So, you want to lose weight fast and improve your overall health. Quit eating so much sugar. That’s it. Well okay, I'll expand on that. Most of my patients say they don’t eat very much sugar. The truth is, most likely they do. We are not actually spooning large quantities of white table sugar on our food. Instead, sugar has made an insidious invasion into many processed foods.

The consumption of sugars of all kinds is on the rise. Let me give you an example of how it can play out. I recently was at a convention and during a break they handed out Nature Valley Trail Mix Fruit and Nut bars. It had the phrases “100% Natural” (I always like to point out that hemlock and poison ivy are very natural) and “Good source of Whole Grain.” 
With the words Nature, Valley, Trail and Natural it sounds so good and earthy it just has to be nutritious for you. (They also included “chewy” on the label; sounds delicious.) So before I tried to get all that rich goodness in me I read the back label to see the ingredients; which by the way were hidden under a flap in the wrapper. The list of ingredients were as follows:

1. Whole grain oats

2. High maltose corn syrup (a sugar)
3. Crisp rice (made with rice flour, and take a guess, sugar and
 malt extract;
which is another form of sugar.
4. Sugar (this would be regular table sugar; sucrose)

5. Raisins (which are very high in fructose (sugar)

6. Honey (sugar)
7. Dried cranberries (high in sugar)

8. Rice maltodextrin (a sugar)

What this all means is the first ingredient is not oats, but is actually sugar; the company just came up with six or seven different names for it.

Instead of reading all of the ingredients, read the sugar content in grams. For this bar it was fourteen grams. Four grams of sugar is approximately a teaspoon. In this little tiny bar, about a quarter inch thick and three inches long, I am getting about three and a half teaspoons of sugar. If you drink one twenty-ounce Coke you are consuming 65 grams of refined sugar. According to the American Heart Association, men should have no more that 37.5 grams of added sugar. Women should have only 25 grams of added sugar per day. With a single 20 0z Coke, women are getting more than two days worth of allowable added sugar. To get an idea of how much sugar this represents, go to: http://www.sugarstacks.com/beverages.htm

According to a nutritional program being conducted at the University of Nebraska, you are consuming about 65 pounds of sugar in a year if you drink one sweetened soda per day. According to the U.S. Dept. Of Health, the consumption of caloric sweeteners rose from one hundred-twenty-seven pounds per person to one hundred-fifty-three lbs per person in the period from 1986-1996; almost a 20% increase.

So how did this all come about? High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a lot of the problem. The production of HFCS became perfected in the 70’s and later became the source for sweeteners in soda. You may remember how the price of Pepsi and Coke dropped in half in the 80's when those companies switched to high fructose corn syrup. I won’t get into the whole issue of which is worse, HFCS or sugar. I think HFCS is a little worse due to the genetic alteration of the corn which is used in its production. It is like questioning whether replacing one poison with another similar poison is better for us.

HFCS is so cheap (driven by corn lobbyists getting government subsidies and tariffs on cane sugar) that is has infiltrated more and more of our foods. The taste buds of the American consumer have become so increasingly jaded that food manufacturers are adding more and more sugar to satisfy our ramped up cravings.

One other factor must be taken into account. HFCS is high in fructose, in fact about 55% fructose. But wait, isn’t fructose the sugar that you get from fruit? And aren’t fruits good for you? Yes to both questions. When you eat fruit the fiber in the fruit is broken down slowly, so the influx of sugar into your system is stretched out over a period of time. This increased processing time allows the body to handle the sugar efficiently without stressing the body. When you drink a soda there is no breakdown period. The influx of sugar is too rapid and your pancreas’ production of insulin is over taxed. (Visualize drinking from a fire hose as opposed to a water fountain.) Some studies now indicate that such an influx of refined fructose may fail to stimulate insulin secretion, which in turn, fails to stimulate leptin production. Leptin is the hormone that tells your brain “YOU ARE FULL. STOP EATING!” Refined fructose also seems to keep ghrelin turned on. Ghrelin is the hormone that says “YOUR HUNGRY. GO GET SOMETHING TO EAT!” The overall effect of HFCS is to tell our bodies “YOUR NOT FULL KEEP EATING!” This is probably why a lot of people binge eat. This was my own problem. I could go to a buffet and eat non-stop. I had many people over the years, after dining with me, tell me they had never seen anyone eat so much in one sitting. I did this all the time. My nutritionist friend told me that I was not producing enough insulin. I had been over stimulating my pancreas by binging. If I continued this habit I would become diabetic.

Recently I had my own blood sugar checked, as well as my cholesterol. Both were very high. I called a nutritionist friend and asked him what I should do. He recommended different lab tests. He also recommended I keep a food diary. I had to write down everything that I ate; eat a handful of peanuts, write it down, eat three Wheat Thins, write it down, put a tablespoon of ketchup on something, write it down.

After my friend reviewed my diary he said I was eating better than ninety-five percent of his patients. That was the good news. The bad news was that my eating habits were still pretty pitiful. (His language was a little more forceful than that. What he actually said would be offensive to some readers.) Needless to say, I felt like a nutritional “Loser.”

So what did I do? I eliminated as much sugar out of my diet as possible. You have to read the labels on everything you eat. (If you are reading labels, chances are, it isn’t real food anyway.) If it has sugar in any large quantities don’t eat it. Keep your total intake of refined sugar to 40grams or below. (No refined sugars would be even better.) I also started taking supplements that sensitized my body to the insulin I was producing. After a week of doing this I found I was not craving food. Before, I had to will myself not to eat. I wanted more food, and would have to fight my urge to eat. That was a tough battle; one that I lost about 50% of the time. I had a goal of one hundred-eighty-five pounds. I would reach it with sheer will power. A week later I would be back up to one- hundred-ninety pounds. I could not sustain the weight loss. After eliminating the majority of sugar from my diet, and taking various supplements, I now have to remind myself to eat.

You can do this. It is not as hard as you think. Eliminate as much sugar as you possibly can. Get with a nutritionist to help you with proper eating and supplementation. My nutritionist is Dr. Scott Banks. His web page is bankschiropractic.com. He is a well respected lecturer and researcher, and will work with patients over the phone. Start today to read the labels ofthe foods you eat. Better yet, eat real food, such as lettuce, apples, nuts and berries; foods that don’t require ingredient labels.

I asked a patient the other day why they kept eating a brand of cracker that was so high in sugar. 

“They taste good,” she said

Rat poison tastes good to the rats.