It’s the sugar, Sugar

From suf­ganiyot to haman­taschen: Can you han­dle it?

The Jerusalem Post - The Jerusalem Post Magazine - - OBSERVATIO­NS - • BAR­BARA SCHIPPER-BERGSTEIN The writer made aliyah in 1970 from Mon­treal with her hus­band and four chil­dren. She is a GI coun­selor in pri­vate prac­tice and has writ­ten three books on the sub­ject. lenbar12@gmail.com

Myths can be com­pelling when de­rived in a vac­uum de­void of facts. The ab­sence of depend­able in­for­ma­tion on the sub­ject of nutrition is not sim­ply a case of mis­lead­ing the public, but it can lead to se­ri­ous con­se­quences. Ex­plor­ing the myths about nutrition is in­tended to serve as a segue into the un­der­stand­ing of the dam­age that this can cause. Mis­lead­ing weight loss ad­vice that still per­sists can lead to a va­ri­ety of dis­or­ders such as the cur­rent in­crease in the in­ci­dence of type 2 di­a­betes in adults, as well as chil­dren.

When pop­u­lar wis­dom that pro­motes di­ets, calo­rie count­ing, and low fat food re­stric­tion is de­rived from re­spectable sources, but the ex­pected re­sults aren’t achieved, the nat­u­ral con­se­quence is to blame one­self, and it is self-blame that has led to se­verely un­der­min­ing the ef­forts of those who seek a so­lu­tion to their weight prob­lems.

Last week I at­tended a meet­ing of peo­ple with se­ri­ous weight prob­lems that have plagued them for years. Dur­ing the en­tire 90 min­utes it was clear that they felt they were at fault. They ate too much, they ate in a frenzy, they lost weight and gained weight. For them life was a con­stant strug­gle around eat­ing and/or starv­ing, and the in­fer­ence was that it was their fault. One ex­pressed shame, an­other crit­i­cized her­self for not be­ing able to be like oth­ers. Self-blame is a se­vere at­tack on the ego. Re­gard­ing weight, it’s a re­lent­less pun­ish­ment that has no place in our so­ci­ety, con­sid­er­ing the progress that sci­ence has made.

The truth about weight con­trol is an is­sue that can now be ad­dressed in sci­en­tific terms that com­pletely rule out self-blame.

Over the past sev­eral decades, sci­en­tists have dis­cov­ered that our weight is con­trolled by the sugar/in­sulin phe­nom­e­non. That is, when sugar is in­gested, it ac­ti­vates the pan­creas to re­lease in­sulin. The role of the in­sulin is to trans­port the sugar out of the blood and into our cells, which gives us the en­ergy we need to move, speak, think and so forth.

How do we gain weight? When we ha­bit­u­ally eat foods that in­tro­duce too much sugar into the blood, the pan­creas can­not se­crete enough in­sulin to de­crease blood sugar. As a re­sult the ex­cess sugar is then stored in our body as fat. We gained weight!

When this process con­tin­ues over an ex­tended pe­riod of time, the pan­creas be­comes overworked and can no longer re­lease suf­fi­cient in­sulin to do the job. This leads to a di­ag­no­sis of di­a­betes. And then, to help re­move the sugar from the blood, the di­a­betic pa­tient is pre­scribed ar­ti­fi­cial in­sulin to do the job. It’s really quite sim­ple when spelled out.

But there’s a defini­tively more ef­fec­tive so­lu­tion that is wholly re­li­able but un­for­tu­nately more bur­den­some for both pa­tient and doc­tor. And that is, type 2 di­a­betes can be avoided and also re­versed with cor­rect nutrition.

For the skep­tics who are dif­fi­cult to con­vince, let me re­fer you to med­i­cal doc­tors – Mark Hy­man, Robert Lustig, Michael Eades, and pro­lific sci­ence writer Gary Taubes, who de­ter­minedly dis­sem­i­nated in­for­ma­tion ex­plain­ing the sugar/in­sulin ac­tion. This is just a short list of pro­fes­sion­als who are ded­i­cated to telling the truth about the dan­gers of sugar that can lead to di­a­betes, kid­ney dys­func­tion, joint pain, in­flam­ma­tion, some can­cers and more.

I’LL END with a story to em­pha­size the truth about food.

Sev­eral years ago I watched a TED talk by Peter At­tia who at that time was do­ing his res­i­dency in surgery in Johns Hop­kins Hos­pi­tal. At 2 a.m. he was called to the emer­gency room where he saw, ly­ing on the bed, an obese woman who pre­sented with a di­a­betic ul­cer in her leg whose stench he said he could smell even be­fore en­ter­ing the room.

Dr. At­tia de­scribed his ut­ter dis­gust that this woman al­lowed her­self to reach this con­di­tion. The con­sul­ta­tion was about whether to am­pu­tate her leg.

De­lib­er­at­ing about the de­ci­sion, he soon came to the re­al­iza­tion that this wasn’t her fault at all. It was un­usu­ally strange to watch him tear­fully ex­plain his per­cep­tion that she wasn’t suf­fer­ing from her con­di­tion be­cause she ate too much of the wrong food, it was the re­verse. She ate too much be­cause she had too much in­sulin in her sys­tem, and be­cause sugar is ad­dic­tive she couldn’t con­trol her hunger.

From this un­der­stand­ing, it should be clear that self-blame re­gard­ing weight con­trol is an over­sim­pli­fi­ca­tion that leads to a mul­ti­tude of in­ef­fec­tive de­ci­sions. Hunger and weight gain are a phys­i­o­log­i­cal phe­nom­e­non, not a psy­cho­log­i­cal weak­ness. Un­for­tu­nately, this seems to be a so­ci­etal se­cret that we’ll deal with in the next seg­ment.

Self-blame is a re­lent­less pun­ish­ment that has no place in our so­ci­ety, con­sid­er­ing the progress that sci­ence has made

(Marc Is­rael Sellem)

NO SHAME: You may have eaten suf­ganiyot blan­keted in sugar over Hanukkah – and that’s OK.

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