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Cannot Eat Just One?

June 12, 2013

By Paul A. Stitt


A friend of mine, Bob, had typical American eating habits — lousy ones. He was very active in sports in high school, and never quite found the time to sit down and eat a decent meal. Instead he grabbed whatever he could, whenever he had time. Like most kids, he made frequent trips to his favorite fast-food spot, and spent the rest of his time munching candy bars and guzzling cola. He couldn’t stand vegetables, but always yearned for a cheeseburger and french fries.

When Bob graduated from college and became a radio disc jockey, his eating habits went from bad to worse. He rushed to work in the morning and spent a few seconds wolfing down his favorite break­fast: a handful of chocolate stars. He was on the air from 10 in the morning until 2 in the afternoon, with no time for lunch. He kept himself going through the afternoon on junk; little wonder he had no appetite when suppertime rolled around! No matter, as soon as his first shift was done, he had to cover a news beat. A quick stop at McDonald’s and he was back to work. When he got home at night, his hunger had returned, so he filled up on popcorn cov­ered with salt and drenched with butter. And throughout the day, he drove himself on with can after can of cola.

“No doubt about it,” Bob recalls to­day, “I was a junk-food addict.”

After a couple of years of this regime, Bob noticed that his health was deteriorating. He seemed to suffer headaches more frequently, and a simple cold would take him weeks to shake. He would come home late at night unable to sleep, and would wake the next morning feeling exhausted and lifeless. He would be unable to func­tion until he had another can of cola and a few more chocolate stars. He often felt restless and irritable, and found that he was getting less and less done on the job.

Then Bob began to experience a sharp pain in his stomach. He remembered that his family had a history of cholesterol problems and colitis. Alarmed, he finally sought the help of a doctor.

Millions of Americans are just like Bob — hopelessly hooked on potato chips, hamburgers, candy bars and cola. Their lives are spent in a miserable limbo between sickness and health. They’re slowly killing themselves, gorging their way into obesity, hypoglycemia, diabetes and heart disease. They are casualties of processed food addition, victims of the Can’t Eat Just One Syndrome. What causes this syndrome, and what is it doing to our bodies?

The organ which controls our craving for food is called the appestat. It is located at the base of the brain, possibly in the hypothalamus (an area of the pituitary gland). The appestat is constantly monitoring the blood for nutrient content. Only when 51 nutrients are present at their proper levels will the individual feel entirely full and satisfied. If any one nutrient is missing, the individual feels hungry.

Many nasty tricks are use by Food Giants to make you overeat. Adding lots of fat, sugar and salt are obvious ones. They know that if they add enough fat, sugar, and salt Americans will eat almost anything — such as George Bush’s favorite pig-out food — pork rinds. But potato chips aren’t much better. They should really be called fat with a small amount of potato added.

The real dirty tricks that food companies use to make you overeat are more subtle and don’t jump out at you when you read the label — things like “natural flavoring” — which sounds very benign, but it can be almost anything. It can be nucleic acid from chromosomes of cells, extracts of yeast cells or waste beef or worse. Rabbi Eidlitz from the Kosher Information Bureau in North Hollywood, California, reported that some ingredients with names like “natural” colors have been known to contain monkey intestines and “artificial flavors” from ground-up cats.

So if you like to eat cats, you’ll know what to look for. One thing for sure, it’s there to make your taste buds go crazy, so that if you eat just one bite, you’re hooked and have to keep right on eating until the bag is empty. These compounds have only one purpose — to make the Food Giants’ sales climb.

The most insidious, most misleading compounds ever added to foods have the sweetest name of all — artificial sweetener — because they’re not added to make foods taste sweet, they’re added to make you overeat. They work, too, don’t they? Have you ever noticed a morbidly obese person walking out of the grocery store with two cases of “diet drink” and four six-packs of candy bars. If diet drinks worked, Americans would be the thinnest people on Earth.

In case you didn’t know, sugar consumption per person has dramatically increased since artificial sweeteners came on the market. In fact, since 1980 average sugar consumption each year in the U.S. has increased 17 pounds per person. How silly of you to think that Nutrasweet replaced sugar — it didn’t. It increased the craving for sugar and the percentage of people overweight also has increased. That couldn’t be Nutrasweet’s fault, could it?

The University of Wisconsin one time tried to do a controlled experiment on the effect of artificial sweeteners on humans. They found that they had to put the people behind prison bars to keep them from snitching food after drinking artificially-sweetened foods. Then somebody brought the test subjects a dozen roses because he felt so sorry that they were locked in a prison cell. The prisoners ate the roses.

Some scientists at the Monell Research Center have figured out why this happens. They have found that as soon as the tongue tastes something sweet, the body converts glucose in the blood into storage fat, causing the blood sugar to drop. If the sweet food contains no sugar, then the blood sugar drops, causing hypoglycemia. You get a real craving for food—real hunger pains. About that time, you dash into the kitchen, inhale any food you can find, then calmly walk back to the TV as if you haven’t had a thing to eat.

A little while later, you feel guilty for eating that junk, so you have another diet soda to make up for all those calories you ate in the previous hour. Then you have another major craving, and the cycle starts all over again. Sound familiar? Now you know why the obese often get fatter. The harder the obese try to avoid calories (the more diet soda they have), the more problems they have. The Food Giants laugh all the way to the bank. As they get richer, Americans get fatter, and they don’t care.

Have you ever eaten just one Oreo cookie? Bet you can’t, either. They look so sweet and innocent! What you should realize is that the Nabisco Company spent millions developing that formula so that you can’t eat just one. It contains 23 different appetite stimulants and 11 artificial colors. I saw the recipe and I was aghast. It’s not easy to make a cookie that will hook every last American. So next time you buy a package of Oreo cookies, be assured that you’ll eat them all at one time and gain another pound. And, the Food Giants will have another dollar in their -pocket.

Another dirty trick the food companies have been pulling on the American public since 1911 is hydrogenated fats.

They have been selling partially hydrogenated fats (margarine and shortening) as a healthy, kosher alternative to lard, butter and other fat.

Until the ’80s, no one tried to find out if it was any more healthful than lard or butter. No one, that is, except for a few scientists like Ralph Holman at the Hormel Institute, who intuitively knew that hydrogenated fats were inherently dangerous. Finally, Harvard School of Public Health did a long-term study by asking people how much margarine they were eating, then sat back and waited to see what they died from. Lo and behold, they discovered that the people who ate as little as three pats a day of margarine had twice the heart-attack rate of those who ate less than a pat a day, far worse than those who ate lard or butter.

I hope that every marga­rine manufacturer in the country gets his pants sued off for grossly misleading people about how healthful margarine is.

You’ll find margarine or shortening or partially hydrogenated vegetable fat in nearly every bread, cookie and cake sold in America.

Your nutritional needs vary from your neighbor. Your genetic make-up, your age and your living conditions all have an effect on your nutrient needs. If you smoke, you may need more vitamin C. If you live in an area of high air pollution, you may have a shortage of vitamin D. If you’re on the Pill, chances are you have deficiencies in vitamins B6 and B12, among others. Scientific evidence suggests that the nutritional requirements of healthy adults for calcium may vary by as much as 500%.

The requirements for vitamin A and for thiamine (vitamin Bl) may vary over a fourfold range. In fact, the need for some nutrients may vary between individuals by 1,000%. With all this in mind, it’s easy to see how foolish it is to rely on the basic four food groups for nutrients. Your nutrient requirements depend upon your own special situation — not on some arbitrary standard set by bureaucrats in Washington!

It is important to remember that the body’s hunger mechanism is affected by the presence of all nutrients, not just calories. Caloric intake is only one part of good nutrition. Dieters especially are prone to the misconception that calories are all they need to count, so they fill their meager calorie allowances with foods that are high in processed carbohydrates and almost devoid of other essential nutrients, foods which can only aggravate their hunger, yet never give their bodies what they really need. At the same time, the empty calories they eat rob their bodies of what nutrients they have stored. This nutrient depletion can lead to lethargy, irritability and, in some severe cases, even psychosis.

Cravings — unusual desires for certain kinds of foods — can often be a signal of nutrient deficiency. If you have a potassium deficiency, for instance, you may develop a yearning for bananas. A shortage of vitamin C may make you hanker for oranges or some other citrus fruits. Following such cravings is usually a good idea, although it can lead to some surprises.

For instance, let’s suppose you have a copper deficiency. Now, sunflower seeds are an excellent source of copper, and if you try a few you’ll soon be gobbling them by the handful. Your body is telling you that you really need the copper you’re getting from the seeds. Unfortunately, sunflower seeds are also high in calories, and you may become concerned that you’re getting more calories than you need. No need to worry, though — in a few days you’ll have raised your copper level back to normal, and a small handful of sunflower seeds a day will be all that’s necessary to satisfy your craving.

Nowadays, however, it’s easy to be tricked when you follow your cravings. For example, if you’re not getting enough B vitamins, you may find yourself longing for a beer—and for good reason. Throughout human history, beer has been one of the primary sources of the B vitamin complex. That good, yeasty flavor in the suds tells your body it’s getting what it wants. The problem is that American beer manufacturers have found a way to remove the vitamins from their product. The yeasty flavor is supplied by chemicals. As a result, you can now drink glass after glass of American beer and never get the B vitamins your body needs. So sometimes it’s important to “teach” your body that it can’t always have what it thinks it wants, especially when what it wants is junk.

Hunger is affected by many factors: not only nutrient level, but also the physical volume of the food, the amount of effort it takes to chew it, and how much water is in it for digestion, to name just a few. We are only beginning to learn about many of these factors. But your body knows about them, and cries out for them whenever it feels a nutrient deficiency. What do you do when your body comes crying to you? If you’re like most Americans, you give it the worst thing possible — processed foods.

Processed foods are foods that have been changed — foods no longer in the form in which they are found in nature. Actually, most foods, even natural foods, undergo some processing. Corn, for example, must be cooked in order to be properly used by the body. Nothing is wrong with processing, if kept to an absolute minimum. But the majority of processed foods found on grocer’s shelves are processed beyond excuse. Vegetables are cooked to mush, raw sugar is refined to sucrose, potatoes are turned into dehydrated flakes. Some processed foods have never been in the state of nature. Instead, they are fabricated in laboratories, created from chemicals, vegetable protein, and hydrogenated oil. When we say processed foods, then, we really mean foods that have been unreasonably changed.

Processed foods are terrible things for your body for two reasons — they are stripped of their nutrient value in the refining process, and they are poisoned with sugar and other harmful additives.

Wheat flour is one food which is especially ravaged by processing. In the refining process, more than half of each of the most essential nutrients is sold for making pet food. The milling process destroys 40% of the chromium present in the whole grain, as well as 86% of the manganese, 89% of the cobalt, 68% of the copper, 78% of the zinc, and 48% of the molybdenum. By the time it is completely refined, it has lost most of its phosphorus, iron, and thiamine, and a good deal of its niacin and riboflavin. Its crude fiber con­tent has been cut down considerably as well.

White flour is wheat flour that has been plundered of most of its vitamin E, important oils and amino acids. Yet all of these nutrients are needed for a satisfied, healthy body. While whole-wheat flour is one of the most nutritious foods, processing sees to it that the white flour found in most products is nutritionally worthless.

In addition to refining, the cooking process also robs foods of their natural nutrient value. Heat is especially harmful to pyridoxine (vitamin B6), and it can destroy other nutrients as well. The soft, mushy vegetables you buy in cans contain only traces of the nutrients they had when they were fresh in the field — canned peas have lost all but 6% of their nutrient value by the time they are eaten.

Raw apricots have more than twice the vitamin C of canned apricots in heavy syrup, as well as 177% of the niacin, 150% of the riboflavin, and 145% of the vitamin A. You do get one “bonus” from the canned apricots, however: 44% more carbohydrates.  Break­fast cereals fare no better in the processing game. The popping, puffing and extruding they go through cut their food value down substantially.

What about the “enriched” and “vitamin fortified” foods? They’re an outlandish rip-off. For example, white flour is enriched with vitamins only after it had been stripped of several times that many. Even after enrichment, white flour has less than half the calcium, and far less than a third of the phosphorus and potassium of whole-wheat flour, even though it has more carbohydrates than whole wheat.  No wonder that, in one research project, two-thirds of the rats kept on a 90-day diet of enriched white bread died before the ex­periment was finished!  

The eight vitamins sprayed on most “fortified” breakfast cereals represent only a small portion of the nutrients originally present in the grain —not to mention fiber, an important ingredient which has been removed almost entirely. What’s more, many of the synthetic vitamins added to foods cannot be properly used by the body. For instance, the iron in most “iron-enriched” breads is provided by phosphate salts of iron. These salts may have the light, pleasing color that bread manufacturers think the public is looking for, but the iron they provide is very poorly absorbed in the body. To top it off, enriched foods often contain preserva­tives, such as phosphates or EDTA, which serve to diminish the availability of the iron still further.

Most importantly, we are only now discovering the nutritional properties of the parts of whole foods that are thrown away in refining processes — bran and wheat germ — are two good examples of things once thought to be “waste” products. Clearly, when the Food Giants spray a few cents worth of synthetic vitamins on junk food and then claim that their products are as good or better than whole, natural foods, they are perpetrating an enormous fraud.

But the Food Giants do more than just plunder their products of nutrients. Even though they’ve made the foods nutritionally worthless, they’re not satisfied until they’ve turned them into poison. And their favorite ingredient for poisoning foods is refined white sugar.

White sugar—or sucrose—is one of the purest substances in the grocery store. It is chemically almost identical to glucose, which is the form digested sugar takes in the bloodstream. It contains no nutrients; an unfortunate fact, since sucrose requires other nutrients, such as chromium, sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium and many B vitamins, in order to be metabolized. Since it is a sort of predigested sugar, it passes directly through the lower intestine and enters the blood­stream almost immediately.

A terrifying cycle begins. The dramatic rise in blood-sugar levels demolishes the delicate oxygen/glucose balance that the body maintains in the blood, and the individual feels tense, nervous and hyperactive. The islets in the pancreas kick into high gear, producing massive doses of insulin to get rid of the sudden sugar load. The insulin carries the sugar to the liver, where it is converted and stored as the complex sugar glycogen. The process continues madly, and, as quickly as it came, the sugar levels plummet. The body’s cells, especially those of the brain, are starving. The individual feels sluggish and drowsy, and may even lie down and fall asleep. The pancreas shuts down, and the adrenal glands and pituitary gland produce hormones which begin converting glycogen back to glucose. 

When the individual awakes, his body is screaming for more white sugar to restore depleted blood glucose, and as soon as he answers (perhaps with a breakfast of chocolate stars), the roller-coaster ride starts all over again.  Although we’ll be discussing the larger health effects of sugar consumption a little later in the chapter, it is enough to say for now that the wildly fluctuating blood-sugar levels caused by sucrose ingestion, which elevates insulin levels, can be enormously damaging to the pancreas, liver, brain and other organs.

Sugar is poison, and it’s everywhere. You know about the sugar in your coffee, and you know it’s in snacks like marsh-mallows, chocolate bars, gum and soda pop. But you probably don’t know that you’re getting a lot of sugar from bologna, catsup, chicken noodle soup, mayonnaise, biscuit mix, medicine, and even cigarettes.

Between 1913 and 1971, refined sugar consumption in America rose from 76.4 pounds per person per year to 101.5 pounds. At the same time, the amount of sugar used directly by the consumer dropped from 52.1 pounds to 42.7 pounds! This means that the better part of our increased sugar consumption — some 70 pounds per person each year — has come from sugar added to processed foods. It’s not hard to see where the increase came from: Del Monte canned peaches in heavy syrup are 12% sugar by weight; General Foods’ Tang and Jell-O are 13%, and Morton’s coconut cream pie is 24% sugar.

It’s no secret that breakfast cereals are some of the most sugar-poisoned foods around. It’s not surprising that the food giants are fighting legislation that should force them to print sugar content right on the box! Cereals like Kellogg’s Sugar Corn Pops and General Mills’ Count Chocula are more than 45% sugar, and Kellogg’s Froot Loops contain nearly 50% sugar. Sugar Smacks lead the way, though, with 56.4% sugar. Even the “health” cereals, such as Quaker 100% Natural and Kellogg’s Bran Flakes, can contain nearly 25% sugar. Never mind the reassuring “vitamin fortified” labels on the boxes — pre-sweetened cereals are killing your children.

Sugar is just one ingredient that has become far too prevalent in the American diet. Fat is another. In moderate amounts, of course, fat has its place in good nutrition. But we’re far past overdoing it — our fat consumption has risen from 114 pounds per person in 1961 to 125 pounds in 1973, and the figure is much higher now. This dramatic rise in fat consumption is a direct result of our love affair with processed foods. The Department of Agriculture has noted that the increased popularity of convenience and snack foods, as well as hamburger joints and carry-out chicken and fish restaurants, has contributed to this increase.

Of course, the Food Giants love fat. It’s a cheap ingredient, it gives greater weight to foods, and it stimulates the appetite. They add it liberally to everything from margarine to breakfast cereal. Most of this fat is in the form of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, a form which upsets cholesterol metabolism. Leading researchers are now recommending only 10% of calories from fat or 25 grams per day. The USDA Eating Right Pyramid recommends a maximum of 50 to 65 grams a day, depending on work output.

Salt is another of the Food Giants’ favorite additives used to excess. The human body needs some salt, but it doesn’t need a lot. Some doctors estimate the daily requirement to be about half a gram. In fact, excessive salt has been found to contribute to high blood pressure and hyper­tension. But the food scientists know that excess salt stimulates the appetite, so they dump it generously onto potato chips, bread, processed meat, canned vegetables and a host of other foods. By the time a can of peas reaches your table, daubed with butter and dashed with a salt shaker, its salt content is 225 times what it was when it was fresh in the field. Today Americans consume 6 to 18 grams of salt a day.

The average American also eats nearly 10 pounds a year of some 2,000 other additives. These range from the well-known ones, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), to butylated hydroxybenzoate, the stuff that stabilizes the foam in your beer. While many of these additives may be relatively harmless, some are clearly dangerous. MSG, for example, has been linked to brain damage in in­ants, and one researcher has found that as much as 50% of the hyperactivity among American children may be caused by artificial flavorings and colorings.

But most food additives are simply a mystery. No one knows what they are doing to you, either alone or in combination. Even the government isn’t sure—it has changed its mind on 8 of the 19 food colorings once declared “U.S. Certified.” But the Food Giants do know one thing — chemical additives mean profits. Preservatives like BHT, BHA and EDTA keep foods fresh for months, enabling them to be manufactured more cheaply in huge, centralized factories and shipped long distances, or stockpiled until the price goes up.

Artificial flavorings and colorings, along with “flavor enhancers” like MSG, allow the food conglomerates to tickle your taste buds while sparing them the expense of real, natural ingredients. So even though most chemical additives have never been fully tested for safety, the Food Giants use them with enthusiasm.

Ruined natural ingredients, plus sugar, salt, fat, and chemical additives. Put them all together, and what have you got? You’ve got tantalizing, phony foods that are high in refined carbohydrates and calories and devoid of nutritional value. It’s a recipe for destruction — the formula for “Can’t Eat Just One.”

Here’s how the syndrome works. Say you sit down in front of the TV with a bag of chips and a can of cola. You pop one of the chips in your mouth. Its salty flavor entices you, and you’re soon munching them by the handful. All the while, your body is getting hit with the old one-two: lots of simple carbohydrates to digest, and no nutrients in the food with which to digest them. Your system starts robbing its own nutrient stores — assuming it still has any nutrients in reserve — but these are soon gone. Your bloodstream is depleted of nutrients, and your appestat tells you that you need something more. Your body is crying, “Food, food!” But you’re not giving it food. You’re munching down more chips.

You take a swig of cola. Your body, already locked in combat with the garbage you’ve been eating, reels from the sudden dose of sugar. After a few minutes of sugar high, your pancreas is working overtime, filling you with insulin. Soon your blood­stream is seriously sugar-depleted. You reach for another can of cola.

On and on it goes, throughout the evening. You stuff yourself with garbage that can’t fill you up, but makes you thirstier, and you guzzle down poison that will only make you tired. Soon the bag of chips is gone and you’ve polished off three cans of cola. You get up and run to the kitchen, looking for that bag of potato chips, or maybe a peanut butter sandwich on soft white bread. On the way out you grab a fourth can of cola from the ‘fridge.

You know you shouldn’t be eating so much, especially after such a big supper. But you can’t help yourself: you’re hooked. You can’t eat just one.

Does the scenario sound familiar? Late-night binges aren’t the only signs of the syndrome. The harried businessman who wolfs down three or four hamburgers at the local Hardee’s and the 10-year-old girl who gobbles two bowls of Cap’n Crunch at breakfast are both victims of Can’t Eat Just One, and there are millions of others. Naturally, the syndrome means big profits for the Food Giants, and the Conspiracy of the Sales Curve insures that they’ll do whatever is necessary to get you to eat more and more of their product. If that means more refining, more sugar, more chemicals, then so be it.

The history of the food industry is replete with examples of this constant and insidious process. It was the introduction of pre-sweetened cereals, for instance, which saved a flagging cereal market in 1948, and the Food Giants learned that the more sugar they added to their products, the better they sold. Bread manufacturers have also learned that white bread sells much better than whole-wheat bread. Not only is nutrient-stripped white flour less satisfying, but white bread’s soft, gummy texture insures that several slices can be bolted in one sitting. No doubt about it! Can’t Eat Just One is making the huge food conglomerates rich.

But what is it doing to you?

Well, the Food Giants aren’t the only ones getting huge on processed foods — Americans are, too. Americans take in far too many calories and exercise far too little; the result is obesity. Today obesity strikes some three million adolescents and 30 to 40% of all adults. And the problem gets worse as you get older: 60 to 70% of all Americans over the age of 40 are over­weight. Obesity is a killer. It is considered one of the primary contributing factors in cardiovascular disease, a scourge which took the lives of 440 of every 100,000 people in the U.S. in 197819 and even more in 1992. Obesity can also lead to hypertension (high blood pressure), atherosclerosis, hernia, gallbladder disease, diabetes mellitus and liver diseases. Researchers also believe that obesity can increase the risk of many types of cancer, including colon cancer, cancer of the uterus and female kidney cancer. In fact, nearly all of the leading causes of death in this country can be traced, at least in part, back to obesity, and the millions who have lost their health to these diseases are victims of the Food Giants.

The Can’t Eat Just One Syndrome is also responsible for the epidemic of hypoglycemia in this country. When I say “epidemic” I am dead serious: Marilyn Light, Executive Director of the Adrenal Metabolic Research Society of the Hypoglycemic Foundation, reports that 49.2% of the population of the U.S. is hypoglycemic. Hypoglycemia is a condition in which the body cannot metabolize sugar properly, and, given the make-up of the American diet, it’s not surprising that half of us suffer from it. After the pancreas and other organs of the endocrine system have received years and years of punishmerit from massive doses of refined sugar and the resulting insulin and chromium depletion, they simply go haywire. They produce too much insulin at the drop of a hat, and the individual suffers from chronically low blood sugar. This leads to a plethora of worrisome symptoms: dizziness, fainting, headaches, fatigue, drowsiness, muscle pains and cramps, coldness in the extremities, numbness, insomnia, restlessness, illogical fears, nervous break­down … the list goes on and on.

Hypoglycemia has become so much a part of people’s lives that its effects are taken for granted. The mid-morning cravings for a “pick-me-up,” brought on by the huge doses of insulin your body had produced to try to cope with a sugar-laden breakfast, has been institutionalized into the coffee break. Like to lie down for a nap after supper? Chances are good you’re suffering from a hypoglycemic effect. Are the kids cranky until they get a chocolate bar? They’re probably well on the way to hypoglycemia themselves, if they’re not already there. You may not think much about these behaviors, but they are a sign that something is dangerously wrong. Hypoglycemia can be devastating to the endocrine, cardiovascular and nervous systems, and prolonged hypoglycemia can be a one-way ticket to diabetes.

A diabetic’s pancreas, after years of producing too much insulin, reaches the point where it can no longer produce sufficient insulin. The body is now completely unable to deal with sugar. A sugar load will strike the body in full force, cause extreme feelings of tension and nervousness, and will then disappear almost completely, causing a catastrophically low blood sugar level, which can lead to stupor or even diabetic coma. Ironically, when a diabetic feels the grogginess of a low-blood-sugar state coming on, his doctor usually tells him to eat something sweet — a candy bar or some gum — but this only starts the cycle all over again. Even though their problems are chemically opposite, then, the hypoglycemic and the diabetic share many of the same symptoms, although the diabetic’s are often more severe. For both, an inability to cope with sugar leads to a roller-coaster effect of wildly fluctuating blood-sugar levels. For both, too, the cure is the same: a diet with moderate amounts of more complex carbohydrates in high-fiber foods, which allow digested sugar to enter the blood more slowly and at a rate that the system can handle. Adding chromium to the diet also will help prevent high and low blood-sugar levels. Dr. Richard Anderson of the USDA discovered that adding sufficient chromium to the diet could eliminate one half of the diabetes in this country.

The frustrating thing about diabetes is that the disease has been known for hundreds of years to crop up whenever refined sugar becomes a major part of the diet, because refined sugar depletes the body of chromium and other nutrients. For instance, the increase in diabetes mortality in Denmark between 1880 and 1934 is in close correlation to the increase in sugar consumption in that country. In a recent study, Yemenite Jewish immigrants to Israel were shown to have a low incidence of diabetes until they had consumed a Western diet high in sugar for several years.  It’s time that people — especially diabetics or those with diabetes in their family histories — become aware that the disease can be avoided. As it is, the swelling ranks of diabetics can consider themselves victims of the Food Giants.

Alcoholism is another byproduct of the Can’t Eat Just One Syndrome. Alcohol is, in fact, nothing but a super-refined sugar, containing two carbon atoms per molecule rather than the six in sucrose. The simpler molecular structure allows alcohol to enter the bloodstream much faster, directly through the stomach lining, but makes it produce as many calories as an equal amount of fat. The result is a quicker, more intense “high” than one normally gets from sugar, and, of course, a greater depression afterward. It’s not unusual, then, for those who have become bored with the “pick-me-up” they used to get from sugar to turn to the even faster lift of alcohol instead.

The link between a junk-food diet and alcoholism is quite well established. One fascinating study was done by a group of researchers from Loma Linda University. They divided rats into two groups. One group was fed a typical “teenage” diet: glazed doughnuts, sweetened soft rolls, hot dogs, carbonated beverages, spaghetti and meatballs, apple pie and chocolate cake, white bread, green beans, tossed salad, candy and cookies. The other group of rats was given a diet judged nutritionally sound for adolescents, which included fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole-wheat flour. Then each group was given the choice of two things to drink: pure water, or an alcohol/water mixture. The rats on the nutritionally sound diet didn’t care much for the alcohol and stuck mostly to the pure water. The rats on the junk food diet, however, craved the alcohol mix and drank it almost all of the time. The researchers concluded that the sort of high-carbohydrate/low-nutrient diet that most teenagers — and other junk food addicts — live on can create a biological thirst for alcohol. The rising alcoholism rate among teenagers should surprise no one who knows the kind of garbage served in most high-school lunch programs. So if you want your children to become alcoholics, start them on the way with sugar.

Diseases such as diabetes and alcoholism are the more drastic effects of Can’t Eat Just One. But there are more subtle, more pervasive effects that a high-carbo­hydrate/low nutrient diet is having on our everyday health and behavior. As Dr. Merrill S. Read, director of the Growth and Development Branch of the National Insti­tute of Child Health and Development, has pointed out, students who start the day with a poor breakfast are often apathetic, inattentive and unruly. Dr. Read quotes studies which indicate that children who exhibit such “negative” behaviors are quieted down by a nutritional mid-morning snack. Dr. Ben Feingold, a California allergy specialist, has found that hyperactive children can be helped with a diet that restricts artificial flavorings and colorings. But you don’t need complex medical studies: Every time you have to drag your kids kicking and screaming past the supermarket candy counter, you get a clear view of how junk food is affecting their behavior.

How about your behavior? Research has established links between poor nutrition and emotional trauma. Junk-food addiction has been shown to contribute to depression-induced suicide, automobile accidents, juvenile delinquency, sexual problems, senility and other problems. And you don’t have to be a potential suicide or an ax-murderer to be a victim of the Can’t Eat Just One Syndrome. That grogginess and irritability you feel when you get up in the morning, the sluggishness you suffer by mid-afternoon, the fight you have with your spouse over dinner, your insomnia at night all are signs that processed food is taking its toll on your life.

Who knows what effect junk food is having on our entire nation? Statistics indicate that violent-crime increases in this country parallel the growth in sugar consumption. Officials at the Montgomery County Detention Center in Maryland have found that inmates who were unruly and had poor morale when continually served prepackaged, processed meals enjoyed improved behavior when they were given a diet containing less sugar, more fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole­wheat bread.

America is becoming a nation of processed-food junkies, and the effects are all around us. Our overfed, under­nourished condition is contributing to everything from our rising crime rates to the increase in highway fatalities. And J.I. Rodale, in his book, Diet and War, has pointed out that excess consumption of sugar, white flour and meat always seem to be accompanied by an aggressive and militaristic national policy. If anyone seeks the cause for the so-called “decline of America,” let him look first in America’s kitchens.

The ones most devastated by the growth of the processed food industry are the populations of the underdeveloped nations.  In their insatiable lust for sales, the food monsters are competing for overseas markets. They are pouring millions into Third World advertising campaigns, trying to convince the poor Brazilian farmer that “He Deserves a Break Today”, and the starving child of Ghana that “Things Go Better With Coke.” Indeed, my Colombian friend who preferred Coca-Cola to milk is one of the Food Giants’ victims.

The Food Giants are certainly racking up a lot of victims in the Third World. Two noted food researchers, Frances Moore Lappe and Joseph Collins, have visited stores in the rural areas of poor countries and have found chewing gum sold by the stick, Ritz crackers sold one-by-one, and two-packs of Twinkles split up so the awful things can be sold separately. The demand for this poison has been generated by food-conglomerate advertising that is doing a great job of teaching people in poor lands “that their traditional diets of beans, corn, millet and rice are worthless as com­pared to what Americans eat.” To the food conglomerates, poor people turning from native, whole foods to processed junk means profit; to the people themselves it means slow death. They spend the little money they have on high-carbohydrate, low-nutrient foods, and the resultant nutrient depletion of their bodies sends them further down the road to malnutrition.

One area in which promotion of processed foods has been particularly successful — and horrifying — has been the area of infant formula. Billboards and radio spots, free samples and fake “milk nurses” have convinced poor mothers to reject breast feeding as “old-fashioned,” and to turn instead to powdered formula, which they can neither afford nor prepare properly. Thousands of children a year are dying from the “bottle disease” epidemic, while the formula companies — most no­tably Nestle — grow rich.

The starving child in India and the comfortable American housewife — both are victims of the triumph of processed foods. Today, nearly 10% of the world’s population cannot afford to buy sufficient food. But 20% of those who can, choose instead to buy something undernourishing.   This, in the end, is the ultimate aim of the Food Giants: to conquer the entire world with massive advertising and addictive products. The results are horrifying in the underdeveloped lands, where knowledge of nutrition is scarce. But even wealthy Americans, who should knowbetter, spend less than 10 cents of their grocery dollar on fresh fruits and vegetables, and the health effects of this neglect are enormous. Only 20% of Americans eat a low-fat diet and only 15% get enough nutrients every day. Sadly, only 3% get the combination of low fat and adequate nutrients. Must we be doomed to waste more and more of our resources on foods that are killing us? Can nothing be done?

We look in vain to the government for help. The federal health establishment had until 1992 been spreading information on nutrition that is worse than useless. For instance, they have been responsible for the myth that all one needs to do to insure good nutrition is to eat foods from the “Four Basic Food Groups”: breads and cereals, meats, dairy products, fruits and vegetables. No matter that the bread is denuded white bread, that the cereal is pre-sweetened, that the milk has been broken down and formed into “processed cheese food,” or that the fruit comes in heavy, sugary syrup.

One of the biggest pieces of misinformation that the government has spread is the “Recommended Daily Allowance.” We have already seen that the RDA can tell us little about our own nutritional needs as individuals. But if that weren’t reason enough for scrapping it, the fact that the RDA itself keeps changing erratically is. Look, for instance, at the RDA figure for pantothenic acid that had again been removed from the list. Did our physical needs change so much over time? Of course not; science simply proved once again that it doesn’t know as much about good nutrition as our own bodies do. In fact, there’s only one point on which nutritionists agree about the RDA: The allowance for most of the listed nutrients is drastically too low. There’s little reason to wonder why this should be so. Most of the men who make up the RDA list are food industry officials themselves. They’re only trying to save the Food Giants “unnecessary” work.

One study that I found was done at the University of Wisconsin in 1967, but not published until 1976 in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The study did show that “balanced” diets according to the basic four food groups were severely lacking in eight different nutrients. The study was carefully done by weighing food before serving and subtracting for plate waste, etc. Even the University Extension people were unaware of the study that had been published seven years before.

The public knows very little about nutrition. Instead, it pays attention to the advertisements of the Food Giants. People buy what the food conglomerates make them want. More than 70% of weekday food advertisements time is spent in hawking garbage.  To the Food Giants, sales are more important than nutrition. Mean­while, the customers are being brainwashed — lulled into thinking that because we have a Department of Health and Human Services that approves these processed foods, they must be good to eat. They’re tragically mistaken. The time has come for people to start reading labels and paying attention to what they put in their bodies.

Until food companies are required to pass a test for nutritional value in a product, like flax did, before it’s put on the market, and unless the government ad­vises people which foods are so nutritionally worthless that an animal can’t even survive on them, the consumer will continue to be in the dark about nutrition. The federal food agencies should be pre­pared to require that all products must satisfy a sufficient amount of the body’s nutrient needs in order to earn the name “food.” Otherwise, the public should be warned against them.

We do, in fact, have such a nutritional testing program in this country — but it’s for pet foods. In order for a product to be labeled “dog food,” it must satisfy all the nutritional requirements of the animal. It must be tested on living animals, and these tests must be conducted for a minimum of two years. We have already seen how much effort and expense food companies like Quaker spend on pet-food testing. If so much attention can be paid to pet food, why can’t more be paid to human food? Why is the government more interested in the health of a dog than in the health of his master? When will we ever get our priorities in order?

In his fascinating book, “Paradox of Plenty,” Harvey Wallenstein give a detailed explanation of the philosophy and growth of the food industry from 1930 to 1990. He lays out in explicit detail the corrupt thinking and proves with thousands of referenced articles how the American food industry has put packaging, flavor, advertising gimmicks, clowns, etc., ahead of the all important reason for eating food — nutrition. “Paradox of Plenty” is a scholarly work that fully indicates the food industry as the super cause of American obesity and runaway sickness costs. I recommend it as a “must read.”

Remember Bob, the junk-food Junkie? His doctor sat him down and asked him a question so few doctors, even today, ever think of asking: “What have you been eating?” Bob told him of the orgy of candy, cake and fast food that his diet had become. His doctor told him firmly that he must cut out all the garbage and begin to eat right. No more chocolate stars for breakfast, no more lunches at McDonald’s. When he wanted a snack, he was to eat fruit. When he was thirsty, he was restricted to water or fruit juice. Bob, frightened at his disintegrating health, decided to give it a try.

Bob’s new diet turned his life around. His acid stomach disappeared, and so did his insomnia. Headaches didn’t plague him as they used to, and he no longer had that groggy feeling in the morning. More importantly, Bob just plain felt better. He had more energy, enjoyed life more, accomplished more. He found himself grow­ing more relaxed and thoughtful, more in touch with himself. Oh, he admitted to an occasional can of cola or a rushed fast-food lunch, but for the most part he had said good-bye to junk and life seemed a lot nicer. At his last check-up, the doctor was amazed at his improved physical condition.

In a seductive world of foods destined to kill him, Bob saved himself. You can, too.


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