Everyone thinks that fat is generally terrible for your health. But did you ever asked yourself where is this information coming from? What about carbs? Can something like sugar be bad for your body? Well, the simple answer is that it depends of the quantity and the processing level of sugar.
Simple definition: Sugars are a type of simple carbohydrate. Types of sugar include glucose, fructose, and sucrose. Your digestive system breaks down sugar into glucose. Your cells use the glucose for energy.
Fat being the micro-nutrient responsible for heart disease, obesity and apparently every health problem imaginable comes from a poor understanding of nutrition and from a guy named Ancel Keys.
Keys came with the “Seven Countries Study” back in the ’50:
In other words, his hypothesis stated that there was a direct correlation between the number of deaths and the percent of fat present in the diet of certain countries. To be honest, from the data presented in this study it does make sense. It looks perfect, a straight line to prove that fat is bad. Almost too good to be true. That’s because Keys hand-picked only the relevant countries to prove his point, ignoring the data he had available for the other countries (a total of 22).
If we are adding all the data, we get the following graph:
This data suggest that there is no direct correlation between fat intake and the number of deaths. For example, number 14 – Mexico had the smallest death count and a relative big fat intake. This is also true for number 8 – France.
Sadly, US Department of Agriculture, American Medical Association, American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association accepted Keys’s study (the results with only seven countries) and they used this data to recommend lower fat intakes for a healthy lifestyle.
This event tells us a lot about how easily a mistake can occur and how bad dietary recommendations can be if based on a wrong premises. There are a lot of other bad advises out there: skipping breakfast is bad, eating fruit juice is good, meat cause cancer, intuitive eating (in the context of processed food) and many other myths.
So what’s the problem with sugar? Well check this out:
- Can Cause Weight Gain (but calories does matter)
- May Increase Your Risk of Heart Disease
- Increases Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
- May Increase Your Risk of Cancer
- Can Increase Cellular Aging
- Other problems
- Source – link to article.
There is a good analogy between cocaine and sugar.
Locals are chewing on coca leaves for a small boosts of energy, the presence of the active substance is so low that is having zero negative impact on the body versus the processed cocaine that can kill you. Same with sugar, imagine eating sugarcane or a sweet fruit versus eating a white, processed, very concentrated powder. The point I’m trying to make is that we are not adapted to any processed substances.
I won’t go into details but here you have a good article about the addictive qualities of the sugar – link to article. Like cocaine, sugar affects the dopamine rewarding system of the body.
So, we know that sugar is linked to health problems and is addictive. Funny enough, there is a term used in the food industry called “bliss point”. From Wikipedia: the bliss point is the amount of an ingredient such as salt, sugar, or fat which optimizes deliciousness (without altering the taste, for example adding sugar to bacon just o make it delicious and addictive without making it too sweet).
So, how is processed food making us fat? Well, the bliss point is one of the reason. As in the food industry it’s all about taste, they tend to add a lot of extra fat and sugar, not taking into account how many calories they add to that type of food.
Secondly, the processed food is always available in every form: fast-food, potato chips bags, soda cans, etc and is available at every street corner, hod-dog stand, mini-market or vending machine.
Processed food is also generally more durable. You can’t compare a cookie bag with a bowl of salad.
The last relevant argument is that processed food is a lot cheaper than healthy food. This is due two reasons: one – demand and two, many of the ingredients are synthetic.
Here you have a TEDx talk by Dr. Jody Stanislaw which explains some basic things about sugar, insulin, pancreas, etc:
I want to end this article with a nice and simple analogy.
They say is the consumption of fat that is causing, for example, fat and cholesterol to deposit in the arteries. Sadly the things are not this simple. Different factors, including sugar, are creating inflammation in the body. The arteries are getting damaged and inflamed causing a response from the body. The body is trying to help by sending cholesterol and calcium in order to seal the holes.
So, when we analyze someone with Clogged Arteries we can’t really see the inflammation, but we can see the fat build-up in the arteries. Instead of blaming fat, that is send there to help, we should blame sugar and all the factors that cause inflammation (smoking for example).
As always, moderation is the key. A live without processed food or sugar isn’t really sustainable or enjoyable. Just try to keep them to a minimum and you will be just fine!