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Fructose = Poison February 9, 2011

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Diet, Health, Thoughts , 6comments

Not too long ago I was made aware of a seminar on the deleterious effects of fructose.  Before I tell you about it, I’ll give you a little primer on fructose.  Fructose is contained in what we know as table sugar or sucrose.  Sucrose has two sugar units on it.  The first one is glucose.  Our body uses glucose to create energy.  We store the extra glucose as glycogen in our liver and muscles.  When we need the energy, it is released as glucose.  The other unit in sucrose is fructose.  Fructose is only metabolized in the liver and it doesn’t have the same profile as glucose when it comes to what our body does with it.  Fructose is also contained in high fructose corn syrup (roughly 55% fructose and 45% glucose). In fact, as you’ll see in the following video, fructose has many of the same effects on your body as consuming too much alcohol.

The seminar is titled Sugar, the Bitter Truth, and is by Robert H. Lustig, MD.  Dr. Lustig is at the University of California San Francisco.  The video run time is around 1.5 hours, but is worth every second you spend viewing.

I started watching this seminar about a month ago. Dr. Lustig mentions a book during the course of his presentation called Pure, White and Deadly by John Yudkin. After hearing about 30 minutes of Dr. Lustig’s presentation, I had to find the book which he had referenced and spoken so highly. After jumping through what seemed like 1,000 hoops, I was able to get my hands on the book for a short period of time. I’m currently reading it.  At the very least, this book is highly enlightening . . . at the worst, shocking.

I got back to watching this seminar Sunday night and finally finished it.  When he talks about being able to show that fructose is a poison . . . he nails it with ease.  The biochemistry from medical school came flooding back as he reviewed the pathways by which our body metabolizes glucose, then ethanol (alcohol), and finally fructose.  In essence, the consumption of high quantities of fructose, found frequently in the “Standard American Diet” (SAD), not contained in fruit can lead to metabolic syndrome, which includes nice things like obesity, type II diabetes, and high blood pressure (hypertension).

One of the most poignant comparisons within the presentation was that of the body’s metabolism of ethanol with that of fructose.  After that comparison, he compared the effects of chronic alcohol abuse with chronic ingestion of fructose.  It was mind blowing!  Here are effects of chronic exposure to ethanol and fructose.  (I’ve bolded the similarities ethanol has with fructose.)

Ethanol:  Hematologic disorders, electrolyte abnormalities, hypertension, cardiac dilatation, cardiomyopathy, dyslipidemia, pancreatitis, malnutrition, obesity, hepatic dysfunction, fetal alcohol syndrome, addiction.

Fructose: Hypertension, myocardial infarction, dyslipdemia, pancreatitis, obesity, hepatic dysfunction, fetal insulin resistance, and habituation if not addiction.

He ends the seminar with some recommendations.

  1. Drink only water & milk
  2. Eat your carbs with fiber (fruit is ok)
  3. Wait at least 20 minutes for your second portion (you might actually be full)
  4. Buy your screen time (TV & computer) minute for minute with physical activity

In the end, it really comes down to what kind of quality of life you want to have.  However, when the agencies in our government charged with the protection of our country are aware of something that can do this type of damage and do nothing about it . . . someone has certainly dropped the ball.  Once we have the information, at least we can make our own decisions even though our food supply is fraught with fructose.  So, here I am trying to let as many people know how to be healthy . . . if they choose.  As I always say . . . your health is in your hands!

The Long Winter February 1, 2011

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Diet, Health, Running, Thoughts , 2comments

It has been a bit of a long Winter . . . and with a high temperature in the next 10 days of 37°F, and a low of -4°F it’s clearly not over.  I got all gussied up to fight the cold with a new beard and some nice base layers, but it hasn’t worked out like I’d envisioned.  It turns out I’m pretty much a wimp when it comes to cold weather, but that should not come as a surprise to anyone who knows me.  Whenever I am asked where our family will settle down . . . I invariably say, “somewhere warm.”  After living in the Caribbean for more than two years, I learned to value warm weather.  I don’t mind the cold . . . for a short time.  I really enjoy being able to wear shorts and a t-shirt every day.  Although, I have made good use of my base layers by keeping warm wherever I go.

To continue increasing my mileage, I’ve been running on the treadmill.  I have a goal to get to 175 miles per week.  Last week I ran 27 miles and am attempting to increase my mileage by 10% per week.  So, if I remain injury free and can keep it consistent, I should reach my goal the week of June 13.  So far, I haven’t had any injuries and have really enjoyed running.  Oh, by the way . . . all of these miles have been/will be barefoot.  After I recovered from my five week respiratory infection (which ended in early January) I began running again.  I took most of December off.  Since I began logging my miles this year, I’ve run 85 miles barefoot on the treadmill.  My longest run to date was eight miles which I’ve done twice.

My diet also changed a bit as I came into the holiday season.  I dumped the conventional wisdom and started eating a diet more heavily concentrated in vegatables, fruits, and meat.  Saturated fats are no longer taboo.  One of the key concepts of my diet is that I only eat when I’m hungry.  An interesting thing about fat is that it triggers the satiety response and keeps us full for longer periods of time.  I end up eating fewer calories and haven’t been really hungry since I began this style of eating.  I cut my consumption of refined grains significantly and have subsequently lost 26 lbs.  I feel fantastic.  I have more energy and the aches and pains I was experiencing prior to consistent running have pretty much vanished.

I’m looking forward to Spring, but feel like I have made this a productive Winter.

You Don’t Like Fish? May 21, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Diet, Health , add a comment

I’ll let you in on a little secret . . . neither do did I.  Still, I’ve been trying to incorporate fish into my diet more frequently.

One of the key parts of the Mediterranean diet is having fish or shellfish two times a week or more.  There are essential nutrients found in fish that have many health benefits (essential fatty acids).  There really isn’t anyone in my family that can say they like fish.  In fact, more than one member of my family will tell you they are allergic to fish just to get out of eating it.  However, last Sunday afternoon, I whipped up some fish that converted everyone in the house . . . they’re all fish lovers now.  Emily thought I should share the recipe . . . so here you go.

Emily introduced me to allrecipes.com when we lived on Saba.  It’s a great site.  Here’s the recipe I used.

I found this recipe by putting in the meat I was using and then searched the site for recipes.  Once I searched, I arranged by rating and found the one with the combined highest number of reviews and rating combined.  It’s hard to go wrong!

Bon appetit!

What to Eat May 17, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Diet, Health , add a comment

When I stop to think about it, I find it amazing how much money people spend on this diet or that trying to trim off a few pounds here or there.  I do understand wanting to make eating, or rather figuring out what to eat, a little easier.  I don’t know the most recent numbers, but I’m pretty sure the money spent on “diets” is in the billions annually.  Here’s the problem I see.  If you’re not changing your lifestyle, it’s not going to last.  Think of this like exercise . . . if you don’t like it, you’re not going to do it.  What you need to do is develop a lifestyle you’re willing to live.  Eat certain foods and exercise a certain amount . . . then stick to it.

I had a conversation with my father-in-law over the holidays.  I explained to him that our bodies burn a certain amount of calories per day.  This number, often referred to as our basal metabolic rate (BMR) or basal metabolic expenditure (BME), is a function of our age, height, weight, and daily activity.  If you want to know your true BMR, you need to get hooked up to a machine that measures how much oxygen you burn.  Another way is to visit a website that has a BMR calculator and enter your information.  This will give you a good guide as to how many calories you burn in a day.  If you eat less calories than you burn, your body uses energy it has stored to make up the difference.  If you eat more calories than you burn, your body will store the excess energy.  Our bodies have an incredibly efficient way of storing energy . . . it’s called fat.

Now, what should you eat?  My recommendation comes from multiple articles I’ve read recently that talk about the benefits of a certain type of diet.  The Mediterranean diet.  It’s not a diet that has been put together by any company to make money from you, but rather a style of eating that has been shown to be very beneficial for your health.  Check out this site.  It’s a guide of how to adopt the Mediterranean diet and is from the Mayo Clinic.  So, there you have it.  Eat less calories than you burn and use the Mediterranean diet to make sure you are eating food that’s healthy for you.

By the way, since my conversation with my father-in-law, he’s lost 25 lbs.  It’s totally inspiring!