Let it be known – I don’t know shit about health. Most of what I’m about to tell you is anecdotal. A story mostly, but also, a warning.
Picture me as the old man in every horror movie. You and your friends are on your way to your cabin in the woods, and I’m the grizzled local you meet at a gas station. I’m sitting in a rocking chair wearing a fishing hat for some reason. And leaning forward, it’s clear I’ve been waiting my whole life to tell you kids about the things I’ve seen.
I warn you about the strange happenings “in these here parts” (parts being body parts, like our midsections and asses). How these happenings have cost people their lives. And most ominously of all, how sugar is the killer who’s been hiding beneath the mask all along.
I got vaguely interested in health when mine got bad. I was moving into my mid-20’s, my metabolism was slowing down, and my old habits weren’t cutting it anymore. Strangely, my body was no longer thriving off my daily diet of spicy chicken quesadillas and the two gallons of Mountain Dew I funneled directly into my gullet from a Wahoo’s soda machine.
I started to look like a fat asshole. Which was surprising, because up until then, I had always been a skinny one. I was going through changes.
All my life, I had been able to eat anything I wanted without consequence, but now, my pear-shaped body begged to differ. Granted, I wasn’t playing hoops as much as I used to, but it was more than just the weight, it was my blood pressure too. And my skin. I started to get a type of acne called cystic acne, a really painful kind that forms underneath your face and can scar it permanently if you’re not careful.
Basically, I was a hot mess. And when I say hot, I mean I had a nice personality.
I tried to self correct. I started exercising more. I went to a dermatologist who prescribed me all sorts of treatments that were supposed to clear up my face. For 15 months I tried different medications and exercise regimens, but nothing worked. Everyday, I got more frustrated with my inability to solve these problems. The struggle was real.
Which was unfortunate, because the answer was right underneath my nose the whole time. Literally. Fixing everything was as simple as changing what I put in my mouth.
I decided to quit eating sugar and dairy. Not because my doctors warned me about these specific foods—no, they never even mentioned them—but because I read a blog post by some random person who said they had similar problems and the diet worked for them.
It worked for me too. And then some.
In one month, I dropped almost 20 pounds and my skin cleared up permanently. No medication, no additional exercise. Nothing.
I was instantly converted; and like any true believer, I immediately tried to convert others. Over the next few years, I was able to convince a handful of people to follow in my footsteps, and that’s where this discovery gets even better. Every one of them experienced the same kind of improvements. They shed weight without effort and their skin got all shiny and smooth.
It was like a secret only we knew.
Which sucks, because it seems obvious.
It seems like understanding sugar is the worst should be common knowledge. But then you start to poke around, and it’s no wonder a lot of us haven’t heard the bad news put so bluntly. If people found out the thing that’s been making them sick is in everything they eat, they would probably be pissed.
America’s been struggling with health issues for years now – and just like the old, fat version of me – the answer’s been underneath our noses the entire time.
This is a chart for sugar consumption in the United States:
And this a chart for heart disease rates in the United States over the same time:
And here’s a chart for the number of Americans diagnosed with diabetes:
And another one about healthcare costs per patient:
And one more for processed food consumption (which almost always contain sugar):
See a pattern?
I’ll concede that it might be a coincidence. That it’s just correlation, not causation.
But it’s probably not.
And you should consider one thing before you dismiss what I’m saying as the ramblings of an uninformed dumb-dumb, or a guy peddling a quick fix: the food industry has a lot to gain from us eating sugar. And a lot to lose if we stop. (And yes, as usual, I’m talking about money.)
As far as food companies are concerned, sugar is the perfect ingredient. Its empty calories leave people hungry and its addictive, habit-forming properties basically let them sprinkle their products with drugs. Sugar keeps us wanting more, eating more, and most importantly, spending more.
And it’s worked.
Everyday, Americans eat breakfast foods that are basically desserts. They have soda with lunch and dinner. They have an actual dessert after dinner, and then, a midnight snack. And they do it all without ever seeing sugar as the common thread between all of those behaviors.
A lot of us never realized that behavior is what the food companies wanted to manipulate.
Since the 1980’s, food companies have spent billions of dollars engineering their food toward something called the ”bliss point”; a perfect pinnacle of deliciousness that keeps customers craving more. Sugar was (and is) a big part of achieving this “bliss point”. And because of that, it’s basically in everything we eat now.
If you don’t believe me, you should go to the grocery store and look at how many food items have sugar listed as an ingredient (or corn syrup, or dextrose). Finding it in foods that aren’t even supposed to be sweet will unplug you from the sugar matrix.
Potato chips? Sugar.
Beef jerky? Sugar.
I would tell you to take the red pill but it’s probably full of sugar.
No matter; if you look in the right places the truth is out there. And a lot of people are looking. It’s becoming so apparent that even people in the food industry are starting to take responsibility for America’s obesity epidemic. Many of them openly admit that in their quest to make everything as delicious as possible, they basically turned everything we eat into crack-cocaine.
We’ll have to wait and see if this newfound wokeness leads to actual change. Or if it’s too little too late for some. Sugar is still 15% of the average American’s diet. The average American still consumes more than double the recommended amount of sugar per day. The average American is still shaped like Violet Beauregarde in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
(Oh, and on the day you wake up and decide you want to fight your balloon animal shape, guess what? You’ll discover the food industry owns a lot of the weight loss companies too. And they’ve made sure every product is packed with their favorite ingredient.)
The more you look at it, the more sugar seems like the new smoking. A drug that is marketed to kids, kills them as adults, and that large companies have gotten away with peddling for long enough. When you look at in such cut and dry terms, it’s no wonder sugar’s detrimental effects aren’t more commonly known. And it’s not a stretch to say that America now has a health crisis on its hands simply because we refused to state the obvious.
So let’s say it now, just so we’re all on the same page:
Sugar is poison.
Plain and simple.
Your doctor might not be willing to say something so drastic, but when it comes to the human body, there are so many variables from person to person, it’s hard to definitively prove something as simple as “sugar is the worst”. It doesn’t mean it’s not true. And until doctors have the science they need to say so, we should all keep reminding each other.
Sugar is poison.
Plain and simple.
I’m willing to guarantee getting rid of it will make your life better. To promise that it’s the best, fastest way to improve your health. And that there’s a good chance it solves all that ails you.
America might not want to give up on its favorite ingredient cold turkey, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be happier when we do.
Take it from me, a dusty old nut in a fishing hat.
I know it’s just me telling you, but I’m telling you.