TIMEBOMB PART 5: More Addicting Than Cocaine…
An ingredient that needs to be addressed as more than just marginally dangerous is sugar, when it is ingested in excess. There is a safe threshold of sugar, but most Americans bypass this amount before they even finish breakfast. According to the American Heart Association, the maximum amount of added sugar you should eat in a day is: for men, 37.5 grams, and for women, 25 grams.[i] To put perspective on this, one can of Coke contains 33 grams, an average coffee shop’s extra-large white chocolate mocha with whipped cream has almost 74 grams,[ii] and the average blueberry muffin runs between 37–40 grams of sugar. This means that any sugar the average person ingests after breakfast is too much. To give you further perspective, 1 gram of sugar burns the equivalent of 4 calories, and an hour spent on a treadmill for the average adult will burn roughly 300 calories. It is then an approximate average that one hour on a treadmill will burn 75 grams of sugar.
In 2002, the World Health Organization, along with the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, held a consultation on diet, nutrition, and the prevention of chronic illness. The resulting report, the Technical Report Series No. 916 (TRS 916), outlined details on dietary and physical activity elements contributing to chronic illness, including diabetes and obesity. This report recommended that people limit their daily intake of sugar to 10 percent of their overall calories. Countries exporting sugar and producers of sugar immediately answered this recommendation with concerns of their own: This kind of consumer restraint could cause a crash for the sugar-based industry. Sales lost could be disastrous, since sugar is one of the largest food commodities in the world. The debate became one of nutrition and health versus industry and profits. Tommy Thompson, the secretary of Health and Human Services at that time, flew to Geneva to relay the message that the US government would withhold $406 million in funding, should the report be published.[iii]
While this debate spurred constructive action within many countries of the world, the largest effect the American consumer might see is that the percentage of daily recommended allowance, found on the nutrition label of our food products, is no longer displayed to the right of sugar. The US Institute of Medicine still maintains that 25 percent of daily caloric intake can safely come from added sugar.[iv]
Princeton University Professor Bart Hoebel recently presented evidence gathered by the Princeton University Department of Psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute showing that sugar is as addictive as other drugs such as cocaine, heroin, or morphine. Rats addicted to sugar showed signs of craving, relapse, withdrawal, and changes within the brain, confirming addiction.[v]
Hoebel has shown that rats eating large amounts of sugar when hungry, a phenomenon he described as sugar-binging, undergo neurochemical changes in the brain that appear to mimic those produced by substances of abuse, including cocaine morphine and nicotine. Sugar induces behavioral changes, too. “In certain models, sugar–binging causes long-lasting effects in the brain and increases the inclination to take other drugs of abuse, such as alcohol,” Hoebel said.…
Hungry rats that binge on sugar provoke a surge of dopamine in their brains. After a month, the structure of the brains of these rats adapts to increased dopamine levels, showing fewer of a certain type of dopamine receptor than they used to have and more opioid receptors. These dopamine and opioid systems are involved in motivation and reward, systems that control wanting and liking something. Similar changes also are seen in the brains of rats on cocaine and heroin.[vi]
Director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, Dr. Louis Aronne, said of people experiencing sugar addiction, “These people get strong urges to consume sweets, and these cravings border on addiction. When they eat sugar, just like when someone ingests cocaine, some people get that feeling of well–being, a rush that makes them feel good for a period of time. When the sweets are taken away, the people just don’t feel right.”[vii]
Rats in the withdrawal state from sugar experienced symptoms similar to those of an addict deprived of heroin, cocaine, morphine, or other drugs. They isolated themselves in a small part of their cage, their teeth chattered, they remained withdrawn, they displayed signs of anxiety, they quivered, and they showed disinterest in things they would normally be curious about.
Dr. Serge Ahmed of the University of Bordeaux in France, who believes that sugar is actually more addictive than cocaine, said, “When society finally discovers that refined sugar is just another white powder, along with pure cocaine, it will change its mind and attitude toward refined food addiction.”[viii]
Sugar, consumed in excess (even “good, old-fashioned white sugar”), is completely toxic and detrimental to the system. In the documentary Fed Up, Dr. Robert Lustig, professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, said this:
Sugar is poison. It is a chronic—not acute—chronic, dose-dependent—depends on how much you eat, because there is a safe threshold—hepato, “liver” toxin. The metabolic diseases that are associated with obesity: the diabetes, heart disease, the lipid problems, the strokes, the cancer.… Those diseases are being driven by sugar.[ix]
Because excessive sugar causes an overload of insulin that then interferes with the signal that we are full, the brain believes the body to be starving, even though the body is overloaded. This results in feelings of sluggishness, fatigue, and of course, hunger, which causes us to eat more, further feeding obesity.
If sugar were only in the places that we were looking for it, we would know to simply ease off the desserts to curb our sugar intake. But sugar hides under so many names and in so many unexpected products—think sports drinks, fruit products, crackers, even salad dressings—it is nearly impossible to avoid without hypervigilance.
Sugar from fruit is balanced with an amount of fiber that cancels out the negative effects of the sugar. Changing to artificial sugar is not an answer, because many artificial sweeteners are excitotoxins that, beyond the risks already outlined earlier in this chapter, trigger hormonal effects that cause the body to produce more insulin. This makes us crave more sugar. As stated before, most of us have exceeded the daily allowance of sugar before we even finishing breakfast, meaning that we will never burn off all the sugar we consume. In addition to this, these sugar-induced calories that convert into energy so rapidly cause the body to stop burning fat, which results in stubborn, hard-to-lose belly fat. (Remember, I mentioned earlier that, despite my weight loss, I couldn’t lose the belly fat.)
Studies showing that sugar is as addictive as cocaine or heroin confirm that food addiction is not a myth. It’s a fact. When added to the high caused by excitotoxins, the biological addiction many have to food is one that could be as hard to shake as any other addiction.
For research purposes, I am holding a 32-ounce sport drink. I will not mention the brand of this “thirst aid,” but you probably know the one. The label shows a serving size to be 8 fluid ounces. Because it is a 32-ounce bottle, it is reasonable to assume that the consumer is expected to drink the entire bottle. On the nutrition label, the first ingredient listed is water. That’s followed immediately by sucrose, then glucose-fructose syrup. The amount of sugar in one serving is listed at 14 grams. Because the manufacturer has divided the bottle into four servings, the ingredient quantities on the label are divided by four as well. As a result, the consumer is unknowingly (unless they read the label carefully) consuming four times the sugar reported on the label. If I were to drink this entire bottle of sports drink, I would be consuming 56 grams of sugars. This is only one way we must be vigilant about the manufacturers’ tendencies to hide ingredients in plain sight. In a later chapter, we will discuss how to carefully read labels to avoid being caught in these traps of overconsumption.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW “TIMEBOMB” INTERVIEWS
WATCH THE FIRST THREE TV PROGRAMS!
Follow the Money
It can be hard to know what is true and what is false with all the media messages surrounding food-related issues, but it is correct what they say: The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. And that line is usually the money.
You may recall several years ago, when television commercials aired claiming that high-fructose corn syrup was “just sugar.” These commercials, sponsored by the Corn Refiners Association, claimed that high-fructose corn syrup was just as safe as any regular sugar. But who were the major financial backers behind this campaign?
Six studies were conducted to render the consumer’s image of high-fructose corn syrup to be as safe as regular sugar. Of the six, three were backed by companies that stood to gain financially from the statement that high-fructose corn syrup would be as safe as regular sugar. One was Pepsi, one was the American Beverage Association, and one was a Washington DC group funded by food, chemical, and drug companies.[x]
Of this scenario and others similar, Dr. Joseph Mercola said:
It’s a widely known fact that when a study is sponsored by a company with financial interests in the outcome, the results rarely do anything but support the industry that funded the study.… In fact, CBS mentions a study by Children’s Hospital Boston that found when studies were sponsored exclusively by food or drinks companies, the results were 4 to 8 times more likely to be favorable to the sponsoring company. So when the Corn Refiners Association claims that their deceptive $20–30 million ad campaign promoting corn syrup is “based on nutritional research,” now you know just what type of biased research they are using.[xi]
The sugar industry, not to be slighted or shortchanged, responded to this campaign by suing the Corn Refiners Association, claiming (in this case truthfully) that the commercials were both “inaccurate and misleading to consumers.”[xii] But were sugar industry advocates really looking out for the consumer? Of course not! They were using their own counterattack against this campaign to retrieve sales being diverted from sugar commerce and into the corn industry.
However, in a situation such as this, a campaign of finger-pointing never brings about as much success as a campaign “for the benefit of the people,” so that is precisely the angle the sugar industry took. It rallied behind the façade of showing concern for “the health of the consumer.” Of course, we all know what the motivation was. Within big business, we must watch for the repeated tactic of side-swiping the other guy under the heading of “consumer health” while the consumers are being manipulated and our health is being compromised for the gain of his dollar.
This was a rare occasion of an agenda behind an ad campaign being exposed. (Many times, their guises are successful and their products are embraced by a trusting population.) During the aftermath, soft-drink companies that had previously helped fund this fraudulent campaign showed their true colors by flipping sides, proudly advertising slogans like “Made with Real Sugar!” on their products.
The point in bringing this issue up: Any campaign that reassures consumers that its synthetic material is safe to ingest is likely funded by an agency with an interest in its results, and will likely be disproven over time. And even when truth is “exposed,” it could be done so under a hidden agenda as well, leaving loyal backers to change their position in pursuit of the almighty dollar. Buyer beware.
Another example of this type of strategy can be seen when we examine Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign. When the First Lady announced on February 9, 2010, that she would be launching a campaign against childhood obesity, many people rallied to her support, regardless of which side of the presidential election they had been on. People across the states supported the movement. It seemed that schools everywhere prepared for the lunch-program overhaul inevitably coming. At the start, one of the goals was to get food manufacturers to “pursue their calorie reduction goals by growing and introducing lower-calorie options; changing product recipes where possible to lower the calorie content of current products; or reducing portion sizes of existing single-serve products.”[xiii] Early on, the campaign was pushed with talk of fresh vegetables, obesity awareness, and exercise among children in schools. In May of the same year, Michelle Obama announced that the Partnership for a Healthier America had signed an agreement with the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, agreeing that 1.5 trillion product calories would be reduced from food marketed to children, particularly in schools. This ultimately resulted in smaller portion sizes of the same types of food. Schools began to offer more fresh veggies and fruit, but unfortunately, many kids rejected the new healthier foods being offered. School cafeteria staff ran into the additional obstacle of labeling criteria. Paperwork that became necessary to qualify for the mandatory six cents per tray that eventually resulted from this movement required that exact counts for carbs, proteins, sugars, etc. were documented in detail. This may seem like a good idea, and surely it’s a step in the right direction, but it rendered a lot of homemade foods more difficult to qualify. Time efficiency and staffing issues in many schools caused the last few homemade recipes to be shelved in favor of a pizza slice or corn dog with a well-documented nutrition label. Debate began to take place over details that led astray from the heart of the matter. Resources were wasted on such debates as whether a slice of pizza had enough tomato paste to be considered a vegetable serving. The answer was eventually set at qualifying one slice of pizza as one-eighth of a cup of tomato. Eventually, the focus of the program shifted from the quality of food being served to kids at school to exercise. What changed?
Food conglomerates that stepped in “endorsing” the program were also given enough pull to distract from the core issues. What was presented as a movement for children’s health became another channel through which industry was able to regulate and control what is being fed to our kids at school. To confirm what I am saying, note that the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation is comprised of a board of directors and governors who hail from the following major food companies: PepsiCo, Nestlé, the Coca-Cola Company, General Mills, Inc., the Hershey Company, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Shearers Snacks, Hy-Vee, Inc., and Bumble Bee Seafoods. Since these are parent companies that own many of the large corporations that sell mass quantities of prefabricated foods to our schools, these entities had an interest in the jurisdiction that would come out of this program. In the end, much of the food served at schools remained the same, but it was reintroduced in smaller portion sizes and relabeled accordingly, just like the sport drink described previously.
On top of all of this, while overall calorie counts or sugar contents may now read differently on your child’s cafeteria lunch tray, it doesn’t change the fact that your children are eating the same excitotoxin-riddled, preservative-filled, artificially flavored and colored GMO food they were eating before. We never did get to the core issue for our children. To say that the “Let’s Move” campaign did nothing beneficial would not be true. The campaign raised awareness and kick-started an attitude of proactivity about obesity among the kids within our schools. But unfortunately, when big money enters the scene, ambiguity and agenda began to cloud what might otherwise be progress.
The Financial & Health Fallout
Circumstances surrounding the manufacturing of the food we eat are so convoluted that they leave consumers unsure of where the cycle begins and ends, and maybe even a little paranoid about which manufacturers can be trusted. It seems there are no clean lines around our food industry. Corporations subsidized by the government supply to larger food conglomerates. The same government subsidizing the agricultural industries that supply the food conglomerates is also responsible for regulating safety of products sold. This on its own should be considered a conflict of interests, but when we also consider that the government is also largely involved in our healthcare, that complicates everything. On one hand, it is propping up agricultural products sold to large conglomerates to be used as unsafe ingredients in fatty, cheap foods. On the other hand, they are charged with making sure the products being sold are safe. When they become additionally involved in our healthcare, we begin to wonder if it all is just part of one big monetary cycle, with the general population at the hub. Throw into the complicated mix the health insurance companies that are now investing in fast-food companies,[xiv] and it paints a devastatingly clear picture: The money we are saving on cheaper groceries is being spent on sustaining the illness that our cheaper food causes. This is a growing industry. Here are some staggering progressive statistics: Within two decades, over 95 percent of our American population will be overweight or obese, and within thirty years, we will reach a one-in-three ratio for cases of diabetes.[xv] There is a lot to be gained by selling unhealthy food at a cheaper price when these agencies are all holding hands.
Dr. Robert Lustig, professor of pediatrics at the University of California in San Francisco, stated: “The financial aspects of this are staggering. [Seventy-five] percent of our healthcare dollar goes to the maintenance or treatment of chronic metabolic disease.”[xvi]
Dr. Harvey Karp, assistant professor of pediatrics for the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, stated about the same issue: “If you think the national debt is a problem right now, wait till you see the tsunami of debt that’s coming from the health care impact of obesity.”[xvii]
This debt will be funneled through our tax system because of the hand the government now has in our healthcare as citizens. This is debt that our children will be saddled with because of our lack of vigilance over our own health. Much of the information shared in this book has been kept under wraps for fifty years. Just as the industries delayed action where tobacco was concerned, a similar filibuster is taking place within the realms of legislation and regulation between food conglomerates and our government. And, just like the situation with tobacco, by the time necessary action is taken, many lives will have been ruined or lost.
Handing Down the Problem
Another troubling fact that many people don’t know is that our DNA can adapt to the dietary changes we implement in our own bodies. These changes can then be inherited by our children. Dr. Mercola made this alarming statement about the possibility that what we’re eating will cause our children to suffer:
It’s now well known that dietary changes can prompt epigenetic DNA changes that can be passed on to future generations. For instance, pregnant rats fed a fatty diet had daughters and granddaughters with a greater risk of breast cancer. It could be that we are just now starting to see these types of generational effects showing up in humans, caused by our grandparents’ and parents’ penchant for processed foods. If that’s the case, then we have even more incentive to make drastic changes, and soon, because the disease trends we are now seeing are only going to get worse as much of the processed foods consumed today are not even food based! So who knows what kind of genetic mutations and malfunctions we are creating for our future generations when a MAJORITY of our diet consists of highly processed and artificial foods. As it stands, 90 percent of foods Americans purchase every year are processed foods![xviii]
Knowing that what we eat can change the physical traits we hand down to our children literally means that the health that’s been granted to us is our responsibility to pay forward to our children. They deserve it, and they’re counting on us for it. Once I knew that I had been contributing to my own health problems, even after I had been trying to make “better choices” with food while the answers were hidden in plain sight all the while, it bothered me. What really hurt, though, was remembering the times that I had “treated” my kids with sugary cereals or pizza. It broke my heart to think of the times they had earned some sort of reward, and I had given it to them in the form of something harmful. Further, I was helping create an association for them of “fun and reward” coming in the form of something toxic. It is important that we take care of our own bodies for the sake of our children and our grandchildren, yet unborn, just the same way we would adjust the way we are feeding the ones who have already been born.
UP NEXT: The Rabbit Hole Gets Deeper
[i] Gunnars, Kris. “Daily Intake of Sugar—How Much Sugar Should You Eat Per Day?” 27 May 2017, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-much-sugar-per-day. Accessed 18 Dec. 2017.
[ii] Welch, Ashley. “Do You Know How Much Sugar Is in Your Starbucks Drink?” 19 Feb. 2016, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/do-you-know-how-much-sugar-is-in-your-starbucks-drink/. Accessed 18 Dec. 2017.
[iii] Eilperin, Juliet. “US Sugar Industry Targets New Study,” The Washington Post, 25 Apr 2003, https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/2003/04/23/us-sugar-industry-targets-new-study/5fe410ab-9f87-4e10-afbe-91cb2f2e6d05/?utm_term=.c674ec4634a8. Last Accessed 3 Feb. 2018.
[iv] Dobbins, Chris. “Report Offers New Eating and Physical Activity Targets to Reduce Chronic Disease Risk.” The National Academies of Sciences Engineering Medicine, 5 Sept. 2002, http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=10490. Accessed 18 Dec. 2017.
[v] MacPherson, Kitta. “Sugar Can Be Addictive, Princeton Scientist Says.” Princeton University Online, 10 Dec. 2008, https://www.princeton.edu/news/2008/12/10/sugar-can-be-addictive-princeton-scientist-says. Accessed 18 Dec. 2017.
[vii] Black, Rosemary. “Sugar as Addictive as Cocaine, Heroin: Studies Suggest.” NY Daily News, 11 Dec. 2008, http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/sugar-addictive-cocaine-heroin-studies-suggest-article-1.356819. Accessed 18 Dec. 2017.
[viii] Bennett, Connie. “The Rats Who Preferred Sugar Over Cocaine.” HuffPost, 10 Sept. 2010, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/connie-bennett/the-rats-who-preferred-su_b_712254.html. Accessed 18 Dec. 2017.
[ix] Lustig, Robert, Fed Up: It’s Time to Get Real About Food. DVD. Directed by Stephanie Soechtig. USA, 9 May 2014. Time Stamp 27:12.
[x] Mercola, Joseph. “Guess Who Funds High Fructose Corn Syrup Studies?” Mercola Online, 21 Oct. 2008, https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/10/21/guess-who-funds-high-fructose-corn-syrup-studies.aspx. Accessed 18 Dec. 2017.
[xii] Benson, Jonathan. “Corn Refiners Association sued for falsely claiming that high fructose corn syrup is same as sugar.” Natural News, 24 Dec. 2011, https://www.naturalnews.com/034477_Corn_Refiners_Association_HFCS_sugar.html. Accessed 18 Dec. 2017.
[xiii] “Partnership for a Healthier America Announces Food and Beverage manufacturer Steps to Fight Childhood Obesity.” A Healthier America, 17 May 2010, https://www.ahealthieramerica.org/articles/partnership-for-a-healthier-america-announces-food-and-beverage-manufacturer-steps-to-fight-childhood-obesity-334. Accessed 18 Dec. 2017.
[xiv] Neal, Todd. “Health Insurers Hedge Bets with Fast Food Stock.” ABC News, 16 April 2016, http://abcnews.go.com/Health/w_DietAndFitness/health-insurance-companies-invest-billions-fast-food-stock/story?id=10392603. Accessed 19 Dec. 2017.
[xv] Wang, Y., Beydoun, MA., Caballero, B., Kumanyika, SK. “Will All Americans Become Overweight or Obese? Estimating the Progression and Cost of the US Obesity Epidemic.” PubMed US National Library of Medicine; National Institutes of Health, 16 Oct. 2008, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18719634. Accessed 19 Dec. 2017.
[xvi] Lustig, Robert, Fed Up: It’s Time to Get Real about Food. DVD. Directed by Stephanie Soechtig. USA, 9 May 2014. Time Stamp 1:21:00-1:23:00.
[xvii] Karp, Harvey, Fed Up: It’s Time to Get Real About Food. DVD. Directed by Stephanie Soechtig. USA, 9 May 2014. Time Stamp 1:21:00-1:23:00.p
[xviii] Mercola, Joseph. “How to Wean Yourself Off Processed Foods in 7 Steps.” Mercola Online, 1 July 2010, https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/07/01/wean-yourself-off-processed-foods-in-7-steps.aspx. Accessed 18 Dec. 2017.