For the better part of recent history, Americans have been led to believe that consuming fat makes one fat and prone to heart disease. When middle-aged men started to drop dead of heart disease in the 1970s, everyone assumed they were safe when fat was pointed to as the culprit. Why then is obesity, diabetes, and disease on the rise? This false paradigm of “fat is bad” has completely changed the trajectory of the nation’s health. Food giants responded to this fat-phobia and started lining grocery store shelves with everything fat-free one could imagine. As the race to ban all fat from foods began, companies were looking for a replacement in the food to make it still taste good. And that replacement was refined sugar, a seemingly harmless ingredient.
Americans started to overload their bodies with sugar by eating fat-free foods, but never before in history have we had to lower our blood sugar. What was not realized at that time is that sugar, especially refined, wreaks havoc in the body. Sugar consumption has increased 14% from 1980 to 2004 and people now consume an average of 140 pounds a year of sugar. Problem is, this is not a natural food and the body is not built to handle such excessive amounts of it. The body must do something with all this excess sugar, this leads to fat storage and toxic liver. But high blood sugar also causes daily disturbances such as dizziness, fatigue, mood swings, hair loss, infertility, and much more.
Most alarming is that increased sugar consumption has lead to the rise of diabetes and obesity. Insulin, which is the hormone that allows the body to use sugar, becomes overburdened by high levels of sugar the blood. This leads to insulin resistance, in which the body becomes unresponsive to insulin and can no longer keep blood sugar at a normal level. Insulin resistance eventually leads to Type II diabetes, a condition in which the body no longer uses insulin, and blood sugar is at unhealthy levels. Sugar, which was previously used by the body for energy, is now forced into a process called “lipogenesis” which means to create fat. Excess sugar is causing our bodies to hang onto fat. Diabetes not only leads to obesity but other side effects such as blurred vision, fatigue and in serious cases, amputations.
America has reached a point where the nation is the sickest it has ever been. The prevalence of sugar is alarming, and is now hidden in the majority of foods. Sugar is an addictive food, and companies use more and more to keep their products selling. These highly palatable foods leads to sugar addiction, and trying to wean off of it is not unlike that of a powerful drug. The only way to reverse the dependence is eating way more dietary fat so the body can start using it as fuel, not refined sugar. We must train our tastebuds to not depend on sugar and learn to appreciate the satiation that comes from a nutrient-dense meal. Not only will a return to an ancestral diet protect people from the onslaught of refined sugar, but will also protect those from obesity and disease.