Sunday, May 13, 2012

Why Calorie Counting Doesn't Work...

A new medical study says type-2 diabetes is especially dangerous for children, because it's harder to control than in adults.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, also finds because kids develop type 2 diabetes sooner, there's also an increased risk for complications such as heart attack and stroke.
The study followed 699 children, ages 10 to 17, for a four-year period and concluded that the medication typically used to treat the disease in adults wasn't as effective over time. About half of the patients needed to add insulin shots to their regime to control blood sugar levels. The study also suggests that a healthy lifestyle holds little bearing on the effectiveness of treatment.
Diabetes expert Dr. Mark Hyman, author of "The Blood Sugar Solution," shared his thoughts on the study.
"The takeaway is that we're needing a national wakeup call," Hyman said. "We're not going to solve this in the doctor's office, we have to solve this in the communities where people live.  You can't medicate your way out of a bad diet."
"Type 2 diabetes is rampant in children now," he said.  "We have two million kids who are morbidly obese. Most undiagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes and the study showed that drugs don't work, that we have to put kids on insulin, which is a disaster. We need a different solution. This is really a social problem. We need a social cure. We're not going to solve this in the doctor's office. We have to solve this in the communities where people live. “
Hyman noted that the average child in the U.S. has 34 teaspoons of sugar a day. He said, "The food industry have hijacked our brain chemistry, our taste buds, our homes, our kitchens, our schools, and we need to take them back. We need to do things like have soda taxes, change food marketing practices to kids because this is not a problem solved in the doctor's office."  *
Among all the teens in the study, 1 in 5 had a serious complication such as very high blood sugar, usually landing them in the hospital. The message from the study and experts like Hyman are clear: Prevention is key.
The idea that children as young as 10 years old are taking type-2 diabetes medication and are now burdened with a disease that will literally change their lives forever is heart breaking.  Hyman and others promote the use of strategies such as soda taxes and laws aimed at changing food marketing to kids to help curb the rates.
My instincts tell me while well intentioned these methods seem to amount to nothing more than a drop or two of water into a 10 gallon bucket.  Real change will take a collective effort and it would be tremendous if communities, schools and families were all pulling in the same direction but that will likely take years to coordinate and getting all involved on the same page and ironing out the wrinkles could take a decade or more.  In my view we don’t have time to waste because our children are to precious and they require our attention right now!  I still feel the best solution is within the walls of your own home.  Physical activity is vital for immediate and long-term health and wellness.  Next week I will provide strategies that families can implement this summer that will allow them to spend time together while having fun and getting active in the process.  However, this week I want to get in to some depth on a recurring theme that presents itself repeatedly during my research and practical experience.
This recurring theme is all about what we choose to eat; more specifically it’s all about sugar!
Consider the following news articles/stories all coming in the last week:
Based on BMI, about one-third of Americans are considered obese, but new research shows that when other methods of measuring obesity, such as body fat percentage, are factored in, that number may be closer to 60 percent. **
According to Dr. Robert Lustig, fructose is "isocaloric but not isometabolic." This means you can have the same amount of calories from fructose or glucose, fructose and protein, or fructose and fat, but the metabolic effect will be entirely different despite the identical calorie count. This is largely because different nutrients provoke different hormonal responses, and those hormonal responses determine, among other things, how much fat you accumulate.
The average American consumes 1/3 of a pound of sugar a day. That's five ounces or 150 grams, half of which is fructose, which is 300 percent more than the amount that will trigger biochemical havoc. And many Americans consume more than twice that amount!  This is why the idea that you can lose weight by counting calories simply doesn't work. After fructose, other sugars and grains are likely the most excessively consumed food that promotes weight gain and chronic disease.  In short, you do not gain body fat because you eat too many calories and don't exercise enough. You get fat because you eat the wrong kind of calories. As long as you keep eating fructose and grains, you're programming your body to create and store fat. ***
Some foods you think are good for you actually have more sugar than a Twinkie! Yogurt, tomato sauce, granola bars, fat-free salad dressing, muffins, and canned fruit are just several examples …****
Sugar is the only calorie source that correlates with the increase in diabetes. In 1985, when the worldwide sugar consumption was 98 million tons, diabetes affected 30 million people. By 2010, sugar consumption had risen to 160 million tons, and global diabetes prevalence reached 346 million people. Overall, sugar is 50 times more potent than calories, in terms of causing diabetes. But why does it have this extraordinarily potent effect?
Sugar metabolizes as both fat and carbohydrate.   According to Dr. Lustig, fructose (a form of sugar) just like alcohol is metabolized directly into fat—not cellular energy, like glucose (the from of energy are bodies are designed to run on). So eating fructose is really like eating fat.  Not even fatty fruits like avocado or coconut have this effect, because your body treats them as either a fat or a carb—not both. Sugar is the only food that functions as both a fat and a carb simultaneously, and it is this combination of fat and carb that causes metabolic derangements and, subsequently, disease. So, please, don't be fooled: when it comes to sugar, the claim you hear on TV, that "sugar is sugar" no matter what form it's in, is a misstatement that can, quite literally, kill you—albeit slowly. *****
I want to pick up on something that I think is very important as it relates to the combining of macronutrients such as fat and carbs described by Dr. Lustig.  Most children whether it is at school or snacking in between meals are eating the exact food combination condemned by Dr. Lustig.  Chips, granola bars, cookies, candy bars, Pop-Tarts, pizza, Subway, chicken nuggets all of these foods are heavily laden with highly processed carbs (sugars) and low quality sources of fat.
When sugars and starches (carbohydrates) are eaten in their natural, unprocessed form, as part of a meal containing nourishing fats and protein, they are digested slowly and enter the bloodstream at a moderate rate of a period of several hours.  This is how are bodies are designed to be feed and when we eat this way we are rewarded with a steady, even supply of glucose.  The body is kept on an even keel, physically and emotionally.
But when children flood their bodies with processed food, particularly without quality fats or protein they enter the bloodstream in a hurry and disrupt the bodies finely tuned energy balance mechanisms.  When this is repeated throughout the days, weeks and months it throws that whole regulatory system and energy levels suffer dramatic peaks and valleys.
This situation is made worse by the fact that many of these processed foods will also be deficient in vitamins, minerals and the often-overlooked enzymes that are crucial for digestion and assimilation of nutrients.  Vitamins, minerals and enzymes are bodybuilding elements that allow all bodily systems to function harmoniously.    When these elements are lacking in the foods that we eat (if kids eat a lot of processed food they very likely are), it disturbs these bodily systems and sets the stage for conditions such as the type-2 diabetes mentioned in the New England Journal of Medicine, not to mention behavioral disorders like ADHD, potential alcohol and drug abuse, learning disabilities, allergies and obesity just to name a few.
While this is not a pretty picture it is well within our reach to make changes that promote health.  Now is the perfect time to get started on a family action plan.  Many farmers markets will have early season yields such as asparagus and strawberries in the weeks ahead and you can always stock up on high quality eggs, chicken and beef from small local farms without worrying about pink slime or meat glue (yet another reason to avoid processed food of any kind). ****** The best strategy is and always has been to cook from scratch using seasonal and local ingredients when available.  As importantly though avoid packaged and processed foods whenever possible they simply lack the elements that develop strong and healthy bodies and minds.
Food For Thought:
Young men often ask me how they can gain weight and build muscle?  While I have covered this topic in some detail in the past I will revisit it more thoroughly in the weeks ahead.  For now understand that you can’t build muscle with junk!  Fast food and other highly processed products (most protein powders included) lack the body building elements described in this article (vitamins, minerals, enzymes) without them your efforts will be futile.


Happy Mother's Day to all moms!  I can only speak for myself but I would be lost without the nurturing and guidance from my mom over the last 30+ years.  I  have a strong feeling that your children feel the same way about you.
Additional Info:
What’s meat glue?

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