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Posted by on Sep 1, 2014 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

Verdict In: Fat and Butter Exonerated

The June 23rd 2014 issue of Time magazine graces its cover with the bold statement to “Eat Butter” and further mentions that scientists were actually wrong about fats. After reading this article I am more disturbed than educated on this subject. Here’s why. It was with the dangerous combination of “Good Intentions” and faulty science that actually launched the current obesity epidemic in the first place.

In 1977, authoritative powers like the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and some political leaders, decided to halt cardiovascular disease and obesity. The catalyst behind this movement was engineered by physiologist Dr. Ancel Keys. Keys was well established in the food science community. He was given the credit for the ration diet, a diet used for soldiers in the battlefield. His image was also on the cover of Time magazine in the early 1960’s. Keys parlayed his high profile and popularity and set forth the“Lipid Hypothesis,” basically stating that fat was the culprit for the increase in cardiovascular disease and obesity. His nutritional guidelines included avoiding red meat, dairy, eggs, fat and cholesterol from the diet. Many people also supported Keys because of his prominent stature. People believed, as was stated in the article by a biochemist, it doesn’t take a great leap to understand that you are what you eat, which further gave credence to Keys’ theory. Of course, if applying this logic, what if you ate more sugar, would that make you sweeter? Keys then went out to prove his theory. His investigation included 22 countries. When the findings came back, Keys selected only seven countries as evidence, those countries that supported his agenda, or, in other words, flawed and unreliable research. Whenever Keys was challenged he relied on his high status to either deflect, attack or dismiss his adversaries rather than discuss or debate them. Some of his adversaries included Dr. John Yudkin (author of Pure, White and Deadly) and biostatistician Jacob Yerushalmy.

In 1980, with Keys’ flawed research and support from the USDA, NIH and some politicians the “War on Fat” campaign was unleashed. Also I would be remiss if I didn’t give the food industry their deserved props for their contribution in promoting the obesity epidemic by making their own concoctions and alterations in producing non-fat, reduced fat, fake fat products along with an array of butter substitutes and yolk-free eggs into the marketplace. As a result of this “Great Government Nutritional Experiment” the numbers are in; two-thirds of the population are overweight, 30% of the population is obese, there was a 166% increase in diabetes from 1980 to 2012. Additionally an estimated 86 million people are pre-diabetic, and still cardiovascular disease is America’s number one cause of mortality in both men and women, all the while with a reduction in their fat intake! While all this is alarming, what is truly disturbing, even criminal, is why it took 32 years to warn the public of this fiasco? At what point during this 32-year period were the numbers favorable?

Many scientists and doctors knew that Keys’ “Lipid Hypothesis” was flawed and unreliable from the start. Unfortunately their voices and concerns were silenced by Keys and his believers. People with a rudimentary understanding in biochemistry realize that it’s high insulin levels that promote fat deposition and that it gets elevated upon carbohydrate (sugar) consumption. When you shift your caloric intake away from fat and towards sugar, as prescribed by Keys, you directly elevate insulin levels in blood. However, even if you’re a biochemistry illiterate, if you simply apply empirical evidence, Keys’ theory should have been summarily dismissed. The fact that butter has been used by humans for thousands of years and the obesity epidemic is only about 40 years old, pretty much exonerates butter as the culprit. We need to acknowledge what occurred in the past 40 years has led to this current epidemic. What has occurred in the past 40 years include fragrantly flawed government nutritional guidelines and the increased production of altered, genetically modified, highly refined, highly sugared and sugar substitute products that are stocked onto supermarket shelves and in our kitchen for daily consumption.

Some of the government nutritional guidelines include the four food groups and the pyramid diet, which if followed leads to weight gain and obesity since they contain high amount of carbohydrates/sugar. I suggest as a standard procedure that any new government nutritional guideline should come with either a warning label, a laugh track or both, at least in that way the people may have a better chance for improved health.
Considering that it took over three decades for Time magazine to publish this sophomoric, unenlightening article, perhaps in another decade or two, hopefully Time magazine will write an article on the harmful effects of sugar and sugar substitutes and their direct role in obesity. At least it will be a start in the right direction.

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Posted by on Aug 22, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Want to Lose Weight-It’s Not Complicated-Part II-Forget Fructose

If you want to lose weight then you need to control sugar consumption, plain and simple. One sugar in particular, fructose, clearly requires attention. This sugar has raised controversy. The proponents of fructose and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) namely the packaged food industry,  corn manufacturers and dubious medical experts, will tell you that fructose and HFCS are safe. They will make the comparison between glucose and fructose, saying that they are both classified as a simple sugar. They both share the same molecular make-up… that being C6-H12-O6. Furthermore, they will tell you that fructose is the sugar found in fruit, and we know that everybody agrees that fruit should be part of a healthy diet, therefore establishing that fructose is not only safe but it’s actually good for you.

However, once we get past these minor similarities and review some biochemistry we’ll discover some major differences. This includes the following:

  • When the body increases its blood sugar level, it uses cortisol, adrenaline or glucagon, to put glucose not fructose into the blood.
  • When the body needs to lower blood sugar level, it takes insulin which grabs glucose not fructose for storage.
  • When the body wants to metabolize food for energy, via the Kreb’s Acid Cycle it uses glucose not fructose, as its only carbohydrate source.
  • The only carbohydrate the brain uses is glucose not fructose; in fact, fructose never crosses the blood brain barrier (BBB).
  • Every cell in the body has a receptor specifically made for glucose not fructose; in fact there are no receptor sites for fructose.
  • The body recognizes glucose not fructose as the universal carbohydrate fuel that the body uses.
  • The only way that fructose gets metabolized is through the liver. So what do you call it when you consume something that can only get processed by the liver? It’s called a toxin. Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatrician endocrinologist, who’s video entitled Sugar-The Bitter Truth (and certainly worth watching) calls it a poison.

Besides their functional differences, there are also structural differences (shown below) between these two sugars. Glucose contains a six-ringed structure while fructose is a five-ringed structure.

GlucoseFructose

In biochemistry structure is key to function, for example the difference between a healthy double bond known as a cis-bond and a deleterious trans-fat is structure.

Another clever tactic that food manufacturers and advertisers use is telling us that table sugar and HFCS are metabolized “nearly the same”. However, there is some truth to this in that both are bad. To review. Table sugar also known as sucrose (shown below), is a disaccharide, meaning that it is composed of two sugars. The two sugars, glucose (left) and fructose (right), is divided equally, while HFCS is 55% fructose; all else is the same. When you consume sucrose, the enzyme sucrase then cleaves it into their respective sugars. At this point these two sugars go their own separate pathways.

The Problem with Fructose
Fructose is cheap and therefore is used extensively in packaged and fast food products. Secondly, it’s sweeter than glucose thus making it more addictive. These components of being so cheap and highly sweet makes it a dream come true, that is for food manufacturers, not you.

Fructose is also used in food products that we don’t associate with sweets. Foods like crackers, soups, ketchup, mustard, gravies, sauces, bread, hot dog/hamburger buns are also made with this sugar. Fructose is used so extensively that in Dr. Lustig’s excellent lecture, “Sugar-The Bitter Truth” points out that there are only seven fructose-free products in the entire McDonald’s menu. Among those foods, fructose-free, include water, coffee (without any sugar taken), french fries and hash browns (for the others you need to watch the video). (1) And we all know how healthy those fries and hash browns are since they are bathed and cooked with cheap pro-inflammatory cooking oil.

Fructose causes an elevation in triglycerides (TG) also known as very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL), which is a component of the cholesterol panel. An increased consumption of fructose has shown to be parallel to the increased incidence of obesity and diabetes mellitus (2). Having a TG level that is more than half of the total cholesterol is considered Metabolic Syndrome which places you as pre-diabetic.

Fructose has a major role in promoting obesity because it impairs the hormone, leptin. Leptin, is known as the satiety hormone. It is made in adipose (fat) tissue (thus making adipose tissue an endocrine organ) and works in the hypothalamus to shut down food consumption. When leptin is working properly it tells the brain that you had enough food, you’re satisfied, satiety is reached, and it shuts down appetite therefore limiting unnecessary calories. Unfortunately when this hormone is impaired, known as leptin resistance (not leptin deficiency), the signaling of satiety is not reached, and overeating and ultimately obesity occur. Leptin resistance occurs when there is high fructose consumption or an elevated TG level; both are influenced by fructose.

Have you ever wondered why sedentary people can devour those super-sized meals (e.g. double and triple whoppers, 50 oz. Big Gulps) without any difficulty? It’s because they are leptin resistant. The irony is that even shortly after a meal, the leptin resistant person still feels hungry. This is central to the obesity problem and fructose is an accomplice. When you consider the extensive usage of fructose in fast foods, a typical (not extravagant) meal of a Big Mac (no cheese), medium fries and a 16 oz vanilla shake contains 1,470 calories; 3,500 calories equals a pound of fat (3). That is more than a pound of fat in just three meals!

As long as supermarkets, fast food restaurants, and convenience stores continue offering products with fructose, expect, as the evidence shows, obesity to increase. While the food manufacturers make the argument that glucose and fructose are “nearly the same”, the “nearly the same” argument has no basis when you focus on biochemistry, physiology or endocrinology whereby the body purposely and deliberately always chooses glucose as its carbohydrate fuel thus leaving fructose for the liver to treat it as it is …a toxin. So if your goal is to lose weight then one thing must be implemented: forget fructose.

References:

1) Sugar-The Bitter Truth, lecture at the University of California, San Francisco Robert H. Lustig, M.D., May 26, 2009

2) Fructose impairs glucose-induced hepatic triglyceride synthesis, Huang, D., et. al. Lipids Health Dis. 2011 10:20.

3) McDonald’s USA Nutrition Facts for Popular Menu Items

Next time: Part III: Artificial Sweeteners

Joel Berger, MS, DC, DABCN August 2013 ©

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Posted by on Jun 14, 2013 in Health & Nutrition, Media Bar, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Want to Lose Weight-Get Off Sugar-It’s Not Complicated-Part I Joel Berger

Want to Lose Weight-Get Off Sugar-It’s Not Complicated-Part I Joel Berger

Today, two-thirds of American adults are overweight with an estimated 35.7% being obese. In children, one out of three fall into the overweight/obese category and the adolescent population has tripled in the last 30 years. Obesity leads to other serious health issues including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, and certain cancers. It is also rated the second highest preventable cause of death (behind smoking) according to the Journal American Medical Association (JAMA).

As this problem worsens, suggestions come from across the board. Medical doctors, alternative health care providers, authors, athletes, weekend warriors, TV personalities, poets, firemen all weigh in (no pun intended) with their suggestions. These suggestions include taking appetite suppressants or amphetamines, taking medications, avoid eating, counting calories, severely restricting dietary intake, eating every two hours, quit eating after six o’clock, drinking 10 glasses of water, avoiding fats, reading food labels, buying pre-packaged (full of preservatives) weight-loss meals, or following the latest magic weight-loss diet plan. Our government has also intervened by giving us the four food groups and the pyramid dieting scheme, which, if followed, promotes weight gain. You would think that with all this effort, coupled with the obsession we have with weight loss that obesity would become extinct. Hardly.

Simply put, if you want to lose weight, keep it off, and maintain a stable weight, then one thing must be done…control sugar consumption. It’s not complicated. Even if you comply with many of these extraneous weight-loss activities and fail to address sugar consumption, the weight-loss problem will continue. And when I say sugar I am referring to all sugar including fructose, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners, which isn’t a sugar but rather a laboratory concoction that tastes sweet.
The reason why sugar consumption is integral to weight gain is because of insulin. Insulin is an anabolic hormone that is produced by the pancreas. Its purpose is to clear off and then store any excessive sugar from the bloodstream. It can store it in three places, either back into the cell, in the liver where it’s stored as glycogen, or in fat (adipose) tissue as a triglycerides (TG) also known as a very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) which is a component of your cholesterol profile. The cell holds a minute amount, while the liver can hold about 100 grams, while the rest goes to adipose tissue where it gets stored as fat.

About Blood Sugar
The body can function well on five grams of sugar which is less than two sugar packets. The body also tightly regulates blood sugar; when it gets too low, the body can stimulate the adrenals to produce adrenaline (the fight or flight hormone) or cortisol (the stress hormone) or it can also stimulate the pancreas to stimulate glucagon which stimulates the liver into breaking down glycogen which raises blood sugar. However, if the blood sugar is too high, there is only one hormone involved…insulin. The reason why we have a number of ways to increase the blood sugar and only one to lower comes from our survival history. When we were facing severe or critical situations whether from famine, drought, starvation or escaping from that ravenous bear or big cat, nature provided us the extra needed energy source to cope or survive such crises. Having a high blood sugar wasn’t common place then since our food was mainly wild game and plants and berries; not much sugar there. Now that we consume 150 pounds of sugar yearly, or nearly three pounds weekly, and the body can function with just five grams, the result, insulin, which ought to be secreted out like pixie dust, gets dumped out as if it were coming from a cement mixer. That excessive sugar makes a beeline into fat tissue, where men store it in their abdominal region and women store in their hips and thighs. Therefore the high sugar diet is ultimately a fat deposition diet. It’s not complicated.

Problems with Sugar
Some of the problems with fluctuating blood sugar problems include mood swings, bouts of depression, malaise, brain fog, compromised memory, poor peripheral circulation (erectile dysfunction anyone?), numbness/tingling in the hands and feet, visual problems, adrenal problems, cravings for sweets and nervousness, to go along with that midsection spread. Sugar also extends its deleterious, sweet tentacles into every phase of our health including suppressing the immune system, upsetting the mineral balance including excreting calcium from bone and making it vulnerable to fracture and osteoporosis, feeding the microbial world of bacteria, mold, candida, feeding cancer cells, causing, or at least, contributing significantly to hypertension, leading to heart problems, causing dental caries, in addition to having weight gain issues.

It’s not a mystery why there’s an obesity epidemic. High sugar intake promotes weight gain. If we are committed to losing weight we need to be like the archer, who focuses not merely on the target but rather the bull’s-eye, once we can develop that commitment to avoiding sugar we then can simply lose weight. It’s not that complicated. It only gets complicated if we continue eating sugar. After all obesity is the number two preventable condition there is.

Next time: Part II: Fructose.

Joel Berger, MS, DC, DABCN June 2013 ©

 

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