Is It OK to Eat Sugar? The Sugar Debate Heats Up : Exclusive Renegade Health Article

Thursday Dec 11 | BY |
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bread fruit not sweet
Bread fruit isn’t sweet (it’s also the size of your head!), but does it matter — for your health — how sweet a fruit is?

Ah, here it is again…


Is it good or bad for you?

It seems like the debate heats up just about every 4-6 months on discussion boards around the Internet or at health events.

Inevitably, we get questions about whether it’s good for you or not.

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t yes or no. It’s both… and neither… and a little bit of everything.

Let me explain… 

Let’s first toss out the studies.

I know all you analytical, engineer types will cringe at this suggestion, but it’s true.

We have to toss out many of the sugar studies — or at least temper them — to what we’re attempting to accomplish here.

My mission is to determine if eating whole foods that contain simple sugars (fruit) are bad for our health, not to find out if eating sugar powders in packaged foods is bad for you or not (The latter doesn’t need much study, which I’m sure you’ll agree.) Processed sugar like white sugar, high fructose corn syrup or any other highly manufactured sweet substance shouldn’t be eaten consciously. These are not foods and regular use will affect your health negatively.

So what we’re left with is the real source of natural sugar which is fruit, sugar syrups, and maybe honey.

But when it comes to sugar and science, there are very few studies that are looking to identify if whole sweet foods are causing us any health problems — and if there are (from what I’ve seen) they involve pasteurized and possibly sweetened fruit juices or extracted fruit sugar like pure fructose.

This is not a valid way — even though it’s through scientific means — to determine if fruit is bad for you to eat.

We all know reducing a fruit down to its parts doesn’t make it a fruit any more. It becomes something different — something concentrated.

Imagine breaking down and apple to its seeds and then extracting the cyanide contained in them. That’s a natural substance derived from apples, but would you eat it? No, of course not.

While a few apple seeds eaten whole won’t do you any harm, the concentrated compound from them can make you very sick, or even kill you — this is the same thing that is happening when we get into a forum that is discussing (passionately) about sugar.

We’ve ill informed about the relationship between our science about sugar and it’s application in the real world — or more specifically in our green smoothies.

So please note, my bias is towards not stressing out about eating fruit, unless your personal circumstances necessitate something outside of the norm.

Back to the smoothies…

Victoria Boutenko managed to gather about 40 people together a while back and asked them all to replace one meal with a green smoothie.

(This is a smoothie with fruit and greens, if you’re unfamiliar with what these are.)

So every morning, each participant made a smoothie at home and then didn’t change anything else in their diet — they basically traded out a meal for some fruit and greens.

The results were remarkable.

Each participant — who actually followed the program — lost weight, had more energy, cholesterol dropped, inflammation dropped, showed increased sex drive and slept better. (You can read more about these results in her book Green for Life.)

So it’s hard for any anti-sugar pundit to argue that adding more sugar into their diets was negative. (At least in the short-term.)

What’s interesting to me is that inflammation deceased which could be a marker for diseases like cancer.

But, Really, Let’s Go Back to Our Roots…

Our ancestors ate fruit, so we probably should incorporate it into our diets too, right?

Yes and no…

In a book called, Deadly Harvest, by Geoff Bond, he writes about a group of African tribal people who ate plenty of melon, but not like the sweet cantaloupes and honeydews we know about. Their melon was bitter, but water rich. The amount of sugar was significantly lower than our modern fruits.

His message was that we can’t just look at the type of fruit, we need to look at the type plus its modern evolution.

Our fruits now are definitely sweeter than they’ve ever been. They’ve been hybridized aggressively in the market for better taste and longer shelf life.

Nature hybridizes as well, but not like industry. The appearance or taste of a banana could change gradually over 500-1000 years, but with aggressive hybridizing techniques, you could literally reinvent the banana in decades. (With GMO technology, it could be just a few years.)

What has also changed — maybe greater than we choose to recognize — is our gene expression.

Those of European descent have had many years more of processed eating than those of Asian, African, or Latino roots.

If it’s true that horses can be bred to exhibit certain traits by feeding them certain foods, then it’s true for humans as well.

Have our adaptations to certain diets now become a part of our nutritional makeup?

Do Mediterranean eaters need more omega 3 oils because they naturally got these nutrients from fish?

Do traditional Masai need more meat because their bodies have adapted to needing the nutrient profile of animal foods?

It would make sense to think that the body — over generations — would adapt to the food it eats to make the most efficient use of it. There would be little need to convert essential fatty acids if there are enough in the diet.

Also, I haven’t seen any comprehensive study on the organ sizes of native people vs. the modern American or European, but I can imagine that the pancreas is quite larger due to the need to over product insulin to maintain a healthy blood sugar.

Maybe in 2 to 3 to 5 generations, that larger organ size just becomes the “factory specific component” or, simply put, how we’re born.

I guess this idea of adaptation is similar to how a muscle grows if it gets more use.

Finally, what about diabetics?

It’s been shown that you can reduce blood insulin levels and get type-2 diabetics off of their medication.

One of the diets that works is the work of Dr. Gabriel Cousens. He recommends a no-sugar approach — and it works.

But, let’s look at the other side, can type-2 diabetics get off their insulin while still eating sugar?

It’s very difficult (if not impossible) with processed sugar or complex carbohydrates.

But with fruits, you can see a drop — though not as pronounced — in regular blood sugar if fruit is included in the diet.

In fact, a few diabetics have attempted our Raw Food Challenge Program (a high fruit based program) and have found that their blood glucose levels do in fact drop during the program. (Of course, under the supervision of a health care practitioner.)

I’ve also spoken with Frederic Patenaude who managed to measure his blood glucose under two very specific eating styles. First, high fruit / low fat and, second, high fruit / moderate fat.

When he ate high fruit, low fat, his insulin levels stayed rather normal. When he added fat and fruit into the equation, his numbers skyrocketed.

Elevated blood sugar for an extended period of time is never healthy, so it appears the mixture of fat and fruit may not be the best.

We know it’s not great for digestion, but this is evidence that it further complicates our body’s delicate balance.

It also means that dessert is generally a bad idea, since any dessert that is worth while is sweet and fatty. (LOL!)

Anyway, to wrap this up, I probably brought up more questions than answers.

So here are some solid sugar pointers you can take with you…

1. Eat fruit based on how your body reacts to it.
2. Don’t patently take the science of sugar and apply it to real fruit.
3. Fruit from the store isn’t the same as it used to be so look for heirloom, local fruits.
4. Be careful about dessert — even if it’s raw and someone told you it’s healthy.

Your question of the day: Sugar? Good? Bad?

Live Awesome!

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.

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