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60 Minutes: Is Sugar Toxic?

Our shift towards eating local food began as a shift towards cooking more for ourselves and eating whole foods (or “real food” as some call it).

A friend was suffering from pancreatic cancer at a tragically young age, and was fighting it as best she could with diet. It was primarily about cutting sugar almost entirely out of her diet in every form.

Lindsay and I had read Michael Pollan and already understood many of the issues surrounding industrial food, but this was our wake-up call to the immediate health impacts. It was what finally kicked us into gear from theoretical activists (“we need to change the system, but we have no idea how”) to personal advocates. We may not be able to change the system, but we can vote with our feet while making ourselves healthier.

In the years since our friend’s struggle with cancer, the science behind the toxicity of our current food system has become more and more mainstream, to the point where 60 Minutes has now done a piece. We urge you to watch it:

15-minute 60 Minutes segment on “Is Sugar Toxic?”

It mentions many of the key lessons that we have learned in the past three years:

  • All calories are not created equal.
    • The body metabolizes different substances equally and it also metabolizes things differently in different combinations.
    • I found that I have a much easier time losing weight on a natural, whole food diet, even at the same levels of calories in vs. calories out (exercise). It also allows me to easily maintain healthy blood levels when I see my doctor.

  • Sugar is not just about soda and sweets.
    • The food industry figured out long ago that it had to get on the “low fat” bandwagon, but it did so by pumping sweeteners into everything.
    • Even things like frozen veggie burgers, which seem like a healthy option, are loaded with extra sugars to provide taste while maintaining the “low in fat” label on the box. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
    • Seemingly wholesome items such as tomato sauce and canned tomatoes are often loaded with unnecessary added sugar. Our frustration with things like that leads us to can our own.

  • Diet is about more than your weight.
    • It’s entirely possible (if more difficult) to eat industrial food and get your weight down, but at the same time you may still face a higher risk for arterial blockages, heart attacks, diabetes, and even cancer.
    • Insulin is a very strange bedfellow, but it’s something we’re all stuck with. It’s something that the modern food industry ignores, while taking advantage of our genetic sweet tooth to get us to consume more.

Watch the video. Here is also a similar article in the NY Times from last year.

If you’re curious about following a whole foods diet for the health of you and your family, hopefully these stories will help push you past the tipping point. We spent a long time on that precipice knowing that we wanted to do something but not knowing where to start. The first step is the hardest.

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