Archives for posts with tag: sugar

Healthy kids in control!

Watch “Diary of a Diabetic Kid” about young Gabriel Van Wesemael who was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and then had to hop onto the glucose high-and-low bus.
He finally got helpful advice from his GP and switched to a low-carbohydrate diet. (Shout-out to Dr Neville Wellington.)

Since then he has been able to reduce his insulin injections and lives with much more stable blood glucose levels. Awesomeness!

He has recently launched a YouTube channel, Gabriel’s Diabetic Kitchen, with Type 1-friendly recipes as well as a Facebook page. Go have a look and spread the word!

A Canadian senate committee has just released a new report, along with some very nice summaries for public consumption, on obesity in Canada and what to do about it.

Why is this report a little less depressing than other governmental reports from around the world? It is pushing research, and therefore funding, into areas that are difficult to fund without government support.
And the people involved have the guts to call their current guidelines dated, which, to me, is a euphemism for just a little bit incorrect:
Canada’s dated food guide is no longer effective in providing nutritional guidance to Canadians. Fruit juice, for instance, is presented as a healthy item when it is little more than a soft drink without the bubbles.


I wanted to list a bunch of the recommendations, but I’ll stick to two…
Get a strong group of scientists to ask challenging research questions across disciplines, not just nutritionists:

Recommendation 7

The committee further recommends that the Minister of Health revise the food guide on the guidance of an advisory body which:

  • Comprises experts in relevant areas of study, including but not limited to nutrition, medicine, metabolism, biochemistry, and biology; 
The second-to-last recommendation sums it up nicely. I quite like that this paragraph does not keep hammering on about poor diet and obesity, but rather poor diet and chronic disease. This is where society’s money and people’s quality of life goes down the drain, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Recommendation 20

The committee therefore recommends that Health Canada design and implement a public awareness campaign on healthy eating based on tested, simple messaging. These messages should relate to, but not be limited to:

  • Most of the healthiest food doesn’t require a label;
  • Meal preparation and enjoyment;
  • Reduced consumption of processed foods; and,
  • The link between poor diet and chronic disease.


Report links

The report summary is very user-friendly and includes:


Of course, you can also read the whole report (pdf warning, 56 pages) if brevity is not your thing.

The Sugar Coated documentary is finally available!

You can rent or stream/download it on vimeo:

I just finished watching it and it’s more than worth the money.

It still makes me so angry that what we now consider common sense was so heavily formed by the marketing ploys of an industry transforming the world a generation ago. The terms “balanced” and “moderation” in particular are in serious need of re-defining.

Investigative science journalist and author Gary Taubes gives a lecture at Cornell on November 10th 2014.

There are numerous versions of this lecture on YouTube, but this one is the most recent and complete version I found.

The lecture might be too in depth for some watchers, but he really covers a lot of the issues out there concerning the Standard American Diet and the generally accepted obesity-energy paradigm (model).

Before you watch, you can ask yourself why you think people get fat. Take a few minutes to think about it, maybe even write down the logical steps a regular person should follow to make themselves put on weight.

The first episode of the series: The Men Who Made Us Fat by the BBC.

It’s in the typical sensationalist documentary style that the BBC seems to keep producing, but it gives the watcher the factual context of the sugar and greater food industry over the last four decades, and how saturated fats became to be demonised.

I stopped biology classes at 16 when I chose to do history instead. This probably helped me in accepting the latest developments in the carbohydrate controversy, as my mind was already an embarrassingly blank slate. Hence, let me start with some basics that I learned this past week. (If there are mistakes or semi-truths, please please please leave a comment!)

First things first, we eat because our body needs fuel to function. But since we are an oddly-shaped collection of cells, we really eat because our cells need fuel.

ATP is the lifeblood, so to speak, of every single cell in your body.

ATP is the lifeblood, so to speak, of every single cell in your body.

Our cells can create a molecule called ATP to use as fuel for survival and any other functions it needs to perform. Without the ability to generate ATP, a cell would wither and die. To create this molecule, cells need glucose. I never knew that we were so dependent on glucose!  (Brrp, wrong: ATP can be formed from ketones. Will be discussed in a follow-up post.)

Now, glucose comes with its own story. It is either ingested in the form of the sugars and carbohydrates in our food, or synthesised by our liver and kidneys through a process called gluconeogenesis. This process is present in everything living from mammals to fungi to bacteria.

Our bodies, if healthy, will always synthesise glucose in this manner when we do not get it via food.  (Have a look at the comment section, please. This statement was totally inaccurate, as at some point we do need food for gluconeogenesis to occur, but the question is which kinds of food are vital for this process to occur.)


Glucose is a crucial ingredient for our cells to produce its own fuel, ATP.

Too little of it in the bloodstream and we get hypoglycemia,  which in everyday terms is the ‘low blood sugar‘ people refer to. Too much and we get the opposite, hyperglycemia. This delicate balance is regulated by that substance we associate with diabetes: insulin.

Insulin is therefore just as vital to our bodies as glucose.

Insulin regulates glucose by telling the body to take it out of the blood stream and store in certain cells as glycogenGlycogen is a fuel source for our bodies, but it is a secondary source after fats stored in our fat cells, or adipose tissue.

Insulin is the regulator of blood sugar levels. Like a tax collector coming to balance your square your account with government , it comes along when there is too much glucose in the blood and tells the body to get rid of it.

Insulin is the regulator of blood sugar levels. Like a tax collector coming to balance your account with the government, insulin comes along when there is too much glucose in the blood and tells the body to give it to cells (glycogen).

The other command that insulin gives is to the fat cells to store any fats present in the blood highways as fatty acids and to inhibit the movement of the fatty acids within these cells.

We therefore see that both glucose and insulin are absolutely essential for us to carry on walking and talking, but also, and very importantly, that our bodies are fully capable of generating glucose by themselves. It is when we take in external sources of glucose that we call up insulin to the battle front to keep the amount of glucose in the blood in check.

People who suffer from diabetes have a problem with either very low insulin levels, or in the body’s refusal to take orders from it (resistance to insulin). Their bodies are therefore terrible at getting glucose out of the blood stream and stored in cells as glycogen, and they end up with chronic hyperglycemia.

This is the story that glucose and insulin dances out in our bodies all day long, without most of us giving it a passing thought. It seems a deceptively simple dance, but has complexities that we still haven’t mastered as outsiders looking in.

“Sorry seems to be the hardest word”
Dr Malcolm Kendrick on the 2015 report on US dietary guidelines.

Dr Kendrick sums up some of the key amendments in the report:
“In short. Cholesterol is healthy, saturated fat is healthy, salt is healthy and sugar is unhealthy. I have pulled those four points out of a press release by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which I reproduce in full, below.”

It is a good day. Time for some coffee with a splash of cream.

Dr. Malcolm Kendrick

I think that the four words ‘I told you so’ should only be thought, and never written down. No-one likes a smart arse. But sometimes it is impossible to resist….just impossible. In this case I have failed. ‘Father forgive me, for I am weak.’ So, here goes…’I told you so.’

Some of you may be aware that the US dietary guidelines are going to be changed. For some reason it is required that the full report is suppressed for about a year. Presumably so that everyone can pile high their defences when the attacks begin. ‘I think you will find that I have always, ahem, supported these ideas.’ Cough, shuffle of papers….cough. ‘Sorry, no time to take questions.’ Exit left.

The entire report, I believe, stretches to about a bazillion pages. However, here are four of the highlights.

  • Cholesterol is to be dropped from the…

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