Diet and Health

Research by Duane Bristow

Summary of:

Sugar the Bitter Truth
video by Robert H. Lustig, M.D.
University of California

simple sugars - monosaccharides

disaccharide - sucrose which hydrolyses into glucose and fructose
other disaccharides include maltose and lactose

sucrose is table sugar and comes from sugar cane and sugar beets.

fructose is found in fruits and honey

lactose and galacose are found in milk and diary products.

glucose is found in honey, fruits and vegetables

malose is found in barley

sucrose is made up of glucose and fructose and is found in plants

xylose is found in wood or straw

When people consume artificial sweeteners, like high fructose corn syrup, they have an increased desire to continue eating. This occurs with all sweeteners, and it doesn't seem related to the way the body metabolizes the sweetener, but rather the taste of sweetness.

Unlike glucose, which is metabolized a number of ways by your body, fructose is only metabolized by your liver. When the liver receives more fructose than it can handle, the excess sugars are turned into fats in the form of triglycerides, which are harmful to your arteries and your heart.

Fructose doesn't stimulate production of insulin, leptin or ghrelin, all of which play a part in telling the body how much it needs to eat.

The biggest problem is that High Fructose Corn Syrup is being added to food items that don't normally have sugar and that you wouldn't even describe as sweet -- crackers, for instance. So, not only are we chugging down lots of sugars with our sodas, but your PBJ sandwich could have HFCS in each of its three ingredients. Meal after meal, day after day, all of this extra sugar adds up, and that, and not necessarily the qualities of HFCS itself, is likely one reason why rates for obesity and diabetes have climbed since the introduction of HFCS. (Other factors are in play as well, such as decreased activity and exercise levels and increased fat consumption.)

White bread or French fries have the same effect on blood sugar as pure glucose, while fructose, although a simple carbohydrate, has a minimal effect on blood sugar. As a result, as far as blood sugar is concerned, carbohydrates are classified according to their glycemic index, a system for measuring how quickly a food that is eaten raises blood sugar levels, and glycemic load, which takes into account both the glycemic index and the amount of carbohydrate in the food

fructose is a poison, glucose is not.

sucrose is half glucose and half fructose.

If fructose is eaten with lots of fiber as in fruits it is metabolised in such a way that the poisonous effects are minimized.

High carb diets, almost always with lots of processed high fructose corn syrup leads, to high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and inflammation which may cause heart disease and cancer.

Leptin tells the brain that you are full and to quit eating. Metabolizing protein and fat causes leptin production. Metabolizing fructose doesn't.

Eat lots of natural foods in which the fructose is accompanied by lots of fiber. Avoid high carb diets with processed foods and added high fructose corn syrup or other sugar additives.

Get rid of all sugared liquids only drink water, milk and coffee or tea without sugar.

Eat your carbs with fiber.

Wait 20 minutes for second portions.

Buy your screen time minute for minute with physical activity.

How carbs can destroy your brain.

Carbs, and sugar are bad for you.

They lead to diabetes and dementia.
Eat nuts and nut butters, seeds, avocados, coconut oil, high fat, very low carb diet.
Peanut butter is not a nut butter because peanuts are not a nut.

An Interview of Dr. Perlmutter by Dr. James Hamblin published in The Atlantic December 20, 2013.

Humans consume calories in the form of three macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Perlmutter describes the current U.S. diet as 60 percent carbs, 20 percent protein, and 20 percent fat. His ideal is close to that of the Paleo diet: 75 percent fat, 20 percent protein, and 5 percent carbs. He allows for up to 50 to 80 grams of carbs daily, which is about one serving of fruit. The heart of the diet is "good fats like olive oil, avocado, wild fish, organic nuts and nutrient-dense vegetables."

Over the last 40 years, people have become addicted to gluten, Perlmutter's narrative goes. In combination with carbs, gluten's influence on our diets explains why we get dementia - and every other common neurologic problem. "Inflammation is the cornerstone of Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis - all of the neurodegenerative diseases are really predicated on inflammation. Who knew?"

"You write about not just Alzheimer's, but also anxiety, depression, chronic headaches, ADHD, etc. How do you see carbs and gluten fitting into so many different pathologies?"

"The biggest issue by far is that carbohydrates are absolutely at the cornerstone of all of our major degenerative conditions," he says. "That includes things like Alzheimer's, heart disease, and even cancers. What we know is that even mild elevations in blood sugar are strongly related to developing Alzheimer's disease. That was published August 8, 2013, in the New England Journal of Medicine. Even mild elevations in blood sugar compromise brain structure and lead to shrinkage of the brain. That's what our most well- respected, peer-reviewed journals are telling us."

Gluten is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye.

The fruit of most flowering plants have endosperms with stored protein to nourish embryonic plants during germination. True gluten, with gliadin and glutenin, is limited to certain members of the grass family. The stored proteins of maize and rice are sometimes called glutens, but their proteins differ from true gluten.

About 1 in 133 people in developed nations have intolerance to gluten, some of which can be severe enough to be life-threatening.

The paleolithic diet (abbreviated paleo diet or paleodiet), also popularly referred to as the caveman diet, Stone Age diet and hunter-gatherer diet, is a modern nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals that various hominid species habitually consumed during the Paleolithic era - a period of about 2.5 million years which ended around 10,000 years ago with the development of agriculture and grain-based diets. In common usage, the term "paleolithic diet" can also refer to actual ancestral human diets, insofar as these can be reconstructed.

The contemporary "Paleolithic diet" consists mainly of fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, eggs, vegetables, fruit, fungi, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, potatoes, refined salt, refined sugar, and processed oils.

A diet structure of 52% plant calories, 26% hunting calories, and 22% fishing calories.

The oldest incontrovertible evidence for the existence of bows only dates to about 8000 BCE, and nets and traps were invented 20,000 to 29,000 years ago.

Another view is that, up until the Upper Paleolithic, humans were frugivores (fruit eaters), who supplemented their meals with carrion, eggs, and small prey such as baby birds and mussels, and, only on rare occasions, managed to kill and consume big game such as antelopes.

Pregnant and lactating females require 100 mg of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids but these are almost nonexistent in plants and in most tissues of warm-climate animals. Their main sources in the modern human diet are fish and the fatty organs of animals, such as brains, eyes and viscera

With the advent of agriculture and the beginning of animal domestication roughly 10,000 years ago, during the Neolithic Revolution, humans started consuming large amounts of dairy products, beans, cereals, alcohol and salt. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the Industrial revolution led to the large scale development of mechanized food processing techniques and intensive livestock farming methods, that enabled the production of refined cereals, refined sugars and refined vegetable oils, as well as fattier domestic meats, which have become major components of Western diets.

Fat is the preferred fuel for the human body, and has been for two million years. In the last 10,000 years, agriculture made carbohydrates the most abundant form of calories.

Our brains were meant to function optimally during a fast. When we go without food, in the initial stages, we create sugar from glycogen that is stored in our livers and the muscles. After we fast for a few days, we start to mobilize fat, creating ketones. "When the brain is powered by ketones," Perlmutter reasons, "it functions a lot better, allowing us, when we're calorie-deprived, like in our hunter-gatherer days for example, to remain clever."

"Government doctrine in 1992 indicated that we need to be on a low-fat diet. That's saying in the same breath, high carb. Immediately, within 10 years, the rate of diabetes in America went up three-fold."

The number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S. has nearly tripled in the last twenty years, according to the CDC. In 1992, 7.5 million people had a diagnosis. By 2002, the number was 13.6 million. By 2011 it was 20.9 million.

"Nothing could be further from the truth than the myth that if we lower our cholesterol levels, we might have a chance of living longer and healthier lives," Perlmutter writes . He recommends disowning the notion that LDL is bad cholesterol and HDL is good cholesterol; rather, both are generally good. LDL is only bad when it is oxidized, and it only becomes so in the presence of the sort of oxidative stress brought about by carbs and gluten. Avoid those, and cholesterol is innocuous.

Beyond that, Perlmutter says that cholesterol-lowering statin medicines like Lipitor, which are prescribed for a quarter of Americans over 40, should actually be vehemently avoided. Cholesterol is necessary for the brain in high levels, he says, and lowering it is contributing to dementia.

Having talked to all of these people and read their work, here is how I walk away from this. Oxidative stress will increasingly be the target of medical treatments and preventive diets. We'll hear more about the role of blood sugar in Alzheimer's and continue to focus on moderating intake of refined carbohydrates. The consensus remains that too much LDL is bad for you. We do not have reason to believe that gluten is bad for most people. It does cause reactive symptoms in some people. Peanuts can kill some people, but that does not mean they are bad for everyone. I agree with Dr. David Katz, the founding director of Yale University's Prevention Research Center, that the diets consistently shown to have good long-term health outcomes - both mental and physical - include whole grains and fruits, and are not nearly as high in fat as what Perlmutter proposes.

Nutritionists call omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids - "essential" fats for good reason. The human body needs them for many functions, from building healthy cells to maintaining brain and nerve function. Our bodies can't produce them. The only source is food.

These polyunsaturated fats are important for another reason. There's growing evidence that they help lower the risk of heart disease. Some studies suggest these fats may also protect against type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and age-related brain decline.

Omega-6 mostly comes as linoleic acid from plant oils such as corn oil, soybean oil, and sunflower oil, as well as from nuts and seeds. The American Heart Association recommends that at least 5% to 10% of food calories come from omega-6 fatty acids.

Omega-3s come primarily from fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna, as well as from walnuts and flaxseed in lesser amounts.

The body also constructs hormones from omega 6 fatty acids. In general, hormones derived from the two classes of essential fatty acids have opposite effects. Those from omega-6 fatty acids tend to increase inflammation (an important component of the immune response), blood clotting, and cell proliferation, while those from omega-3 fatty acids decrease those functions. Both families of hormones must be in balance to maintain optimum health.

Since EPA and DHA (especially DHA) are responsible for the benefits omega-3 fats provide, and since EPA and DHA are only available in significant amounts in seafood, it follows that we should be consuming seafood on a regular basis.

Chris Kresser
"Health for the 21st Century"
How too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3 is making us sick.

Over the course of human evolution there has been a dramatic change in the ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fats consumed in the diet. This change, perhaps more than any other dietary factor, has contributed to the epidemic of modern disease.

Both ancient and modern hunter-gatherers were free of the modern inflammatory diseases, like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, that are the primary causes of death and morbidity today. Our average intake of n-6 fatty acids is between 10 and 25 times higher than evolutionary norms. The consequences of this dramatic shift cannot be overestimated.

It is most important to get plenty of exercise and vitamin D.

Lower colesterol can cause insufficient Vitamin D because colesterol is necessary for the body to produce Vitamin D.

Vitamin D is necessary for brain health.

The problem today, is that people who eat a typical Western diet are eating way too many Omega-6s relative to Omega-3s.

Typical Omega-6:Omega-3 ratios for non-industrial populations ranged from 4:1 to 1:4.

Hunter-gatherers eating mostly land animals had a ratio of 2:1 to 4:1, while the Inuit, who ate mostly Omega-3 rich seafoods, had a ratio of 1:4

Anthropological evidence also suggests that the ratio human beings evolved eating is somewhere around 1:1, while the ratio today is about 16:1

The single most important thing you can do to reduce your Omega-6 intake is to avoid processed seed- and vegetable oils high in Omega-6, as well as the processed foods that contain them.

Avoid sunflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil and cottonseed oil.

The best oils are lard, palm oil, butterfat, safflower oil, olive oil, and coconut oil.

Oils medium in Omega-6 include canola oil, flaxseed oil, and peanut oil. Flaxseed oil is better because it is high in Omega-3.

Nuts and seeds are pretty high in Omega-6, but they are whole foods that have plenty of health benefits and are absolutely fine to eat.

The Cholesterol Myth That Could Be Harming Your Health

by Dr. Joseph Mercola
The Huffington Post - August 12, 2010

Anti-colesterol drugs can affect the brain and cause memory loss.

Not only is cholesterol most likely not going to destroy your health (as you have been led to believe), but it is also not the cause of heart disease. And for those of you taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, the information that follows could not have been given to you fast enough. But before I delve into this life-changing information, let's get some basics down first.

What is Cholesterol, and Why Do You Need It?

That's right, you do need cholesterol.

This soft, waxy substance is found not only in your bloodstream, but also in every cell in your body, where it helps to produce cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D and bile acids that help you to digest fat. Cholesterol also helps in the formation of your memories and is vital for neurological function.

Your liver makes about 75 percent of your body's cholesterol ,[i] and according to conventional medicine, there are two types:

High-density lipoprotein, or HDL: This is the "good" cholesterol that helps to keep cholesterol away from your arteries and remove any excess from arterial plaque, which may help to prevent heart disease.

Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL: This "bad" cholesterol circulates in your blood and, according to conventional thinking, may build up in your arteries, forming plaque that makes your arteries narrow and less flexible (a condition called atherosclerosis). If a clot forms in one of these narrowed arteries leading to your heart or brain, a heart attack or stroke may result.

Also making up your total cholesterol count are:

-- Triglycerides: Elevated levels of this dangerous fat have been linked to heart disease and diabetes. Triglyceride levels are known to rise from eating too many grains and sugars, being physically inactive, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol excessively and being overweight or obese.

-- Lipoprotein (a), or Lp(a): Lp(a) is a substance that is made up of an LDL "bad cholesterol" part plus a protein (apoprotein a). Elevated Lp(a) levels are a very strong risk factor for heart disease. This has been well established, yet very few physicians check for it in their patients.

Understand this:

Your Total Cholesterol Level is NOT a Great Indicator of Your Heart Disease Risk

Health officials in the United States urge everyone over the age of 20 to have their cholesterol tested once every five years. Part of this test is your total cholesterol, or the sum of your blood's cholesterol content, including HDL, LDLs and VLDLs.

The American Heart Association recommends that your total cholesterol is less than 200 mg/dL, but what they do not tell you is that total cholesterol level is just about worthless in determining your risk for heart disease, unless it is above 330.

HDL percentage is a very potent heart disease risk factor. Just divide your HDL level by your cholesterol. That percentage should ideally be above 24 percent.

You can also do the same thing with your triglycerides and HDL ratio. That percentage should be below 2.

In the United States, the idea that cholesterol is evil is very much engrained in most people's minds. But this is a very harmful myth that needs to be put to rest right now.

First and foremost, cholesterol is a vital component of every cell membrane on Earth. In other words, there is no life on Earth that can live without cholesterol.

That will automatically tell you that, in and of itself, it cannot be evil. In fact, it is one of our best friends.

We would not be here without it. No wonder lowering cholesterol too much increases one's risk of dying. Cholesterol is also a precursor to all of the steroid hormones. You cannot make estrogen, testosterone, cortisone and a host of other vital hormones without cholesterol."

The UVB rays in sunlight interact with the cholesterol on your skin and convert it to vitamin D.

Bottom line?

If your cholesterol level is too low you will not be able to use the sun to generate sufficient levels of vitamin D.

If Your Cholesterol is Too Low ...

All kinds of nasty things can happen to your body. Remember, every single one of your cells needs cholesterol to thrive -- including those in your brain. Perhaps this is why low cholesterol wreaks havoc on your psyche.

What cholesterol level is too low? Brace yourself.

Probably any level much under 150 -- an optimum would be more like 200.

If you are concerned about your cholesterol levels, taking a drug should be your absolute last resort. And when I say last resort, I'm saying the odds are very high, greater than 100 to 1, that you don't need drugs to lower your cholesterol.

Recently, a number of studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine underscored a fact that scientists have become increasingly sure of: The vast majority of vitamins and mineral supplements are simply not worth taking. "Enough is enough: stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements," declared an editorial that was published in the issue.

This goes for a tremendous range of supplements that you might imagine to be beneficial. Multivitamins don't reduce the chance of cancer or cardiovascular disease. Controlled, randomized studies - where one group of people take supplements and another takes placebos, and the groups are compared - have produced little evidence that antioxidants protect against cancer. Study after study has shown that vitamin C does nothing to prevent common cold, a misbelief that dates to a theoretical suggestion made by a scientist in the 1970?s.

Of course, our bodies do need these vitamins to live - it's just that the diet of most people who live in developed countries in the 21st century already includes them in abundance. In many cases, taking high amounts of them in a refined form (especially vitamins A, C and E and beta carotene) can actually be harmful, increasing the risk of cancer and other diseases by excessively inflating the concentration of antioxidants in the body.

Nevertheless, there are a handful of vitamins and supplements that, studies suggest, are actually worth taking for people with specific conditions. Information is Beautiful, a data visualization website, has a thought- provoking interactive that shows supplements charted by the strength of evidence that indicates they're beneficial. Here's our rundown of some of the most promising.

Vitamin D

Of all the "classic" vitamins - the vital organic compounds discovered between 1913 and 1941 and termed vitamin A, B, C, etc. - vitamin D is by far the most beneficial to take in supplement form.

A 2008 meta-analysis (a review of a number of studies conducted on the same topic) of 17 randomized controlled trials concluded that it decreased overall mortality in adults. A 2013 meta-analysis of 42 randomized controlled trials came to the same conclusion. In other words, by randomly deciding which participants took the supplement and which didn't and tightly controlling other variables (thereby reducing the effect of confounding factors), the researchers found that adults who took vitamin D supplements daily lived longer than those who didn't.

Other research has found that in kids, taking vitamin D supplements can reduce the chance of catching the flu, and that in older adults, it can improve bone health and reduce the incidence of fractures.

Of course, even though they're widely recognized as the best way to test a treatment's effectiveness, randomized controlled trials have limitations. In this case, the biggest one is that these studies can't tell us much about the mechanism by which vitamin D seems to reduce mortality or provide other health benefits. Still, given the demonstrated benefits and the fact that it hasn't been shown to cause any harm, vitamin D might be worth taking as a supplement on a consistent basis.


A mounting pile of research is showing how crucial the trillions of bacterial cells that live inside us are in regulating hour health, and how harmful it can be to suddenly wipe them out with an antibiotic. Thus, it shouldn't come as a huge surprise that if you do go through a course of antibiotics, taking a probiotic (either a supplement or a food naturally rich in bacteria, such as yogurt) to replace the bacteria colonies in your gut is a good idea.

In 2012, a meta-analysis of 82 randomized controlled trials found that use of probiotics (most of which contained bacteria from the Lactobacillus genus, naturally present in the gastrointestinal tract) significantly reduced the incidence of diarrhea after a course of antibiotics.

All the same, probiotics aren't a digestive cure-all: they haven't been found to be effective in treating irritable bowel syndrome, among other chronic ailments. Like most other supplements that are actually effective, they're useful in very specific circumstances, but it's not necessary to continually take them on a daily basis.


Vitamin C might not do anything to prevent or treat the common cold, but the other widely-used cold supplement, zinc, is actually worth taking. A mineral that's involved in many different aspects of your cellular metabolism, zinc appears to interfere with the replication of rhinoviruses, the microbes that cause the common cold.

This has been borne out in a number of studies. A 2011 review [PDF] that considered 13 therapeutic studies - in which patients who'd just come down with the common cold were given zinc supplements, and compared to those who'd been given a placebo - found that the mineral significantly reduced the duration of the cold, and also made symptoms less severe. So if you feel a cold coming on, avoid overdosing on vitamin C, but take a zinc lozenge or pill to get better sooner.


Also known as vitamin B3, niacin is talked up as a cure for all sorts of conditions (including high cholesterol, Alzheimer's, diabetes and headaches) but in most of these cases, a prescription-strength dose of niacin has been needed to show a clear result.

At over-the-counter strength, niacin supplements have only been proven to be effective in helping one group of people: those who have heart disease. A 2010 review found that taking the supplement daily reduced the chance of a stroke or heart attack in people with heart disease, thereby reducing their overall risk of death due to a cardiac event.


Garlic, of course, is a pungent herb. It also turns out to be an effective treatment for high blood pressure when taken as a concentrated supplement.

A 2008 meta-analysis of 11 randomized controlled trials (in which similar groups of participants were given either a garlic supplement or placebo, and the results were compared) found that, on the whole, taking garlic daily reduced blood pressure, with the most significant results coming in adults who had high blood pressure at the start of the trials.

On the other hand, there have also been claims that garlic supplements can prevent cancer, but the evidence is mixed. Observational studies (which rely on data collected from people already taking garlic supplements on their own) have found associations between garlic consumption and a reduced incidence of cancer, but that correlation could be the result of confounding factors. Controlled studies have failed to replicate that data.

Last revised February 2014.

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All contents copyright (C) 2013, Duane Bristow. All rights reserved.