No matter what your diet paradigm, most of us would agree the processed foods aren't doing anybody any good. Americans are fatter and unhealthier than ever. The biggest growing industry in America is healthcare. There's something disturbing about that. A lot of jobs are based on a lot of people being sick. It's cause and effect.
It's one thing to say obesity is hereditary or due to fast food when you're an adult, but what about children? There are obese toddlers today. Type 2 diabetes used to be called adult onset diabetes. Not anymore. There are now pre-adolescents with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes, so they have changed the name.
I went to school in the 80s and 90s. There were a handful of kids who were considered 'chubby'. There was one girl in my high school who was morbidly obese. I found out recently she had a heart attack at 35.
Kids are far, far heavier than they were back in my school days. This wasn't back in the good old days of the Greatest Generation. I'm a GenXer. This was just two decades ago.
This is not just genetics. It just doesn't happen that fast. It's not just that kids are more sedentary. I'm the "Nintendo" generation, and parents complained that we didn't get enough exercise either. Except few of us were morbidly obese. Not like today.
I've traveled around the world and one of the things I do is study the way people eat. S. Korea, Spain and France are all very different places, but have a few things in common. The populations as a whole are thinner than America. They eat a lot of starch and carbs (rice, potatoes and bread), but they don't have a problem with weight. They also eat a lot of meat and fat (cheese and real butter), and they also don't have a problem with weight. So they are neither low carb, nor are they low fat.
So why are they overall thinner? Why is obesity and morbid obesity prevalent here, and not there?
Could it be the sugar?
"Wait, wait", you say. "What about the French and their pastries? Don't they use sugar?"
Good point. French pastries, oh so buttery, flakey and lightly sweet. The so called French paradox. Butter, cheese, and wine, and yet they are seemingly walking exemplars of health, mocking the rest of us by living longer. Darn them.
I saw the French bakeries working by about 5am every morning. Their bakeries were rolling, kneading, and baking breads and pastries fresh. Every single morning, except one or two days where they were closed. Every piece of bread was freshly made that morning. Once they sold out of something, that was it for the day. The loaves of bread that weren't sold that day were tomorrow's croutons and bread slices for the onion soup.
My theory? They don't use high fructose corn syrup. They use real sugar.
In Asia, their baked goods are much less sweet overall. They rarely drink beverages like Coke. Their Coke cans were these miniature 6oz cans, and I saw people share with friends. Compare with Americans who regularly down 16oz plastic bottles, or 32oz Big Gulps.
There's a marketing campaign going around where the food industry is promoting that HFCS is sugar, and is metabolized just like sugar.
This is not true. High fructose is not metabolized like sucrose. It's not even metabolized like natural fructose. Chemistry was never one of my strongest subjects, so I'll struggle a bit to explain it, but basically it has to do with their compound chains. Sugars are made of part fructose, part glucose. In table sugar, these chains are held together with a water molecule. Fructose/glucose is broken apart with an enzyme called sucrase that separates the water molecule off. The glucose can then be used immediately. Fructose has to be broken down further in the liver.
In HFCS, the chains are not linked. Glucose and Fructose, unlike sucrose, are not chemically bound to each other. They are free floating.
HFCS and table sugar are both glucose and fructose, but differ in the link. Table sugar is 50/50 fructose/glucose. HFCS is commonly 55/45. Less HFCS is needed than table sugar to make something taste sweet.
My source is this study: www.princeton.edu/main/n
Using less seems like it should be better, but something is wrong. If less HFCS is used then table sugar, shouldn't we be thinner? Maybe HFCS raises our blood sugar faster somehow. Less is needed to make us just as fat.
Our bodies must maintain a neutral blood sugar. Our pancreas releases insulin to lower rising blood sugar. Some of this gets used, but then the body starts trying to shove excess sugars into cells in order to get rid of it. Over time, some cells stop responding to insulin cues to remove the sugar from the blood stream, and this becomes insulin resistance. Once this damage is done, it is permanent. You can control it and manage it, but you'll never have the same tolerance again. As say, when you were a teenager and you could down bottles of Coke and pizza and not gain a pound.
My working theory is Asians, French and Spanish enjoy their seemingly high loads of rice, bread, and potatoes because of limited use of HFCS. They have lower insulin resistance overall because their cells are largely undamaged due to low fructose consumption. They buy whole made ingredients. Because they are fresh, they don't have a long shelf life as they aren't loaded with preservatives.
If you think the preservatives aren't harmful, consider this. A lot of processed packaged foods are loaded with phosphates as preservatives. This is what makes convenience foods shelf stable. Lots of Americans drink skim milk. Vitamin D is fat soluable. Calcium is water soluble, but fat is calcium soluble, meaning excess calcium will attract fat molecules that do not get absorbed and flush out of the body. Skim milk is liquidized calcium and vitamin D that can't be absorbed. When a person suffers from kidney stones, what are the kidney stones primarily made of? Calcium and phosphate is the most common type.
- Additional info added about the HFCS and sucrose chains.
- Correction about calcium absorption.