Saturday, September 17, 2011

Why You Can't Cure a Sugar Problem with Starch

The Low-Methamphetamine Lifestyle

From Breaking Bad, a TV show about two men who cook meth:

Jesse: "I've been thinking lately that I'd lay off of [the meth] for awhile, 'cause lately it's been making me paranoid, so, for, like, healthwise I'd just lay off." I guess we all have to start somewhere on our quest for a healthy lifestyle.

Curing your Sugar Problem with Sugar?

If you've been trying to solve a sugar problem by eating starch, "complex carbohydrates," or "healthy whole grains" and failing, it isn't your fault. Did the doctors who recommend this sleep through high school chemistry and get their MDs from a correspondence school in the Bahamas? Watch these two videos and you'll know more about carbohydrates than they do.

In this video (sorry, embedding has been disabled) what the teacher is talking about is that starches (or complex carbohydrates) are long chains of sugars.  Or as Dana Carpender puts it, complex carbohydrates are sugar molecules holding hands. "Saccharide" is another word for carbohydrate, and anything that ends in "ose" (e.g., glucose, lactose, sucrose) is a sugar. 

Next, Drs. Mary Dan and Michael Eades talk about starchy diets being about the same as sugary diets. Skip to 1:48 for the sugar/starch portion of the interview to find out why.

With the above in mind, see if you can spot what's wrong with the Sugar Busters! food pyramid and the pediatrician's recommendations. (Click picture for larger image.)

Just to be clear, Sugar Busters! is a program to "cut sugar to trim fat," not a pro-sugar organization.

Next, we have an article by a pediatrician called "The Relationship between Sugar and Behavior in Children."

An interesting article appears in the February 1995 edition of the Journal of Pediatrics. In contrast with other research teams, William Tamborlane, M.D., et al, of Yale University report a more pronounced response to a glucose load in children than in adults. It is commonly acknowledged that as blood glucose levels fall, there is a compensatory release of adrenaline. When the blood glucose level falls below normal, the resulting situation is called hypoglycemia. Signs and symptoms that accompany this include shakiness, sweating, and altered thinking and behavior. Tamborlane and his colleagues demonstrated that this adrenaline release occurs at higher glucose levels in children than it does in adults. In children it occurs at a blood sugar level that would not be considered hypoglycemic. The peak of this adrenaline surge comes about four hours after eating. The authors reason that the problem is not sugar, per se, but highly refined sugars and carbohydrates, which enter the bloodstream quickly and produce more rapid fluctuations in blood glucose levels.

In other words, the kids were fed a sugary meal, their blood sugar spiked, and then dropped like a rock. Then they got an adrenaline rush. The solution? A bit like curing a whiskey addiction with beer:

Giving your child a breakfast which contains fiber (oatmeal, shredded wheat, berries, bananas, whole-grain pancakes, etc.) instead of loads of refined sugar should keep adrenaline levels more constant and make the school day a more wondrous and productive experience. Packing her/his lunch box with delicious fiber-containing treats (whole-grain breads, peaches, grapes, a myriad of other fresh fruits, etc.) may turn afternoons at home into a delight.
Yes, oatmeal, shredded wheat, bananas, pancakes, bread, peaches, grapes and other fruits contain some fiber, but they're mostly starch and sugar and they can spike your blood sugar--in some cases, as much as refined sugar does. Would that these doctors had as much common sense as Jesse, the flunky-butt meth cooker: if something is bad for you, then you need to, you know, lay off it, for, like, your health.

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