Christof Plothe, DO: Avoiding the Sugar Trap and How to Eat Healthy

During a special Halloween episode of Better Way Live with Emma Sron on Monday, the 30th of October 2023, WCH Steering Committee member Christof Plothe, DO highlighted the importance of avoiding the ‘sugar trap’ and how most chronic diseases are related to our diet.

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Mainstreaming sugar, destroying health

There has been an enormous increase in chronic diseases in Western society since World War 2. According to Christof Plothe DO, about 80% of these diseases are related to our diet, with refined sugar being the greatest culprit.

The massive increase in sugar consumption hasn’t been an accident – it’s been promoted for decades by industry. Firstly, in the 1950s and 60s, the sugar industry worked with scientists to downplay the role of sucrose in causing coronary heart disease, and to make people believe that fat and cholesterol were the problem. Then, in the 1970s, food scientists discovered what they called the ‘bliss point’ – levels of salt, fat and sugar that actually make processed foods addictive, enticing consumers to buy those products, and increasing profits for the manufacturers. It’s no surprise then that today about 80% of supermarket-bought food is loaded with sugar.

Sugar has been shown experimentally to be eight times more addictive than cocaine! It triggers the body’s dopamine-based reward system, which ensures that we always want to ‘come back for more’. Our palates are trained from an early age – even in utero, according to Christof, where the mother’s sugar-rich diet can predispose her baby to obesity later in life.

Our sugar-dependency has become so mainstream that WHO now says that 25 grams (six teaspoons or eight cubes) of added sugar per day is acceptable. It’s worse in the USA, with the CDC and FDA stating that twice that amount is reasonable – despite the obesity crisis in that country where two-thirds of adults are considered overweight.

However, as the following graphic illustrates, it is quite difficult to remain within these recommended limits:

photo 2023 10 31 12 13 11

The USA leads the way in sugar consumption, with an average of 126.4 grams per person consumed per day, and 90% of the population eating more than the amount suggested by the already over-generous guideline.

One of the major contributors to the increase in sugar consumption was the introduction in 1974 of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), an industrially produced sweetener now found in most convenience foods. The fructose in HFCS has been identified as the main cause of obesity, metabolic disease, and fatty liver.

Not as sweet as it seems

The industrialisation of sweetness has had multiple impacts on our health. Type 2 diabetes is the most obvious metabolic disease resulting from a high-sugar diet, but this also contributes to all other chronic diseases that afflict modern society: heart attack, stroke, dementia, gout, immune suppression, cancer, metabolic syndrome, and even premature ageing.

In his presentation, Christof described some of the physiological processes that contribute to these conditions.

YOU are sweet enough! 

The noticeable improvements in health that result from reducing our sugar intake are a motivation to be patient with ourselves during the relatively short period of adaptation that is inevitable as we literally ‘detox’ from a high-sugar diet.

In addition to obvious physical improvements such as weight loss and pain relief, one soon becomes mentally sharper, and emotionally more balanced. Most importantly, our new eating habits can prevent and even heal chronic conditions.

Christof offers some tips to help with this transition, including:

  • Get high-sugar foods out of your kitchen.
  • Eat two to three meals a day, and don’t snack in between.
  • Use sweeteners in their natural form, e.g. dates, maple syrup, honey, molasses.
  • Monitor your blood sugar, HbA1c, cholesterol, potassium levels.
  • Take potassium, which is required to store sugar as glycogen rather than fat; kale and legumes are good natural sources.
  • Eat colourful food and fermented foods to feed your friendly gut bacteria.

Eating well is one of the foundation stones of the ‘Better Way’.

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