Sugar is the new tobacco

I’m working on my book about how to lower cholesterol – naturally. Thus I’m trying to focus on anything and everything that can play a role in actively helping us to prevent high cholesterol, but also in effectively reducing it – if/when we are diagnosed with it. The main issues in the book are exercise and food, but also includes topics on emotional health, stress, and sleep, all of which affect cholesterol levels. Foods can harm us or nourish us. Food can help us to stay strong, happy, healthy, and naturally lower our cholesterol. But, there are certain foods that can create havoc on our health – especially if we have them in excess. Processed foods, which contain a lot of hidden additives, including sugar and salt, are the worst. 

One of these really bad additives is white sugar. This stuff is a real killer. The bad and sad truth is a lot of our food is designed by the industry to get us hooked. By adding too much sugar, too much salt, MSG etc., the industry literally “pushes” food types to us and we become addicted to these things (their intention being, of course, that we buy and consume more of the same!).

I remember that when I was first diagnosed with high cholesterol I would very conscientiously examine the food value stickers and to assure myself that there was little or no cholesterol. If it said zero, I thought I was safe! However, I didn’t consider sugar, and especially the white, refined kind, is not only a contributing factor to obesity, diabetes, but a big trouble maker, when it comes to heart disease and the unhealthy cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.

According to WebMD & the American Medical Association, a study showed that people who consumed the highest levels of sugar had the lowest HDL (the good cholesterol) and the highest triglyceride levels. People who ate the least amount of sugar had the highest HDL (good cholesterol) and the lowest levels of triglyceride! As well, it showed that eating large amounts of sugar more than tripled the risk of heart disease.

As a consequence of these findings, a global campaign has been started: www.actiononsugar.org aimed at trying to reduce sugar intake by calling it the new tobacco …. this is to try, just like was done with fat, to lobby to reduce the amount of hidden sugar in processed foods.

I can only applaud that, but at the same time I think that it would be easier to simply move away from eating sugar and toward eating more clean food. By clean food, I mean food that has not been processed, food such as vegetable, fruits, grains, legumes, leafy greens, etc.

By eating clean, we feed and nourish the body with real food. And when the body gets what it needs, it stops craving the wrong kind of food like: cookies, cream cakes and smarties.

Clean food

Clean food

As my diet changed and I was eating more green food I experienced so many benefits, such as loosing weight and feeling energized. I found that things like cookies, cakes and candy; things that I had been raised to enjoy, all of a sudden tasted way too sweet and I no longer enjoyed eating them. It was the same with salty foods, like certain cheeses and even some kinds of olives, they simply tasted almost unbearably salty. So, as my tastes changed, I naturally stopped eating these thing or eating less of them.

More green

More green

Today we can get bacon with less salt, soups and stocks with less salt – and hopefully soon we will see food products with less sugar.

But – why wait? Do it yourself!

All of this is really great, but how about eating fewer processed foods all together! Then, instead, add more plant-based foods, you will reduce your sugar intake in a heart beat.

Good sugar / bad sugar?

But how about the sugar in fruit? I found an answer to that in an interesting article in The Globe and Mail: “Sugar is the new tobacco“, wherein Dr. Robert Lustig, an neuroendocrinologist and obesity expert explained how the body processes sugar calories in a way that is much more damaging than, say, a protein calorie. However, the sugar calories contained in fruits, with its vitamins, minerals, fibre and micronutrients intact, is broken down more slowly and causes much less impact on blood sugar, as well as liver processes. He states:

Sugar in excess is a toxin, unrelated to it’s calories. The dose determines the poison. Like alcohol, a little sugar is fine, but a lot is not. And the food industry has put us way over our limit” – Dr Robert Lustig

Fresh fruits and veggies

Fresh fruits and veggies

To consume less refined sugar, try to:

  • Eat less processed foods
  • Prepare home cooked meals, make you own cakes and cookies – then you know exactly how much sugar goes in. As well, you can choose the healthier kinds of sugar.
  • Say good-bye! to white sugar.
  • Eat more plant-based foods.
  • Try to replace (most of your) cakes and cookies with delicious raw food options – like this or these.….
  • Drink greens smoothies like these.
  • Enjoy dates and figs, if you crave something sweet
Green Smoothies

Green Smoothies

It’s possible to do so much yourself and remember, even little changes can make a big difference! 

Do you want to know how I lowered my hereditary cholesterol naturally? – Read here.

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U-Turn

During my recent visit in Denmark I heard about a very interesting study concerning lifestyle related diseases like diabetes 2, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, stress, depression, etc.

The study aims at finding out whether it is possible to reverse lifestyle related diseases? Ie., once we suffer from these diseases,  is it possible to make a  U-Turn? And can that be done by simply changing ones own lifestyle?

The experiment, U-Turn, has been started by Chris MacDonald, a Cand. Scient in Human physiology, originally from the USA, but has been living in Denmark for the past 14 years. He is the founder of Health in Balance and Strong Body Strong Mind.

Chris has been coaching and guiding numerous people back to health with very positive results and continues to be a tremendous inspiration to Danes every day!

U-Turn is an experiment that is being documented by the Danish National television. Over a period of 6 months, Chris MacDonald is guiding the 8 participants, all suffering from lifestyle related diseases such as, type 2 diabetes, stress, depression, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome.

The program includes daily training, physical exercise, healthy food, getting a good sleep, along with support and emotional coaching.

Half way though the program the participants will go to France and hike the GR10, a hike that takes them thorough the French Pyrenees, a 850 km hike with considerable elevation, a very strenuous hike!

(Photo source National Geographic)

Throughout the experiment participants are closely followed by doctors from a Copenhagen hospital, to keep them safe, to monitor their well being and their need for medication.

Chris  MacDonald and his team want to see what happens to sick people when you ask them to eat healthy, walk every day and be physically active and minimize negative stress. What happens to them over a 6 months period of time?

Will they feel better? Will they be able to reduce or even eliminate their need for medication? Will they be able to reverse disease and return to great health?

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food – Hippocrates

So far, the National Television has produced 4 programs that have broadcast, taking the viewers along on the journey with the 8 participants and documenting the results they achieve. These programs cover the first half of the experiment.

It’s blood, sweat, tears and laughter – it’s amazing to see the courage, dedication and the victory! 

The participants have been monitored at the hospital when the experiment started, during and half way thorough. The results are astounding:

  • They lost weight
  • They lost dangerous body fat around inner organs
  • Achieved normal blood sugar levels
  • Lowered cholesterol
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Reduced stress
  • Reduced liver counts
  • 3 participants no longer need medication/
  • the rest have been able to reduce the amount of mediation significantly
  • They are of course in much better shape

I think the message is powerful.

Lifestyle changes are the strongest most effective medicine!

I am looking forward to following the experiment and I will report back to you, when it finishes.

Lifestyle related diseases can be reversed and healed by lifestyle changes!

Walking is man’s best medicine – Hippocrates

Hate Exercising?

Do you hate exercising? Or do you find it impossible to find time for exercising? And do you fail again and again getting into the routine?

Then this Ted talk is for you!

Danish professor Bente Klarlund has researched the benefits of exercise and the results have been so convincing that she, who loathes exercise herself, have convinced herself to exercise.

Get the old bike out

Get the old bike out

 

“Those who think they do not have time for exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” Edward Stanley

Professor Klarlund says “people don’t ask me, when do I excercise too much, they ask how little can I get away with?”

The great news is that a little exercise goes a long way, a very long way! A little exercise makes a big difference!

Research shows that exercise protects against 35 disorders and diseases, type 2 diabetes heart disease, cancer and dementia, to name a few. There is even evidence that exercise can be used as treatment for these chronic diseases!

As little as 30 min walking a day will cut your chances of getting sick with 30% – 1 hours walk per day by half! And by running it is even better!

If you really hate exercising Professor Klarlund suggests

  • skipping the elevator
  • using walk and talk meetings at work
  • biking to work
  • walking to the baker for your daily bread

Even presumably insignificant changes can have a significant positive impact on your health. 

Check out her fantastic Ted Talk and find out more – it is very reassuring!

I wrote about Professor Klarlund in an earlier post “muscles reward exercise”

Love as a daily supplement

I just thought this was wonderful………

IMG_2466

Love as a daily supplement!

Seriously, if we want to loose weight and keep it off,  we must look beyond what we put on the plate and how much we exercise. This parts are important, of course, but there is more to it than that.

A healthy bodily balance can only be kept if we also are aware of our emotions! Feelings are just as important, if not more so, than what we put on our plate and how much we exercise. And when it comes to the most difficult part: keeping the weight off – emotions, and how we feel about ourselves, is paramount. We are much more likely to make healthy choices when we listen to our body’s signals and it’s needs, and we need to include the emotional needs as well.

In my morning paper, the Danish Politiken, I found a great article that supports my thoughts! The title made me smile: “She recommends love as a daily supplement”  – I topped up my tea and sat down to enjoy the article.

Professor Berit Lillienthal Heitmann from Institute of Preventive Medicine in Copenhagen ( Center for Sygdom og Samfund ) and an honorable professor at University of Sidney, has been researching obesity for over 25 years. She is convinced that we will never find a solution to why we become overweight and obese, if we only look at the dinner plate and at how much we exercise.

Prof. Heitmann considers stress, lack of nurturing in childhood and bad sleep/sleep apnea, etc. as important factors affecting our ability to succeed in loosing weight and keeping it off.

She says that we can all loose weight by eating less and by exercising, the trick is to keep it off.

Her research has shown that a calorie is not just a calorie. In a study where she looked at nurses in Denmark, she found that those nurses who felt pressured and stressed, put on more weight than those colleagues who were not stressed, when eating  the same amount of calories.

She also did a study with a rare group – identical twins, where one of the twin was overweight and the other was not. What she found in this group was that the one twin, who was overweight had often felt neglected as a child and had missed contact with the mother.

Something points to the fact that nurturing and compassion plays an important role. Berit Lillienthal Heitmann keeps doing research in this field and I will be following her closely, because I think she is on to something really important.

Love as a daily supplement

I wholeheartedly recommend love as a daily supplement too and preferably high doses of it!

“Don’t forget to love yourself” Søren Kirkegaard (Danish philosopher, 1813 – 1855)

Read more:

Self-compassion