By Dr. Mercola
I’ve been warning you of the dangers of soda since I started this site over 16 years ago, and the list of reasons to avoid this beverage just keeps getting longer. Americans in particular get most of their daily calories from sugar, primarily in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in soda and other sweetened beverages.
Half of the US population over the age of two consumes sugary drinks on a daily basis,1 and this figure does not even include 100% fruit juices, flavored milk or sweetened teas, all of which are sugary too, which means the figure is actually even higher.
Many people mistakenly believe that as long as you are drinking fruit juice, it's healthy even though it's sweet, but this is a dangerous misconception that is fueling the rising rates of weight gain, obesity, fatty liver disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes in the United States and other developed nations.
It’s important to realize sugary drinks, soda and even fresh squeezed fruit juice, contain fructose, which has been identified as one of the primary culprits in the meteoric rise of obesity and related health problems—in large part due to its ability to turn on your “fat switch.”
So-called “enhanced” water products are another source of hidden fructose, and/or artificial sweeteners, which can be even worse for your health than sugar. I recommend drinking plenty of pure water as your primary beverage of choice instead.
Sugary Drinks Linked to 180,000 Deaths Annually
Preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2013 Scientific Sessions suggests sugary beverages are to blame for about 183,000 deaths worldwide each year, including 133,000 diabetes deaths, 44,000 heart disease deaths and 6,000 cancer deaths.
Among the 35 largest countries in the world, Mexico had the highest death rates associated with sugary beverage consumption. There, the average consumption of sugary beverages was 24 ounces per day.
Bangladesh had the lowest death rates. The US ranked third, with an estimated 25,000 annual deaths2 from sweetened drinks.3 (Many might have expected the US to come in first place, but remember that American processed foods contain far more sugars than other nations, so Americans also consume a lot of “hidden” sugar in products other than beverages.)
Interestingly, and quite disturbingly, the death rates associated with sweetened beverages were highest in those under the age of 45. According to the featured article:4
“[W]hile the connection between excess sugar and chronic disease is well-known, the latest research is the first to quantify deaths correlated with sugared drinks worldwide.
...To reach their conclusion, the scientists analyzed data from the 2010 Global Burden of Diseases Study and recorded how much sugar-sweetened beverages people drank, dividing up the data by age and sex. Then, they figured out how the various amount corresponded to obesity rates.
Lastly, they calculated how much obesity affected diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers and determined the mortality rates from these diseases, ending up with the number of deaths that could be attributed to consuming sugary beverages by age and sex.”
Co-author Dr. Gitanjali Singh told Time Magazine:
“Our findings should push policy makers world-wide to make effective policies to reduce consumption of sugary beverages, such as taxation, mass-media campaigns, and reducing availability of these drinks... Individuals should drink fewer sugary beverages and encourage their family and friends to do the same.”
As you may recall, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently tried to ban the sale of sugary beverages over 16 ounces in restaurants, food carts and theaters, but the day before the ban was scheduled to go into effect, a Supreme Court judge overturned it.5 Bloomberg has stated he intends to appeal the decision.
Personally, I believe the most appropriate strategy is to educate people on the facts about sugar consumption, and encourage personal responsibility. Taxation and eliminating sweet drinks from schools and other venues may have a beneficial effect, but to really put a dent in the problem, you need to be properly informed about the consequences of your choices. Voting with your pocketbook and avoiding purchasing these products will cause them to disappear from the marketplace as companies will not produce items that don’t sell.
Scientific Statement from American Heart Association about Sugar Consumption and Heart Disease Risk
In 2009, the American Heart Association (AHA) issued a scientific statement6 about sugar intake and heart health, pointing out that there is evidence for a relationship between the two. According to the abstract:
“High intakes of dietary sugars in the setting of a worldwide pandemic of obesity and cardiovascular disease have heightened concerns about the adverse effects of excessive consumption of sugars.
In 2001 to 2004, the usual intake of added sugars for Americans was 22.2 teaspoons per day (355 calories per day). Between 1970 and 2005, average annual availability of sugars/added sugars increased by 19%, which added 76 calories to Americans’ average daily energy intake. Soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages are the primary source of added sugars in Americans’ diets. Excessive consumption of sugars has been linked with several metabolic abnormalities and adverse health conditions, as well as shortfalls of essential nutrients...
[T]he American Heart Association recommends reductions in the intake of added sugars. A prudent upper limit of intake is half of the discretionary calorie allowance, which for most American women is no more than 100 calories per day and for most American men is no more than 150 calories per day from added sugars.”
How Much Sugar Do You Eat or Drink Each Day?
Let’s start with soda. One hundred calories isn’t much. Just one 12-ounce regular soda contains about 140 calories; the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar. Similarly, one eight-ounceglass of orange juice has about eight full teaspoons of sugar, and at least 50 percent of that sugar is fructose. Drinking just one eight-ounce glass of orange juice will wallop your system with about 25 grams of fructose, which is more than you should have the entire day...
Fructose has been identified as one of the primary culprits in the meteoric rise of obesity and related health problems, and while the majority of the problem is caused by the large quantities of high fructose corn syrup added to so many processed foods and sweetened beverages, naturally-occurring fructose in large amounts of fruit juice is also a problem. Fructose is also a likely culprit behind the millions of U.S. children struggling with non-alcoholic liver disease, which is caused by a build-up of fat within liver cells. Fructose is very hard on your liver, in much the same way as drinking alcohol.
Around 100 years ago the average American consumed a mere 15 grams of fructose a day, primarily in the form of whole fruit. One hundred years later, one-fourth of Americans are consuming more than 135 grams per day (that's over a quarter of a pound!), largely in the form of soda and other sweetened beverages.
Fructose at 15 grams a day is unlikely to do much harm (unless you suffer from high uric acid levels). However, at nearly 10 times that amount it becomes a MAJOR cause of obesity and nearly all chronic degenerative diseases. As a standard recommendation, I strongly advise keeping your TOTAL fructose consumption below 25 grams per day. However, for most people it would actually be wise to limit your fruit fructose to 15 grams or less, as it is virtually guaranteed that you will consume “hidden” sources of fructose from most beverages and just about any processed food you might eat.
Did You Know?
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Don’t Fall for the Latest 'Designer Water' Fad...
As a general rule, I advise using water as your primary form of beverage. Many simply do not drink enough water these days. But don’t be fooled by slick marketing. There are a number of “designer water” products available, and none of them can really beat plain, pure water. For example, on April 1, Coca-Cola released its latest enhanced water product called “Fruitwater,” described as “a great tasting, naturally flavored zero calorie sparking water beverage.”7 Despite its name, the product does NOT contain any juice. Rather it’s sweetened with sucralose and “natural fruit flavors.” Sucralose (Splenda) is an artificial sweetener that, like aspartame, is associated with a host of side effects, including:
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Seizures, dizziness and migraines
- Blurred vision
- Allergic reactions
- Blood sugar increases and weight gain
Artificially Sweetened Water is a Recipe for Poor Health
Different artificial sweeteners have been found to wreak havoc in a number of different ways. Aspartame, for example, has a long list of studies indicating its harmful effects, ranging from brain damage to pre-term delivery. Sucralose has been found to be particularly damaging to your intestines. A study8 published in 2008 found that sucralose:
- Reduces the amount of good bacteria in your intestines by 50 percent
- Increases the pH level in your intestines, and
- Affects a glycoprotein in your body that can have crucial health effects, particularly if you're on certain medications like chemotherapy, or treatments for AIDS and certain heart conditions
In response to this study, James Turner, chairman of the national consumer education group Citizens for Health, issued the following statement:9
"The report makes it clear that the artificial sweetener Splenda and its key component sucralose pose a threat to the people who consume the product. Hundreds of consumers have complained to us about side effects from using Splenda and this study ... confirms that the chemicals in the little yellow package should carry a big red warning label."
That was nearly five years ago, yet many are still in the dark about these health risks. Having healthy gut flora is absolutely vital for your optimal health, so clearly, any product that can destroy up to half of your healthy intestinal bacteria can pose a critical risk to your health! Many are already deficient in healthy bacteria due to consuming too many highly processed foods. This is why I recommend eating fermented vegetables every day, or at the very least taking a high quality probiotic.
Believe me, if you continuously destroy up to 50 percent of your gut flora by regularly consuming sucralose, then poor health is virtually guaranteed. So please, do not make “Fruitwater” a staple drink thinking you’re doing something beneficial for your health... Remember, pure water IS a zero calorie drink. You cannot find a beverage that contains fewer calories. If you think about it, why on earth would you choose artificially sweetened water over regular mineral water? If you want some flavor, just squeeze a little bit of fresh lemon or lime into mineral water as they have virtually no fructose in them.
Unfortunately, most public health agencies and nutritionists in the United States still recommend these toxic artificial sweeteners as acceptable and even preferred alternatives to sugar, which is at best confusing and at worst seriously damaging the health of those who listen to this well-intentioned but foolish advice. Contrary to popular belief, research has shown that artificial sweeteners can stimulate your appetite, increase carbohydrate cravings, and stimulate fat storage and weight gain. In fact, diet sodas may actually double your risk of obesity. So much for being an ally in the battle against the bulge...
The Case Against ALL Bottled Waters...
While we’re on the subject of commercially available water products, let me remind you that bottled water in general is a bad idea. Not only are you paying about 1,900 percent more for the same or similar water you get straight from your tap, water stored in plastic bottles have other health risks as well. The plastic often used to make water bottles contains a variety of health-harming chemicals that can easily leach out and contaminate the water, such as:
- Cancer-causing PFOAs
- PBDEs (flame retardant chemicals), which have been linked to reproductive problems and altered thyroid levels
- The reproductive toxins, phthalates
- BPA, which disrupts the endocrine system by mimicking the female hormone estrogen
If you leave your water bottle in a hot car, or reuse it, your exposure is magnified because heat and stress increase the amount of chemicals that leach out of the plastic. So the container your water comes in needs to receive just as much attention as the water itself, and plastic is simply not a wise choice from a health perspective … not to mention the extreme amounts of toxic waste produced!
What’s the Healthiest Beverage You Can Drink?
Sweetened beverages, whether it’s sweetened with sugar, HFCS, naturally-occurring fructose, or artificial sweeteners, are among the worst culprits in the fight against obesity and related health problems, including diabetes, heart- and liver disease, just to name a few. Remember that sweetened beverages also include flavored milk products, bottled teas, and “enhanced” water products. Ditching ALL of these types of beverages can go a long way toward reducing your risk for chronic health problems and weight gain. So what should you drink?
Your best, most cost effective choice is to drink filtered tap water. The caveat though is to make sure you filter your tap water. I've written a large number of articles on the hazards of tap water, from fluoride to dangerous chemicals and drugs, to toxic disinfection byproducts and heavy metals, so having a good filtration system in place is more of a necessity than a luxury in most areas. Remember, nothing beats pure water when it comes to serving your body’s needs. If you really feel the urge for a carbonated beverage, try sparkling mineral water with a squirt of lime or lemon juice.
Another option to consider is to bottle your own water from a gravity-fed spring. There's a great website called FindaSpring.com where you can find natural springs in your area. This is a great way to get back to nature and teach your children about health and the sources of clean water. The best part is that most of these spring water sources are free! Just remember to bring either clear polyethylene or glass containers to collect the water so no unsafe chemicals can contaminate your water on the way home. If you choose to use glass bottles, be sure to wrap them in towels to keep them from breaking in the car.
The Beverage that is Even WORSE than High Fructose Corn Syrup Soda
Is This Popular Sports Drink as Damaging as Coca-Cola?
By Dr. Mercola
Processed food is perhaps the most damaging aspect of most people’s diet, contributing to poor health and chronic disease. One of the primary culprits is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), the dangers of which I touch on in virtually every article on diet I write.
The second culprit is partially hydrogenated soybean oil.
These two ingredients, either alone or in combination, can be found in virtually all processed foods and one can make a compelling argument that the reliance on these two foods is a primary contributing factor for most of the degenerative diseases attacking Americans today.
Part of the problem with partially hydrogenated soybean oil is the trans fat it contains. The other part relates to the health hazards of soy itself. And an added hazard factor is the fact that the majority of both corn and soybeans are genetically engineered.
As the negative health effects from trans fats have been identified and recognized, the agricultural- and food industry have scrambled to come up with new alternatives.
Partially hydrogenated soybean oil has been identified as the main culprit, and for good reason. Unfortunately, saturated fats are still mistakenly considered unhealthy by many health “experts,” so rather than embracing truly healthful tropical fats like coconut oil, which is mostly grown outside the US. The food industry has instead turned to domestic US alternatives offered by companies like Monsanto, which has developed modified soybeans that don’t require hydrogenation.
Americans consume more than 28 billion pounds of edible oils annually, and soybean oil accounts for about 65 percent of it. About half of it is hydrogenated, as soybean oil is too unstable otherwise to be used in food manufacturing. One of the primary reasons for hydrogenating oil is to prolong its shelf life. Raw butter, for example, is likely to go rancid far quicker than margarine.
The process also makes the oil more stable and raises its melting point, which allows it to be used in various types of food processing that uses high temperatures.
Hydrogenated oil1 is made by forcing hydrogen gas into the oil at high pressure. Virtually any oil can be hydrogenated. Margarine is a good example, in which nearly half of the fat content is trans fat. The process that creates partially hydrogenated oil alters the chemical composition of essential fatty acids, such as reducing or removing linolenic acid, a highly reactive triunsaturated fatty acid, transforming it into the far less reactive linoleic acid, thereby greatly preventing oxidative rancidity when used in cooking.
In the late 1990’s, researchers began realizing this chemical alteration might actually have adverse health effects. Since then, scientists have verified this to the point of no dispute.
Beware that there’s a difference between “fully hydrogenated” and “partially hydrogenated” oils. Whereas partially hydrogenated oil contains trans fat, fully hydrogenated oil does not, as taking the hydrogenation process “all the way” continues the molecular transformation of the fatty acids from trans fat into saturated fatty acids. Fully hydrogenated soybean oil is still not a healthy choice however, for reasons I’ll explain below. The following slide presentation explains the technical aspects relating to the hydrogenation process.
This is a Flash-based video and may not be viewable on mobile devices.
The Health Hazards of Trans Fats Found in Partially Hydrogenated Oil
The completely unnatural man-made fats created through the partial hydrogenation process cause dysfunction and chaos in your body on a cellular level, and studies have linked trans-fats to:
Cancer, by interfering with enzymes your body uses to fight cancer Chronic health problems such as obesity, asthma, auto-immune disease, cancer, and bone degeneration Diabetes, by interfering with the insulin receptors in your cell membranes Heart disease, by clogging your arteries (Among women with underlying coronary heart disease, eating trans-fats increased the risk of sudden cardiac arrest three-fold!) Decreased immune function, by reducing your immune response Increase blood levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad" cholesterol, while lowering levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol Reproductive problems by interfering with enzymes needed to produce sex hormones Interfering with your body’s use of beneficial omega-3 fats
As usual, it took many years before conventional health recommendations caught up and began warning about the use of trans fats. Not surprisingly, as soon as the FDA required food manufacturers to list trans fat content on the label — which took effect on January 1, 2006 — the industry began searching for viable alternatives to appeal to consumers who increasingly began looking for the “No Trans Fat” designation. It didn’t take long before Monsanto had tinkered forth a genetically engineered soybean that is low in linolenic acid, which we’ll get to in a moment.
Beware that some food manufacturers have opted to simply fool buyers — a tactic allowed by the FDA as any product containing up to half a gram of trans fat per serving can still legally claim to have zero trans fat2. The trick is to reduce the serving size to bring it below this threshold. At times, this will result in unreasonably tiny serving sizes, so any time you check a label and a serving is something like 10 chips or one cookie, it probably contains trans fats.
The Health Hazards of Soybeans
Besides the health hazards related to the trans fats created by the partial hydrogenation process, soybean oil is, in and of itself, NOT a healthy oil. Add to that the fact that the majority of soy grown in the US is genetically engineered, which may have additional health consequences. When taken together, partially hydrogenated GE soybean oil becomes one of the absolute worst types of oils you can consume.
Years ago, tropical oils, such as palm and coconut oil, were commonly used in American food production. However, these are obviously not grown in the US. With the exception of Hawaii, our climate isn't tropical enough. Spurred on by financial incentives, the industry devised a plan to shift the market from tropical oils to something more "home grown." As a result, a movement was created to demonize and vilify tropical oils in order to replace them with domestically grown oils such as corn and soy.
The fat in soybean oil is primarily omega-6 fat. And while we do need some, it is rare for anyone to be deficient as it is pervasive in our diet. Americans in general consume FAR too much omega-6 in relation to omega-3 fat, primarily due to the excessive amount of omega-6 found in processed foods. Omega-6 fats are in nearly every animal food and many plants, so deficiencies are very rare. This omega-6 fat is also highly processed and therefore damaged, which compounds the problem of getting so much of it in your diet. The omega-6 found in soybean oil promotes chronic inflammation in your body, which is an underlying issue for virtually all chronic diseases.
What About Organic Soybean Oil?
Even if you were fortunate enough to find organic soybean oil, there are still several significant concerns that make it far from attractive from a health standpoint. Soy in and of itself, organically grown or not, contains a number of problematic components that can wreak havoc with your health, such as:
- Goitrogens – Goitrogens, found in all unfermented soy whether it's organic or not, are substances that block the synthesis of thyroid hormones and interfere with iodine metabolism, thereby interfering with your thyroid function.
- Isoflavones: genistein and daidzein – Isoflavones are a type of phytoestrogen, which is a plant compound resembling human estrogen, which is why some recommend using soy therapeutically to treat symptoms of menopause. I believe the evidence is highly controversial and doubt it works. Typically, most of us are exposed to too much estrogen compounds and have a lower testosterone level than ideal, so it really is important to limit exposure to feminizing phytoestrogens. Even more importantly, there's evidence it may disturb endocrine function, cause infertility, and promote breast cancer, which is definitely a significant concern.
- Phytic acid -- Phytates (phytic acid) bind to metal ions, preventing the absorption of certain minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc -- all of which are co-factors for optimal biochemistry in your body. This is particularly problematic for vegetarians, because eating meat reduces the mineral-blocking effects of these phytates.
Sometimes it can be beneficial, especially in postmenopausal women and in most adult men because we tend to have levels of iron that are too high which can be a very potent oxidant and cause biological stress. However, phytic acid does not necessarily selectively inhibit just iron absorption; it inhibits all minerals. This is very important to remember, as many already suffer from mineral deficiencies from inadequate diets.
The soybean has one of the highest phytate levels of any grain or legume, and the phytates in soy are highly resistant to normal phytate-reducing techniques such as long, slow cooking. Only a long period of fermentation will significantly reduce the phytate content of soybeans.
- Natural toxins known as "anti-nutrients" -- Soy also contains other anti-nutritional factors such as saponins, soyatoxin, protease inhibitors, and oxalates. Some of these factors interfere with the enzymes you need to digest protein. While a small amount of anti-nutrients would not likely cause a problem, the amount of soy that many Americans are now eating is extremely high.
- Hemagglutinin -- Hemagglutinin is a clot-promoting substance that causes your red blood cells to clump together. These clumped cells are unable to properly absorb and distribute oxygen to your tissues.
Worst of All — Genetically Engineered Soybean Oil
The genetically engineered (GE) variety planted on over 90 percent of US soy acres is Roundup Ready — engineered to survive being doused with otherwise lethal amounts of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide. The logic behind Roundup Ready crops such as soy is that you can decrease the cost of production by killing off everything except the actual soy plant.
However, animal studies reveal there may be significant adverse health effects from these GE soybeans, including progressively increased rates of infertility with each passing generation. By the third generation, virtually all the hamsters in one feeding study were found to be infertile. Second-generation hamsters raised on GE soy also had a five-fold higher infant mortality rate.
Are Low-Linolenic Soybeans the Answer?
We now also have other Monsanto-made soy crops to contend with. Responding to the growing demand for healthier diets, Monsanto launched Vistive low-linolenic soybeans in 2005. Most soybeans contain roughly seven percent linolenic acid. The new varieties contain one to three percent. As explained by Monsanto3:
“The oil from these beans can reduce or virtually eliminate trans fat in processed soybean oil... Vistive low-linolenic soybeans have lower levels of linolenic acid. Because of these lower levels, which were achieved through traditional breeding practices4, the oil produced by Vistive low-linolenic seeds does not require hydrogenation, the process that is used to increase shelf life and flavor stability in fried foods, baked goods, snack products and other processed foods.”
Yet another soybean variety created by Monsanto is the high stearate soybean, which also has the properties of margarine and shortening without hydrogenation. But are these soybeans any better or safer than either conventional soybeans or Roundup Ready soybeans, even though they don’t have to go through partial hydrogenation, and therefore do not contain trans fat? No one knows.
Another Hazard of GE Soybeans: Glyphosate
I keep stacking health risks upon health risks, and here’s another one: Research has shown that soybean oil from Roundup Ready soy is loaded with glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup — the broad-spectrum herbicide created by Monsanto.
According to a report in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology, the highest MRL for glyphosate in food and feed products in the EU is 20 mg/kg. GE soybeans have been found to contain residue levels as high as 17 mg/kg, and malformations in frog and chicken embryos occurred at 2.03 mg/kg.5 That's 10 times lower than the MRL.
This is an alarming finding because glyphosate is easily one of the world's most overlooked poisons. Research published in 2010 showed that the chemical, which works by inhibiting an enzyme called EPSP synthase that is necessary for plants to grow, causes birth defects in frogs and chicken embryos at far lower levels than used in agricultural and garden applications.6 The malformations primarily affected the:
- Midline and developing brain
- Spinal cord
When applied to crops, glyphosate becomes systemic throughout the plant, so it cannot be washed off. And once you eat this crop, the glyphosate ends up in your gut where it can decimate your beneficial bacteria. This can wreak havoc with your health as 80 percent of your immune system resides in your gut (GALT – Gut Associated Lymph Tissue) and is dependent on a healthy ratio of good and bad bacteria. Separate research has also uncovered the following effects from glyphosate:
Endocrine disruption DNA damage Developmental toxicity Neurotoxicity Reproductive toxicity Cancer
To Avoid Harmful Fats of All Kinds, Ditch Processed Foods
If you want to avoid dangerous fats of all kinds, your best bet is to eliminate processed foods from your diet. From there, use these tips to make sure you're eating the right fats for your health:
- Use organic butter (preferably made from raw milk) instead of margarines and vegetable oil spreads. Butter is a healthy whole food that has received an unwarranted bad rap.
- Use coconut oil for cooking. It is far superior to any other cooking oil and is loaded with health benefits.
- Be sure to eat raw fats, such as those from avocados, raw dairy products, olive oil, olives, organic pastured eggs, and raw nuts, especially macadamia nuts which are relatively low in protein. Also take a high-quality source of animal-based omega-3 fat, such as krill oil.
Following my comprehensive nutrition plan will automatically reduce your trans-fat intake, as it will give you a guide to focus on healthy whole foods instead of processed junk food. Remember, virtually all processed foods will contain either HFCS (probably made from genetically engineered corn) and/or soybean oil — either in the form of partially hydrogenated soybean oil, which is likely made from GE soybeans, loaded with glyphosate, or from one of the newer soybean varieties that were created such that they do not need to be hydrogenated. They’re ALL bad news, if you value your health.
Got Thyroid Problems? Then Stop Consuming Soy
This "Miracle Health Food" Has Been Linked to Brain Damage and Breast Cancer
By Dr. Mercola
According to a new health analysis bearing the revealing title: US Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health1, Americans come in dead last in a comparison of 17 affluent nations.
The research was unable to uncover any single cause or “rallying point for action.” Instead, it calls for more research to “ferret out the effects of our current policies.”
C’mon! You’ve got to be kidding me.
Considering the fact that human health tends to be primarily affected by a) nutrition, b) exercise, and c) toxic exposures, do they seriously believe that we can improve public health while ignoring these three basic areas?
What Does the Human Body Require to Be Healthy?
A staggering two-thirds of American adults are overweight, and more than one-quarter of adults fall into the obese category. One in four Americans is pre-diabetic or diabetic. It should be obvious that diet and exercise are critical factors here. The National Institutes of Health even states that four of the six leading causes of death in the United States are linked to unhealthy diets.
The question is why are so many people unable to regulate their weight and insulin sensitivity? The following points are well worthy of careful consideration when pondering this issue:
- The top two crops grown in the U.S. are corn and soy. High fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated soybean oil are two of the most popular ingredients made from these crops.2 High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has repeatedly been shown to be a driving factor behind being overweight and having poor health outcomes. HFCS is pervasive and in many processed food items some individuals would never expect, including so called diet foods and 'enhanced' water products. Even most infant formulas contain the sugar equivalent of one can of Coca-Cola.
Furthermore, soybean oil is another common unhealthy ingredient in many processed foods and soybeans can be severely and systemically contaminated with high amounts of the potent herbicide glyphosate. Additionally, over 85 percent of all corn grown in the US is genetically engineered (GE)3, which further increases the risk of high glyphosate contamination.The safety of either of these items has never been proven. According to a recent report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG)4, Americans are eating their weight and more in GE foods each and every year.
- Thirty-three percent of American adults are also completely sedentary, and more than half of adults over the age of 18 never engage in any vigorous leisure-time physical activity lasting 10 minutes or more per week.
- According to a study by the EWG5, blood samples from newborns contained an average of 287 toxins, including mercury, fire retardants, pesticides, and chemicals from non stick products. Of the 287 chemicals EWG detected in umbilical cord blood, it’s known that 180 cause cancer in humans or animals; 217 are toxic to your brain and nervous system; and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests. Clearly, when babies are born loaded with toxic chemicals, it’s a sign that toxic exposure is too high.
- While there are many types and routes of toxic exposure, one would be remiss to overlook Americans use of pharmaceutical drugs, as drugs have, on average, 70 different potential side effects, and are responsible for the premature death of at least 106,000 Americans per year, when taken as prescribed. Americans pop the most pills of any other nation, and that includes children. Americans also receive the most amount of vaccinations.
So.... let’s think... What could possibly be the root of Americans’ failure to thrive? The Atlantic6, reporting on the findings writes:
“In presenting their findings... the authors seemed to be urging the U.S. to do some soul searching. Our culture 'cherishes independence' and 'wants to limit the intrusion of government in our personal lives,' said Steven Woolf, director of the Center for Human Needs at Virginia Commonwealth University, the panel chairman.
While those values serve us in some ways, he said, our resistance to regulation 'may work against our ability to achieve optimal health outcomes.'"
Aha! So it’s Americans’ striving for independence and freedom of choice that is to blame for such poor dietary choices and health outcomes?! They mean to tell us that we’re all so inept at making healthy choices, we need to abandon our independent spirits and embrace more nanny state regulations that might finally whip us into shape. Honestly, I feel like I’m reading something out of The Onion... It’s all so backwards.
Why Do Americans Consume Such a Bad Diet?
For the sake of brevity, I will limit my comments to the issue of diet here. But first, let’s consider a few of the questions we need to ask:
- Do Americans purposefully consume excessive amounts of fat-promoting, health-harming HFCS because they love it and refuse to eat foods that don’t contain it, or are there other reasons why Americans can’t seem to control their waistlines?
And do they really intentionally consume far too many carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods in place of healthy fats like avocados, olives, coconut oil, butter, nuts, eggs and olive oil, which cause them to be adapted to burning carbs as their primary fuel rather than fat, or is this type of diet a more or less inevitable side effect of NOT thinking independently and seeking out real nutritional facts, but rather mindlessly buying what’s available in the store and advertised as healthy on TV?
- Do Americans really want to consume more genetically engineered foods than any other country?
- Do freedom-loving Americans who “cherish independence” seek to buy more or less whole, unadulterated, unprocessed foods that might help improve their health and, at the very least, reduce toxic exposure?
I propose considering the following facts before blaming America’s failing health on the average shopper’s pesky determination to make independent, foolhardy choices:
- The US government subsidizes the very crops identified as being the most harmful to human health and the environment; the top three being corn, wheat, and soybeans. And nearly all of the corn and soybeans grown are genetically engineered varieties.
By subsidizing these, the US government is actively supporting a diet that consists of these grains in their processed form, namely high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), hydrogenated soybean oil, and meats loaded with antibiotics – all of which are now well-known contributors to obesity and chronic disease. These junk-food subsidies make it much cheaper to buy a burger, fries and soda from a fast-food restaurant than it is to buy grass-fed beef and veggies. It's not that these foods necessarily cost more to grow or produce; rather the prices for the junk foods are being artificially reduced by the government.
- The US further promotes use of HFCS in food manufacturing by imposing import tariffs on foreign sugar, raising the price of sucrose above those in other countries.
- When the dangers of HFCS finally began to seep into the American consciousness, consumer demand forced many companies to reformulate their processed foods using other types of sweeteners, or ditching sweetening agents altogether. Today, you can find a number of food products marked “No HFCS” and government intervention had nothing to do with this beneficial change.
- The US government has repeatedly refused to take any action to label genetically engineered foods, despite overwhelming public support and demand for labeling.
- The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has repeatedly harassed, raided, and shut down small farms producing healthful organic and raw foods, such as raw dairy and cheese, along with private co-ops procuring and delivering such foods to health-conscious customers.
Americans Die Earlier and Live in Poorer Health
These are examples of Big Government making health decisions for you. How have they been working out so far? The proof is in the pudding, and the featured report7 tells us that what we’ve been doing so far is NOT working.
According to the report, Americans die earlier and live in poorer health than people in other developed nations, which included Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the U.K.
Of these 17 affluent countries, the US ranks last overall, and near the bottom in nine key areas of health, including low birth weight; injuries and homicides; teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections; HIV and AIDS; drug-related deaths; obesity and diabetes; heart disease; chronic lung disease; and general disability. At 75.6 years, American men have the lowest life expectancy among the countries reviewed, and American women ranked second-to-last at 80.7 years. The infant mortality rate in the US is equally abysmal, with 32.7 deaths per 100,000, while most others range between 15 and 25 deaths per 100,000.
Interestingly, the US lags behind all these nations even though smoking rates in the US are far lower than many of the other nations, indicating that, apparently, there’s more to good health than quitting smoking. Or, alternatively, that even smokers can enjoy a modicum of health IF they’re able to compensate with other healthy lifestyle strategies. So, again, how are more nanny state regulations going to improve the situation when they clearly are not willing to accept the sources of the problem in the first place?
The truth is, in order to regulate away this problem, the US government would have to cut all ties with industry and eliminate its conflicts of interest and massive revolving doors with the very industry it is mandated to regulate.
The likelihood of that happening appears slim to none, considering that Big Ag and Big Pharma are two of the biggest and strongest lobbying groups of all business sectors vying for favors from our legislators8. And they’re getting them—which is how we got into this abhorrent mess in the first place, where what is good is portrayed as bad, and that which is bad is ignored. The answer is to promote more independence of choice, and limiting the intrusion of government in our food choices—the very things these reviewers claim are part of the problem... The report also found that Americans:
- Have a long-standing pattern of poorer health that is strikingly consistent and pervasive over the course of their lifetimes. Overall, Americans die and suffer from illness and injury at rates that are unnecessary
- Even affluent Americans with higher education and insurance who engage in healthy behaviors (such as not smoking and maintaining a healthy weight) are in worse health than similar people in other nations
- Consume the most calories among peer countries
- Have more alcohol-related accidents
- Spend more than $8,600 per person per year on health care, which is more than twice the amount spent by the UK, France, and Sweden
How Can the Wealthiest Industrialized Nation be the Sickest?
Since the mid-1990s, the number of Americans suffering from at least three chronic illnesses nearly doubled. Life expectancy has decreased and infant mortality has increased. Illnesses once rare are now common, with some approaching epidemic levels. For example:
- Autism now affects one in 88 children (CDC), compared to one in 25,000 in the mid-1970s
- Type 2 diabetes rates in the U.S. increased by 176 percent between 1980 and 2010
- Celiac disease is four times more common now than 60 years ago
- Alzheimer's disease is rising at alarming rates. It's estimated that 5.4 million Americans (one in eight older Americans) now has Alzheimer's disease, and nearly half of those age 85 and older have it; AD rates have doubled since 1980
- New infectious diseases are increasing in number, according to a 2008 study
In his documentary, Jeffrey Smith makes a convincing argument that one of the primary forces driving these illnesses is America's changing food supply. And one of the most profound changes is genetically engineered food. Proving GE food is causing Americans to be sick is a tall order, but the evidence presented in this film is very compelling and should not be ignored.
GMO Report Disproves FDA's Safety Claims
There is a significant compilation of scientific evidence that casts serious doubt on the claims made by industry and government officials about the safety of GE foods. Consider this report by The Atlantic9 The authors of the report "GMO Myths and Truths"10 took a science-based approach to evaluating the available research, arriving at the conclusion that most of the scientific evidence regarding safety and increased yield potential do not at all support the claims.
In fact, the evidence demonstrates the claims for genetically engineered foods are not just wildly overblown – they simply aren't true. Not only are GE foods less nutritious than non-GE foods, they pose distinct health risks, are inadequately regulated, harm the environment and farmers, and are a poor solution to world hunger.
The authors of this critical report include Michael Antoniou, PhD, who heads the Gene Expression and Therapy Group at King's College at London School of Medicine in the UK. He's a 28-year veteran of genetic engineering technology who has himself invented a number of gene expression biotechnologies; and John Fagan, PhD, a leading authority on food sustainability, biosafety, and GE testing. If you want to get a comprehensive understanding of genetically engineered foods, I strongly recommend reading this report.
11 Basic Guidelines for General Health and Longevity
Leading a common sense, healthy lifestyle is your best bet to produce a healthy body and mind, and increase your longevity. Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical industry, the food industry, and even government itself sure won't make it easy for you to avoid the garbage that ruins your health. The following guidelines form the basic tenets of optimal health and healthy weight—foundational strategies that will not change, regardless of what marvels modern science comes up with next. For more comprehensive guidance, please see my fully updated nutritional plan, which takes you from beginner’s stage to advanced:
- Eat a healthy diet, paying very careful attention to keeping your insulin levels down (my free nutritional plan will help guide you through your dietary changes with minimal effort)
- Replace sweetened drinks (whether they’re sweetened with sugar, HFCS, or artificial sweeteners) with plenty of pure, clean water
- Avoid all genetically engineered foods. There are nine primary GE food crops, but their derivatives are in over 70 percent of supermarket foods, particularly processed foods. GE ingredients can hide. For example, every can of soda containing high fructose corn syrup most likely contains GE corn. Make sure none of the following are on your grocery list, unless they are USDA certified organic:
Soy Cottonseed Corn Canola Oil Hawaiian papaya Alfalfa Sugar from sugar beets Some varieties of zucchini Crookneck squash
Avoid any product containing aspartame, which is derived from a GE organism. And avoid any milk products that may have rBGH. I recommend consuming only raw, organic milk products you've obtained from a trustworthy local dairy farmer. The Institute for Responsible Technology has put together a helpful Non-GMO Shopping Guide you can download and print. They even have an iPhone app.
- Optimize your gut flora with fermented foods, such as fermented vegetables, which you can easily and inexpensively make at home
- Consume healthy fats, like butter, eggs, avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, and nuts, especially macadamia nuts which are higher in fat and lower in protein
- Eat plenty of raw food
- Exercise regularly. Make sure to incorporate high intensity interval training at least once or twice a week
- Get an appropriate amount of sunlight to optimize your vitamin D levels
- Limit toxin exposure
- Get plenty of sleep
- Manage your stress
Let’s face it, government health recommendations and regulations relating to diet and health have failed miserably, and the featured report delivers the somber statistics of where we’re at on the global scene. While spending twice as much on health care per capita, we’re not getting results. I believe we’ll keep seeing more of the same until or unless we change our stance on what a healthy diet is, and what constitutes a healthy lifestyle. We need to move away from the idea that being on a dozen medications means you’re doing something right for your health... This is NOT health care. This is disease management, and it comes at a very steep price, namely your longevity.
Until or unless the US government takes industry to task, our regulators and legislators cannot be trusted to usher Americans toward better health. In the meantime, it is up to YOU to take control of your health, and do what is right for you, to live a healthier, longer, drug- and disease-free life. Proper nutrition, exercise, and avoidance of toxins are three critical factors to address in this process, and this website contains literally tens of thousands of freely available articles to help you do just that.
By buying organic, you will dramatically reduce your exposure to pesticides, hormones and antibiotics, as those are used on nearly all GE crops. When shopping locally, know your local farmers. Many are too small to afford official certification, but many still adhere to organic, sustainable practices. The only way to determine how your food is raised is to check them out, meeting the farmer face to face if possible. Yes, it does take time but is worth it if you are really concerned about your family's health.
The Power of Exercise and Intermittent Fasting
Avoid This Food to Help Slow Aging
By Dr. Mercola
People everywhere are finally waking up to the indisputable fact that all sugars are not created equal when it comes to the physical end results they create.
Scientists using newer functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) tests have now shown that fructose, a sugar found in most processed foods (typically in the form of high fructose corn syrup), can in fact trigger changes in your brain that may lead to overeating and weight gain.1
The researchers discovered that when you drink a beverage containing fructose, your brain does not register the feeling of being satiated, as it does when you consume simple glucose. As reported by Yahoo! Health:2
"All sugars are not equal — even though they contain the same amount of calories — because they are metabolized differently in the body.
Table sugar is sucrose, which is half fructose, half glucose. High-fructose corn syrup is 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose. Some nutrition experts say this sweetener may pose special risks, but others and the industry reject that claim. And doctors say we eat too much sugar in all forms."
Beware: Fructose Can Make You Hungry, Study Finds
Twenty healthy adults were included in the featured study, published in the journal JAMA on January 2.3 fMRI was used to measure the hypothalamus response when the volunteers consumed a beverage containing identical amounts of either fructose or glucose (75 grams). The two drinks were given in random order to all participants during testing sessions spaced eight months apart.
Your hypothalamus helps regulate hunger-related signals involving a number of hormones, including insulin, leptin, and ghrelin. The scans revealed that when drinking glucose, within 15 minutes the activity in the area of the brain involved with reward and desire for food was suppressed, which leads to a feeling of fullness or satiety. According to co-author Dr. Robert Sherwin:4
"With fructose, we don't see those changes. As a result, the desire to eat continues — it isn't turned off."
In fact, fructose not only did not suppress hypothalamic activity, it actually caused a small spike instead. Furthermore, glucose boosted the links between the hypothalamus, thalamus, and striatum, while fructose strengthened the connectivity between the hypothalamus and thalamus, but not the striatum. This is important, as the striatum also deactivates once your body senses it has eaten enough... According to the authors:
"These findings suggest that ingestion of glucose, but not fructose, initiates a coordinated response between the homeostatic-striatal network that regulates feeding behavior."
What all this means in everyday terms is that when you consume fructose, you may actually be "programming" your body to consume more calories, as fructose fails to trigger that feeling of fullness, and may even trigger continued hunger pangs. Dr. Jonathan Purnell, an endocrinologist at Oregon Health & Science University, told Yahoo! Health:
"It implies that fructose, at least with regards to promoting food intake and weight gain, is a bad actor compared to glucose."
How Your Body Metabolizes Fructose Versus Glucose
Part of what makes fructose so unhealthy is that it is metabolized by your liver to fat in far more rapidly than any other sugar. The entire burden of metabolizing fructose falls on your liver, and it promotes visceral fat.5 This is the type of fat that collects around your organs and in your abdominal region and is associated with a greater risk of heart disease.
Without getting into the complex biochemistry of carbohydrate metabolism, it is important to understand how your body processes fructose versus glucose. Dr. Robert Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, has been a pioneer in decoding sugar metabolism. His work has highlighted some major differences in how different sugars are broken down and used. Here's a summary of the main points:
- After eating fructose, 100 percent of the metabolic burden rests on your liver. With glucose, your liver has to break down only 20 percent. The metabolism of fructose by your liver creates a long list of waste products and toxins, including a large amount of uric acid, which drives up blood pressure and causes gout.
- Every cell in your body, including your brain, utilizes glucose. Therefore, much of it is "burned up" immediately after you consume it. By contrast, fructose is turned into free fatty acids (FFAs), VLDL (the damaging form of cholesterol), and triglycerides, which get stored as fat.
- The fatty acids created during fructose metabolism accumulate as fat droplets in your liver and skeletal muscle tissues, causing insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).6 Insulin resistance progresses to metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes.
- Fructose is the most lipophilic carbohydrate. In other words, fructose converts to glycerol 3 phosphate (g-3-p), which is directly used to turn FFAs into triglycerides. The more g-3-p you have, the more fat you store. Glucose does not do this.
- When you eat 120 calories of glucose, less than one calorie is stored as fat. 120 calories of fructose results in 40 calories being stored as fat.
- Glucose suppresses your hunger hormone ghrelin and stimulates leptin, which suppresses your appetite. Fructose has no effect on ghrelin and interferes with your brain's communication with leptin, resulting in overeating.
Known Health Ramifications of a High-Fructose Diet
Consuming foods that contain high amounts of fructose—even if it's a natural product—is, to put it bluntly, the fastest way to trash your health. GreenMedInfo.com,7 has collated a number of scientific studies that have linked fructose to about 30 different specific diseases and health problems.
Adding insult to injury, HFCS is most often made from genetically engineered corn, which is fraught with its own well documented side effects and health concerns, from an increased risk of developing food allergies to the risk of increased infertility in future generations, and possibly cancer, according to a recent lifetime feeding study. Select the hyperlinks provided to review how fructose may:
Raise your blood pressure, and cause nocturnal hypertension Promote insulin resistance / Type 2 Diabetes Cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) Raise your uric acid levels, which can result in gout and/or metabolic syndrome Accelerate the progression of chronic kidney disease Intracranial atherosclerosis (narrowing and hardening of the arteries in your skull) Exacerbate cardiac abnormalities if you're deficient in copper Have a genotoxic effect on the colon Promote metastasis in breast cancer patients Cause tubulointerstitial injury (injury to the tubules and interstitial tissue of your kidney) Promote obesity and related health problems and diseases Promote pancreatic cancer growth and feed cancer cells in general Cause your brain neurons to stagnate Deplete vitamins and minerals (unbound fructose, found in large quantities in high fructose corn syrup, can interfere with your heart's use of minerals such as magnesium, copper and chromium) Promote arthritis and gout
My Recommended Fructose Allowance
With regards to the featured study findings, Scientific American notes:8
"Could fructose consumption alone really be playing such an outsized role in expanding our pant sizes? 'A common counter argument is that it is the excess calories that are important, not the food. Simply put: just eat less,' Purnell and Fair noted. 'The reality, however, is that hunger and fullness are major determinants of how much humans eat, just as thirst determines how much humans drink.
These sensations cannot simply be willed away or ignored.' In order to eat less (and consume fewer calories overall), they argued, then, one should avoid foods or ingredients that fail to satisfy hunger. And that, according to the results from the new study, would mean those fructose-sweetened foods—and drinks."
As a standard recommendation, I advise keeping your TOTAL fructose consumption below 25 grams per day. For most people it would also be wise to limit your fructose from fruit to 15 grams or less, as you're virtually guaranteed to consume "hidden" sources of fructose if you drink beverages other than water and eat processed food.
Fifteen grams of fructose is not much -- it represents two bananas, one-third cup of raisins, or two Medjool dates. Remember, the average 12-ounce can of soda contains 40 grams of sugar, at least half of which is fructose, so one can of soda alone would exceed your daily allotment.
In his book, The Sugar Fix, Dr. Richard Johnson includes detailed tables showing the content of fructose in different foods -- an information base that isn't readily available when you're trying to find out exactly how much fructose is in various foods. I encourage you to pick up a copy of this excellent resource. You can find an abbreviated listing of the fructose content of common fruits in this previous article.
How Fructose Affects Your "Fat Switch"
Dr. Johnson has also authored another book that is of major importance to anyone who has ever struggled with their weight and/or persistent health issues. According to Dr. Johnson, based on his decades of research:
"Those of us who are obese eat more because of a faulty 'switch' and exercise less because of a low energy state. If you can learn how to control the specific 'switch' located in the powerhouse of each of your cells – the mitochondria – you hold the key to fighting obesity."
There are five basic truths that Dr. Johnson explains in detail in his most recently book, The Fat Switch, that overturn current concepts:
- Large portions of food and too little exercise are NOT solely responsible for why you are gaining weight
- Metabolic Syndrome is actually a healthy adaptive condition that animals undergo to store fat to help them survive periods of famine. The problems is most all of us are always feasting and never undergo fasting. Our bodies have not adapted to this yet and as a result, this beneficial switch actually causes damage to contemporary man
- Uric acid is increased by specific foods and causally contributes to obesity and insulin resistance
- Fructose-containing sugars cause obesity not by calories but by turning on the fat switch
- Effective treatment of obesity requires turning off your fat switch and improving the function of your cells' mitochondria
I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book, which is a useful tool for those struggling with their weight. Dietary sugar, and fructose in particular, is a significant "tripper of your fat switch," so understanding how sugars of all kinds affect your weight and health is imperative.
Study: Midnight Snacks Can Mess You up on a Molecular Level
I have long advocated that avoiding all food for at least three hours before you go to bed is an exceedingly helpful strategy for those seeking to maintain a healthy weight. This will lower your blood sugar during sleep and help minimize damage from too much sugar floating around. Additionally, It will jump start the glycogen depletion process so you can shift to fat burning mode.
A recent study9 is a powerful confirmation of this recommendation as it has found that the mere act of altering your typical eating habits — such as getting up in the middle of the night for a snack — causes a certain protein to desynchronize your internal food clock, which can throw you off kilter and set a vicious cycle in motion. As reported by The Atlantic:10
"Along with the usual slew of eating-related disorders, like obesity and diabetes, the researchers believe that this molecular understanding for why changing our eating times messes up our food clock might allow them to come up with novel treatments for conditions such as 'midnight hunger,' and to make better recommendations for people suffering the consequences of jet lag or working the night shift."
Your internal body clock, also known as your circadian rhythm, helps regulate the energy levels in your cells, and the proteins involved with your metabolism are intrinsically linked to your circadian rhythms. There's strong evidence that proper sleep and diet can help maintain or rebuild the balance between your circadian clock and your metabolism, and that lack of rest or disruption of normal sleep patterns can increase hunger, leading to obesity-related illnesses and accelerated aging.
In terms of its effect on your metabolism and weight, lack of sleep has been shown to affect levels of leptin and ghrelin—two of the hormones linked with appetite and eating behavior. When you are sleep deprived, your body decreases production of leptin, the hormone that tells your brain there is no need for more food, while increasing levels of ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger. (These are the same hormones detrimentally affected by a high-fructose diet, as discussed above.)
To keep your circadian clock functioning properly, make sure you're getting the necessary amount of high quality sleep, during those hours when your body expects to be sleeping. The right amount for you is based on your individual sleep requirements and not on a one-size-fits-all prescribed number of hours. For helpful guidance on how to improve your sleep, please review my 33 Secrets to a Good Night's Sleep.
The Case for Intermittent Fasting to Optimize Your Circadian Clock
In addition to that, this study offers an indication of how important it is to also maintain a regular eating schedule. Personally, I believe there is good reason to consider an intermittent fasting schedule. There is an emerging consensus that narrowing the window of time that you consume food may have enormous health benefits and also help you reduce your percentage of body fat.
Your suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), located in your hypothalamus, controls your circadian rhythms. It regulates how your autonomic nervous system operates along with your hormones, your wake and sleep pattern, your feeding behavior, and your capacity to digest food, assimilate nutrients, and eliminate toxins.
If you routinely disregard your innate clock – working during sleeping hours, or feeding at the wrong time – you will sooner or later suffer the consequences with symptoms that may include disrupted sleep, agitation, digestive disorders, constipation, chronic fatigue, chronic cravings for sweets and carbs, fat gain, and lower resistance to stress. Chronic disruptions in circadian rhythms have also been linked with increased risk for chronic inflammatory disease and cancer.
As explained by fitness expert Ori Hofmekler, the ideal time to eat is in the evening. Having a large meal during the day will inhibit your sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and instead turn on the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS), which will make you sleepy and fatigued rather than alert and active. And, instead of spending energy and burning fat during the day, you'll store energy and gain fat.
The one meal per day plan can accommodate your innate clock and maximize the beneficial effects you get from intermittent fasting on a daily basis. This form of intermittent fasting involves timing your once-daily meal to within a narrow window of time in the evening. However, you don't have to be that strict if you can't function without a mid-day meal. I've revised my own eating schedule to eliminate breakfast and restrict the time I eat food to a period of about six to seven hours each day, which is typically from noon to 6 or 7 pm. This still gives me a net fasting time of 17-18 hours a day. To learn more, please see my previous article, The Power of Intermittent Fasting.
How the Sugar Industry Hoodwinked You about the Dangers of Sugar, Using Big Tobacco Tactics
Obesity Epidemic Not Due to High Fructose Corn Syrup?
By Dr. Mercola
“Pepsi Special” is the latest “healthy soda” to hit the market, this time in Japan. Infused with dextrin, a type of fiber that’s popular in fiber supplements in the U.S., Pepsi Special is being marketed as a “fat-blocking soda,” as it claims to help reduce your body’s absorption of fat.
How Can Soda Claim to Help You Absorb Less Fat?
Pepsi’s Japanese partner, Suntory Holdings Limited, is reportedly basing their claim, in part, on a 2006 study that found rats fed dextrin absorbed less fat from their food,1 and Japan’s National Institute of Health and Nutrition now allows it to bear the designation as a “food for specified health use.”
These are foods that are meant to be consumed “by people who wish to control health conditions, including blood pressure or blood cholesterol.”2 But can soda really be healthy?
Pepsi Special is far from a health food. Adding fiber to a disastrous combination of high fructose corn syrup, phosphoric acid, caffeine and coloring does not make it good for you. But it may “fool” some people into thinking it does, which could make them drink even more of it, further damaging their health.
Soda is a leading contributor to the rising rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases facing much of the developed world, and any claims to the contrary are dangerously misleading. As Dr. Walter Willett, chair of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, told Time:3
“Unless Pepsi can provide data from controlled studies in humans to the contrary, their claim should be regarded as bogus and deceptive.”
Pepsi’s Eager to Cash In on Health-Conscious Consumers
Remember Pepsi Raw, which was introduced in the UK in 2008? This was another one of the soda company’s ridiculous creations – a concoction of sugar, caramel coloring, coffee leaf and sparkling water that was supposed to be another “healthy” version of soda.
While it had 10 percent less sugar than regular Pepsi, Pepsi Raw was simply another sugar-sweetened beverage, not a health drink. It was removed from the market just two years after its release.
Earlier this year, Pepsi Next was released. Pepsi Next claims to have 60 percent less sugar without sacrificing taste, but the secret to keeping its sweet taste comes from the use of not only high fructose corn syrup, but also THREE artificial sweeteners: aspartame, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose, all of which are linked to several dozen serious health risks.4
It’s all part of the company’s plan to beef up their share of profits from the “healthy foods” category, with reports noting they hope to boost their nutrition business from $10 billion to $30 billion by 2020.5
This is a classic corporate move. Find something that people are interested in and sell it to them even if it is deceptive and worsens their health. Most of these companies have absolutely ZERO interest for your health; they are only focused on their bottom line profits. So the age old adage is appropriate, Buyer Beware.
Is “Healthy” Soda Too Good to be True?
In a word, yes.
There’s nothing healthy about soda, even if it contains fiber or is sugar free. Drinking soda is in many ways worse for you than smoking, and it is only because of massive marketing campaigns from the industry that these sugary beverages are deemed so acceptable, including for our most vulnerable members of society – our kids.
If I asked you to quickly recall a commercial or slogan from leading soda companies, like Coca-Cola or Pepsi, chances are you'd have no trouble recalling the friendly polar bear commercials or "the real thing" logo, and if you asked your kids, they'd probably come up with a few too.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for how beverage bigwigs have gotten their products firmly embedded into the homes and psyches of millions of Americans and others worldwide. Coca-Cola, for instance, spends close to $3 billion a year on advertising. With that amount of money it's no wonder the company has managed to hold on to its wholesome reputation.
They, and other beverage giants, are also in the habit of forming strategic alliances with ostensibly health-focused organizations that make it appear as though they are looking out for your health, which is about as laughable as Big Tobacco sponsoring a marathon. For instance, both Coca-Cola and Pepsi are sponsors or partners of the American Dietetic Association (ADA) and have featured exhibits at their annual conference.
Diet Coke has also teamed up with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to raise awareness for women’s heart health program, even though Coca-Cola is one of the main retailers of sugar in the United States and it is very clear that sugar and fructose are actually leading causes in the increasing rates of heart disease.
Fructose: Soda’s Dirty Secret
The primary reason why soda is so dangerous to your health?
The fructose content of the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) used in many popular soda brands has been grossly underestimated. Around 100 years ago the average American consumed a mere 15 grams of fructose a day, primarily in the form of fruit, not industrially produced isolate, which is infinitely different on a physiological level. One hundred years later, one-fourth of Americans are consuming more than 135 grams per day, largely in the form of soda.
Fructose at 15 grams a day or less is generally harmless (unless you suffer from high uric acid levels). However, at nearly 10 times that amount it becomes a major contributor to obesity and nearly all chronic degenerative diseases. Instead of consisting of 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose, many soda brands, including Coke, Pepsi and Sprite, contain as much as 65 percent fructose, nearly 20 percent higher than originally believed.6 Thanks to the excellent work of researchers like Dr. Robert Lustig, and Dr. Richard Johnson, we now know that fructose:
- Is metabolized differently from glucose, with the majority being turned directly into fat
- Tricks your body into gaining weight by fooling your metabolism, as it turns off your body's appetite-control system. Fructose does not appropriately stimulate insulin, which in turn does not suppress ghrelin (the "hunger hormone"), doesn’t drive glucose into the cell to create satiety, and doesn't stimulate leptin (the "satiety hormone"), which together result in your eating more and developing insulin resistance.
- Rapidly leads to weight gain and abdominal obesity ("beer belly"), decreased HDL, increased LDL, elevated triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, and high blood pressure — i.e., classic metabolic syndrome.
- Over time leads to insulin resistance, which is not only an underlying factor of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, but also many cancers.
- Leads to a dopamine-mediated hedonistic syndrome, which causes an insatiable desire to consume more of the same, despite the broad range of adverse, even life-threatening health effects caused by excessive fructose consumption.
Diet soda, by the way, is NOT a healthy alternative, even though it’s fructose-free. People who drink diet soft drinks daily may be 43 percent more likely to suffer from a vascular event, including a stroke or heart attack,7 as well as are more likely to experience weight gain, increased waist size, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Warning: 5-Hour Energy Shots Linked to Deaths
If you’re thinking of ditching your soda in favor of another caffeine kick like 5-hour Energy, be warned that 13 potentially related deaths and more than 90 adverse reaction claims (including 33 hospitalizations) following its consumption have already been reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Although the product’s label does not disclose how much caffeine it contains per serving, it’s been estimated at over 200 milligrams (compared to about 100-150 for a typical 8-ounce cup of coffee). Consuming large quantities of caffeine in energy drinks can have serious health consequences, especially in children and teens, including caffeine toxicity, stroke, anxiety, arrhythmia, and in some cases even death.
Are You Hooked on Soda and Energy Drinks to Give You a Boost?
There are a number of reasons why people drink soda, but many do so because they’re addicted to the ephemeral energy boost they get from the caffeine and sugar. There are, however, natural ways to give your body lasting energy without any of the downsides of consuming fructose, excessive caffeine or artificial sweeteners.
- Eating a healthy diet with limited sugar, fructose and processed foods. See my nutrition plan for a naturally energy-enhancing diet.
- Increasing your intake of animal-sourced omega-3 fatty acids, e.g. krill, wild salmon, free-range eggs, to support your energy levels
- Release draining emotional stress and negativity with the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT); this (and Turbo Tapping) can also help you to beat soda cravings
- Sleep when you’re tired, and make sure you’re getting high-quality sleep while you’re at it
- Exercise, and be sure to include high-intensity interval exercises like Peak Fitness for near endless energy
- If you need a supplement, do the above steps first and then try ones that are designed to increase your level of foundational energy at the mitochondrial level. Some of the best are vitamin B12, Ubiquinol and magnesium.
Leading Energy Drink Makers Under Investigation for Misleading Consumers
Drinking This "Popular Poison" is Worse than Smoking