Originally published April 23 2008
The Dangers of Sugars and 'Bad Fats' Explained
by Mike Donkers
(NaturalNews) By far the chief wreckers of our health today are sugars and bad fats. So which are the good ones and which ones are bad? My aim is to enable you to make better food choices for you and your family.
Sugars are more than just the white grains you put in your coffee or tea. Sugars are also to be found in the caffeine in coffee, alcohol, honey, fruit juice without the pulp and peeled potatoes. Even the so-called slow sugars, such as whole grains, are still sugars.
We are the descendants of Stone Age men. By an evolutionary twist, this man was a mammal whose liver was not capable of converting sugar into vitamin C (most mammals can, in fact, do this). Thus we need to get our vitamin C from external sources, such as vegetables and fruit. We are not genetically equipped to deal with a whole lot of sugar.
One needs to distinguish between fast and slow sugars. Fast sugars are sugars which are not converted into energy by the liver but into fat instead. These are more or less immediately released into the bloodstream, causing your blood glucose levels to rise. This in turn provokes an insulin response by the pancreas to stabilize your blood sugar by bringing it down. Insulin is also responsible for the conversion of these sugars into fat. Basically your body is in survival mode because excess sugar levels can cause serious health complaints such as high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, candidiasis and other bowel disorders, hypoglycemia, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even cancer, insulin shock and death. It is the job of your pancreas to prevent this from happening.
Western food is, however, loaded with fast sugars, causing a daily panic in our bodies. Since too much insulin in the system can also be sickening and because our body is constantly trying to find a balance, we develop insulin resistance. This causes you to be free of complaints for many years. However, it is a pseudo-balance and it is therefore no coincidence that most people develop complaints and ailments in midlife. As the accumulated damage spans a period of 20 to 30 years, most people will not trace their health problems back to the food they have been consuming all these years. We are currently experiencing an explosion of cancer, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. And these diseases are occurring at an increasingly younger age too!
Diabetes is not called sugar diabetes for nothing. Sugar sickens. Diabetes is nothing more than a used-up, weakened or worn-out pancreas. It has been working overtime for years and is now no longer capable of producing sufficient amounts of insulin to regulate the blood sugar, resulting in pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer or other afflictions of the pancreas. On top of this, insulin resistance causes your body's insulin to be increasingly less effective. The only way to reverse the process is to eliminate fast sugars in your food.
Start drinking your coffee or tea black (without that dead, ultraheated creamer as well) and don't eat products containing sugar. Which is kind of a pain because it's in nearly all our food. Check the ingredients on the label – and that goes for products from health-food stores too. Watch out for glucose, fructose, dextrose, sucrose, invert-sugar syrup, but also 'natural' alternatives such as raw cane sugar, corn syrup, rice syrup, date syrup and wheat syrup. Our bodies were not made to process that much sugar, natural or otherwise.
Slow sugars are also sugars. They're in whole-grain products such as brown bread, brown rice, brown pasta, etc. These are called whole grain because the germ, the outer bran as well as the inner starch, are used. Particularly the bran slows down the sugars of the starch. White bread is therefore a fast sugar because the bran has been removed from the grain, leaving only the starch. For that reason, brown bread, brown rice and brown pasta are healthier than their white varieties. It's the fiber in bran which slows down the sugars, slowing down their release into the bloodstream.
The same happens with potatoes and fruit. Those of you who remove the skin from an apple are refining the apple by throwing away the fiber and leaving only the fruit sugar. Peel a potato and you're doing the same. Without its skin, a potato is merely a starch bomb and therefore a fast sugar. For this reason, fruit juice without the pulp fiber is nothing more than liquid candy. Nature didn't intend it this way, otherwise she would have produced apples and potatoes without pulp and fiber. So don't buy commercial fruit juice from a pack but squeeze your own fruit juice and don't forget to drink the pulp either. Choose sour and bitter fruits instead of sweet ones, particularly berries, sour apples and citrus fruits such as lemon and grapefruit. Sour and bitter fruits are the original fruits and were eaten by Stone Age men.
Though slow sugars are better than fast sugars, this does not mean you can consume brown bread, rice, pasta and whole sweet fruits unlimitedly! Once again, we were not made to pump large quantities of sugars into our system. Therefore you should eat no more than two slices of bread and have brown pasta or rice only twice a week. So what should you eat instead? A much more complex form of carbohydrates is in vegetables. Try eating a salad a day containing, for example, carrot, green leafy vegetables, alfalfa and sprouts with a dressing of lemon juice and extra virgin coconut oil or olive oil and see how long that keeps you going. I guarantee you will get more energy and feel less hungry. You will also shed those excess pounds fast because you have drastically lowered your sugar intake, reducing your risk of diabetes and making you feel healthier and more vital. Don't forget that viruses, parasites and cancer cells feed on sugar too.
Though honey has many healing qualities it should nevertheless be regarded as a fast sugar. Nature made the stuff so darn sweet for a reason – you should eat it only in small quantities. Because of its healthy aspects, honey need not be avoided. Make sure you eat raw honey (available in health-food stores or from local bee keepers), though, and not the highly processed honey supermarkets sell, which has been industrially heated and robbed of all its nutrients. Very often the bees were fed ordinary sugar as well, so this kind of 'honey' is nothing more than sugar disguised as honey.
A very special role is reserved for the caffeine in green tea. Just like alcohol, caffeine is a natural substance which, when used sparingly, can have a healing effect. In coffee, the caffeine is however released at lightning speed, which makes coffee a fast sugar. This is of course why we drink coffee in the morning, to kickstart the brain into action. If you don't want to give up your coffee, limit yourself to two cups a day.
Drinking green tea is better, though. For reasons yet unknown, there is a substance in green tea which slows down the release of caffeine into the blood, making it a slow sugar and giving you only the health benefits of caffeine. It gets even better: green tea also 'eats' the glucose in your blood, helping you to stabilize your blood sugar and supporting the pancreas so it doesn't have to produce massive amounts of insulin.
Please don't let this be a reason for you to fall into the trap of using artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sorbitol, saccharine and other cancerous chemicals! Teach yourself to avoid sweet foods and enjoy the natural taste of real food instead. People who add cream and sugar to their coffee are really drinking coffee-flavored candy. It's time we become adults and appreciate all four tastes (sweet, sour, salt and bitter) instead of only two (sweet and salt). If we did this and used all the colors of the rainbow, we would automatically make better food choices. We have been conditioned since we were children toward sweet and salty foods by a powerful food industry and therefore as adults, we often still have the taste of a four year old.
Our government tells us that unsaturated plant fats are good for us and saturated animal fats aren't. This is a little too black and white. Here's the grey area:
First off, it's essential that we look at the omega fatty acids in vegetable and animal fats. Next to sugars, it's necessary to reduce your omega-6 intake. Omega-6 is a natural and healthy fatty acid but only at the right ratio to omega-3. We can eat unlimited amounts of omega-3 fats but too many omega-6 fats will inevitably lead to health problems.
The omega-3 to 6 ratio in Paleolithic times was no more than 1:4. What is it today? Anything from 1:20 to a staggering 1:50! Time, therefore, to up your omega-3 intake and lower your omega-6 intake. Eat fewer grains and avoid grain-based oils such as corn oil. Other omega-6 oils which are best avoided are soy oil and sunflower oil. Commercial meat and dairy comes from animals fed grain pellets and therefore also contain too much omega-6. Besides the animals' suffering and the antibiotics, growth hormones, and the GMO's they get, this is another reason to choose organic, grass-fed meat and dairy. Cows are supposed to eat grass and clover. So are pigs. Did you know chickens also eat grass?
So where do we get all these omega-3 fats? From anything with a green leaf. Green leafy vegetables are an excellent source of omega-3, particularly when raw. For cooking, also use green veggies, such as kale, sprouts, broccoli, etc. Other vegetable fats containing omega-3 are flaxseed oil and walnut oil. Be careful, though, as these oils do not allow themselves to be heated. Use only extra virgin olive oil for this or use olive oil cold. The best animal source of omega-3 is wild fatty fish and cod-liver or krill oil. These contain the long-chain EPA and DHA omega-3 fats.
For years we've been hearing that saturated fats are bad because they increase cholesterol levels. This is a persistent myth. In Asian, African and South American countries people cook with butter, coconut oil, and lard all the time and look at the health of these people! Saturated fats can withstand high temperatures and can be used multiple times and are therefore perfectly suited for frying. The best fats for frying are butter, coconut oil and olive oil. Natural saturated fats (animal fats but also plant fats like coconut fat) are processed by the body without difficulty and are not fattening. What makes people fat and unhealthy are sugar and refined oils (trans fats). By all means, help yourself to an organic egg fried in butter, full-fat yogurt or organic grass-fed meat.
Trans fats are the missing link between unsaturated and saturated fats. It's not saturated fats which are the enemy but trans fats. Trans fatty acids are formed by solidifying cheaply available unsaturated plant fats like sunflower oil, soy oil, corn oil, peanut oil, etc. Through a heating process, the liquid is extracted from these fats, either in part or whole. Then a hydrogen atom is added. This results in the transformation of unsaturated fatty acids into saturated fatty acids, a kind not found in nature and which is alien to the body. When you consume these fats, your body doesn't know what to do with them, giving them free range to form free radicals and cause damage even at the cellular (DNA) level!
Which products contain trans fats? It's better to ask which ones don't nowadays. Frying oil, potato chips, coffee creamer, cookies - chances are they contain hydrogenated or partly hydrogenated fats. Even peanut butter is no longer exempt. And it isn't just foods either: make sure you also read the labels of vitamin supplements, ointments, creams, gels, lotions, cosmetics – even the ones you buy in health-food stores. It's very important that you check the labels for these and other ingredients. You will find empty foods very often also contain sugar, salt, flavour enhancers and chemical sweeteners to hide the fact that they taste like cardboard. Food should be prepared in a kitchen, not in a lab.
Interestingly enough, trans fats are not completely unnatural. Meat and dairy from hoofed grazing animals (ruminants) naturally contains 2 to 3% trans fats. Tests have been done to measure the potential harmful effects of natural and unnatural trans fats. Natural trans fats turned out to be completely harmless, whereas chemical trans fats did prove harmful to natural organisms, even though they looked identical under the microscope. Nobody knows why this is. My guess is other micronutrients play a role in cancelling the potentially harmful effects of natural trans fats in, for example, butter. We see the same mechanism at work with the caffeine in green tea. Nature works in complex synergistic wholes, never with isolates. We are only beginning to discover the complex interaction of these micronutrients.
The deadly cocktail of sugars and trans fats is responsible for the many health challenges we face today. Our blood and blood flow suffer particularly because of their devastating effect on the liver, guts, kidneys and heart. No wonder so many of our modern diseases affect exactly those organs.
About the authorMike Donkers is an English teacher from the Netherlands who started taking care of his own health in October 2006 because doctors couldn't help him. His interest in the connection between food and health has led to more in-depth research, particularly in the role sea minerals can have in the regeneration of cells. He is also a self-taught guitarist and singer. He is the songwriter and frontman of his own band, The Mellotones (www.nubluz.com).
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