become hard-wired if we allow it to go on for long enough. And once we’re addicted, we can’t help but let it go on for long enough.

We don’t run into that many bears on a daily basis (well, I don’t). Fructose was once about as common as a bear encounter, but is now embedded in almost every processed food we buy. And it has an addictive quality as powerful as nicotine.  We are now on a constant drip of fructose. That means we are on a constant cortisol (and therefore dopamine) high. This in turn continuously impairs our ability to absorb serotonin, the one substance that can turn our mood around. Fluffy will still become a bumper sticker if he chooses an inopportune moment to cross the freeway and that will probably be a downer. But the science is suggesting that how quickly (or if) we bounce back from that may depend on how much fructose we are eating.

5.      Fructose destroys your Brain

As well as destroying the brain with an acute event like stroke (see the previous section), fructose can destroy our brains more slowly by causing dementia.

For a long time, researchers have known there is a strong relationship between diabetes and dementia. Estimates have varied, but you are approximately two to four times as likely to have dementia if you also have diabetes or a history of insulin resistance (the precursor to Type II Diabetes discussed above). Now a bunch of Swedish twins are starting to put some real meat on the bones of the diabetes link.

Almost 14,000 twins participated in a recently published study. The twins were part of the Swedish twin registry and were all over the age of 65. Because they had provided health data to the registry throughout their lives, the researchers had excellent information about their health over a very long period.

Twins are great for this kind of work because when one becomes ill but the other doesn’t; large tracts of potentially irrelevant causes are eliminated. Clearly the twins share the same gene pool and (usually) have been raised in an identical environment. When dementia sets in early, as it increasingly is (15,000 Australians under the age of 65 now have dementia), the number of possible causes is narrowed further. The study proved beyond any doubt that diabetes is associated with dementia (at least in Swedish twins). Even more interestingly, they concluded that the longer you have had diabetes (or insulin resistance), the more likely you are to develop dementia. In a somewhat depressing footnote, the researchers suggest their estimate (that you are 125% more likely to become demented if you are diabetic) is probably a bit light on because so many diabetics die before they are old enough to notice they are losing their grip.

Research published a month after the twin study took the issue further and established a direct link between consuming sugar and ‘impaired cognitive function’. Almost 3,000 people suffering from Type II Diabetes, aged 55 years and older took part in that study. They were subjected to a battery of tests (part of a standardised set used for detecting early signs of dementia) designed to measure things such as how fast they performed calculations, how well they multi-tasked and the accuracy of their memory.

The researchers then compared the results of the tests to measures of each person’s average blood glucose reading over time. They found that there was a significant correlation between a person’s score on the tests and their blood sugar level. The higher the blood sugar level, the lower their score on all the tests. Just to put icing on the cake, the researchers noted that a one per cent rise in blood sugar takes you two whole years closer to dementia.

Persistently high blood sugar is caused by insulin resistance, which in turn is caused by over consumption of fructose.  And the research is clearly suggesting the next step in that deadly cascade is dementia.  Perhaps we should rename Alzheimer’s disease, Type III diabetes.

 

 

Not all Big Macs are created equal

By | Charts, Sugar | 3 Comments

In the fast paced global economy of the 21st century the weary traveler often yearns for something that reminds them of home.  And one thing that is sure to be available anywhere a jet can land is a Big Mac.  But not all Big Macs are created equal when it comes to sugar content.

In the graph above, I’ve charted some samples of the sugar content of Big Macs around the world.  If you want more than two teaspoons of sugar added to your burger then the US & Canada is the place to dine, with the UK and Ireland not far behind.

The Italians dial it down a little and Australia takes it down even further but the place where a Big Mac contains the least sugar is in New Zealand.  Go the Kiwis!

If you want to find out how to avoid the sugar in processed and take-away food, then you’ll find it easy if you have my Sugar Free Shopper’s Guide.  Australian and UK versions are now available with the US version coming soon.

The first 7 ways fructose will mess you up

By | Sugar | 12 Comments

Last month I threw together an infographic on the 12 Ways Fructose Destroys Your Body.  It’s a good summary, but the lawyer in me loves footnotes.  So here is the detail behind the claims that picture makes.  Well, it’s the detail behind seven of them.  The rest will come in the next post on this topic.

1.    Fructose rots your teeth

The first part of your body that fructose touches is your teeth and they are usually the first to go in its path of destruction.

The statistics are clear. Populations exposed to sugar for the first time go from ‘background’ levels of decay (of around 4 cavities per 100 teeth) to ‘modern’ levels of around 24 cavities per 100 teeth. The mechanism is known and the science is uncontroversial. Not even Coca-Cola dares deny that sugar and tooth decay go together like peas and carrots.

Tooth decay is caused by bacteria called S. Mutans (Streptococcus Mutans). S. Mutans loves a good feed of sugar. And after it gets some, it produces lactic acid as a waste product. It’s that lactic acid that can do the damage to our teeth. But if the only sugar in our diet is glucose or carbohydrates that are converted to glucose, our saliva quickly neutralizes the acid and we regenerate any damaged enamel.  This means t0oth decay is kept to the minimum.

But, if there is some fructose available as well as glucose then through a quirk of evolutionary biology, S. Mutans can build itself a saliva proof home.  

We call this little anti-saliva shield, plaque. Plaque binds S. Mutans to each other and to the tooth enamel. It traps the lactic acid against the tooth surface, protects it against the waves of saliva and gives it time to eat through the enamel.

2.    Fructose inflames your gut

Our small intestine can become inflamed when toxic molecules normally attached to bacteria (endotoxins) escape through our intestinal walls and into our bloodstream.  Our immune system has an inflammation reaction to endotoxins.

Binge drinking alcohol will produce exactly that effect.  Unfortunately so will overconsumption of fructose.  If you drink alcohol all day every day then fructose will not be noticeably adding to the problem, but if you are like most people and your daily poison choice is sugar, then it is probably responsible for your inflamed gut.

Unfortunately both alcohol and fructose also appear to increase the populations of bacteria which produce endotoxins in our intestines (something charmingly termed bacterial overgrowth). So we get the double whammy of more endotoxins in our gut and doors left ajar (gut permeability) to let them into our bloodstream.

3.    Fructose destroys your liver

After absorbed fructose hits your bloodstream, next stop is the liver.  We are adapted to a diet where most carbohydrates are glucose or glucose based.  So we have exquisitely finely tuned feedback loops which tell us we are full when we’ve taken on enough glucose.

Those loops don’t fire for fructose, so our liver will merrily convert any that it finds straight into fat.  That fat is stored in the liver and exported into our bloodstream.   Because we all have such a high fructose diet more than a third of Adults now have (NAFLD) Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease as a result. NAFLD can then progress through various disease stages and ultimately end in cirrhosis requiring a liver transplant.

By the way there is interesting speculation that the trigger for converting mere fatty liver into cirrhosis is an immune response to endotoxins leaking from the gut.

4.    Fructose takes out your pancreas (and your eyes and limbs)

Our bodies convert most carbohydrates to glucose. In healthy people that glucose is pumped out to the cells that need energy via our bloodstream. Cells that need energy, signal their desires by moving glucose receptors to the cell surface (kinda like hanging out the “this room needs servicing” sign in a hotel).

But when fructose-fat accumulates in the liver and bloodstream, it affects something called insulin sensitivity.  The receptors never get to the cell surface (or if they do, it’s in smaller numbers). The result is that the glucose goes sailing by. The maid doesn’t know the room needs her and our bodies starve in a sea of food.

Because the glucose doesn’t get used by the cells (or not as many of them), it stays in the bloodstream longer and the result is a longer than normal high blood sugar concentration.  This is called insulin resistance or pre-diabetes.

Our body usually responds to insulin resistance by pumping up the insulin levels until the glucose is cleared.  If we ask our body to run on overdrive like that for years, for most of us, our pancreas (the insulin maker) will pack it in and we will need to get daily insulin injections to live.  Along the way, the persistent high blood glucose will result in blindness and limb amputations for many sufferers.

5.    Fructose makes us fat

Our appetite control hormones are exquisitely balanced to ensure we have just the right amount of energy on hand.

But when that balance is disrupted, our fuel management system can veer wildly out of control. A disrupted appetite control system can store too little or too much fuel. Too little looks like anorexia, too much looks like, well, most of us. Obesity is a symptom of a failure of the balance of hormones controlling how much food we take in.

When the pancreas attempts to cope with elevated blood glucose (caused by fructose derived fat) by ramping up insulin, it is only fixing the immediate problem. All that extra insulin doesn’t make the damaged cells any less insulin resistant, it just means that undamaged cells use the insulin to make fat.  In other words the blood glucose is cleared from the bloodstream by making us fatter.

Just for good measure, fructose also interferes directly with leptin signalling.  Leptin is our long term energy storage hormone, the one that tells us not to eat between meals.  Fructose makes us less sensitive to that hormone and as a result we eat more of everything.

This double dose of hormone dysfunction causes us to store too much fat in our cells, but the body is not aware the fat is there and keeps demanding food. Our appetite control system thinks we are starving even while we have more than enough fat being packed away (usually in very unsightly places).

When an obese person restricts the amount of food they eat, they are not changing the underlying error in the appetite control system. The body thought it was starving before the diet, now it’s really starving. It will not use the fat store to satisfy its need for food because the hormonal disruption means it doesn’t even know it’s there.

The hormones will force the body to sacrifice muscle and even organs to make up for the missing calories. And the whole time, the dieter will feel like they are starving to death.

6 & 7. Fructose messes up your kidneys (and gives you gout)

When fructose is converted to fat by our liver, a significant amount of a waste product called uric acid is produced.  Our kidneys are our built in pool filter for removing waste products like uric acid.  But they can be overwhelmed by the quantities that will be produced by the amount of fructose in the modern diet.  When that happens our kidneys start to fail.  And this is likely to be why excess uric acid has been associated with significant increases in kidney disease in a long line of rat studies and more recently in human trials.

Kidney disease is massively debilitating. The only effective ‘treatment’ is getting hooked up to a dialysis machine three times a week. Meanwhile the number of people needing that treatment is growing at the rate of 6 per cent every year. The only ‘cure’ is replacing the kidneys (if you’re lucky enough to get to the head of the transplant queue (currently the wait is about four years) before you die.

A side effect of that failure to remove uric acid is that it accumulates in the joints of the feet and ankles, causing a form of acute arthritis called gout.  If you suffer from gout, then it might be time to get your kidney function tested.

And that’s the first 7 ways fructose wrecks your body and health.  I’ll detail more in the next post, but if you want a preview check out my infographic – 12 Ways Fructose Destroys Your body.

 

The 2014 British Sugar Free Shopper’s Guide

By | Books, Sugar | No Comments

The 2014 British Sugar Free Shopper’s Guide is the must-have navigator for your local supermarket if you plan to buy anything in a package.

The guide contains comprehensive listings of the most commonly purchased categories of packaged food available in British stores. Each category has been scoured for brands that have less than 3 grams of sugar per 100 grams.

It’s a guide that removes all the bad products from the supermarket shelf and makes it easy for you to select simply and quickly from the good ones that are left.

But wait. There’s more. It also includes a similar analysis of the popular fast food options on offer in most UK cities.

Buy Now(Paypal also accepted just click the button above)
Also available for Kindle – click here

 

Use the buttons above to get the guide for the introductory price of £3.95 (normally £6).  You’ll be emailed the PDF immediately so can have it on your smartphone, iPad or tablet or print it out if you prefer and have it with you all the time.

Alternatively you can subscribe to howmuchsugar.com and not only get the shopper’s guide (and updates as part of your membership) but also detailed sugar guides to the sugar content of all foods in a given category, great recipes that you can make at home, the members forum to share your experiences and extras such as the Vegetable Oil Ready Reckoners and other handy shortcut tools that I regularly create and share with members.

Like this product? Spread the word about it and earn 30% of the purchase price on sales you refer. Click here to join David Gillespie’s affiliate program »

The 2014 Australian Sugar Free Shopper’s Guide

By | Books, Sugar | 28 Comments

It’s Finally Here!

The 2014 Australian Sugar Free Shopper’s Guide is the must-have navigator for your local supermarket if you plan to buy anything in a package.

The guide contains comprehensive listings of the most commonly purchased categories of packaged food available in Australian stores.  Each category has been scoured for brands that have less than 3 grams of sugar per 100 grams.

It’s a guide that removes all the bad products from the supermarket shelf and makes it easy for you to select simply and quickly from the good ones that are left.

But wait.  There’s more.  I’ve also included a similar analysis of the popular fast food options on offer in most Australian cities.

Buy Now(Paypal also accepted just click the button above)
Also available for Kindle

 

Use the buttons above to get the guide for the introductory price of $6.95 (normally $9.95).  You’ll be emailed the PDF immediately so can have it on your smartphone, iPad or tablet or print it out if you prefer and have it with you all the time.

Alternatively you can subscribe to howmuchsugar.com and not only get the shopper’s guide (and updates as part of your membership) but also detailed sugar guides to the sugar content of all foods in a given category, great recipes that you can make at home, the members forum to share your experiences and extras such as the Vegetable Oil Ready Reckoners and other handy shortcut tools that I regularly create and share with members.

Like this product? Spread the word about it and earn 30% of the purchase price on sales you refer. Click here to join David Gillespie’s affiliate program »