Pros: This book is, hands down, the most important one you may ever read.
Cons: You might just have to treat your body better after reading it.
Its 2:30 PM and your stomach is still churning over that Big Mac you ate for lunch. Of course, youre so used to post-McDs syndrome, you hardly noticebesides, you take an antacid chaser after nearly every meal. At least its not as bad as you felt after that pizza last night. Whoo! Talk about acid reflux!
Yes, thats right. Listen up, cause Im about to tell you the single thing that will solve this problem, and it isnt a drug.
Never mix anything sugary or made with white flour or other whites (soda, pizza crust, bread, french fries) with meat. No pasta with meatballs. No buns with your burgers. Unless, of course, they are 100% whole grain.
That wasnt what you wanted to hear, was it? So simple, yet so hard. How the heck are you supposed to eat a burger without the bun? (Oh yes, and that sneaky ketchup is full of sugar too!) Fine. Dont believe me. Next time you go to McDonalds, order your burger with no ketchup and no bun. No Fries and only diet soda or water. (Yeah, its not fun, is it?) But see if Im not right. I triple dog dare ya.
Heck, whats the worst thing that could happen? The same thing that always happens?
This was one of the first experiments we tried in order to see if this book was anything more than a bunch of hot air. It worked just like he said it would.
But why? It seems so simple, and this book was written 30 years ago. If hes so right, why havent we heard more about this from the talking heads?
Frankly, I have no idea (to the second question, that is ), because this is the most well-researched, well-written, non-dry, non-boring nonfiction book Ive read in as long as I can remember. I couldnt put it down.
And regarding the first question, the reason why burgers and pizza give you the gurglies is simple: it takes your stomach a lot longer to digest protein than it does simple carbohydrates like bread or pasta or pizza crust. Unfortunately, your stomach is not a Fedex shipping center that can sort incoming packages and send them on to their destinations. Its not even the United States Post Office. Those simple sugars are stuck there in your stomach with the meat until they have both been digested. Add Ketchup or Pizza Sauce, both hidden sources of sugar, and it gets even worse. Because simple sugars sitting in a warm, moist place cause rapid fermentation. Eeeew. No wonder youve got so much gas; youre brewing something in there!
Where it gets worse is when you take into consideration the fact that fermented burgers and pizza cause your body to have to clean up the mess and get those toxins out (vitamin and mineral drain), instead of adding to the store of vitamins and minerals.
But Im getting ahead of myself. The information above is a mere fraction of what can be found in this book. Unfortunately, trying to present even a portion would make this review so long and boring, you wouldnt read it. So below are a few highlights, but if youd like to read a few longer excerpts just to see what this book is really like, you can find a large portion at the following website:
It is a long excerpt, but very worthwhile. (Yeah, I know, the name of the website sounds a little quackish, but the contents are a direct quote from Sugar Blueswho cares what title they give it?)
You never know youre hooked until you decide with your noodle that youre not going to do something anymore; then you discover your head is not running things.
The book begins with the author relating his own story, drawing us into a vortex of waxing sugar consumption and waning health, until he decides to quit cold turkey. After suffering terrible withdrawal symptoms (yes, its true!), he found that many of his health problems disappeared along with the contents of his cupboards.
He relates a great deal of the history of sugar, such as this interesting tidbit: there was no word for sugar in Western Language until the time of Nero, when it was given the name saccharum. Yet it remained hard to export from its tropical home without exorbitant expense until after 600 AD, when the Persians finally discovered a method of refining and solidifying it without it fermenting.
Sugar was introduced to Western Europe by the Crusaders, who brought it back from the near East, along with a host of illnesses and infirmities ranging from cavities to insanity. These troubles were blamed on anything but sugar: witchcraft, masturbation, psychosis. Anyone who said otherwise was either persecuted (as in the wise women who became witches) or laughed off the page (he lists too many examples of such astute yet unlucky individuals to be repeated in this brief space).
Sugar figured heavily in the economies of all the countries that possessed raw materials and refining capability, serving as both a means and an end to the prosperity of the New World. It was also the number one reason for the initiation of the West African slave trade. It seems that growing sugar cane was about the worst job anyone could think of: backbreaking labor in tropical weather (the only place the stuff would grow). Refining it wasnt any more fun; did you know that they used to use blood to clarify it until it was found that charred animal bones did a better job and were less bloody? Swallow that with your next Hershey Kiss.
But what about blood sugar? Everyone knows that we need sugar to survive, right?
Now thats a loaded question! Yes, its true, our bodies use glucose, a type of sugar, as fuel. And it is, in fact, true, that sucrose (table sugar) is a molecule which is half glucose and half fructose.
However, it is also true that humans can, and have in fact been known to, survive for weeks with no food or water, and significantly longer on water alone yet in 1793, five shipwrecked sailors who tried to survive on the sugar and rum they had salvaged from the ship were found after only nine days to be near death.
I don't like to include long quotes from books, but, well, I can't put it any better than Dufty has:
Refined sugar is lethal when ingested by humans because it provides only that which nutritionists described as empty or naked calories. In addition, sugar is worse than nothing, because it drains and leeches the body of precious vitamins and minerals through the demand its digestion, detoxification, and elimination make upon one's entire system.
So essential is balance to our bodies, that we have many ways to provide against the sudden shock of a heavy intake of sugar. Minerals such as sodium (from salt), potassium and magnesium (from vegetables), and calcium (from the bones) are mobilized and used in chemical transmutation; neutral acids are produced which attempt to return the acid-alkaline balance factor of the blood to a more normal state.
Sugar taken every day produces a continuously over acid condition, and more and more minerals are required from deep in the body in the attempt to rectify the imbalance. Finally, in order to protect the blood, so much calcium is taken from the bones and teeth that decay and general weakening begin.
Excess sugar eventually affects every organ in the body. Initially, it is stored in the liver in the form of glucose (glycogen). Since the liver's capacity is limited, a daily intake of refined sugar (above the required amount of natural sugar) soon makes the liver expand like a balloon. When the liver is filled to its maximum capacity, the excess glycogen is returned to the blood in the form of fatty acids. These are taken to every part of the body and stored in the most inactive areas: the belly, the buttocks, the breasts, and the thighs.
When these comparatively harmless places are completely filled, fatty acids are then distributed among active organs, such as the heart and kidneys. These begin to slow down; finally their tissues degenerate and turn to fat. The whole body is affected by their reduced ability and abnormal blood pressure is created. Refined sugar lacks natural minerals (which are, however, in the sugar beet or cane). Our parasympathetic nervous system is affected; and organs governed by it, such as the small brain, become inactive or paralyzed. (Normal brain function is rarely thought of as being as biologic as digestion.) The circulatory and lymphatic systems are invaded and the quality of the red corpuscles starts to change. An overabundance of white cells occurs, and the creation of tissue becomes slower.
Our bodys tolerance and immunizing power becomes more limited, so we cannot respond properly to extreme attacks, whether they be cold, heat, mosquitoes, or microbes....Too much sugar makes one sleepy; our ability to calculate and remember is lost. (page 137-8) (emphasis added)
Now does that description leave you with any questions as to how it is that sugar and simple carbs can be blamed for things like heart disease and diabetes? Whats that? You need more convincing?
Dufty devotes a whole chapter to Diabetes, but Ill try to summarize: every time we eat simple sugars, our pancreas has to go on full alert to balance our blood sugar level. Over time, it gets overstimulated from all this whiplash, kinda like one of those trigger-happy Wild West desperadoes. So now when it springs into action, it goes too far and our blood sugar level drops too low. This is called hypoglycemia. Over time, however, depending on the metabolism we inherited and the amount of sugar and simple carbs in our diets, our pancreas tires and starts to go the other way. Instead of producing too much insulin to combat the sugar emergency, it produces too little or none at all. Welcome to Diabetes. [Do not pass go, do not collect $200, and no, you dont get any stinkin leiswhat do you think this is, Fantasy Island?]
He goes further, quoting Dr. William Coda Martin, who asserted that sugar is not merely an antinutrient (stripped of all vitamins and minerals), but actually a poison:
What is left consists of pure refined carbohydrates. The body cannot utilize this refined starch and carbohydrate unless the depleted proteins, vitamins, and minerals are present. Nature supplies these elements in each plant in quantities sufficient to metabolize the carbohydrate in that particular plant. There is no excess for other added carbohydrates. Incomplete carbohydrate metabolism results in the formation of "toxic metabolite" such as Pyruvic acid and abnormal sugars containing 5 carbon atoms. Pyruvic acid accumulates in the brain and nervous system and the abnormal sugars in the red blood cells. These toxic metabolites interfere with the respiration of the cells. They cannot get sufficient oxygen to survive and function normally. In time, some of the cells die. This interferes with the function of a part of the body and is the beginning of degenerative disease. With over 50 percent of our diet today composed of these refined carbohydrates (refined sugar, white flour, polished rice, macaroni, and most breakfast cereals), does it require a million dollars for research to find out why this generation is developing more and more degenerative diseases? (p.154)(emphasis added)
Dr. Martin wrote those words in 1957. How many of you would say that these refined carbohydrates make up only 50% of your diet? I know I was not a huge sugar fiend before kicking my habit, but I could easily wolf down an entire loaf of French bread in one sitting. I practically lived on pasta and rice supplemented with a little meat and vegetables. I also had such terrible back and neck pain that I was a regular at the Chiropractors office. After I started eating only whole grains and no sugar at all, my Chiropractor called just to make sure I hadnt died or something. I havent been there in 6 months, and the only time my back starts to hurt is when I eat something that was disguised as whole grain but wasnt (like a large portion of whole wheat breads and pastasthey are usually a blend of whole wheat and white flours).
Truly, my only disappointment with this book was that Dufty didnt give very many suggestions for how to improve your diet. Kick cold turkey and eat like the Japanese do seemed to be the general gist of his recommendations. Unfortunately, a Japanese cookbook showed me that sugar has infiltrated their cuisine as well. Even Sushi is served on white rice.
Of course, it was written so long ago, and the junk food industry has grown like a well-fed tumor in that time. High Fructose Corn Syrup entered widespread use shortly after this book was published and has proved to be perhaps the greatest bane of our existence but thats the subject of another review.
So what are you waiting for? Put down that jelly donut and click over to your librarys websiteif they cant order this book for you, just buy it. I bought copies for my entire family from half.com for a few bucks. Trust me, it may be the best few bucks you ever spent on a book. While youre waiting for the book to arrive, check out the website I listed above with the excerpts from the book. Or google William Dufty, or William Coda Martin. If for no other reason, do it so you can improve your acne and your PMS (Im not kidding, he covers those too!). (Oh, and youve got a little glob of jelly on your chin )
And when youre ready for some suggestions on how to start eliminating sugar and refined carbohydrates from your diet, tune in for my next segment of Finding Sweetness in a Sugar Free Life. Click here for Chapter 1 and watch for Chapter 2.
And as usual, thanks for reading!