’10 Day Detox Diet’ author Mark Hyman tells how to end sugar addiction and clean up your diet
NICOLE LYN PESCE
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Sugar is killing us.
It’s not the couple of teaspoons we’re stirring into our morning coffee, but the sweetened additives hidden inside processed foods — even the seemingly healthy, low-fat ones like cereal and tomato sauce — that we eat every day.
“Some animal studies show that sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine,” says Dr. Mark Hyman, who’s been researching the effect of the sweet stuff on our systems for 20 years, and has compiled the latest findings into his new book, “The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet.”
“Sugar is the new nicotine. Sugar is the new fat — except fat is not addictive in the way that sugar is,” Hyman says. “And worse, sugar actually causes diabetes and obesity.”
Nearly 70% of Americans and 1.5 billion people worldwide are overweight, and that’s expected to balloon to 2.3 billion people worldwide by 2015.
It’s not as if government agencies aren’t condemning sugar left and right. Yet the public isn’t catching on. Hyman believes our crushing addiction to sugar and flour tucked inside processed foods simply keeps us hooked and hungrier for more junk.
“If it was as simple as eating less and exercising more, which is what our government and our food industry tells us, we’d all be skinny,” says Hyman. “If people can control themselves and not be lazy gluttons, we’d all be fine.”
Processed foods are filled with sugar, fat and additives, says Hyman.
As he researched his latest book, the root of the problem truly became obvious to Hyman.
“People can’t manage their behavior and their eating because their taste buds and their biology have all been hijacked by processed, hyper-palatable, high glucose, high sugar foods that drive their hormones and neurotransmitters to make them eat more,” he says. “We’re consuming pharmacological doses of sugar and flour never before seen in the history of the human race. We’re consuming on average 146 pounds of flour and 152 pounds of sugar every year. That is a lot.”
These deadly white powders are quickly absorbed into our bodies, which are biologically programmed for food shortages, not today’s abundance. That’s why that load of sugar, carbs and calories gets stored, fat-banking, if you will, for a starvation period that never happens.
As a result, insulin levels spike, which causes a domino effect that includes storing more belly fat, lowering your good cholesterol but boosting the bad stuff that causes heart disease, and a reduction in hormone levels that can affect sex drive, cause depression and even trigger acne flareups and other skin problems. Yet you also feel hungrier and crave more sugar and carbs, which make these symptoms worse.
“You feel like crap, and you don’t realize these symptoms are probably connected to what you eat,” says Hyman, whose new “10-Day Detox Diet” — featured in The News this week — is intended to help people break the cycle of food addiction by removing not just sugar from their diets, but also flour, processed foods filled with additives and chemicals, and inflammatory items like gluten and dairy that people may not realize they’re allergic to.
“This isn’t a fast. This is a medical detox,” explains Hyman, who used to treat patients addicted to drugs and alcohol.
“Sometimes you have to put them in a hospital to help them medically withdraw from addictive substances, and food addiction is very real,” he says. “That’s actually why I call this a detox diet, because it’s getting you back to a normal physiological state, and it’s done through the use of food as medicine.”
Studies show that Americans eat half of their meals outside the home. If one of those is a supersized fast-food meal, they’d have to run 4 miles a day for a week just to burn off that burger, fries and Coke.
Speaking of soda, those empty liquid calories — even from diet soft drinks — are making us fat. One can of soda a day increases a kid’s chance of obesity by 60%. And women who try to do the right thing by drinking diet sodas actually drink twice as much as those who drank regular sugar-sweetened sodas, because artificial sweeteners are more addictive than regular sugar.
So what can we do? That’s where this detox diet comes in.
“We need to start outcooking the food industry,” says Hyman, who outlines a whole-food, high-fiber, low-starch, low-sugar meal plan in his book that will be highlighted later this week.
Hyman’s prescription of regular exercise, clean foods, vitamin supplements and meditation is designed to break the cycle of mindless eating that puts many people into a junk-food rut.
Unprocessed foods like salads, along with exercise and vitamins, can rapidly improve a person”s health, says Dr. Mark Hyman.
It’s a prescription that has apparently worked wonders on his hundreds of test subjects. “Not only do people lose an average of 8 pounds and 2 inches off their waist, but their blood sugar drops, their blood pressure drops, their overall toxicity drops — it’s that dramatic,” he says. “Your energy goes up, your mood improves, your digestion gets better, your skin clears up, you sleep better, your joint pain goes away and the brain fog lifts.
“I want people to realize that they are only a few days away from health and happiness if you eat real food,” the doctor adds. “In just 10 days, they can see how persuasive the connection is between what you eat and how you feel.”
CLEAN YOUR KITCHEN
— Trash anything that is not real food. Toss out processed goods packaged in plastic or in a box, bottle or can — unless it’s whole food with only a few real ingredients, like canned tomatoes in water and salt.
“It should have less than five ingredients, and only things you recognize,” says Hyman.
— Get rid of any food or drink that contains sugar in any form, including honey, molasses, agave, maple syrup and artificial sweeteners.
Hyman’s plan is designed to break the cycle of mindless eating that puts many people into a junk-food rut.
“Look at labels on all bottles and sauces,” advises Hyman, “and make sure it never says high-fructose corn syrup or trans fats.”
— Don’t be fooled by sweetened drinks like juice, sodas, diet sodas and sports drinks. Dump those down the drain.
“These can have 15 to 20 teaspoons of sugar, and you don’t even know it,” he says.
— Nix anything with hydrogenated oils or refined vegetable oils, like corn and soybean.
— Put away gluten, grains and dairy products, which are common sources of inflammation that can cause joint pain, migraines, acne, mood swings and sleep problems.
“These are things that can be okay, but for the purpose of this detox, we are putting them away,” Hyman says. “Give those a break and see how you feel.”
Hyman says that for people who give up sugar addiction and eat healthfully, “your energy goes up, your mood improves, your digestion gets better, your skin clears up, you sleep better.”
SUGAR BY THE NUMBERS
Sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine.
The average American eats 1 pound of sugar every day.
There are 600,000 processed food items in our environment, and 80% of them contain added sugar.
90% of kids and 50% of the U.S. population drinks soda once a day.
One can of soda a day increases a kid’s chance of obesity by 60%.
You have to walk 4.5 miles to burn off one 20-ounce soda.
You’d have to run 4 miles a day for a week to burn off one supersize fast-food meal.
15% of our calories come from sweetened beverages.
Obesity (not just being overweight) has risen from 9% to 36% since 1960. It’s projected to hit 50% by 2050.
Nearly 70% of Americans and 1.5 billion people worldwide are overweight.
Excerpted from “The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet” (Little, Brown and Co.) available Feb. 25. Mark Hyman, M.D., is the chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine, and the founder and medical director of the UltraWellness Center.