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Top 10 Ways to Know if You Are Addicted to Sugar

Five years ago when I first wrote on the effects of sugar and its addictive potential, there were a lot of questions and doubts that sugar is addictive.  The Harvard Study, printed in the June 26, 2013 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, puts those questions to rest.

Twelve overweight or obese men age 18 to 35 were given a milk shake on two separate occasions.  The milkshakes were the same calories, nutrients and taste.  One caused high blood sugar and the other did not cause high blood sugar.  A functional MRI done four hours after ingestion of the shake slowed greater brain activity at the pleasure or reward center of the brain, the nucleus accumbens, in the participants who had consumed the milkshakes that caused high blood sugar.  This is the same area that lights up in persons with drug addiction or gambling addiction.

Sugar addiction does exist.  But the addiction isn’t just to sugar.  Anything that will elevate blood sugar (high glycemic index foods) does the same thing—white flour, white potatoes, refined starch.

“But I just love to eat sugar—that doesn’t mean I’m addicted.”  True.  Let’s define some terms.

Urge:  a strong need or desire to have or do something

Craving: a very strong desire for something; intense, urgent, abnormal desire or longing

Addiction: a strong and harmful need to regularly have something or do something; compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal

So…How Do I Know if I am Addicted to Sugar?

If you answer “Yes” to most of the following statements, you are probably addicted to sugar.

1.         I consume sweets, even if I am not hungry, because of cravings.

2.         I find myself constantly eating sweets throughout the day.

3.         I have an increased desire for sweets when I reduce or stop eating them.

4.         My sugar eating causes physical problems, and yet I keep eating it.

5.         When I eat more sugar, my emotions improve.

6.         When sweets are unavailable, I will go find some.

7.         I spend a lot of time feeling sluggish or fatigued from overeating.

8.         I can’t function at my best because of needing to eat sweets.

9.         I need to eat more and more sweets to get the same emotional help I got before.

10. After the first bite, I will binge and eat the whole sack of sweets.

11. (bonus) If I don’t eat sweets, I will be an emotional wreck.

If you are addicted, or feel your cravings are getting out of control, there is help.

We will soon be releasing a highly successful program, Sweet Freedom From Sugar.  It will walk you through the 5 steps to freedom from sugar addiction.  If you would like more details, place your name on the interest list and we will keep you informed as to its release date, probably in the next month.

Dr. Stan Gardner, a Certified Nutrition Specialist, is passionate about helping people reach their peak in health.  His office is in Sandy, UT, and he can be reached at 801.302.5397.  

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Fed Up: The Movie, and My Thoughts

Fed Up—Movie Review

Stan Gardner, MD, CNS

See Fed Up if you want:

  • to understand the true cause of obesity
  • your family to eat better food
  • to understand the power of the processed food industry
  • to realize the government cannot (will not) help you be healthy
  • to understand that health for you and your family must be your personal responsibility

Epidemic of Obesity

 In the US today, 1/3 of Americans are overweight and 1/3 are obese.  At the present rate, in 2 decades 95% of the population will be overweight or obese.  By 2050, 1/3 of the US will have diabetes mellitus, type II.  The next generation of children will be the first generation in the history of the United States that will live shorter than their parents.

 True Cause of ObesityIt’s All Preventable

 Sugar is the cause of obesity, not fat.  There are 600,000 food items in stores; 80% of them have added sugar.  When the NIH and the Senate Committee came up with the “Dietary Goals for the US” in the 1970s and 80s, saying that fat was bad, the food industry doubled the sugar and halved the fat in most foods.  (This supposedly made food healthier, although there was no scientific support for that.  Even after 5 very expensive studies trying to prove that fat was bad and caused obesity, it could not be proven.  But it remained the prevailing theory.)

 The processed food industry then targeted children in their marketing, and Ronald McDonald entered the scene.  More recent studies have shown that sugar stimulates the brain in the same manner as cocaine and heroin.  Laboratory rats preferred sugar water over cocaine when given a choice.  Sugar is addictive.

 How the Government Contributes to Obesity

 When the World Health Organization (WHO) was ready to release a document  of dietary guidelines restricting sugar intake to 10%, the Bush administration threatened to withdraw $405M support of WHO if the document was released.  It was not printed.

The government subsidizes the processed food industry to the tune of $Billions, much of it through subsidizing corn to make high-fructose corn syrup.  Decades ago when across the board cuts were made to all services, the school lunch program was also cut.  In an effort to stay solvent, schools set up partnerships with fast food establishments and soda pop distributors.  This also provided a source of revenue for the schools.

The Lies that Perpetuate the Obesity Epidemic

 Robert Lustig, MD and neuro-endocrinologist, maintains the food industry is perpetuating three falsehoods to distract Americans from the problem of sugar:

  • Obesity is the issue (the real issue is the metabolic illness associated with obesity, which also is seen in non-obese children.  While 17% of children are obese, more than 50% of children have the metabolic problems that are present in obese children.)
  • A calorie is a calorie.
  • It’s about personal responsibility.  “It’s about how active kids are.”  “Voracious appetites and they don’t exercise enough.”

An Attempt to Change It

Michelle Obama became quite the early advocate for healthy eating and significant changes in the processed food industry.  Then the food industry decided to partner with her in this endeavor.  One and one-half trillion calories were trimmed off foods.  Unfortunately, this only amounted to about 20 calories per day reduction per person.  Her Let’s Move It campaign shifted from moving or changing the food industry, to supplying more healthy food, to more exercise.  The wife of the President of the United States could not move the nation toward healthier food options.

The Junk Food/Processed Foods/Sugar Industries are Using the Same Techniques as the Tobacco Industry Used in the 1950s and 60s

Hundreds of millions of dollars were spent through campaign donations and extremely effective lobbyists to keep the status quo relative to tobacco.  In the 1950s and 1960s the tobacco industry emphasis was on their assertion that the science was uncertain.  The tobacco industry sponsored game shows and cartoons.  Endorsements were made by doctors, dentists and celebrities.  Finally when a 1991 study showed that 6 year olds recognized “Joe the Camel” as much as Mickey Mouse, R.J. Reynolds was told to remove it from their marketing.  (Does any of this sound like the sugar industry politics of today?)  In 2009 the RICO case found the tobacco industry guilty of engaging in a decades-long conspiracy to defraud the American public about the health risks of tobacco.  The future of the tobacco industry presently lies in off-shore production and marketing to developing countries.

 Solutions

 Dr. Mark Hyman was interviewed extensively on the documentary.  He proposes:

  • A 10-day sugar detox diet
  • Taxation on soda pop
  • Eliminate food marketing to kids
  • Make labels more transparent
  • Get rid of all junk food in schools

 Dr. Robert Lustig proposes the following solutions:

  • Warnings on soft drink cans
  • Equal time advertising fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Voluntary agreements to reduce sugar content

 Dr. Gardner’s comments:

 We must assume personal responsibility for our health.  It will start with a diet of real food and no sugar.  Although the WHO wants to limit sugar to 10% of the diet, there is no known minimum need for sugar or carbohydrates.  We will get all the carbohydrates we need through eating good food.

The school lunch only accounts for 180 of the 1095 meals (16%) your children will eat.  You may send lunch to school, or your child may choose healthier food (which is becoming more available), but even if your children eat school lunch, you still control the vast majority of their meals.

 Although the movie did not bring out exactly how and why sugar causes fat, it is an important concept.  If you were on a 2000 calorie diet and those calories were burned throughout the day, you would feel good because that is what your body needs.  If you eat 500 calories as sugar, the normal insulin response would drive those calories into the storage form called fat, because the body does not need that rapid infusion of glucose into the body.  The other 1500 calories would be normally burned throughout the day, but you don’t feel good because your body needs and utilizes 2000 calories.  You eat 500 more calories to feel good.  Thus you gain fat (and weight).

The movie Fed Up is an excellent resource for information about our health.  Its message will disturb you, but it is well worth watching, and it may transform YOUR health.  Bon appetit!

 If you would like to know more about Dr. Gardner’s philosophies, visit him at his website keystohealing.net.  His office number is (801) 302-5397.  He will soon be releasing his popular Sweet Freedom From Sugar program.  If you would like to be placed on the interest list so you will be informed of the starting date, visit sweetfreedomforme.com

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Sugar: Not So Sweet!

One of the problems with regulating sugar consumption is being able to identify the foods that contain it. It’s not always obvious.  Many foods, however, do contain sugar.  For example, you maybe surprised to learn that: 1. Many meat packers feed sugar to animals prior to slaughter.  This improves the flavor and color of cured meat. 2. Sugar (in the form of corn syrup and dehydrated molasses) is often added to hamburgers sold in restaurants to reduce shrinkage. 3. The breading on many prepared foods contains sugar. 4. Before salmon is canned, it is often glazed with a sugar solution. 5. Some fast-food restaurants sell poultry that has been injected with a flavorful honey solution.

Lick the Sugar Habit

Nancy Appleton, PhD

My comments: Sugar is a toxin.  A toxin is any substance that interferes with the normal metabolism of the body.  As we explore Dr. Appleton’s book, the damaging effects of this substance (or substances) will be amply obvious.  If you or your loved ones have found yourself addicted to sugar and need help, please sign up on the interest list for my groundbreaking and amazingly successful program, Sweet Freedom from Sugar.  Just go to www.sweetfreedomforme.com and you will get word as soon as it is ready to launch.

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Sweets and Sweeteners: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, and The Uglier

I recently saw a lady in her 70s who said she did not eat much sugar.  By the time we were done with the conversation, she realized that she eats one or two small chocolates, drinks one soda pop and consumes a small amount of fruit juice on a daily basis.  This is equivalent to between 10 to 15 teaspoons of sugar daily (she did not mention any breads, potatoes, or similar starchy foods that break down quickly into sugar in the body).

Not much sugar?  Actually, she was correct, comparatively speaking, because her consumption is much less than the average intake of a whopping 26 teaspoons per person, per day, in America.

The Good

Is there any good that comes from sugar?  It sure makes things taste good!  And it often is needed for baking, but we can do better.  There is no minimum RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for sugar, or any minimum level of carbohydrate needed to sustain life.  We get plenty of ‘sugar’ in complex carbohydrates as we eat nutritious food.

The Bad

Beyond the fact that there is no nutritional value in sugar (no vitamins, minerals, fiber), what else is bad about it?  We’ll review the various types of sweetener that are available, and discuss each one.

  •  table sugar
  • fructose
  • glucose
  • corn syrup
  • agave
  • fruits
  • raw honey
  • processed honey
  • maple syrup
  • succanat
  • rapadura
  • molasses
  • turbinado sugar
  • aspartame
  • NutraSweet
  • xylitol
  • Splenda
  • Saccharin

First, let’s talk about table sugar, that bleached–yes, bleached–white stuff we put on our cereal or in whipped cream.

Table sugar is composed of two molecules in equal amounts:  50% glucose and 50% fructose.  Glucose gives a rise in ‘sugar’ in the bloodstream.  The rise is reduced by insulin, created in the body for just the purpose of moving the sugar into the cell for energy use.  Part of glucose is also stored as glycogen, the immediate-access form of glucose for times of need (such as meeting a saber-toothed tiger in the jungle).  The rest  (lucky us!) is stored as fat.  Fructose is metabolized in the liver, which also immediately converts that fructose into fat for storage.  Fructose shuts down the satiety (makes you feel full) center so you will eat more.

Excessive fructose is toxic to the liver.  Fructose is actually more toxic to the body than glucose, although it does not raise the blood sugar and it is lower on the glycemic index.

Corn syrup is 100% glucose, while high fructose corn syrup is 45% glucose and 55% fructose.  Agave is 55% to 95% fructose, making it the most dangerous of the four common sugars.

The best source of sweetness is found in fruits.  When we use fruits as our sweetener, we also take in fiber, vitamins, minerals and enzymes to help digest the fruit.  Raw honey contains B vitamins, obviously from a natural source without toxicity.

Although sugar is sugar, there are less refined sources of sugar that may be slightly better than table sugar, although considerably more expensive.  Sucanat and rapadura come from sugar cane and contain 10% to 13% molasses.  Molasses is a strong sweetener that contains excellent trace elements, making its digestion and utilization more effective than white sugar.  Turbinado sugar is also less processed and slightly more nutritious than white sugar.

There are two sweeteners that appeal to the sweet taste in the mouth but have no glucose or fructose in them.  They are Stevia and xylitol, both of which I recommend for those who desire something to use in place of all sugars.  They may not do as well in baked goods as other sugar, but many have had success experimenting with these two ingredient options.

The Ugly

Finally, let’s talk about the ugly side of sugar and sweeteners.  When sugar is taken in excess, the following things have been well documented:

  • high blood sugar and high insulin, followed eventually by diabetes mellitus II
  • immune system suppression
  • hyperactivity,
  • anxiety,
  • concentration difficulties and crankiness in children (which is why Halloween candy is given to children at the end of the school day)
  • rise in blood triglycerides
  • contributes to and feeds cancer
  • promotes tooth decay
  • contributes to weight gain and obesity
  • is pro-inflammatory (so it contributes to all inflammatory conditions—asthma, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, gastric ulcers, arthritis, vascular (heart) disease, headaches, migraines)
  • accelerates aging
  • causes and contributes to ongoing Candida (yeast) infections
  • leads to formation of gallstones and kidney stones
  • causes constipation and hemorrhoids
  • the list goes on, and on, and on…

The food industry knows that sugar sells, but wants to hide the fact that it may be the highest ingredient in a processed food.  So how do they “hide” the sugar content?  Simply by listing it in a number of different forms.  For example:

The ingredient list will show sugar as the 5th ingredient, but list 4 other sugars (evaporated cane sugar, invert sugar, corn syrup, barley malt syrup) further down on the ingredient list.

If you add all those sugars together, the total quantity would move ‘sugar’ up to be the highest ingredient.

I recently looked at a list of 257 different ways to name sugar.  You can identify most of them by knowing that words ending in -ose are sugars, and descriptions ending in syrup and sugar are also sugars.

The sugar industry has effectively discredited scientists and solid science that speak out against sugar.  Dr. Yudkin in the 1970s presented excellent research on the dangers of sugar, which was discredited by Keyes, who, it was later discovered, was funded by the sugar industry.  Legislation to place a recommended cap on the amount of sugar consumed by an individual per day has been subverted.  In fact, the tactics used by the sugar industry correlate well with the tactics used by the tobacco industry for so long to deny or downplay the true effects of their products on the human body.

Even Uglier

There are sweeteners worse than sugar on the body.  Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal) cleared the FDA as a ‘diet’ product.  The data submitted to the FDA showed that this ‘diet’ product actually caused weight gain in the test groups.  The basic chemistry of aspartame is that it is wood alcohol, with an aspartate group and phenylalanine group hooked to it.  We might not have been so excited about it if it had been called “Wood Alcohol-ame.”  Wood alcohol is a toxic substance in the body, so the body breaks it down into formaldehyde, which is a carcinogen (it causes cancer) and a toxic preserving agent.  It is so toxic that some medical students taking anatomy cannot be in the room with formaldehyde-preserved cadavers.

The body then breaks formaldehyde down into formic acid, which is the source of the sting of the fire ant.  All these chemicals are toxic to the body and are considered pro-inflammatory.  Many so-called “diet” sodas are sweetened with aspartame.  Soda, anyone?

Splenda (sucralose) is a chlorinated artificial sweetener that looks chemically more like DDT than sugar.  Chlorine is a toxic substance, whether it’s a gas (which was used to kill soldiers in WWI), placed in herbicides and pesticides, put in water, or added to sweet chemicals and sold as artificial sweeteners.  Of the 110 studies submitted to the FDA for approval in 1998, 2 were done on humans—and the longest one was for 4 days.  A review of all literature on this product reveals the following findings regarding Splenda:

1. it reduces good bacteria in the intestinal tract by 50%

2. it increases the pH in the intestines (viruses, bacteria, and cancer cells like a higher pH)

3. it impairs appetite regulation, which leads to weight gain (diet cola, anyone?)

4. it causes a myriad of symptoms that have been reported by sucralose users, affecting skin, lungs, nose, eyes, stomach, heart, joints, and neurological systems.

Saccharin (SugarTwin, Sweet’N Low) has not had the extremely negative health effects that aspartame and sucralose have had.  The study on animals, showing it caused tumors, was designed with insanely high doses of saccharin.  The tested levels could never by ingested by humans as a sweetener.  However, it is still a chemically manufactured product, with potentially unknown long-term side effects.

 Addiction and Sweeteners

Lastly, sugar causes cravings, which lead to sugar addiction, every bit as real as addictions to alcohol, tobacco or drugs.

 Studies in animals have documented release of pleasure substances in the brain upon ingestion of sugar.  Food Addicts Anonymous follows a program similar to the 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous program to support people who are addicted to carbohydrates, sugar or food.

If you or a loved one are addicted to sugar and need some help changing your life, our Sweet Freedom from Sugar Training Course will be offered again soon.  To receive information about the course, just go to  http://sweetfreedomforme.com/

 Dr. Gardner believes every person has a mission to perform on this earth.  He is passionate about giving his patients the energized health that makes dreams possible.  He consults with corporations about providing healthy alternatives to employees, and has a private practice in Riverton, UT. (801-254-4600)