One of my first physicians was also the most memorable.
His nurse would usher me into the exam room to take my vitals, and within a few minutes Dr. Comrie would come in for my exam, close the door, sit down and light a cigarette. He would perch over my chart like a wise owl as he took down my symptoms, his burning Pall Mall marking time with a growing length of tenuously dangling gray ash.
He treated me for asthma and recommended my mother quit smoking in the house. She didn’t.
My dad was also a terrible allergy sufferer and insisted the windows in the car, and in the house, were closed at all times to keep pollen out. Puffs of my mom’s swirling Pall Mall smoke disappeared into our seats, curtains, walls and carpets—and our lungs.
The relationship between smoking and disease had long been firmly established when I left home to live on my own, and since then, smoking and all of its pernicious effects has been legislated away and sin-taxed to a mitigated level.
In the 1990s fat consumption became the health demon of choice. Anything labeled low-fat was considered a healthy choice. There was a catch to removing fat from foods: remove the fat, remove the flavor.
That’s when food manufacturers decided to add sugar to just about everything we eat, from spaghetti sauce to hot dog buns.
One hundred years ago, a typical American would eat a pound or two of sugar every year. Now, the average American eats about 130 pounds of sugar a year. As a point of reference, a very healthy 5-foot-8-inch Katy Perry revealed she weighs 130 pounds, and as slim as she is, there’s no doubt she doesn’t eat much sugar at all.
As another point of reference, there’s a toddler in China who weighs 132 pounds. I wonder what the stroller looks like.
Sugar, unlike other foods, stimulates the brain the same way cocaine does. It’s addictive. We start this addiction early.
In baby formula, sugars are defined as “corn solids.” As a rule of thumb, it’s probably not a good idea to feed an infant anything that isn’t grown on vine or stalk. The day I take the kids to a farm to pick corn solids, we’ll eat them (whatever they are).
It’s not such a stretch. The more addicted we are to sugar, the higher the demand for sugar and the processed foods they flavor. The higher the demand is for these foods, the greater the production. Increased production leads to increased transportation (fuel) and energy expenditure.
Let’s not forget all the shiny food wrappers and plastic bottles that end up in landfills.
Eat less sugar, save the world—and yourself.