The New Tobacco

For years, ad campaigns show consumers the negative side of tobacco use.  Taxes have increased making it more difficult to purchase tobacco products, but I have another addiction issue that is affecting more of us than tobacco.  I'll even go as far as to say it's more addicting because it's in virtually everything consumed. Sugar is the new tobacco. Words spoken over a message from a smart phone. The words ring true to me as I have been conducting an action research study about sugars and how it affects our health. I’ve written several posts relating to sugars and its addicting properties. The population is gaining more girth, while Big Food is gaining more profits.

Back in the 1970’s a call to action was made when heart disease was reaching an all time high. Scientists from all over the world where summoned to figure out why the increase in heart disease and a plan to stop it. One scientist, Ancel Keys, a professor from the University of Minnesota, announced that fat was making us fat. He proposed removing fat from our foods was the answer to a healthier heart. As a response to an ongoing call from the public to have healthier food choices, Big Food wasted no time in providing us with “low fat” and “fat free” options. Something needed to be added to the ingredient list so that the food didn’t taste like cardboard. You guessed it…sugar! And we’ve been getting fatter and fatter ever since.

The “no fat” option did not help the heart disease epidemic either; nor has it helped our waist lines. With Type II diabetes on the increase, something else must be the cause. Another voice, spoke out in opposition, John Yudkin, founder of the nutrition department at the University of London’s Queen Elizabeth College, had a different spin on the situation. Yudkin had been doing his own experiments and laid blame not on fat, but the consumption of sugar. His research in laboratory animals fed sugar and carbohydrates showed raised blood levels of tryglycerides which is considered a risk factor for heart disease. Sugar also raised insulin levels, which links it directly to type 2 diabetes. For years, we have known there is a link between oral and systemic disease. High carbohydrate intake can been seen in the oral cavity between weeks or months, however the systemic effects may take decades.

Two patients come to mind that I want you to meet. When Mr. A came into my operatory two years ago, he had a full list of health concerns: diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease to name a few. His medical doctor told him he would likely be on dialysis within four years. He was unable to walk any length of time due to being short of breath and walked with a cane. A year later, Mr. A was back to playing golf, had drastically reduced his diabetes medications while completely eliminating others. He was enjoying life once more. His oral health had also improved. So what changed? Everything! He became a vegetarian, and eats primarily beans, grains and vegetables. He will have some dairy, but very little and almost NO sugar other than honey. He says he feels better now than he has in years.

Ms. C came into my operatory recently looking thin. At first, I thought she was going to tell me had been really sick, and I guess in some way, she was. Ms. C told me she quit eating sugar thirteen months ago! What?!? I asked her what happened thirteen months ago that made her quit eating sugar. Previously, she was diagnosis with Type II diabetes. Even though she went to the gym on a regular basis, she had been unable to loose weight or control the diabetes. When the doctor told her it was time for insulin, that’s when she decided it was time to get serious. She gave up fermentable carbohydrates and lost 65 pounds. She says she feels great, but this new way of eating is difficult when going out to eat. She is determined to continue this lifestyle as she no longer takes any diabetic medications. That’s right…NONE!

What an inspiration they are to all of us. Sugar is the new tobacco. It’s killing us one spoonfull at a time. No amount of exercise will ever beat a bad diet. What we consume should feed our cells, not our tongue. Isn’t it time your took control of what you eat?

health-bite: sugar is serious stuff