Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


2 Comments

How The Sugar Industry Sweetened Research in its Favor

Scientists began to uncover a link between sugar and heart disease about 60 years ago, and now, the general consensus among experts is that sugar intake is associated with heart disease risk.

But why did it take so long for researchers to inspect this link?

A new historical analysis published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine on Monday claims that the sugar industry sponsored research that cast doubt about sugar’s health risks and promoted fat “as the dietary culprit” in heart disease – and didn’t disclose it.

A group then called the Sugar Research Foundation funded some of the early research on fat as the primary risk factor for heart disease, a “sophisticated” tactic to overshadow other research that placed blame on sweets as a risk factor, according to researchers.

The foundation, now called the Sugar Association, questioned the new paper’s findings in a response to CNN, saying it’s “challenging for us to comment on events that allegedly occurred 60 years ago, and on documents we have never seen.” The organization was founded in 1943 by members of the American sugar industry and was dedicated to the scientific study of sugar’s role in food, as well as communicating that role to the public.

Researchers said the early heart disease research has implications for Americans’ health today.

“If we could rewind the script back to 1965 and we had said, ‘You know what, we’re not just going to worry about fat and heart disease, we’re also going to look at carbohydrates and in particular sugar, because that’s a concentrated form of carbohydrate,’ things might be really different,” said Laura Schmidt, a professor of health policy in the University of California, San Francisco’s School of Medicine and a co-author of the new analysis.

“If we had not dismissed the idea that carbohydrates played a significant role in heart disease, we would be potentially in a different place today in terms of our obesity and heart disease rates.”

The dawn of heart disease research

In 1955, President Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th leader of the free world, suffered a massive heart attack. America watched the president’s recovery intently, and exercise paired with a healthy diet became a new mantra to ward off heart disease. The following year, Eisenhower was elected to a second term, and America’s focus on heart health – and, specifically, what constituted a heart-healthy diet – burgeoned.

But by the 1960s, two opposing ideas about what caused heart disease emerged. John Yudkin, a British physiologist and nutritionist, suggested that sugar consumption was linked to incidence of and mortality rates from coronary heart disease: Specifically, eating too much sugar might boost levels of triglycerides, a type of fat found in blood.

Meanwhile, Ancel Keys, an American physiologist, argued that heart disease was related to scarfing down too many bad types of fat, as such fats may raise cholesterol and possibly cause a heart attack.
Keys’ theory became more widely accepted than Yudkin’s. Keys even graced a 1961 cover of Time magazine and was one of the first scientists to champion the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.

Whatever happened to Yudkin’s theory? Researchers suggest that when the sugar industry “manipulated” the scientific debate on heart disease, his theory – along with other sugar consumption research – was swept under the rug.

Old letters reveal new secrets

The new paper was led by Cristin Kearns, a postdoctoral researcher at the UCSF School of Dentistry, who collected letters dating from 1959 to 1971 between executives at the Sugar Research Foundation and various scientists.

Some of the letters, about 319, were in correspondence with Roger Adams, an organic chemist at the University of Illinois who died in 1971, and about 27 documents were in correspondence with David Mark Hegsted, a nutritionist at Harvard University who died in 2009.

In one instance, according to the new analysis, foundation Vice President John Hickson received drafts of a review by Hegsted and replied, “Let me assure you this is quite what we had in mind and we look forward to its appearance in print.”

“It isn’t unusual for faculty who die, for their documents and materials to be stored or given as a gift to the university where they worked,” Schmidt said.

“It just so happened that Roger Adams had a long history of working with the sugar organization, and his materials happened to contain documents by industry executives and are one window into how the industry manipulated science.”

Kearns, Schmidt and their colleague Stan Glantz, a professor of medicine at UCSF, analyzed the letters and other heart disease research-related public documents — from symposium proceedings to annual reports — from the 1950s and 60s.

The researchers discovered that executives in the sugar industry funded research in the 1960s and ’70s that, upon the executives’ request, cast doubt on the health risks of sugar while promoting the risks of fat. As fat was slowly reduced in the American diet, sugar was used more often to keep foods tasty, Glantz said.

sugar

“The sugar interest groups, with sophistication, were staying on top of the science that was being developed and intervening in a very sophisticated way to try to push the discussion away from things that would hurt them and toward things that would help them,” said Glantz, who has a long history of studying the tobacco industry. This new research on the sugar industry was sort of déjà vu, he said.

“It’s all the same tricks. … There was a pretty clear case emerging that eating sugar increased triglycerides, which increased heart disease risk. I think if the science had been left to its own devices, within a few years, there would have been a consensus that there was a causal link, which then should have influenced regulatory policy.”

Sugar warnings, then and now

In 1980, the United States issued its first dietary guidelines for the nation, recommending that Americans avoid too much fat, saturated fat and cholesterol for better heart health.
The guidelines also mentioned to avoid consuming too much sugar — but not for the heart, rather because “the major health hazard from eating too much sugar is tooth decay” (PDF).

“Experts are still debating what the role of sugar and heart disease is, even though there was evidence going back to the ’50s and ’60s that a segment of the population with high triglyceride levels should potentially be concerned about their sugar consumption,” Kearns said. “Had we come to this conclusion much earlier, people who had this triglyceride level would have been counseled much differently.”

Now, it turns out that added sugars might be more of a risk factor for coronary heart disease than saturated fats, according to a 2015 paper published in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases.

The paper suggests that a diet high in added sugars can cause a three-fold increase in the risk of death due to heart disease.

In the latest dietary guidelines issued by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, the government put a limit on sugar for the first time, recommending that added sugar make up only 10% of your daily calories.

New recommendations from the American Heart Association say children 2 to 18 should consume no more than about 6 teaspoons of added sugars in their daily diets.

The sugar industry weighs in

A representative for the Sugar Association emailed a statement from the association to CNN, questioning the new paper’s findings about the history of heart disease research and the sugar industry.

“We acknowledge that the Sugar Research Foundation should have exercised greater transparency in all of its research activities, however, when the studies in question were published funding disclosures and transparency standards were not the norm they are today. Beyond this, it is challenging for us to comment on events that allegedly occurred 60 years ago, and on documents we have never seen,” the statement said.

The New England Journal of Medicine, where the first sugar industry-sponsored paper was published, didn’t implement a conflict-of-interest policy to disclose research funding sources until 1984. JAMA followed suit a few years later.

“Generally speaking, it is not only unfortunate but a disservice that industry-funded research is branded as tainted. What is often missing from the dialogue is that industry-funded research has been informative in addressing key issues,” the Sugar Association statement said. “Most concerning is the growing use of headline-baiting articles to trump quality scientific research — we’re disappointed to see a journal of JAMA’s stature being drawn into this trend.”

The deadly legacy of heart disease

As the debate around risk factors for heart disease continues, it remains the leading cause of death in the United States. About 610,000 people die of heart disease nationwide each year, about one in every four deaths.

Additionally, rates of obesity — which puts people at a higher risk of heart disease — have skyrocketed among both children and adults since the 1970s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years, according to the CDC. As for Americans 20 and older, 30.4% reported that they were obese last year, up from 29.9% in 2014.

“We’re fatter than we’ve ever been, and we have diseases, epidemics of chronic diseases, related to sugar consumption,” Schmidt said. Meanwhile, the prevalence of diabetes has quadrupled in just over three decades.

“A third of the population is walking around with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The main risk factors for that are heavy sugar consumption, trans fat consumption and obesity. It’s soon to be the leading cause of liver transplantation in America,” she said, adding that even though sugary beverage intake among Americans has increased over the past couple of decades, it now seems to be on the decline.

“Particularly, sugary drinks have gone down a lot, which is really promising.”

Schmidt, Kearns and Glantz have done the science community “a great public service” by resurfacing the history of funded heart disease research, said Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, in an editorial accompanying the new paper in JAMA Internal Medicine.

“As George Santayana famously said in ‘Reason of Common Sense’ (1905), ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,’ ” she wrote.

Just last year, Coca-Cola was exposed funding health research to claim that exercise can mitigate the effects of excessive consumption of its products, according to a written statement from Dr. Jim Krieger, founding executive director of the nonprofit Healthy Food America. Krieger was not involved in the current study.

“We have to ask ourselves how many lives and dollars could have been saved, and how different today’s health picture would be, if the industry were not manipulating science in this way,” he said in the statement. “Only 50 years later are we waking up to the true harm from sugar.”

 

By Jacqueline Howard, CNN       Mon September 12, 2016
source: CNN
Advertisements


4 Comments

Reduce The Damaging Effects Of Sugar On Your Brain

9TH MAY 2016    MINA DEAN

In 2014 North Americans consumed an average of about 27 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup each.

Fructose consumption can damage hundreds of genes.

But the good news is that DHA — an omega 3 fatty acid — can reverse this damage, scientists have discovered.

Fructose is a sugar commonly found in the Western diet.

Most of the fructose in the American diet comes from high-fructose corn syrup or is consumed in sweetened drinks, syrups, honey and desserts.

According to the Department of Agriculture, in 2014 each American consumed about 27 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup.

In addition, most baby food and fruit contains fructose.

However, the absorption of the fruit sugar is mostly slowed down by the fibre in fruit.

On top of that there are other healthy components found in fruit which are important for the body and the brain.

Our brain cell membranes naturally contain DHA but this amount is not enough to fight diseases.

A diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids can help to reverse the damage to the genes caused by fructose.

Dr Xia Yang a senior author of the study at UCLA University explained:

“DHA changes not just one or two genes; it seems to push the entire gene pattern back to normal, which is remarkable.
And we can see why it has such a powerful effect.”

Professor Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, the co-senior author of the paper, pointed out that the only way to get DHA is from our diet:

“The brain and the body are deficient in the machinery to make DHA; it has to come through our diet.
DHA strengthens synapses in the brain and enhances learning and memory.
It is abundant in wild salmon and, to a lesser extent, in other fish and fish oil, as well as walnuts and flaxseed.”

drinking a glass of sugar

The study was carried out on rats.

They were divided into three groups for six weeks.

During this period one group only drank water with no fructose and no DHA.

The second group consumed fructose water and a DHA rich diet.

The other group received water with fructose equivalent to a litre of soda per day.

The tests run on the rats showed that a high-fructose diet impaired the rats’ memory.

However, the fructose and DHA group showed similar results to those that drank only water.

This strongly suggested that the harmful effects of fructose were eliminated  by DHA.

The study showed that fructose had altered more than 700 genes in the hypothalamus (the metabolic control centre in the brain) and more than 200 genes in the hippocampus (a brain region for regulating memory and learning).

The alteration in human genes could lead to conditions such as bipolar disorder, Parkinson’s disease, depression and other brain diseases.

More tests on the rats also showed that those on a high-fructose diet had higher triglycerides, glucose and insulin levels.

These are similar indicators associated with obesity and diabetes in humans.

The study was published in EBioMedicine (Meng et al., 2016).


2 Comments

The Drastic Results of Eating ‘Healthy Foods,’ With Added Sugar

‘That Sugar Film’ creator Damon Gameau discusses his not-so-sweet experience consuming only foods that are commonly perceived as ‘healthy’.

Angela Mulholland, Staff writer     Published Tuesday, July 7, 2015

When Australian actor Damon Gameau started adding almost a cup of extra sugar a day to his diet for a new documentary, the results weren’t surprising: his belly grew, he gained weight and he felt rotten.

“For 60 days, I ate 40 teaspoons of sugar a day, which is what the average Australian eats every day,” he told CTV’s Canada AM Tuesday.

But the twist of the experiment was that Gameau wasn’t eating a “Supersize Me”-style diet of shakes, pop and junk food; in fact, all those foods were off-limits. He was eating so-called “healthy” foods that just happened to be loaded with sugar.

His resulting health woes are all documented in a new eye-opening movie called “That Sugar Film,” which seeks to expose just how much sugar we’re all eating and what it’s doing to us.

Gameau says many of the “healthy-but-not-healthy” foods he ate are those that parents often feed their kids, including granola bars, cereal, yogourts, juice, canned soups and sauces.

“A lot of us have them with lunch during the day, thinking we’re making a smart choice without realizing that some of them have as much – if not more – sugar in them as junk foods,” he said.

The high-sugar diet devastated Gameau’s health pretty quickly. Before the experiment, he ate a clean, healthy diet, but when he suddenly shifted into a high-sugar mode, “the results were really drastic, which none of us expected.”

He gained 15 pounds (6.8 kg) in just two months, as well as 10 cm of visceral fat around his waist. He also developed the early signs of pre-diabetes, heart problems, and something called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

It’s a condition that Gameau says currently affects about one in four people in Western countries and that virtually didn’t exist 35 years ago. A diet high in sugar can cause fat build-up in the liver, which is exactly was happened to Gameau – in just 18 days.

Beyond all the physical woes, Gameau says the worst effect was the mood swings.

Eating a meal high in sugar causes the body to release insulin into the bloodstream. But a few hours later, the body can go through a “sugar crash” called reactive hypoglycemia that leads to sudden weakness, lightheadedness, headaches and feelings of anxiousness or irritability.

Gameau hated that feeling but he says it’s probably one that many that many of undergo every day.

“Think about children who are having these perceived health breakfasts that are very high in sugar and then struggling to concentrate in the day,” he said.

Gameau realized that what we eat has a huge role in our mental state and ability to focus. He also learned that the sugar habit is tough to break.

When he did break the habit, he lost 90 per cent of the weight gain in a few weeks and got back his liver health.

“Once I stopped the experiment and went back to drinking water, eating real foods as much as I could, shopping the perimeter of the supermarket, all my symptoms reversed in 60 days,” he said.

 


Leave a comment

Hold the Sugar, US Nutrition Panel Recommends

by Rachael Rettner, Senior Writer         February 19, 2015

Americans should limit the amount of added sugar they consume to no more than 10 percent of their daily calories, or about 200 calories a day for most people, say new recommendations from a government-appointed panel of nutrition experts.

If upcoming federal diet guidelines adopt this recommendation, it would be the first time those guidelines set a strict limit on the amount of added sugar that Americans are advised to consume.

U.S. dietary guidelines are revised every five years, and the latest revisions are due out later this year. Previous versions of the guidelines have advised Americans to cut down on added sugar, but have not set a specific limit.

Consuming too much added sugar has been linked with negative health outcomes, such as obesity and death from heart disease. The recommended limit of 10 percent of daily calories from added sugars is equivalent to about 12 teaspoons of sugar, or about 55 grams, the amount in one 16-ounce bottle of a sugary beverage.

The panel also said that added sugars should not be replaced with low-calorie sweeteners, but instead, with healthy options, such as water.

In addition, the panel said that it had examined evidence on the safety of the sugar substitute aspartame. The group concluded that “at the level that the U.S. population consumes aspartame, it appears to be safe,” but there is a need for more research on the effect that aspartame may have on the risk of blood cancer in men.

Overall, the panel recommended that “the U.S. population should be encouraged and guided to consume dietary patterns that are rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, seafood, legumes and nuts; moderate in low- and non-fat dairy products and alcohol (among adults); lower in red and processed meat; and low in sugar-sweetened foods and beverages and refined grains.”

Specifically, the panel said that people in the general population should consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, and less than 10 percent of their total daily calories should be from saturated fat.

Although moderate alcohol consumption can be a part of a healthy diet, the panel clarified that people should not start drinking, or drink more often “on the basis of potential health benefits, because moderate alcohol intake also is associated with increased risk of violence, drowning, and injuries from falls and motor vehicle crashes.”

The panel also backed away from previous recommendations to limit cholesterol intake, because studies have found that dietary cholesterol does not considerably affect the amount of cholesterol in the blood. “Cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for overconsumption,” the panel said.

The panel’s recommendations are now available online for public comment. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will consider the report, along with other input, as it develops the 2015 dietary guidelines, which will be released later this year, the agency said.


Leave a comment

What is The Glycemic Index?

The Glycemic Index is an indication of how quickly a specified amount of food will cause a rise in blood sugar level. The amount of food is the portion that contains 50 grams of carbohydrate (200 calories from carbs). So it is really an indication of how one carb compares to another.

Certain foods cause a spike, or rapid rise, in blood sugar level. This spike causes an insulin response and may over time lead to health problems such as diabetes, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and other issues. Maintaining a more even blood sugar level appears to be beneficial in many ways.

Only foods that contain carbs cause this spike, proteins and fats do not. They provide calories but do not cause an immediate rise in blood sugar levels. Meat and eggs contain no carbs at all, they can be considered to have a zero glycemic index. However this is not strictly true as the test cannot be carried out on them: no amount of eggs will give the required 50 gm of carbs.

The test is carried out on volunteers who have been fasting for a period of time. They are fed a portion of food containing 50 gm of carbohydrate and their blood sugar level monitored over a 2 hour period. This data is drawn on a graph and the area under the curve measured, the larger the area, the higher the glycemic index (GI). Glucose is used as the standard with a value of 100 and all other foods are compared to this.

Many factors influence the GI for foods. The index of the carbs available, the amount of non carb food in the serving, and the amount of fiber and ash (yes ash!) present. Protein and fat in the food will tend to lower the GI because they reduce the body’s ability to digest the carb quickly. Soluble fibre (inulin) has the same effect, insoluble fibre (bran) does so to a lesser extent.

The irony here is that a serving with more calories can have a lower GI, but exactly the same type and amount of carbs. This also shows the danger of consuming significant amounts of refined carbs (even fruit juices) on their own as they can produce a rapid blood sugar spike. Again balance is best in all things.

One might assume because of this that the answer is to avoid all carbs, and certain diets (Atkins for example) do go in this direction. However the body needs a good balance of protein, fat and carbs for health. So the answer appears to be the correct choice and amount of carbs. The Glycemic index and the Glycemic Load are useful tools in the achievement of this end.

Glycemic Load

The glycemic load (GL) is the glycemic index multiplied by the amount of carbs in the serving. So in a way it represents the actual effect the serving of food will have on blood sugar level.

The Glycemic Index on it’s own can be a little misleading because portion sizes are not taken into account. Foods that contain low quantities of carbs can still score highly because large amounts are required for the test.

To produce the required 50 grams of carbs about 12 carrots are necessary but only 3 slices of bread. So the GI for carrots is almost 50, for bread it is 70, not a huge difference. In reality nobody eats 12 carrots at a sitting.

This is where the glycemic load comes in. The GI for carrots is 50, the amount of carbs per serving is 4. So the GL is 2 (50 by 4 divided by 100). The glycemic load for a serving of bread is 10. This is a much more realistic indication of the effect carrots and bread have on blood sugar levels.

Rating System for Glycemic Index:
Below 55 – low GI.
56 to 69 – medium GI.
Above 70 -high GI.

Rating System for Glycemic Load:
Below 11 – low GL.
11 to 19 – medium GL.
Above 19 -high GL.

For sweeteners the glycemic index is useful as in most cases they consist of pure carbohydrate. Thus the GI offers a fair comparison between them. Natural sweeteners can contain soluble fiber and other substances that tend to slow metabolism and reduce the effect of blood sugar.

Glycemic Index for Sweeteners

The glycemic index for sweeteners is a function of three things:

1. The amount of carbohydrate present.
2. The type of carbohydrate present.
3. The presence of other substances (soluble fiber for example) that slow metabolism of carbohydrates.

Glucose has a glycemic index (GI) of 100 and fructose is 25. Sucrose (Ordinary sugar) which is made up of a combination of these two has a GI of 65.

The search for a low GI natural sugar based sweetener is somewhat futile as they all contain combinations of the above, or similar sugars.

 sugar
Sweetener
Type
Glycemic Index
Maltodextrin Sugar 110
Maltose Sugar 105
Dextrose Sugar 100
Glucose Sugar 100
Splenda Artificial Sweetener 80
Trehalose Sugar 70
HFCS-42 Modified Sugar 68
Sucrose Sugar 65
Caramel Modified Sugar 60
Golden Syrup Modified Sugar 60
Inverted Sugar Modified Sugar 60
Refiners Syrup Modified Sugar 60
HFCS-55 Modified Sugar 58
Blackstrap Molasses Sugar Extract 55
Maple Syrup Natural Sugar 54
Honey Natural Sugar 50
Sorghum Syrup Natural Sugar 50
Lactose Sugar 45
Cane Juice Sugar Extract 43
Barley Malt Syrup Modified Sugar 42
HSH Sugar Alcohol 35
Coconut Palm Sugar Natural Sugar 35
Maltitol Sugar Alcohol 35
HFCS-90 Modified Sugar 31
Brown Rice Syrup Modified Sugar 25
Fructose Sugar 25
Galactose Sugar 25
Agave Syrup Modified Sugar 15
Xylitol Sugar Alcohol 12
Glycerol Sugar Alcohol 5
Sorbitol Sugar Alcohol 4
Lactitol Sugar Alcohol 3
Isomalt Sugar Alcohol 2
Mannitol Sugar Alcohol 2
Erythritol Sugar Alcohol 1
Yacon Syrup Natural Sweetener 1
Oligofructose Sugar Fiber 1
Inulin Sugar Fiber 1
Brazzein Natural Sweetener 0
Curculin Natural Sweetener 0
Glycyrrhizin Natural Sweetener 0
Luo Han Guo Natural Sweetener 0
Miraculin Natural Sweetener 0
Monellin Natural Sweetener 0
Pentadin Natural Sweetener 0
Stevia Natural Sweetener 0
Thaumatin Natural Sweetener 0
Acesulfame K Artificial Sweetener 0
Alitame Artificial Sweetener 0
Aspartame Artificial Sweetener 0
Cyclamate Artificial Sweetener 0
Neotame Artificial Sweetener 0
Saccharin Artificial Sweetener 0
Sucralose Artificial Sweetener 0

Although fructose has a fairly low GI, it has other harmful effects and must be considered unsafe to take in large quantities. Agave Syrup has a low GI because it is mainly fructose. Agave has been delisted and banned by the Glycemic Research Institute of Washington DC because serious side effects were observed in clinical trials.

Coconut Palm Sugar contains mainly sucrose and one would expect a GI of about 65. However it scores well in the glycemic index for sweeteners list. Tests have indicated a GI of only about 35. This may be partly because of other substances in it such as soluble fiber. However, the testing was very limited. More testing may well produce a higher GI.

Yacon Syrup, scores best in the Glycemic Index for Sweeteners that are sugar based. It derives it’s sweetness from Fructo-oligosaccharides, a type of sugar with a very low GI. It is probably the only truly raw, organic, natural, low calorie, and low glycemic sweetener available.

Sugar alcohols tend to have very low GIs. In particular Erythritol has a GI of only 1, and it is a safe low calorie sweetener that occurs naturally in some fruits and mushrooms. While many of the other sugar alcohols also have low GIs they can have side effects such as abdominal cramping if taken in even moderate quantities.

Both the natural zero calorie sweeteners such as Stevia, and the artificial ones such as Saccharin have no glycemic index. They do not raise blood sugar at all. This brings up another issue: The human body is programmed to react to the taste of sweet things.

Studies have shown that insulin is secreted by the pancreas soon after the sweet taste is experienced on the tongue, whether the substance contains calories or not. The body is fooled by the zero calorie sweetener. It expects glucose to hit the bloodstream and it gets none. This may result in increased appetite soon after.

Some studies have indicated that zero calorie sweeteners do not help reduce weight, and this may explain the reason. However this does not take into account several useful aspects of zero calorie sweeteners:

1. They do not cause a blood sugar spike and this alone is beneficial to health.
2. They are suitable for diabetics who would otherwise have a limited choice of sweet things.
3. They are harmless to teeth.
4. All things being equal they contain no calories and should be of assistance in a diet plan.

Perhaps the best use of zero calorie sweeteners would be to reduce the sugars in food and beverages, not eliminate them. Say a person drinks a bottle of cola each day. This contains about 12.5 spoons of sugar and 200 calories. If they drank a reduced sugar cola made with half stevia or saccharin they would halve the amount of sugar, yet still receive a glucose boost. Indeed the lowering of the sugar intensity could provide a more steady supply of glucose to the bloodstream and dramatically reduce or eliminate the insulin load.


4 Comments

Kids are becoming candyholics, and adults are to blame

Adults need to stop enabling kids’ candy addiction

By Mark Schatzker, CBC News       Jan 14, 2014

Recently, my seven-year-old daughter uttered the unlikeliest sentence I ever expected to issue from her mouth: ‘Mummy, I think we need to take a break from candy.’

The date was December 29th, and my daughter – wise beyond her years – was reflecting on the three-week candy and calorie fest that is the holiday season. And she was, at that moment, doing the very thing she proposed to stop: eating candy.

Children eat a lot of candy these days. I know because I used to eat a lot of candy. Or at least I thought I did, until my kids came along.

My candy eating, I came to realize, was like one of those old black-and-white hockey games you sometimes see on TV: slow, crude and painfully old fashioned.

I went entire days without eating candy. Not my kids. Candy is everywhere. Their friends have it. Their grandparents have it. They get candy when we go to the hardware store. They get candy from doctors and nurses. They get candy in loot bags. They even get candy from their teachers.

Don’t get me wrong, my kids are not the worst offenders. I went on a kindergarten field trip not long ago and discovered that some parents pack candy in their kids lunches – or pop, which, when you think about it, is just liquid candy.

Eventually, I was struck with the question: Is my childrens’ candy use actually a form of abuse? Are my kids candyholics?

I filled out one of those online addiction quizzes.

Do my children eat candy to have fun?
    Yes

Do they eat candy alone?
    Yes

Do they sneak candy when no one is looking?
    Yes

Do they eat candy to have a good time?
    Yes

Do they get upset if they don’t get candy?
    Yes

Has a family member expressed concern about their candy eating?
Can they handle more candy now than when they first started eating candy?
Do they lie about the amount of candy they eat?
    Yes, yes, and yes.

The lying about candy started a few days after my daughter’s proposed candy cleanse. We decided to do it as a family. No candy for the month of January.

And not long after that, candy revisionism set in. After dinner one night, my son, pouting and clearly feeling sorry for himself, announced that in fact he had only had one piece of candy – a solitary marshmallow – over the entire holidays. “It’s not fair,” he said.

kidcandy
‘We are more aware than ever of the dangers of empty foods
and all the terrible problems they lead to
– obesity and diabetes to name just two.
And yet, instead of giving kids less candy,
we give them more.
What’s going on here? (shutterstock)

If he can learn to lie that convincingly as an adult, I thought to myself, he has a glorious future in politics.

His twin sister did him one better. She said she didn’t have any candy over the holidays, her lower lip quivering. My wife gently asked, “but what about the jelly beans?” My daughter cast her eyes towards the floor.

We’re now approaching the mid-way point of no-candy month, and it’s actually not going too badly – although there has been a measurable uptick in requests for Nutella and hot chocolate.

But the bigger question I have is why do kids eat so much candy?

There’s only one place they get it from: adults. So the real question is why do adults give kids so much candy?

We are more aware than ever of the dangers of empty foods and all the terrible problems they lead to – obesity and diabetes to name just two. And yet, instead of giving kids less candy, we give them more. What’s going on here?

There are, no doubt, many answers to this question, but here’s one of the big ones. It’s fun to give treats to adorable creatures. We give liver-and-bacon flavoured treats to dogs and sardines to cats. The behaviour seems almost instinctive. See cute face, give cute face calories.

So now that we know what the real problem is – adults – maybe adults should try and fix it. Because if we can’t control our urges, we surely can’t expect kids to.

source: CBC


Leave a comment

Think Food Doesn’t Affect Behavior? You’ve Got to Read This.

November 7, 2013    By Adrienne

{Today I have the pleasure of introducing to you Ruth Almon, of Paleo Diet Basics.  Ruth is sharing with us some fascinating information about how food affects behavior.  I was amazed when I read this–check it out and make sure to share it to get the word out.  So many behavioral issues can be traced to the gut. We need to all inform and empower parents to make a difference in their children’s (and their own) lives.}

It’s common to joke about kids being on a sugar high after a party, so all of us know –on some level–that food influences how kids behave.

But how many of us realize the extent to which our children’s day-to-day actions are shaped and molded by the foods we feed them?

An experiment on the effects of food on behavior done by the British TV series, The Food Hospital, produced shocking results. Party food loaded with sugar, artificial coloring, and other additives has the power to turn your lovely, cooperative child into a badly behaved, physically aggressive youngster.

The Food and Behavior Experiment

Children in Britain aged 5 – 9 attended a party. They were split into two groups:

Group One: was fed healthy options such as apple slices, carrot sticks, sandwiches, hummus, etc. and was given water to drink.

Group Two: received the usual party fair: candy, potato chips, and soda (or as they say in the UK, sweets, crisps, and fizzy pop), all containing loads of sugar, artificial coloring, and other additives.

The children’s ability to follow instruction, concentrate, and remember information was then measured as they played party games, and their actions were carefully recorded. You may be surprised by what they found.

table

It wasn’t only how they behaved that was remarkably different.

The healthy food group did “48% better in the games overall” – that’s a huge improvement in performance.

Conclusion

Those who ran the study say that they don’t know what it is in the party food that affects the children. Is it the sugar? The artificial coloring? Maybe the lack of essential nutrients? It’s not clear.

I suspect it’s a combination, with individual children being more affected by different things.

What is clear is that children not only behave better but concentrate better, follow instructions better, and remember more when they eat healthier food. Let’s not forget that concentration, following instructions, and memory are fundamental building blocks of the learning process and vital for success at school.

 Are We Setting Our Kids (and Ourselves) Up for Failure?

So having watched this segment, I couldn’t help think that many kids are inadvertently being set up for failure by their own parents. Moms and Dads certainly intend to do the best for their children, and part of this can mean feeding them “regular food” that won’t set their children apart from their friends. But in doing so, our children are being sabotaged in ways that make it difficult for them to perform school tasks successfully.

They’re fed processed foods that can make them aggressive and difficult to control. Then, as if that weren’t bad enough, they’re penalized for their inability to learn and their out-of-control behavior.

We all know that a child who is constantly hitting other children, having tantrums, and running around wildly is a child who is continually reprimanded. We also all know a child who doesn’t follow teachers’ instructions, can’t remember what he or she was taught yesterday, or can’t concentrate long enough to finish a task receives poor grades and negative feedback.

No parent wants this for his or her child. 

Tragically, in the worst cases, kids who are simply reacting to what they are being fed end up taking unnecessary prescription drugs or are sent to special schools.

Setting Children up for Success

How do we feed children to prepare them succeed in school and get along in society? Generally speaking, the more natural a food is, the less likely it is to cause a severe behavioral reaction. Keep in mind that there are plenty of individual differences in how children react to specific foods and additives.

One family might discover that avoiding a certain additive transforms their child into a little angel, while in another family cutting out wheat may do wonders.

That said, watch out in particular for these three substances, which are often linked with behavioral problems.

Three of the Most Troubling Things to Eat

1. Artificial Coloring 

More and more evidence is pointing to artificial food dyes as a major cause of ADHD in children. While this hasn’t been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, the facts are strong enough to convince many European countries to ban blue 1 (brilliant blue), blue 2 (indigo carmine), yellow 5 (tartrazine), and yellow 6 (sunset yellow) among others. These food colors have FDA approval and are found in cereal, candy, and a variety of colorful foods popular with children.

2. Sugar

There is a shocking amount of sugar in processed foods – and some of it is lurking in places you wouldn’t suspect. One 12 oz. can of coke has 9 ½ teaspoons of sugar. The same amount of Tropicana Farmstand Juice has 9 teaspoons. There’s also lots of sugar in flavored yogurts and chocolate milk – not so surprising. But did you know that there is often sugar in savory foods, such as ketchup, bread, sausages, and barbeque sauce? Your child can consume a considerable amount of sugar even before you let him or her eat candy, and high sugar levels contribute to hyperactivity.

3. Sodium benzoate

Sodium benzoate is a preservative found in carbonated beverages and fruit juices, condiments, candies and many other products. It has been implicated either separately or together with artificial colorings for causing or aggravating ADHD symptoms, and is best avoided. Read labels.

A real-food, nutrient-dense paleo diet – which excludes these three substance as well as anything likely to affect behavior – seems to me the best way to ensure your kids get the right nutrition. Click to learn what the paleo diet is.

How Does This Affect Your Family

You may think that these problems don’t affect you since your child doesn’t suffer from serious behavioral problems or learning disabilities. Remember, the children in the video were just a regular group of school kids–not children selected because they didn’t behave well. The impact on them was profound, so clearly, this is a concern for every parent.

Let’s do all we can to set our kids up for success.

(UPDATE:  Think the evidence isn’t compelling enough?  Check out Response to Doubters–STILL Think Food Doesn’t Affect Behavior?  Read This.)

{From Adrienne.  I have REALLY noticed the relationship between food and behavior in our home. We’ve removed colors, preservatives, and then gluten, and sugar and have seen a lot of things improve as a result.  Let’s for sure do what we can to get the word out about this.  So many meds and doctors visits and frustrating scenarios could be avoided if we try to feed our kids (and ourselves) well.}

source: WholeNewMom