Public Enemy #1April 8, 2015
As a nutrition expert by association (my wife is a nutritionist) there are many mysteries that have taken me many years to unlock (my wife and I have been together for 17 years). And like so many marriages before us, it took someone outside of our marriage to explain to me in a way that I could hear it why sugar is public enemy #1 to our health.
Walter Willet is the head of the School of Public Health at Harvard. My other wife, my business partner Alden, decided that if we were going to be the gold standard in healthy snacks, we needed to meet the guru of nutrition (and by simple inference, healthy snacks and beverages). Walter made it very plain. It is sugar’s insidious qualities that almost outweigh the outright damage it does to our bodies. Sugar enters our bodies even before we make that conscious decision to ingest it ourselves. Our parents gave it to us innocently. It made us happy and that’s the goal for most parents to make kids happy.
What parents don’t know…
What our parents didn’t know is the sugar is a gateway to larger doses of sugar. The early expectation of sugar leads us to want it more. Think about it. Even active kids that can burn off sugar lead themselves into the El Dorado of sugar. We are led to a land of condiments, sugary drinks and desserts. At some point some of those same kids that were active grew up to have more sedentary lives and by that time the sugar addiction, the bait has been taken. The expectation of desserts after every meal. The expectation of sugary soda with every meal and in between meals. The taste buds need more and more sugar to satisfy our collective sweet tooth. And in fact the natural sweetening alternative to sugar, stevia, which is 200 times sweeter than sugar but has zero calories, and the artificial sweeteners with zero calories are every bit as guilty as sugar in leading us into the sugar trap.
Is that what Hansel and Gretel was all about? Was the witch the sugar industry tantalysing our taste buds with sugar, fattening us up, distracting us from healthier foods and ultimately setting us up for illnesses like diabetes and heart disease?
So to be clear, we allow ourselves to build an expectation or a need for sugar in food and beverages. And for most of us there’s no turning back. We ingest more and more sugar. And the sugar and its effects are insidious in most of us. It takes decades before the damage we have perpetrated on our bodies reveals itself. And for many, by that time it’s too late.