Sugar is Not a Treat | Jody Stanislaw | TEDxSunValley
Translator: Tanya Cushman
Reviewer: Peter van de Ven
Take a few moments to think about
your most vital organs in your body,
those organs that you cannot live without.
Okay, got them?
You probably thought about your heart.
I bet “brain” popped into your mind.
But did any of you think, “My pancreas,
I can’t live without my pancreas”?
I’m assuming most of you probably didn’t.
I’m a naturopathic doctor,
and I love educating people
about the importance of the pancreas,
which is located right here,
tucked behind your stomach,
behind your left lower rib cage.
Inside your pancreas
is a small cluster of cells
called beta cells.
You only have two grams actually;
it’s the size of, like, two almonds.
Well, these life-giving cells
surprisingly get no attention,
yet if they were to wither away,
in the absence of medical intervention,
you would literally die
within a few weeks.
That is how important your beta cells are;
you would die.
Here’s how they work:
Anytime you eat sugar
or highly-refined carbohydrates,
that sugar circulates in your blood
from your head to your toe,
throughout your body.
The beta cells are
the security guards for your blood,
and as soon as they see
this rush of sugar,
they send the alarm bells off.
They call in a team of dump trucks
to haul all of that sugar out.
Well, the dump trucks are called insulin,
and insulin’s job is to pick up
all that sugar out of the blood
and feed it to your liver,
your muscles, or store it as fat
because you don’t want all that
excess sugar hanging out in your blood.
This seems pretty innocent, right?
But here’s the problem:
Millions and millions today
are overworking their security force.
Overworking your beta cells
doesn’t happen [only] with obvious foods,
like cake and ice cream,
but it also happens with
highly-refined carbohydrate foods,
like yogurt and granola,
cereal, bread, pasta, alcohol –
even when used in moderation.
Anytime you eat these foods,
your beta cells send the alarm bells off
to make more insulin.
And this is scary because –
just like anything that gets overused,
from cars to computers –
the parts eventually wear out,
leading to beta cell burnout.
This is another name
for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes
which you really
don’t want to suffer from.
Beta cell burnout can happen to anyone,
and it has a lot to do
with your food choices.
As your beta cells weaken
through the years,
the blood sugar level starts to rise
to a dangerous level,
maybe even unbeknownst to you.
If the beta cells get really weak,
and you don’t pick it up –
your diet doesn’t change –
you’ll likely need
to take insulin injections
every day for the rest
of your life to stay alive.
But the good news,
the good news is reversing
beta cell burnout is entirely possible.
Just with a few small dietary tweaks
and lifestyle changes,
especially when caught early.
I specialize in diabetes.
I also am an expert because
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes
when I was just seven years old.
So the effects of sugar
have been a lifelong study for me.
Now, the cause of type 1 is very different
than the pandemic of type 2 today
that we’re hearing so much about.
In type 1, the immune system
attacked and killed all of my beta cells.
Killed them – they’re gone.
When I was seven.
Why it did this is still not understood.
But as a result, without my beta cells
I take insulin injections every day,
and I’ve taken over 100,000
in my lifetime, thus far.
Living with type 1, in a way,
has been a gift, though,
because I’m so motivated not to eat sugar.
When I eat sugar, my blood sugar level
skyrockets and I feel awful;
I get a headache,
I feel cranky –
if the phone rings, I don’t want
to get it because I am irritable –
and I just want to take a nap.
Most people walk around oblivious
to this direct correlation
between what you’ve eaten
and how you feel,
so the negative effects on all of you
living with beta cells –
you’re lucky enough to still have them –
is much more subtle,
but potentially just as deadly.
The good news is saving your beta cells
is entirely in your hands.
You know, this talk wouldn’t
have applied even ten years ago,
when sugar wasn’t added
to everything that we eat,
and it was just used
as a special ocassion.
Are you aware that there
are only ten companies
that own the entire world’s food brands?
And the reality is the sweeter
a food is, the more it sells.
So when you eat sugar,
you might immediately feel
a rush of energy and kind of feel good,
think “Wow, sugar makes me feel great!”
But the reality is an hour or two later,
if you pay attention,
you’ll likely feel zapped.
You might not be able to concentrate;
you might kind of want to take a nap;
or you might want to eat more sugar.
If we keep doing this over a lifetime,
the beta cells get weak,
the blood sugar level
slowly starts to rise,
and over time, high-blood sugar
causes heart disease, kidney failure,
strokes, gangrene, blindness, alzheimer’s,
lower-limb amputation, depression,
violent behavior and more.
The amount of deaths called by sugar –
all of these afflictions combined –
leads to more deaths
than automobile accidents.
At the rate we’re consuming sugar today,
sugar is not a treat.
Ladies and gentlemen,
at the rate we’re consuming it today,
sugar has become a gradual death sentence.
But the good news is, like I said,
this is something, a major problem,
that we have in our hands.
My patient Pam,
she was just freaking out; she thought
something was entirely wrong with her.
She said, “I’m just tired all the time.
I feel good in the morning,
but then I drag, and I
can’t focus, and I’m cranky.
Something is wrong with me.
Will you check my thyroid?
Do I have a brain tumor?
Is that why I can’t think?”
I said, “Pam …
before we run all those expensive tests,
I just want to ask you,
‘What do you have for breakfast?'”
And she said, “Well,
I have a vanilla latte –
get a few extra pumps
of vanilla because I love it –
and then I have some zucchini bread.”
I said, “Well, okay,
let me tell you something.
Vanilla is syrup –
you realize that, right? –
it’s not the vanilla bean, it’s the syrup,
lots of sugar,
and zucchini bread –
might as well call it zucchini cake.
I mean let’s be real, okay?
Zucchini muffin, whatever.
It’s all cake – muffins –
they’re just cake without frosting.”
So I said, “Before I run
all these expensive tests,
why don’t you just start
your day with protein?
Let’s just have a handful
of eggs for breakfast,
maybe some sliced apples
with peanut butter.
When you start your day
with balanced blood sugar level,
I think your energy
is going to be a lot better,
Two weeks later, I get an email
full of exclamation points:
“Nothing’s wrong with me. I feel great.
I’m having protein for breakfast,
and everybody’s like,
‘What have you done?
You’re so happy now.'”
Changing your life can be this simple;
it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
But I get it.
It’s so easy to fall into the traps
laid by the 1.5 trillion dollar
processed-food industry today.
They label so many
high-sugar foods as healthy:
Gummy vitamins – right? –
they’re gummy bears,
let’s not be … come on.
Yogurts – many yogurts today,
blueberry, strawberry yogurt –
they have more sugar, ounce for ounce,
Kids are eating fruit chews today.
Kids, are you aware they’re not fruit?
They’re not fruit;
it’s sugar and fruit flavoring.
There was this study done in rats
that showed chronic sugar consumption
creates as much damage to the brain
as abuse done in childhood.
Teens are drinking less soda today,
but they’ve replaced it
with sports drinks and energy drinks.
These drinks are shamefully
being touted as healthy,
yet they are a key part
of the obesity epidemic
that’s spreading today.
And, all of you parents out there
and grandparents and loved ones,
the birthday parties, right?
they just ate their cake and ice cream,
and now they’re running around
like a bunch of screaming banshees.
This behavior is a direct result
of the sugar intake.
This happens in schools every day,
and the sad thing
is we’re still doing it as adults:
pasta and beer …
pizza and beer, pasta and bread.
It’s the same effect.
the World Health Organization,
there are over 420 million people
today with type 2 diabetes,
and that number just keeps going up.
In America alone, if our eating habits
do not change in the next few decades,
that will be one in three.
That means it will likely be
somebody you know and love,
or it might be you.
We have all become so brainwashed
to think that sugar
on a daily basis is okay.
Frankly, it’s reminiscent of
when doctors used to endorse smoking.
The posters of the athletes
on the bikes smoking?
Listen to this – this makes me so angry:
I volunteer at diabetes camps,
so I see kids and what they eat
every day, every summer,
and the standard recommendations
given to children diagnosed
with type 1 diabetes today,
is that they can eat
as much sugar as they want
and just take more insulin for it.
The blood-sugar fluctuations
that this way of eating causes
to their precious, growing bodies
is a medical tragedy.
And it is devastating
because the solution is so simple.
We need to eat less sugar.
Now, I’ve got to admit I love cookies,
so I’m not talking
about never eating sugar again.
Let’s be real here, right?
When I work with patients,
I teach them the 80-20 principle:
80% of the time,
keep your food
in healthy, wholesome choices,
and then put your sugar in the 20% –
put it over here.
The highly-processed carb foods? 20% –
But we’ve got it switched, right?
We’re kind of like
20 healthy and 80 sugar.
Our future depends on a healthy society.
Your contribution is needed
in today’s crazy world.
Sugar is never going
to get you feeling your best.
And sugar is never going
to help motivate you to have a great day.
Look at Pam.
So I ask you this:
Would you like to have more energy?
Would you like to have less anxiety?
A better memory?
Reducing sugar and highly-processed
carbohydrate foods from your diet
could change your life.
I see it every day with patients
I’ve helped all around the world.
Now, you might be feeling resistant,
like, “Oh, just overwhelmed.
Just like making a big change,
I feel paralyzed.”
Or you’ve tried it before,
and you’ve failed.
Have no fear; I have you covered.
Because when you want
to make a big change in your life,
you have to start with just small steps.
That’s all you need.
So I’ve got you covered.
I have three steps
for you to try over the next –
you can apply them today.
If you’re feeling really motivated,
try all three.
[HAVE PROTEIN FOR BREAKFAST …]
[eggs, nuts, cottage cheese,
sliced apple with peanut butter]
Start your day with
balanced blood-sugar level.
Then you’re giving your body
that balanced energy.
Trust me, you don’t want to be like this –
I do it a lot.
I do my best to avoid it but …
Have protein for breakfast.
Next time you’re feeling
that you just want a sweet;
you just had a meal but now you’re like,
“I want something more
after dinner or after noon,”
you want a sugary snack.
Grab a glass of water first.
Being dehydrated actually
can feel like being hungry.
And so why don’t you try water first?
You’ll probably feel more energized
because a 5% decrease in hydration
can correlate to a 20% decrease in energy.
So you’ll have more energy,
and you probably
won’t need that sugary snack
that will only pop you up
for a little bit and then drop you.
Okay, number three:
There are so many wonderful low-carb
replacements now for high-carb foods.
Pizza crust that’s made
out of cauliflower;
pasta can be made out of zucchini noodles;
and – I love cookies –
so I make chocolate chip cookies
out of almond flour
and stevia as my sweetener.
There’s so many great ones out there.
In conclusion, what I want
to leave you with is this,
if it isn’t already obvious,
reducing sugar in your diet
could be life-changing for you.
Please, you have beta cells; protect them.
You have the knowledge,
and you have the power.
And if you reduce the sugar in your diet,
you’ll be using your meals
as they were intended to:
to fuel you into greatness.