Category Archives: General Info

Chris Kresser on Sugar and Soy


Sugar: the sweetest way to wreck your health

About 20 years ago, Nancy Appleton, PhD, began researching all of the ways in which sugar destroys our health. Over the years the list has continuously expanded, and now includes 141 points. Here’s just a small sampling (the entire list can be found on her blog).
■Sugar feeds cancer cells and has been connected with the development of cancer of the breast, ovaries, prostate, rectum, pancreas, lung, gallbladder and stomach.
■Sugar can increase fasting levels of glucose and can cause reactive hypoglycemia.
■Sugar can cause many problems with the gastrointestinal tract, including an acidic digestive tract, indigestion, malabsorption in patients with functional bowel disease, increased risk of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
■Sugar can interfere with your absorption of protein.
■Sugar can cause food allergies.
■Sugar contributes to obesity.

But not all sugar is created alike. White table sugar (sucrose) is composed of two sugars: glucose and fructose. Glucose is an important nutrient in our bodies and is healthy, as long as it’s consumed in moderation. Fructose is a different story.

Fructose is found primarily in fruits and vegetables, and sweeteners like sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). A recent USDA report found that the average American eats 152 pounds of sugar each year, including almost 64 pounds of HFCS.

Unlike glucose, which is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and taken up by the cells, fructose is shunted directly to the liver where it is converted to fat. Excess fructose consumption causes a condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is directly linked to both diabetes and obesity.

A 2009 study showed that shifting 25% of dietary calories from glucose to fructose caused a 4-fold increase in abdominal fat. Abdominal fat is an independent predictor of insulin sensitivity, impaired glucose tolerance, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides and several other metabolic diseases.

In a widely popular talk on YouTube, Dr. Robert H. Lustig explains that fructose has all of the qualities of a poison. It causes damage, provides no benefit and is sent directly to the liver to be detoxified so that it doesn’t harm the body.

For more on the toxic effects of fructose, see The Perfect Health Diet and Robert Lustig’s YouTube talk: Sugar, The Bitter Truth.

Soy: another toxin promoted as a health food

Like cereal grains, soy is another toxin often promoted as a health food. It’s now ubiquitous in the modern diet, present in just about every packaged and processed food in the form of soy protein isolate, soy flour, soy lecithin and soybean oil.

For this reason, most people are unaware of how much soy they consume. You don’t have to be a tofu-loving hippie to eat a lot of soy. In fact, the average American – who is most definitely not a tofu-loving hippie – gets up to 9% of total calories from soybean oil alone.

Whenever I mention the dangers of soy in my public talks, someone always protests that soy can’t be unhealthy because it’s been consumed safely in Asia for thousands of years. There are several reasons why this isn’t a valid argument.

First, the soy products consumed traditionally in Asia were typically fermented and unprocessed – including tempeh, miso, natto and tamari. This is important because the fermentation process partially neutralizes the toxins in soybeans.

Second, Asians consumed soy foods as a condiment, not as a replacement for animal foods. The average consumption of soy foods in China is 10 grams (about 2 teaspoons) per day and is 30 to 60 grams in Japan. These are not large amounts of soy.

Contrast this with the U.S. and other western countries, where almost all of the soy consumed is highly processed and unfermented, and eaten in much larger amounts than in Asia.

How does soy impact our health? The following is just a partial list:
■Soy contains trypsin inhibitors that inhibit protein digestion and affect pancreatic function;
■Soy contains phytic acid, which reduces absorption of minerals like calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc;
■Soy increases our requirement for vitamin D, which 50% of American are already deficient in;
■Soy phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function and have the potential to cause infertility and to promote breast cancer in adult women.
■Vitamin B12 analogs in soy are not absorbed and actually increase the body’s requirement for B12;
■Processing of soy protein results in the formation of toxic lysinoalanine and highly carcinogenic nitrosamines;
■Free glutamic acid or MSG, a potent neurotoxin, is formed during soy food processing and additional amounts are added to many soy foods to mask soy’s unpleasant taste; and,
■Soy can stimulate the growth of estrogen-dependent tumors and cause thyroid problems, especially in women.

Perhaps most alarmingly, a study at the Harvard Public School of Health in 2008 found that men who consumed the equivalent of one cup of soy milk per day had a 50% lower sperm count than men who didn’t eat soy.

In 1992, the Swiss Health Service estimated that women consuming the equivalent of two cups of soy milk per day provides the estrogenic equivalent of one birth control pill. That means women eating cereal with soy milk and drinking a soy latte each day are effectively getting the same estrogen effect as if they were taking a birth control pill.

This effect is even more dramatic in infants fed soy formula. Babies fed soy-based formula have 13,000 to 22,000 times more estrogen compounds in their blood than babies fed milk-based formula. Infants exclusively fed soy formula receive the estrogenic equivalent (based on body weight) of at least five birth control pills per day.


How to Eat


Info taken from Mark Sisson’s Marks Daily Apple Primal Blueprint:

Fat is the perfect fuel for us. It’s efficient. It burns clean. And it’s the type of fuel our bodies like to burn. Otherwise, why else would we store it on our bodies for lean times?

That’s what people miss about body fat. It’s not just “there” because we messed up and our body has nowhere to put it. Body fat, or adipose tissue, is stored energy. Sure, the obese have way too much body fat, but the fact is that our bodies evolved the ability to put fat into fat cells because it is effective fuel. The problem is that many of us are broken. Sedentary living, modern food toxins, too much stress, not enough sleep, and a distinct lack of play for play’s sake (more on this later, if you’re confused about why I’d rank “play” with all the other stuff) have fundamentally changed the way we process fuel. Many of us can’t even access the stored fat, instead running on sugar (and poorly at that). All that stored energy – body fat – is going to waste. So, if you’re overweight or obese, chances are you’re broken. And – at least for the time being until you’re healed – excess carbohydrates are making the problem worse. But you can be fixed. You don’t need doctors or medication or expensive treatments. You just need to start accessing your body fat and burning fat for fuel. By converting to an animal fat-based metabolism, you are returning to the ancestral human fuel source. And the best way to switch to fat burning is to start eating more animals and whatever fat comes with them. Animal fat, especially from ruminants like beef, lamb, and bison, comes with roughly equal proportions of saturated and monounsaturated fats, with a little bit of omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fats. Interestingly, your own animal fat – the fat deposited on your body and the fat that your body is designed to burn for energy in lean times – comes with very similar ratios. It’s almost as if animal fat is good for us!

With animals, you get healthy animal fat. You get protein, important for building muscles and keeping you full. You get all the micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals that the animal ate, in a form that your body can absorb. It’s the perfect package of nutrition for a fat burner.

Now, I don’t hate carbohydrate. They can be useful and even beneficial in certain cases. Eat carbs when you need fuel for endurance activities. Don’t eat carbs just because; eat them because you need the energy. Because you’re actually active and they won’t go to waste.

Ditch grains: refined grains, whole grains, bread, pasta, muffins, biscuits, bagels, cereal, baked goods, pancakes. Anything made from flour, really.

Ditch sugar: white sugar, candy, cake, cookies, pastries, milk chocolate bars, high fructose corn syrup, soda, milkshakes masquerading as coffee drinks. If it’s made in a bakery or a factory or a restaurant and it’s sweet, just avoid it.

Ditch vegetable oils and trans fats: corn oil, soybean oil, canola, sunflower/safflower, margarine, shortening, anything with “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredients list.

Ditch all other junk foods, most of which encompass the previous three “food” categories: potato chips, crackers, “crisps,” Cheez-its.

Ditch fast food: Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Burger King, etc. don’t eat McDonald’s and think just because you removed the bun that it’s all good. Just say no to fast food.  Don’t eat that stuff. For one, it’s junk food that simply doesn’t taste very good when you get down to it. Instead, it’s food that’s designed to target the reward centers in your brain and get you to stuff your face – and then go out and buy some more. “Betcha can’t eat just one” isn’t just an innocent slogan; it’s the literal truth! Two, it’s high in calories but low in nutrition. You can eat that bag of Lay’s and get hundreds of calories of carbs and rancid fats, but you’ll still be deficient in vitamins and minerals, and you’ll still be hungry! I’ll be honest – you could stop here and reap most of the benefits. Because the aforementioned “food” groups are so heavily overrepresented in the modern food supply, avoiding them and just eating everything left over will make you healthier and help you lose weight. But we can do better than that. Eat the animals, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds our bodies are adapted to thrive on 

Eat animals: beef, lamb, bison, pork, poultry (and their eggs). Favor grass-fed and pastured animals, which have better fatty acids and contain more vitamins and minerals (and taste better!).

Eat animals from the sea: salmon, sardines, trout, mackerel, crab, shrimp, oysters, mussels, clams. Wild-caught fish are best, though farmed shellfish are usually raised exactly like wild shellfish and thus are fine.

Eat unlimited produce: leafy greens of all kinds, colorful plants, berries, cruciferous vegetables, assorted fruits, roots, and tubers.

Eat some nuts and seeds: macadamias, walnuts, cashews, almonds, pecans, brazil nuts, pistachios, hazelnuts; pumpkin, squash, and sunflower seeds.

Use healthy cooking fats: butter (especially grass-fed), coconut oil, olive oil, red palm and regular palm oil, ghee, and animal fats (lard, tallow, duck fat, etc.).

Stock spices: keep plenty of herbs and spices on hand. Cumin, coriander, thyme, rosemary, sage, chili powder, mint, turmeric, and cayenne are a few of my favorites, but you can use anything else you like. Spices and herbs add flavor to dishes and prevent the breakdown of vital nutrients during cooking so that when you add spices or herbs, your food tastes better and is actually healthier for you.

Why Paleo?


Info taken from Mark Sisson’s Marks Daily Apple Primal Blueprint:

Grains, beans, and legumes were not readily available until we developed agriculture
roughly 10,000 years ago. 

High-fructose corn syrup and vegetable oils were only made available in the last 100 years, with HFCS coming just 30 odd years ago. Today, people are fatter, more diabetic, and get more cancer and heart disease than people living 100 years ago, even if you account for differences in lifespan. Most, if not all of those illnesses are directly attributed to our poor modern lifestyles and diets. 

Grains have an array of chemical defenses, including various lectins, gluten,
and phytic acid, that disrupt your digestion, cause inflammation, and prevent
you from absorbing vital nutrients and minerals. All grains contain some or all
of these anti-nutrients, to varying degrees, so when our ancestors began making
regular meals of them, their health suffered accordingly.

Starting in the early 80s, things changed. Obesity rates began a steady, constant climb until today, where almost 30% of the adult population is obese and 70% is overweight and/or obese. 1 in 3 American adults is obese. More than 2 in 3 are overweight. Does this seem right? What the heck changed?  The low-fat diet craze kicked off. People were told that fat and cholesterol were killing them (based on terrible science, which I’ll get into in a future lesson) and making them fat. So, to avoid all that fat, they started eating more grains, carbs, and other processed low-fat foods.The other thing about grains (and carbs in general) is that they raise your body’s insulin levels. Insulin is required to shuttle nutrients, like carbs and protein, into various cells of the body. You eat carbs and insulin deals with them. But if you eat too many carbs – like, say, a person who was just told never to eat fat and to eat all the low-fat, high-sugar processed grain products they wanted might do – without exercising at an insane level, your body pumps too much insulin and you get insulin resistant.

When you’re insulin resistant, any amount of carbohydrate will not be tolerated. It will turn to body fat, and the more body fat you have, the more insulin resistant you get. The more insulin resistant you are, the less nutrients are being shuttled into your cells, meaning you stay hungry even though you’re eating, so you eat even more carbs that you can’t tolerate. It’s a vicious cycle, you see, and it’s led to the mess we’re in. To make things even worse, many of the carbs we’re now eating come in the form of sugar, or its cheaper, more widespread alternative, high-fructose corn syrup. Both forms of sugar are high in fructose, which the liver turns into liver glycogen, a type of carb-based energy, until its glycogen stores are full. Those glycogen stores fill up fast, and since most people aren’t using any glycogen (kinda hard to do that when you have to work an office job and sit in traffic all day), that fructose turns to liver fat.


How do we supplement?


As a general rule, you get most of your nutrients from your food if you follow the paleo diet. But, we do use some supplements. On a daily basis I take:

A probiotic – to keep my gut healthy and ward off any illness. Again, if following a strict paleo diet, this isn’t necessary. Russ eats sauerkraut and therefore doesn’t need this. I open up a capsule and sprinkle it into the girl’s first cup of almond milk. I like Jarrow but needs to be refrigerated.

Omega fish oil capsule. I may switch to fermented cod liver oil. Will update soon.

Monolaurin – used as an anti-viral. The girls and I take this daily to prevent illness.

Vitamin D – not needed if you are outside a lot during the summer. But we use Carlson’s liquid Vitamin D drops 4000iu. And the girls get a drop in their milk daily as well.

Magnesium (we use CALM) – used to help sleep and keep bowels regular. Very common deficiency.

When sick, we give the girls Sambucus, a mix of echinacea and elderberry.