Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sugar = Poison?

Photo by Ryan Gledhill

My stay in Kenya has caused me to pause and think more deeply on my culture. I love my culture, but I am beginning to conclude that my continual exposure to it has made me blind to certain aspects of it that may not be serving me. For example, as silly as it sounds, I've noticed that most of the village people here in Kenya have amazing teeth. Yet, the villagers don't brush their teeth. Genetics? Maybe. But I can't help but think about the fact that they don't eat any sugar here. The same day I was pondering on my little observation, I came across this article by Dr. Robert Ludwig, claiming that refined sugar is a poison just as toxic as alcohol and cigarettes are to the body. Do you think that's true? I think I might. The fact that I can hardly stand the thought of giving it up makes me also wonder if it's an addictive substance as well. Does this thought make you uncomfortable after you've just indulged in Jelly Bellies and Peeps? Sorry! I'm only thinking out loud. Hope you had a wonderful Easter! I spent mine in the Masai Mara on Safari. More on this soon. Internet access has been very limited. Isn't it wonderful?


  1. i couldn't agree more about sugar being poison and addictive! love your blog, mindy!

  2. It stinks when you're reading this as you're eating Reeses.... ;)
    Love the blog! :)

  3. Thanks for posting that article! I absolutely agree that sugar is an addictive drug. I can tell a huge difference when I've had too much and when I've cut back. I've found that too much sugar gives me anxiety as well as extra weight gain, (boo!)so I try really hard to limit how much sugar I have. A lot of people I know have cut sugar out of their diet altogether. As hard as it was in the beginning, they are happier and feel so much better now. Soda (something they were addicted to before)is now too sweet and is no longer desirable. Love that! Makes me want to try it. Also avoiding white flour as much as possible.

    Dr. Oz was on Oprah a while back and said that white bread is like a candybar for your stomach! He talked a lot about the effects sugar has on the body. White flour, pasta, rice, bread, and sugar contribute to America's Silent Killer - Diabetes.

    See full article here:

    I also thought this video was fascinating! It really changed the way I think about sugar after watching it!

    Anyway, sorry for my lengthy epistle! Love reading your blog! Looks like you are having a fabulous experience in Afria! So happy for you!!
    The people and culture seem wonderful!

    Happy Easter! :)

  4. This is a topic that I have thought a lot about. For myself, sugar is one of the great loves of my life. But I try to practice moderation for myself and my family. It's easy for that love to get out of control, but I really just try to keep everything balanced.

    There is so much information out of there about proper diet. If I listened to everyone who said to cut out every "bad" food, then I would pretty much be living on fruits and veggies alone. Would I be healthy? Yes. Would I personally be happy? Pretty sure I wouldn't be.

    I grew up when white bread was the mainstay, but we didn't have a McDonalds in our town (Or any fast food for that matter) and my mom's version of dessert was cottage cheese and peaches. We still had treats occasionally, but never every day.

    I guess I just feel that quite a few things could be poison to our bodies if the bulk of our diet consists of them. So balancing everything seems key.

    And maybe I'm just too in love with treats to admit I should ever give them up! ha ha

  5. I agree with you Amy! Balance is key! :)

  6. Hmm...interestting that they have such good teeth without brushing. Two years ago my dad spent two weeks in Mali doing dentistry. Those he worked with did not have good teeth and so he spent most of his time pulling teeth out. I wonder how their diet compares with those in Kenya.

  7. I HATE Peeps with a passion! They gross me out. My Freshman year my roommate's and my visiting teachers gave us some for Easter and instead of eating them we kept them uncovered for a week so they were hard as rocks and then chucked them out the window of our 5th floor Deseret Tower room at innocent passerbys. (oops.) But that being said...I do tend to indulge in a cheesecake...i can't help it. But now that I know it's poisen..I should re-think how often I indulge. :) Have SO much fun!

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  9. I think sugar is a problem, but not necessarily a poison. It certainly needs to be a rare treat, but I don't know if it's necessary to eliminate it from our diets completely. Stevia, raw honey, raw agave, and other natural sweeteners are great replacements.

    The doctor you are referring to is actually named Dr. Lustig. The article you linked refers to him as both Ludwig and Lustig, oddly enough. There was an interesting (and lengthy) article that ran in New York Times magazine recently that expands on Lustig's philosophies. Check it out here:

    Also, have you heard of Dr. Weston Price? He was a dentist who studied indigenous peoples and he came to the same conclusion you did about their teeth. He came to the conclusion that the Western diet contributes to poor dental health and other ailments. He's written some interesting books, including Nutritional and Physical Degeneration.

  10. Mindy, when you first wrote this post I couldn't reply...but others have mentioned the lengthy NY Times article that I was going to tell you about already.

    Here is a great 90 minute program by him on Youtube...I highly recommend it (just watched it myself).

    Three weeks ago today (before I read that article or watched anything) I decided that if there was such thing as sugar addiction, then I must certainly have it. So I googled the topic, and what do you know, it IS an addiction!

    I decided to go off all sugars, cold turkey, that night. I started reading labels, cooking everything from scratch myself. I didn't use any artificial sweeteners or substitutes, or have any white starch (bread, rice, pasta, tortillas, etc) or fried foods. I've been eating a lot of eggs, natural peanut butter and (unsweetened) nuts, dried (unsweetened) fruits (apricots, blueberries, mangoes, raisins), whole rolled oats, whole grains, vegetables and about one piece of fruit a day.

    I didn't have any real plan, objective or goal. I just thought "I need to detox" and I know my body is used to limitless amounts of sugar, so it had to be a drastic move.

    I love sugar with every fiber of my being ;-) I don't think I've ever experienced *not* wanting more--unless I'm actually stuffed. I particularly love frozen treats and baked goods. So it has been frustrating and really hard. But I remind myself of the only other time in my life when I did something like this.

    The moment I found out I was expecting my first child, I went off sugar for my WHOLE PREGNANCY. This was an epic accomplishment, because I was going to be the perfect mother, from conception till the moment I died of natural causes at 100 years old. (I'm being case it doesn't translate).

    But seriously, I thought "I'm growing a baby, and it needs as much help as possible to be strong and healthy" so I did it for my child.

    It was amazing how strong I was. I didn't have any treats my whole pregnancy. Nothing "sweet" (including beverages). I'm sure there was sugar in the sauces I consumed and whatnot, but for the most part it was a major sugar-free period.

    Thinking back to that time, I've thought to myself "I did it for my child, am I not as important as she is?" And that has been giving me strength during the past 3 weeks.

    I have had 2 free days during this time. But the thing I noticed was that I didn't want as much of the dessert as I would have eaten in the past. A very small amount of it sated my need for sweets. That surprised me greatly. I used to be like "the whole carton of ice cream would be awesome" (only I didn't, because of shame.) But a very little treat was all it took and I felt like I didn't need any more.

    Anyway, I commend your thoughts on the matter. I don't know how long my sugar-free fest is going to last this time. I'm amazed I've made it this far. I haven't lost my craving for it yet...I think I'm hoping that will happen. There were some withdrawal symptoms initially. And I was feeling pretty sad about not having treats. I googled "is there happiness without sugar" one night and found a huge forum of people off sugar and they'd written their experience (side effects etc) of being sugar-free. I pretend I'm allergic or that I'm diabetic when I'm really tempted. Whatever it takes to be healthier and avoid the diseases that are associated with such a high sugar intake.

    Sorry for the tome. Just wanted to share my thoughts and experience right now, as it's so current and omnipresent in my mind.

    I am so glad I discovered you! You I do adore. ♥

  11. I've been off sugar now for two weeks. And I totally went through "withdrawals." And while my no-sugar kick isn't permanent, I do plan on using natural sweeteners in the future, like Stevia, Agave Nectar, and honey.

    Congrats on your pregnancy! I saw a photo that made me wonder a while back. So happy to hear the news! :)

  12. I think there is definitely something to what you are saying Mindy! I was having tummy troubles and cut out sugar for several weeks and voila - my tummy and the rest of me felt so good! I think it can be really hard to cut it out completely, but if we are aware of the problems it may cause and just have a "treat" on special occasions, most of us would be much better off! Thanks for your great blog! I really enjoy it - and LOVE your music!

  13. I read that article too, and I think I'm with you on wondering if refined sugar is actually an addictive substance. It makes me sweat a bit to think about cutting it out entirely. ;)

    Congrats on your baby news!

  14. You should read about Weston Price. He actually studied different cultures and the Masai were one of them. He found that tribes that ate no processed foods had pretty much perfect teeth with good bone structure. I think it's so neat you noticed that even today.