In a quest to learn how to eat right and have good health for a long lifetime, I visited the library and browsed the health food and diet section. Without too much thought, I grabbed the book ‘Sweet Poison’ by David Gillespie. I’ll admit I was hesitant to read a book with the word Poison in the title. But here was an opportunity to learn if sugar really can decay organs the way it can decay our teeth.
I’m so happy I borrowed Sweet Poison, as it very well could spare us life-threatening sickness later on in life. It would be absolutely foolish to not abolish sugar from our pantry after reading the information that is summarized in this book.
I discovered that Sweet Poison is sympathetic to anyone trying (and struggling) to lose weight. To begin with it compares popular diets and explains the history behind weight-loss theories and why famous diets fail.
I learned here that all food is used within the body in the form of glucose, and that we naturally crave sweet foods as they represent glucose – what we need to survive.
Humans had never eaten cane or palm sugar until the last few hundred years. Humans ate naturally sweet foods – the whole food and not just the sweet juice or syrup – so we had a balanced intake of carbohydrates, proteins and fats that break down to glucose/ fructose/ lactose/ fibre/ amino acids. Many whole foods contain exactly the right balance of fructose and fibre to give us the best intake of energy without any side-effects such as weight-gain or long-term disease such as obesity, diabetes or cancer.
Sugar, when first created as a marketable product after several modification processes, was a trade commodity and was valued at the equivalent of $238 per kilo. Pioneers realised quickly that any food with added sugar had the ability to take advantage of the human’s vulnerable attraction to sweet foods and would become very high in demand – so within a hundred years it became widely produced … and its value plummeted. It turned from an exclusive treat to a common ingredient and then to a grocery staple.
We are overdosing on sugar instead of eating healthy, fresh food alternatives, which our body must have to function as designed.
Gillespie went on to explain that the human body, in its incredible design, has in-built triggers to tell us when to eat and to stop eating. A small part of our brain runs continual calculations on how healthy our blood is and directs the nervous system to communicate messages around the body to bring the body into a healthy, self-sufficient balance.
Our lives depend on these receptors that tell our stomach to rumble when insulin (i.e., blood-sugar) is low, to stop us eating when our glucose intake is again adequate, and to use the glucose consumed as insulin in the blood to give us energy for another period of a few hours. (These receptors also gauge our level of activity and direct through numerous processes our stomach not to rumble during periods of low-activity, such as sleep.)
Gillespie explained how in one day many families consume too much sugar – that converts to glucose – for their body’s dietary needs. We have learned how to extract the sweetest part of fruit out into juices with juicing machines. In doing so, we overdose on fructose (consuming around 3-8 fruit/vegetables) without taking in fibre. Furthermore, we drink juice while eating a regular meal (that translates to more glucose). In addition, we consume artificially sweetened foods off the supermarket shelves and we also add sugar to our own cooking and serving plates.
Gillespie explains that when the body receives too much fructose in a given 3-6 hour period, the body’s incredible functions and your overall health become endangered. I was starting to feel a little alarmed at this point.
Through reading I have learned that type II diabetes is no longer a rare ailment. A graph presenting a curve of the rapid incline of cases mirrors the sugar consumption curve, 30 years delayed. In other words fructose consumption could very well be the cause of type II diabetes but the side-effect takes 30 years to mature. Type II diabetes is a major cause of premature death and a leading cause of blindness, kidney failure and 3000 limb amputations in Australia in 2008.
The curve for prostate cancer shows the same correlation to the sugar consumption curve, with a sixty year delay.
Gillespie explains the affect sugar has on causing osteoarthritis, and that 3 of the 5 major cancers (bowel, breast, prostate) are a result of sugar consumption and that all other cancers grow because of the effects of too much glucose in our blood. Cancers, according to this research presented, would not exist or grow in today’s proportions if we were not in the midst of a sugar epidemic.
And where former generations may have been introduced to sugar as teenagers or adults, meaning they first have symptoms of diabetes, cancer or heart failure from middle age, in today’s generation sugar is introduced to babies just six months old.
Which brings me to teeth and tooth decay: everyone has it, and so the seriousness is dismissed. It is caused by a bacterial infection in the mouth – SM, streptococcus mutans. SM as a bacteria survives on a constant supply of sucrose in our mouths. Rather than address the cause – the intake of sugar – the Australian Government is taking the approach of treating symptoms and treating all of us at the same time – by putting fluoride in our drinking water.
Gillespie found that the Australian Government spends a lot of money patching the damage done by sugar. Back in 2001, Australia spent:
– $3.4 billion on oral health
– $5.5 million on cardiovascular disease
– $1 billion (just under) on type II diabetes
– $2.9 billion on cancers
– $1.5 billion on osteoarthritis
Gillespie closes his book with information on artificial sweeteners that can be used instead of sugar. With the exception of high-fructose corn syrup, other artificial sweeteners that are added to packaged foods, drinks and lollies were discovered in a chemistry lab by accident. Sweeteners are chemical reactions between chemicals used for anything but food. Sweeteners have had alarming health effects when tested on rats, including brain damage. One sweetener is not approved for sale in the US, and another is not in Canada – yet both are approved for sale in Australia. Gillespie expects sweeteners will one day be deemed as responsible for many serious health problems, but because they are still relatively new to market and long-period evaluation cannot yet be conducted, it will be a while before data reveals any alarming facts.
I was definitely satisfied at this point that I had learned what I needed to for removing sugar from our diets. In my view, there is no healf-hearted attempt to removing sugar, just like there is no half-occurrence of cancer or diabetes. What I have learned helps me realize there is nothing good about certain foods, if they are have sugars or sweeteners added (virtually any food in a colourful packet on the supermarket shelf, plus many others). Our approach to eat only Life Foods, using the Life-Food-Fun game, is definitely the easiest way to remove added sugar from our diets without calculations or complicated label assessments – and will help our children learn to eat only whole, healthy foods.
Ice cream isn’t at all delicious if its consumption causes these health problems. Chocolate as a treat? No way. I’m so happy to see we are on the right track with our diet changes. I feel there is much more to do yet, and that similar correlation curves to the ones Gillespie presented could exist for other food factors, such as preservatives, additives, gluten – and even external factors such as car emissions, hand-wash, make-up. My journey is not over yet.
I extend heart-felt thanks to David Gillespie for the work and costs involved in producing his book.
Day by day we aim to repair our bodies and have trust, faith and optimism for the future. You can join me as I walk to wellness in the private facebook group Joanna Haley Homestead (Journey to Wellness)
Joanna Haley, Author