How I Taught My Brother To Cook

Improvisational Tuscan-Provençal-Catalan Cookery (and other good stuff to eat)

I once heard an interview with Jack LaLanne, just a couple of years ago. He died recently in his 90's. Until his death pictures of him still showed a robust man, fit as a fiddle, and the epitome of health. Sure his addiction to exercise was legendary. But what most people don't know was what he wasn't addicted to. Sugar!


He told the interviewer, that as a young man (in his teens) he was unhealthy, hyper-active and a trouble-maker. Then he quit eating anything that contained added sugar. His life changed forever.


Look around you. Fat kids, fat parents, fat old-people being pushed around in wheel chairs, diabetics coming out of ears. Health care costs soaring. Read this article and see what conclusions you draw:


 Is Sugar Toxic? A report in a recent New York Times Magazine.


Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup in just about all of our processed foods are creating not just excess fat, but maybe even other serious illnesses. Like anything, too much of a good thing can be damaging. But like most "good" Americans, excess is the key to our culture.


We focus too much on cutting meat from our diets and including more exercise in our lives. Both good ideas. But no attention is focused on the evils of too much sugar. Don't just tax soft drinks - outlaw them!

Views: 100

Comment by Jason Mosher on June 3, 2011 at 7:53am
Great article John!  We have been moving to a Paleo-Primal diet to combat a number of health woes--mainly my wife's migraines--it's amazing how good you feel once you kick the sugar "habit"
Comment by John Barrows on June 3, 2011 at 10:56am
Yes, it's almost as hard to kick as nicotine or any other kind of drug.
Comment by Patrick on June 3, 2011 at 1:52pm
It isn't the sugar, it's the over consumption. Nobody can prove that old "Jackie Boy" lived to his 90's because he avoided sugar. Our mother had a balanced diet which included NOT avoiding "sweets" cakes, cookies ,etc but not abusing them and she lived to 93. As far as the Paleo diet, it's just another fad. I have a friend on it and although he lost a lot of weight and says he feels great, he looks like hell. Gaunt, he leaves people with the thoughts of "is he ok, is he sick?" Of course, our "paleo" hunter and gatherer "forefathers" didn't have todays medicine and they died young so reason that one out. Sooooo, what actually keeps a person alive, medicine, diet or both? As always, eat what you want, but in moderation. What this means, you can eat a Big Mac once in awhile but not everyday but not as a staple. Live by ones own terms. Summer's around the corner so enjoy a frozen Snickers before its too late.
Comment by John Barrows on June 3, 2011 at 1:56pm
it's the over consumption of sugar. it's literally in everything that comes in a bottle, jar, box, or package in a food store. check it out. sugar's been around forever, but it's historically been a treat - not a daily staple.
Comment by Jonathan Louie on June 3, 2011 at 9:19pm

Sugar as we know it has _not_ been around forever. Refined sugar from cane or beets has only been in anyone's diet for a couple of hundred years. In significant pounds, only a 4-5 generations. That's minute in human evolution. I have avoided sugar for 25 years until recently. We are just beginning to understand who and what we are. With DNA data and inventory of what we are finding we're actually composed of, we recently have been seeing findings on 3 distinct gut flora types no matter the obesity, health, race, age, sex, geography of mankind; and over time we can be assured they will tell us something significant in this regard about our lives as well. In addition to the article's discussion on insulin, glycerides, the fact is sugar also nourishes some flora in the gut, which in turn inhibits or overtakes others. Anyone who has made bread or any other fermentation knows this. Anyone who has had to re-garden their gut after taking antibiotics knows this too. Though we know this empirically, we don't know this scientifically yet. As the article points out, little scientific study has been done on any of the effects sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or whatever you want to call the warm goey stuff that makes a tarte tatin so irresistible on a chill autumn evening. Except, we know that empirically too. With some hard cider or cognac, we know it makes the evening sublime. There is no scientific fact condemning sugar. There is very compelling evidence though -- which is the nature of the article. For me it just makes the next few days after that yummy autumn evening miserable. Sometimes it's worth taking the beating, and other times not. Also worth taking from the article is that science has read truth and gospel in many things now known to be dead wrong. Thanks for bringing up the article, and for the discussion.


Article on gut flora types:

Comment by Jason Mosher on June 4, 2011 at 6:09am

Patrick if I ever get to looking gaunt I will kick the Paleo diet. :)

With Diabetes in the family(my dad and brother) and the propensity toward it and other autoimmune problems it was a no brainer.  Can't say I have removed sugar completely but I avoid the refined stuff when I can and haven't partaken of the white powdery stuff i grew up with long before I ever heard of paleo/primal.  

Glad gut flora was brought to the conversation as that is what got us started down this particular path.  I feel as well that time will bring scientific evidence to the argument. Call me paranoid but I'm guessing the reason we don't have much study in this arena is sugar and HFCS are big business and studies saying they are bad will hurt someone's bottom line.  Why else would there be ads refuting the ills of HFCS.  All food we process and use ends up as sugar in our system, but it is, like John said, in almost everything on the grocery shelf!  PS I used love frozen Snickers and Milky Ways--alas they have GLUTEN!!! booooooo!

Comment by Jonathan Louie on June 4, 2011 at 7:20am
The very worst health issues I had and that have stayed with me, plaguing me the longest are upper respiratory which includes sinus, ears, nose and throat. I remember being healthy as a rugrat. But when I could walk, I'm sure I went trick or treating and the binge that ensues. Suddenly I was overtaken by yellow-green mucous for years, asthma, infected ears, chronic post-nasal drip leading to cough, and infected tonsils. My body was toxic in its response to all the bad critters that took up residence. Eveything changed for me when my doctor told me to eliminate items in my diet methodologically, and see if it responds better, or worse. As and adult, when I eliminated sugar, I became healthier. When I cut out dairy but for those pre-digested with pro-biotics, I got way healthy. As an adult, I'm so relieved to be rid of that upper respiratory goo. Do I miss Tarte Tatin? Yes. Do I make it and eat it still? Once every autumn I do, and I enjoy the hell out of it that once. But I try to find the sweetest apples, so I can minimize the necessary refined sugar to carmelize the gooey bottom or top. It's not the sweetness I'm keen for. It's the whole complexity of flavor and textures, and the process of cooking it.
Comment by Jonathan Louie on June 4, 2011 at 7:25am
Oh and I'm sure that first dragging on the ground bag of goodies for Halloween's binge was just the beginning of a long craving for sweets ever-there-after. But sugar was considered nutritionally valueless then, like air. Breathe as much or as little as you like -- up to you.
Comment by Debbie on March 4, 2012 at 4:52pm

There is nothing wrong with sugar if used in moderation. Sugarcane is natural.  It belongs to the grass family.  The majority of over weight  people you see are lazy and will eat anything they want to. They tend to be ignorant (and lazy) of common sense.  Just because there are processed foods available to to them (it is a free county) does not mean the manufacturer is guilty of anything.  Obesity is a disease or medical condition, being over weight is most likely a person who over indulges in process foods and basically to lazy to cook healthy foods. No one twists the arm of an over weight person to indulge in processed or fast foods. It is their choice.  So why would or should something natural be banned because of stupidity or ignorance or just laziness of the consumer?

Comment by Jonathan Louie on March 4, 2012 at 8:23pm

Debbie, I am opposed to banning substances, even substances like opium and heroin. Yet, they are banned for a reason. If they are to be banned, then where does the line between one substance and another end? "Is sugar is toxic?" That's undoubtedly a rhetorical question and not a real proposition in America. If it is a bad for people (open for discussion of course), then why are there no constraints on it like there is for other banned substances? The smoking gun points to an economic system which controls some substances but not others, and to who is influencing those regulators who decide this for us in "the free world". And yes, it also points as you say, to people who have no self-control in front of the pantry, but it also points to those of us in front of their stock-market choices. In other words, I may not drink Coca-Cola myself, but the truth is, I do own stock in Coca-Cola. Therein lies the irony, and the reality of the role of profit. The drug-pusher benefits but the user does not.


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