Why Habits form & How to build them [Transcript]

This is the transcript for my video on building habits by properly understanding why they form.

At my last company, there was a manager who usually got up at 4:30am, ran for 2 hours, and got to work before everyone else. He was always at the top for sales achievements and worked pretty much like a robot. At first I just figured he was some sort of superhero, “Batman??” “It’s not batman!” However, once I realized that he simply repeated a set of actions over and over again until it became an automatic habit, it seemed doable even for a mere human like myself. While difficult, he just needed to establish the routine: Wake up early, resist urge the to go back to sleep, lace up his shoes instead of checking email, get out the door and run, resist multiple urges to stop and rest, get back home and take a shower. After a while, all these willpower expensive actions melted down into a seamless habit.

I have developed a consistent habit myself. It’s not a lengthy routine, but it’s something I’ve been doing ever since I can remember in response to stress. Anytime I’m feeling anxious about something, I unconsciously chew on one of my fingernails. …Of course this isn’t a habit I wanted to develop or one that I want to keep.

So what is it about habits that makes something like biting your fingernails so hard to stop, while making something like running a couple half marathons per week possible? There’s three things to know about why habits develop whether you want them to or not.

The average brain is made up of 40% gray matter and 60% white matter. White matter lies under the gray matter and is composed of long nerve fibers insulated by myelin sheaths. Myelin is the fatty tissue that makes white matter white, and it’s one of the reasons people can get good at things. As you repeat an action, the neurons associated with that action will have their axons wrapped in myelin. So every time you put in an hour of practice, you earn yourself another wrap of myelin around the neurons used for that activity. More myelin means nerve impulses can travel more quickly and efficiently across the axons. This means the action can be done more easily, skillfully, and will require less concentration. A bare, un-myelinated neuron will have a signal speed of 2 miles an hour. The signal speed of a fully myelinated neuron is about 200 miles an hour. Practice makes perfect because practice makes myelin and myelin makes perfect.

This is one of the key principles in “The Talent Code”. Author Daniel Coyle explains that most athletes, singers, or musicians that we would normally refer to as “talented” are actually incredibly diligent individuals. They have put in hours and hours of practice until their brain was packed full of myelin associated with their craft.

So in the same way that Alain Martel is very good at billairds, I’ve unfortunately gotten really good at biting my fingernails to deal with anxious feelings. It’s a bit of a stretch to compare the two, but I’d argue that our brains are both generally trying to do the same thing: make things easier. When I was still a kid, my brain identified biting fingernails as the easiest method for coping with daily stresses. Little by little the nerve impulses for the neurons associated with chewing on my fingernails have gotten so efficient, that the action takes place without me putting any conscious thought into it. Alain Martel on the other hand, has put so much concentration into perfecting certain billiard motions that his brain has dedicated plenty of myelin to ensure this task could be done incredibly well.

The second thing to know is about willpower. By the 1980s, the theory that willpower is a learnable skill was generally accepted. It was understood as something that can be taught the same way kids learn to do math and say “thank you.” In the power of Habit, Charles Duhigg talks about how a group of PhD candidates totally changed our understanding of willpower.

Mark Muraven and other psychology PhD candidates at Case Western started asking questions about the existing view of willpower. After all, it didn’t make much sense: if willpower is a learnable skill, how can we be super diligent some days and end up binge watching a TV show for the majority of other days? That would be like forgetting how to ride a bike every other day.

Muraven conducted an experiment where they set out two bowls in a room: One with freshly baked cookies, and one with radishes. One group of participants were told they could eat as many cookies as they liked, and another group could eat the radishes but were told they could not eat any of the cookies. Afterwards, they gave each group a very difficult puzzle to try and solve. The group that got to eat cookies merrily tried again and again at cracking the puzzle. On the other hand, the radish group muttered to themselves and were visibly frustrated, saying they were “sick of this dumb experiment.” The conclusion was that the amount of willpower you have is finite, and it’s more like a muscle: you can tire it out if you work it too hard. Since the radish eating group expended willpower by resisting the cookies, they had much less fuel left in their willpower tank to use on solving the puzzle.

Another experiment was conducted where participants had to do a four-month money management program. This required them to keep detailed logs and deny themselves luxuries like eating out or going to the movies.

What they found was that “People’s finances improved as they progressed through the program. More surprising, they also smoked fewer cigarettes and drank less alcohol and caffeine… They ate less junk food and were more productive at work and school. … As people strengthened their willpower muscles in one part of their lives—in the gym, or a money management program—that strength spilled over into what they ate or how hard they worked. Once willpower became stronger, it touched everything.”
The third thing to know is about your built in autopilot. In the 1990’s a neurologist named Ann Graybiel figured out a way to get sensors into rats skulls to measure what was going on inside. After she got over 100 sensors in their heads she put the rats into a very simple T-Shaped maze. At the tip of the T was a rat, partitioned off from the other side of the T which had a piece of chocolate. Along with an audible click, the partition would be pulled away and the rat was allowed to go searching for the chocolate. On the first couple times through the maze, the rat moved very slowly, scratching at the walls, sniffing around, until it found the piece of chocolate. After running through the maze many many times however, the rat would immediately go down the T, turn left and get the chocolate.

Here’s what brain activity looks like for the first time, and here’s what it looks like the 150th time. The first time shows the brain lighting up when the rat scratches or sniffs at something. After having repeated the “get chocolate” cycle multiple times however, the rat’s brain nearly falls asleep while looking for the chocolate and then wakes up when it gets it. What Graybiel demonstrated was that “a task-bracket or “chunking” pattern of neuronal activity emerges when a habit is formed, wherein neurons activate when a habitual task is initiated, show little activity during the task, and reactivate when the task is completed.”

What this means is that your brain is taking series of actions and grouping them down into a single task, making the process require much less conscious effort. The part of the brain responsible for this is the basal ganglia. It was really interesting to read about this while watching my niece try to walk. She deliberately puts her arms in the air to balance herself as she stands up, slowly lifts one knee up while shifting her weight, puts her foot down a little bit in front of her, then repeats with the other leg. It’s all done with very careful deliberation. Obviously for us there’s absolutely no thought put into walking. My niece still has to concentrate to perform such a basic task because her basal ganglia is still working on “chunking” that action. This can apply to much more complex things like the entire set of actions that make your commute to work possible. Everything from putting your foot in your shoes and tying them to getting in your car, putting your seatbelt on and so forth until you’re actually sitting in your office chair. Chunking can make all the actions leading to completing a workout at the gym easier to do, but it can also apply to all the actions associated with putting yourself on the couch with netflix and beer.

The other part of Graybiel’s discovery is that habits need a cue to kick your brain into autopiloting the task. For the rat, its cue was the click sound it heard as the partition opened up. For my diligent colleague who ran every morning, the cue was probably his alarm going off. When I’m writing, I have a habit of suddenly opening up a new tab and typing in reddit.com . It happens so fast now that the page has already loaded by the time I think “Hey wait this isn’t what I wanted to do…” The cue for this particular behavior is finding myself stuck on the phrasing for a sentence. Habit cues can be pretty much anything from feeling bored or irritated to the clock striking 3:00.
So that’s the behind the scenes on building habits, but now what? How do you actually build the habit? You can probably find all kinds of tools and tricks, but for me at least, they usually just get in the way. I tried a bunch of habit tracking apps until I realized it was just making the process harder as I had to also make the new habit of remembering to track my other habits.

Utilizing cues however, has proven to be very important. You can use new cues to create new habits, or use old cues replace bad habits with good ones. For example: New Habit – Meditating for 20 minutes. Cue – finishing brushing my teeth. OR Bad Habit – Wasting time on reddit. Cue – feeling “stuck” on my writing. So I keep the cue but replace the bad habit with standing up and walking around for 2 minutes. If you have a bad habit of say buying a cookie every time you finish lunch, replace the action with buying a cup of tea instead. If you want to make the new habit of studying every night, make sure it comes right after something, like finishing dinner or finishing showering

Being consistent with your cue is particularly important. A little while ago, I decided I was going to write at least 2000 words every day, but I never got it done consistently because I just worked on it whenever I had extra time. Then, I finally paired writing 1000 words with the cue of finishing my morning exercise and the other 1000 words with the cue of finishing my afternoon meal.

Once the cue is set, just… do it. And then do it again. All you really need is the right cue and the right mindset when building the habit.

Carol Dweck, professor of Psychology at Stanford, analyzed 2 groups of kids struggling with their grades. One group was taught that every time they “push out of their comfort zone to learn something new and difficult, the neurons in their brain [would] form new, stronger connections, and over time they [would] get smarter.”

The kids who were not taught this growth mindset lesson “continued to show declining grades, but those who were taught this lesson showed a sharp rebound in their grades.” Carol says this kind of improvement has been shown with thousands and thousands of kids, especially struggling students.”

Once I adopted this kind of growth mindset towards building habits, habit building started to actually feel …fun. As Carol puts it, I used to be “gripped in the tyranny of now,” and not able to appreciate the “power of yet.” Once I understood why and how habits form, I gained the confidence that things would get easier if I persisted. This confidence made it easy to consistently get a workout done first thing in the morning – a habit I had been meaning to make since forever. Every morning, it became a little bit easier to get out of my warm bed and lace up my shoes rather than scrolling around on my phone. Of course when I was actually running, my legs would still hurt and I would have the urge stop and take a rest, but the next time always took a little bit less willpower to keep going.

So while you’re going about your day, just remember that whatever you’re doing -whether it’s watching cat videos or learning guitar, your brain is making it just a little bit easier for to keep doing that.

How to quit sugar & other unhealthy habits [Transcript]

Transcript for my video on how to approach quitting sugar.

Almost everyone understands that Sugar isn’t particularly good for you and may feel guilty whenever having sweets or candy. This wasn’t always the case, sugar used to be advertised as just a source of quick energy, and even as a means for losing weight. “Mmm, another thing – the cold crisp taste of Coke is so satisfying it keeps me from eating something else that might really add those pounds.” Nowadays you can find all kinds of articles, books, documentaries and plenty of videos that describe how unhealthy sugar is for you. With recent research data on the health effects as well as the Sugar Industry’s antics coming to light, the topic has gotten even more attention. The more you learn, the more you’ll want to stop eating it. As a recovering sugar addict, I’ve read and watched all kinds of great content on the subject, but the focus is rarely how to quit sugar. Since I’ve already put out two videos on the problems with sugar, I figure a solution is in order.

The key point of this video is to explain why people become inclined to eat sugary foods, and how to undo this inclination. The other thing we’ll look at is the mindset to have when approaching this, as well as how to react when you have a craving. Several of the techniques in here can be applied to eating less unhealthy foods in general as well as quitting bad habits.

There are five areas that are working against you that we need to address. Once those are out of the way, quitting sugar becomes really easy. We’ll start with your brain.

Sugar keeps you consuming it regardless of the amount of food you have eaten for 2 reasons. The first is that it is actually biologically addicting – sugar acts on your reward center in the brain to give you a sense of pleasure when you eat it. When you frequently consume sugar, you become tolerant to it and require more to get the same amount of pleasure. Then, you can suffer withdrawal symptoms like headaches, tremors, mood swings and irritability when you go without eating it.

Another way sugar keeps you eating more food in general is by keeping you hungry. Eating sugar causes an excess release of insulin, and when there is too much insulin present in the body, your hypothalamus cannot pick up on its leptin signal. Leptin is a hormone released from fat cells that is registered by your brain as a “satiety” signal. So when your brain can’t pick up on that signal, it thinks you’re starving. Ever had a soda or two before lunch and thought “Man that really filled me up, I think I’ll have a light lunch.” …Me neither. Your brain also interprets hunger as your environment not having much food available so it says “We need to use less energy by reducing activity and we have to store whatever energy comes in”. Anything that raises your energy expenditure makes you feel good – things like coffee, exercise or ephedra. Anything like hunger that lowers your energy expenditure makes you feel crappy. The sugar keeps you hungry and feeling lethargic and crappy. Quitting cold turkey quickly breaks this cycle after a week or two.

So here are the 10 most obese states in the nation. Ten most obese states. Here are the 10 laziest states in the nation, here are the 10 most unhappy states in the nation. Here’s the adult diabetes rate, here’s the adult heart disease rate and finally here’s soda per capita consumption. Pretty significant overlap, wouldn’t you say? Yea?

One thing I found really kept me going in spite of massive sugar cravings was knowing that the longer I went without sugar the better I would feel. This brings us to a key point which is: “Reducing sugar doesn’t mean reducing happiness”

The main premise of Allen Carr’s book “Easy way to stop smoking,” is that you need to get it through your head that you’re not depriving yourself of anything by quitting cigarettes. Cigarettes don’t improve people’s lives in any way and the only reason smokers feel deprived while quitting is because of the dependency the cigarettes created. While sugar at least tastes good, the feeling of deprivation occurs for the same reason -extended use of sugar changes your brain so that you crave it.

A lot of people when faced with the idea of quitting sugar will equate it to depriving themselves of pleasure. What they’re not realizing is that sugar isn’t raising overall happiness, it is simply creating a temporary contrast in happiness. If you’re constantly consuming sugar, you can be making yourself unhappy, lethargic and fat without realizing it. So what is happening is your baseline happiness gets lowered, and you have a spike in pleasure when you eat sugar. However, when you’re not dependent on sugar for that boost in pleasure, then your baseline happiness is much higher and you’re more content all the time, not just when you get sugar.

The other thing people will do when approached with the idea of quitting is that they will start to predict the agony they can expect and visualize it as a graph like this with time on the X axis and agony on the Y axis with agony extending out into eternity. The reality is that your body adapts to the absence of sugar, so you will feel much more comfortable without it and worry about sugar less and less so that graph will look more like this:

Depending on what your diet looks like and factors like whether or not you drink alcohol, you can expect to start feeling much better in as little as a week to two weeks.

This brings us to the next thing that is working against you: Advertising & …Almost any store selling food
Food companies have found that virtually every food product they sell, they can add at least a little bit of sugar to a product to make it tastier. The “Bliss Point” is a term used for the point at which the product is the sweetest and therefore tastiest it can be, before adding any more sugar would make it too sweet. This is why sugar is in 80% of foods on the market, and it’s mostly in foods you wouldn’t expect to have any sweetness to them.

So you have to put in some effort to ensure what you’re buying doesn’t have added sugar and avoid all the tempting advertisements and colorful packages. We’re bombarded with advertisements for crappy and especially sweet food everywhere we go. You can try to ignore them, but having to see these food pictures all the time is a bit confusing for your brain. Your brain will release dopamine in response to expecting to get that food.

A car speeding towards you can immediately jack your heart rate up even if it stops 10 feet in front of you. Mothers will start to lactate when they hear their baby crying even if it’s in another room. Your brain has a lot of ways to prepare you for what it expects to happen, and this is the same with food. When we think about, see or smell foods our brains trigger what is called the Cephalic Phase Insulin Release to prepare you for digesting that food. The sweeter the brain thinks the food will be, the more insulin it stimulates the pancreas to release. This extra insulin can make you feel even hungrier as it will block your leptin signal, like we discussed before. So, just the sight of sweet food can make you hungry even though the contents of your stomach have not changed at all.

The good news is that you can deconstruct this programmed response the brain has created. If your normal programming is: see picture of food, buy food, take food out of the package, eat food then advertisements or food labels in the store can have a real strong effect on you. However if you change your programming to: see real food, check if food is fresh or ripe, cook food, and then eat food, your brain will stop associating colorful packages with eating and it will become much easier to resist well marketed foods.

The next thing you have working against you is your habits.

In the “Power of Habit,” Charles Duhigg talks about the Basal Ganglia, a primitive part of the brain that takes long series of actions and packages them into a single “chunk”. So a task like unlocking your door, sitting down, putting your seatbelt on, adjusting your mirror, putting the key in the ignition and so on becomes just “backing out of the driveway.” Duhigg says that habits “…emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort.” Try and remember your commute to work in the morning yesterday. What do you remember about it? Not much or maybe even none of it at all- this is because your Basal Ganglia takes over and you run on “autopilot”. The thing is is you can autopilot your meals too, this is something McDonald’s is of course familiar with: “Every McDonald’s, for instance, looks the same—the company deliberately tries to standardize stores’ architecture and what employees say to customers, so everything is a consistent cue to trigger eating routines.”

As you repeat an action, a fatty tissue called myelin covers the axons of your neurons. Myelin speeds up and strengthens nerve impulses, allowing actions associated with certain neurons to be performed with much less mental energy. This is where “practice makes perfect” comes from, but this also explains why people can get stuck into certain routines. You can get “good” at anything you do. “…but I’m pretty good at drinkin’ beer🎶 ” You can get “good” at deciding you’re better off going for the packaged food since you’re too tired to cook. You can also get “good” at resisting cravings for junk food, buying some proper food, taking it home and cooking it.

The other side to this is familiarity and Nostalgia. Alan Hirsch describes Nostalgia as not relating to “a specific memory, but rather to an emotional state.

In Robert Lustig’s book “Fat Chance,” he says that food is one of the true enjoyments of life. “Yet familiarity breeds greater cravings. Ask Philadelphians about their cheese-steaks, New Orlean denizens about their Po-Boys and beignets or Memphians about their barbecue. Surprise! Those are among the three most obese cities in the country.”

All this information I’ve been throwing at you about how your brain reacts to food and develops habits et cetera is designed to be ammo for when you have a craving. Understanding what causes the craving makes it much easier to control.

In his TED talk, Judson Brewer describes a technique that several smokers have used to kick their smoking habit. They just needed to analyze their smoking cravings and be mindful about what the craving felt like when it came up. They’d crave a cigarette and then notice their body was a little tense, heart rate maybe sped up a little bit, and some noticed they were fidgeting in their chair. By simply being mindful about these aspects, subjects were able to step out of the craving and realize what exactly it was and let it pass. Next time you feel the urge to buy some processed food or sugary snacks, think about why you’re doing this. Are you just reacting to some advertisement you saw? Maybe you have a headache from the withdrawal period? Maybe you have a habit of turning to sweets when you are stressed. By analyzing and understanding what it is that’s creating the craving makes it really easy to get in control, and let it pass.

The fourth thing that has been set up to work against you is your gut.
Sugar contributes to the breakdown of the intestinal barrier, resulting in a “leaky gut,” which increases your body’s exposure to inflammation and creates several problems like worsening insulin resistance. Were you to insert a gastroscope into someone’s stomach so that you could see their stomach lining, you could actually see the mucous membrane turn red with irritation upon drinking coffee sweetened with sugar. John Yudkin said in his 1972 book “Pure White and Deadly” that sugar may alter “the numbers and proportions of huge numbers of different microbes that inhabit the intestine. … The sorts of food that have been eaten will … affect the proportion and numbers of the intestinal microbes.”

Recent evidence is showing that an unhealthy Gut Microbiome could be to blame for ADHD and Autism in Children as well as Alzheimer’s and general “Brain Fog” in people of all ages. One way in which sugar affects your Gut Microbiome specifically is by facilitating the growth of the problematic candida. Candida is a type of fungi, a single celled member of the yeast family. An overgrowth of Candida can lead to problems like Fatigue, Weight gain, Bloating and Gas, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Constipation. Like other types of yeast, the preferred food for Candida is sugar.

As the numbers of Candida increase, it is suspected that they can directly cause sugar cravings as this is their preferred source of energy. This doesn’t sound so far fetched when you consider the fact that we have a network of 100 million neurons lining our guts. This network is so extensive that it’s nicknamed the “second brain” This second brain is thought to have a significant impact on your mood and overall health.

One thing you can do to speed up the restoration of a healthy gut, as well as quitting sugar of course, is to eat fermented foods and take prebiotics and probiotics.

The last problem, which for some people may be the easiest or hardest to address, is your family and friends. Pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig noticed that “A sugar addicted parent, similar to one who is drug addicted, will act as an “enabler,” “codependent,” or “apologist” for her child.” By the same token, your friends and family who frequently consume sugar will most likely prefer that you continue to eat what they eat. They might accuse you of having become a health nut or tease you and claim that sugar isn’t “that big of a deal.” Ever tried to hang out with your friends at the bar when you were cutting back on alcohol? You immediately have to offer up a good reason for not drinking, otherwise be constantly badgered about getting a drink. I’m guilty of doing this to friends in the past myself.

This doesn’t need much advice as most friends are kind enough to leave you be after you’ve politely refused sweets long enough. Where this can get tricky is when your friends or family bring up certain points about sugar to justify why it’s OK. The most common argument I’ve heard is “Sugar can’t be that bad because it’s in fruit.”

This is where one of the most effective actions comes in: simply read as much as you can about the topic of sugar. This not only allows you to respond to any questions and concerns you’re presented with, but will further strengthen your resolve towards quitting. Whatever reasons you had for quitting sugar initially, you’ll have much more reasons to quit the more you read about what it does in your body.

(Oh and By the way it’s the Fiber that makes fruit OK.)

A properly done atkins diet works and a properly done plant based vegan diet works, but one is high carb low fat and another is high fat low carb. The traditional Japanese diet, the Mediterranean diet, the Ornish diet and the Paleo diet all work, but the first three are high carb and the Paleo diet is low carb. What all of these have in common is that they restrict processed foods and refined sugars. All the data points to restricting processed foods and especially restricting refined sugars being conducive to good health and proper weight management. This is the fight that is worth fighting and high carb versus low carb can take a backseat for now.

If you liked this, make sure to subscribe and check me out on Patreon. I’m putting out videos on all kinds of topics as frequently as I can.

Why Sugar is as Bad as Alcohol (Fructose, the Liver Toxin) [Transcript]

Transcript of my video about how fructose is metabolized in the liver similar to alcohol, causing all sorts of health complications.

We’re all familiar with the dangers of alcohol and the fact that frequent alcohol consumption can fry your liver. Anyone who has had alcohol before will not doubt that it is a toxin, even if they are not familiar with what it specifically does inside your body. This is because you can experience the immediate or “acute” effects of alcohol exposure in a single night after just a few drinks. You might not notice your heart rate becoming irregular, your blood vessels dilating, or your loss of fine motor control, but you will notice something is different as you become “drunk” or “intoxicated”. Then if the pleasant feeling of being drunk had you doubting whether or not alcohol is a toxin, the hangover that comes the next day will surely confirm that it is. So you don’t really need much education or convincing about whether or not frequent consumption of alcohol has some potentially serious effects on your health.

The reason you can feel the effects of alcohol right away and get “drunk” is because a little bit of the alcohol is metabolized by the brain. Actually what goes to the brain is less than 10% of the alcohol. The majority of it- about 80% gets metabolized by the liver. This is why you can develop all sorts of serious liver issues quite quickly if you’re drinking on a daily basis. However, your liver is a very powerful organ that can handle various toxins relatively well, so one night of celebrating your birthday at the bar isn’t going to have you trying to get on the liver transplant list.

But what if we could make an alcoholic drink with a special type of alcohol that didn’t get metabolized in the brain, so you wouldn’t experience the acute effects of alcohol toxicity? You could have several beers at lunch and still be sharp as a tack during the company meeting at 2PM. Maybe you’d even be allowed to drink and drive because it wouldn’t impair your motor skills. Companies might even get away with marketing this special alcohol to kids. “I present to you… kid beer” Hey I mean if the kid isn’t slurring his words and falling down, it should be OK right? …Of course not, no parent in their right mind would give their kid alcohol simply because they don’t appear drunk.

So here are the immediate health effects, and the long term health effects that come with alcohol consumption. How would you feel about a substance that doesn’t get metabolized in the brain, so you get none of these and you only have to worry about 8 of these 12 problems from frequent consumption? …Still not OK that, I’m guessing.

Well we already have a substance like this that is consumed on a daily basis. Like alcohol, it’s not necessary for any biochemical reaction in the body, you don’t need it to survive. It’s not metabolized in the brain so it doesn’t get you drunk, but like alcohol and other toxins, it’s processed primarily in the liver. And frequent consumption of it leads to all sorts of health problems. This substance is fructose. Table sugar, sucrose, is made up of one molecule of glucose and one molecule of fructose. Fructose is in honey, it’s in fruit juice, it’s in high fructose corn syrup – it’s what makes the really sweet stuff sweet.
“Okay, now you wouldn’t think twice about not giving your kid a budweiser. But you don’t think twice about giving your kid a can of coke. But they’re the same.”
This is Robert Lustig, he is one of the biggest factor in bringing the detrimental effects of sugar to light. At first, he can sound a bit over the top when talking about sugar- “Sugar is a poison, it is a chronic, dose dependent hepato- liver toxin.” However, he can back all his statements up with more than 16 years of medical research, academic discourse, policy analysis, data analysis, a whole lot of patient care and maybe most important: the biochemistry of how sugar is processed in the body.

There’s all sorts of compelling statistics we could talk about, but the actual mechanisms that cause sugar to have such bad effects on the body paint a much clearer picture. Once you understand how it is processed in the body, it leaves very little debate as to whether or not sugar could be considered a toxin, and you start to see how a lot of modern health issues are caused by sugar.

Let’s look at how sugar is metabolised,But first we’ll look at glucose or “starch” to see how a non-toxic carbohydrate is metabolized.

By the way, it’s not necessary to remember all these specific terms that come up. Just pay attention to how glucose flows through the cell so we can see how it’s different from alcohol and sugar.

So here is what’s happening in your liver when you eat something like a slice of white bread. First off, only 20% of the glucose you ate will actually hit the liver because the other 80% is metabolised by all the other cells in your body. Before glucose can get into the liver cell, it needs to stimulate the pancreas to make insulin. The insulin will stimulate this insulin receptor IRS-1, which causes a series of reactions to then stimulate SREBP1 and activate this enzyme called glucokinase. Glucokinase takes glucose to Glucose 6-Phosphate which mostly gets stored in the liver as Glycogen. Glycogen is a good thing because it acts as a reserve tank of energy that your body can access when necessary. This is why runners will “carb load” before a race- to completely fill up their glycogen stores and have more energy during the race than what is just sitting in their gut.

What doesn’t go to glycogen gets metabolized down to pyruvate. Pyruvate enters the mitochondria, Mitochondria is like the coal furnace of your cell because it converts the Pyruvate to Acetyl-CoA then burns that in the TCA cycle to produce a bunch of energy in the form of ATP. Not all of this is gonna get burned off so a little bit may be left over as citrate. The SREBP1 from before activates these three enzymes start a process called de novo lipogenesis. De novo “new” lipo “fat” genesis “making”. So the cell is taking this leftover citrate and converting it into fat. The liver really doesn’t want the fat sitting around inside it, so it gets converted down to something called VLDL which is stored in your fat tissue. Not only can this make you fat, but VLDL is actually a big contributor to heart disease.

While this might sound bad, it’s actually not that big of a deal because remember: only 20% of the glucose made it to the liver, then half of that went to glycogen, then alot of that is burned off for energy, so maybe 1/50th of what you ate will actually turn into VLDL. So could a farmer whose eating rice and vegetables at every meal die of a heart attack? Maybe. But it’s gonna happen when they’re about age 90, so that’s not too bad.

So now let’s look at ethanol, which is “drinking alcohol” to see what makes it so different from glucose. Here’s what happens in the liver when you have an alcoholic drink.

As you can guess, ethanol is not necessary for any biological process, so a majority of is processed like a toxin in the liver. 10% will get processed in the stomach and intestines and another 10% gets processed by the kidneys, muscle and the brain. This is the first big difference between glucose and ethanol, the liver has to work 4 times as hard because it processes 80% of the ethanol that comes in. Ethanol doesn’t need insulin to get into the cell, it just diffuses in there and is converted to acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde generates something called reactive oxygen species. Reactive oxygen species damage proteins in the body, can cause cancer and are thought to be the key factor in aging. This is how anti oxidants are supposed to combat aging, because they deal with these ROS’s.

The acetaldehyde then gets converted to acetate and goes into the mitochondria like last time. With glucose, only 20% of the substrate went to the liver and then maybe half of that went to the liver mitochondria because the rest went to glycogen. So what alcohol is doing is overloading your mitochondria.

So A bunch of acetate comes in, goes through the TCA cycle and you’re left with a ton of citrate. The same three enzymes start “new fat making” are stimulated and you end up with a lot of bad fat. This will go to your fat stores, primarily your visceral fat. This is the stuff that causes a lot of health issues and surrounds your organs, giving you a big gut. This is why people get “beer bellies” because that’s the area that gets filled with the fat produced by alcohol.

So the liver has all this fat being produced that it doesn’t want sitting around inside it so it will also export some of the fat out in the form of free fatty acids. These can get into the muscle, causing muscle insulin resistance which is very problematic. Some of it won’t even be able to get out, so you have a fat droplet sitting around in the liver and now you have your alcoholic fatty liver disease.

So the excess of Acyl-CoA, the ethanol and the ROS species activate an enzyme called JNK1 which is the bridge between metabolism and inflammation. This ends up further damaging the liver and it promotes insulin resistance within the liver by inactivating IRS-1, that insulin receptor from before. This means your pancreas has to work a lot harder and pump more insulin out to do its job.

Now let’s look at sugar. Sugar is made up of equal parts glucose and fructose. Fructose is what causes the problems so let’s see how it’s metabolized very similarly to ethanol. Here’s what’s going on in the liver when you have a glass of something sweet like orange juice.

So first off – like Ethanol, Fructose is not necessary to the body so it’s treated like a foreign substance and almost 100% of it is processed in the liver. It comes in, gets metabolized down to pyruvate and enters the mitochondria. Now we have the same situation where everything goes straight to the liver, does not get stored in glycogen and overloads your liver cell’s mitochondria. The pyruvate goes through TCA cycle, produces a bunch of citrate and that gets converted down to VLDL. This leads to increased risk of heart disease and visceral fat accumulation. Now you’ve got a “soda belly”. Like before, it exits the cell as free fatty acids leading to muscle insulin resistance. Not all of the fat can get out of the cell so fat accumulates in the liver and you get non alcoholic fatty liver disease. The same JNK1 gets stimulated which promotes inflammation and JNK1 acts on the same IRS-1 insulin receptor causing insulin resistance in the liver.

All of this is actually illustrated really well in the movie “That Sugar Film.” Damon Gameau goes on a diet with plenty of low fat and so called “healthy” foods like yogurt, whole grain cereals, fruit juice and fruit smoothies. The aim is to eat foods marketed as “healthy” while reaching the average sugar intake of a typical Australian which is about 40 teaspoons. His results demonstrate all of these biochemical processes we just talked about. He gained 8.5kg and an extra 7% total body fat mainly in the form of visceral fat, his heart disease risk went up, he’s developed insulin resistance and after only 18 days he developed non alcoholic fatty liver disease. What I thought was interesting was that he didn’t change the amount of calories he was consuming yet he packed on such a significant amount of fat.

Actually there’s another element to fructose metabolism that makes it generate so much fat. Fructose forms something called Xylulose 5-Phosphate, and this further stimulates the de novo lipogenesis enzymes, leading to even more fat making. That explains the obesity epidemic.

Also, when it’s getting converted to Fructose 1-Phosphate it produces Uric Acid. Uric Acid raises your blood pressure and now you get hypertension too.

Oh and Coca Cola still wants to pretend that obesity is all about calories and a calorie is just a calorie no matter where it comes from.

One thing I should mention is that fiber helps prevent the sugar in fruit from becoming a problem. Fiber reduces the rate of intestinal absorption meaning your liver can easily handle the steady stream of sugar from a piece of fruit. The fiber will also fill you up. So 4 apples might be actually a lot of food to take in in one sitting, but you can get 4 whole apple’s worth of sugar delivered to your liver in a few seconds from one glass of apple juice.

One night of tequila shots isn’t going to cause your liver to explode, but having a shot of whiskey with every meal and for a snack would do some serious damage. By the same token, having a big piece of cake with ice cream at a birthday party isn’t that big of a deal, but most of us are loading up on sugar all throughout the day without noticing it. We’ll have a breakfast of cereal and juice, then a starbucks pseudo-milkshake thing on the way to work, have a sandwich with low fat yogurt for lunch, a granola bar for a snack, then some pasta with a salad for dinner. But we’re not realizing that that the yogurt has as much sugar as candy, the granola bar has as much sugar as a package of oreos, and even your pasta sauce and salad dressing has sugar pumped into it. 80% of the 600,000 packaged food items on the market have added sugar in them. By the way, they’re not gonna have any of that protective fiber you find in whole fruits or vegetables. The fiber has been removed to improve shelf life of the products.

The average American child sees 30,000 TV commercials a year advertising fast food or candy. While something like kid beer sounds joke-ish-ly evil, maybe it’s not all that different from these fun, colorful sugar packed items kids have access to wherever they go.

“Alright, I’m hanging up.”
“You know what’s the most destructive force in the universe?”

Why sugar is addictive and in 80% of foods [Transcript]

Transcript for my video about the addictive nature of sugar.

You might have read something lately about Sugar being 8 times as addictive as cocaine. This piece of information probably didn’t do too much for you unless you are already anti sugar. Considering everyone has eaten sugar at some point, how could this be alarming? I mean, logically if Sugar was 8 times as addictive as cocaine, this statement would feel either entirely obvious or totally unrealistic. That is- for most of us it sounds unrealistic, but If you’ve stabbed someone in the past 6 months for a piece of cake, then the information comes with little surprise.
And what does that mean 8 times as addictive? Do you get hooked 8 times faster? Are the withdrawal symptoms 8 times worse? Would you kill 8 people to get some sugar, but only kill 1 person to get cocaine?
Well, a study from 2007 presented rats with the chance to choose either a sweetened water solution or a cocaine water solution 8 times a day. They almost always picked the sweetened water. Other studies have shown that Rats, even when already addicted to cocaine, will quickly forget about the cocaine and work much harder to get sugar, even when it means walking over a panel that will repeatedly shock them.
But what are the implications for humans? And should you even care? If you were experiencing sugar addiction, you’d surely know it by now, right?
Several recreational substances exist in nature without needing much processing, like dried tobacco leaves, beer from fermented barley, or even the sap from the opium poppy plant. The closer you remain to the natural state of these things, the less dangerous and problematic they are. While smoking tobacco in any form is of course harmful to your health, it usually takes continuous use over a long period of time for it to truly damage you. It’s very rare that someone would drink beer or wine to the point that they get alcohol poisoning or become seriously addicted to alcohol. You could even argue that opium was never a problem in human populations until it was conceived of as a problem by british colonial policy makers. Italian aristocrat and actor Dado Ruspoli had supposedly smoked opium for over 45 years without it having severe repercussions on his life.
Substances like this only become truly hazardous to your health and terribly addictive when you extensively refine them. Around 1810, morphine was derived from opium and was available in the US from the mid 1850’s to be used as a painkiller by doctors. Due to injuries sustained during the Civil War, many soldiers were exposed to morphine, and suddenly you had tens of thousands of morphine addicts. Then in 1874, Heroin which is derived from morphine, was marketed as morphine’s non addictive substitute and since then, the heroin addict has been ever present in American culture.

Another example is the very dangerous and very addictive cocaine, which is also a product of refinement. The refinement of coca leaves. These leaves had been chewed by farmers in the Andes for hundreds of years for a boost in energy, and the worst they got from constant chewing of the leaves was maybe bad teeth.
Alcohol too doesn’t get that bad until you refine it, or distill it. People who have become alcoholics will skip the weaker fermented alcohols like beer, wine or cider and stick to the hard distilled stuff like Whiskey, Gin and Vodka. Have a couple beers and you might be kind of a jerk, but for most people it’s not until they start doing shots that they’ll make a real ass of themselves, black out or end up in the hospital.
In each of these examples, the result of refinement is a higher concentration of a particular ingredient that will have an effect on your brain’s reward system. What happens is the substance either occupies your dopamine receptors or causes dopamine to be released and it makes you feel good. That is- you get more bang for your buck. Distilled alcohol means you get drunker for a lot less liquid, and cocaine and heroin give you way more of the feel good effects from just a tiny bit of the substance.
This brings us to sugar, another substance which also affects your brain’s dopamine system, and is also the result of a refining process. With sugar, you’re getting more sweet for your buck. And compared to other tastes, sweet activates your reward center even more- that is, evolution programmed us to seek sweet foods in particular. One of the reasons is that sweet foods in nature are very rarely poisonous.
Another fun thing about sugar is that it actually has a small opiate like effect. When newborns are to be circumcised, they are given a pacifier dipped in something called “sweet ease”- which is just a concentrated sugar solution. The sugar activates the endogenous opioid system, providing enough analgesia for the baby that the procedure can be completed without too much fuss.
And then, how much something is refined should give you an idea of how intense you can expect the effects to be. For example, 100 kilograms of coca leaves will get you about 300 – 1200 grams of cocaine. That is – the resulting material is about 100 times stronger than what you started with. When it comes to sugar, for a good yielding sugarcane, about half the weight of one stalk is juice, and 20% of that juice is actual sugar. So the result of the refinement process is a material that’s around 10 times sweeter than what you started with.
The average American consumes about 82 grams of sugar per day. To naturally consume this much sugar, they would have to chew through about 2 lbs of sugarcane. This is 2 lbs of fiber rich plant material that our bodies would normally expect to come along with all that sweetness. The fiber in there slows the rate at which the sugar is released into your system, so without the fiber the sugar is absorbed very rapidly. This is another parallel to cocaine.
Your body could probably handle chewing through a 100 grams of coca leaves because the active ingredient is released very slowly into your system… However if you slam that amount of active ingredient instantaneously via your right nostril then it’s gonna be a shock to your body.
OK, so sugar has some parallels to narcotics, but how is it actually addictive? In animals at least, sugar addiction has been thoroughly proven. However, establishing addiction in people is a little different. According to the APA Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 3 of the following 7 criteria need to be met.
5 of these criteria are considered psychological and they are: Bingeing on the substance, a desire to quit using the substance, craving or seeking the substance, the substance interfering with your daily life, and continued use of the substance despite negative consequences. The other two criteria are considered physiological, which makes them the most important in establishing addiction. They are Tolerance and Withdrawal.
Tolerance is easier to establish objectively since you can use neuro imaging to actually see it. What’s happening in the brain when you become tolerant to something is that the dopamine receptors in your brain get downregulated, so more dopamine is necessary to get the same effect – essentially you need more of the substance to get the same amount of pleasure. If you take a look at a cocaine addicts brain, you can see that the cocaine has clearly downregulated their dopamine receptors. Then, if you look at the brain of someone who frequently over consumes sugar, you see the exact same thing in their brain. This is tolerance.

And what about withdrawal? People who try to quit sugar consistently report symptoms like lightheadedness, headaches, anxiety, mood swings, muscle aches, general fatigue, and physical tremors or “the shakes”. If you’ve seen Morgan Spurlock’s “Supersize me!” you may remember this scene: “I was feeling bad, in the car. Feeling like shit. Started eating – feel great. Feel really good now. I feel so good it’s crazy.” So what’s happening here is he’s having withdrawal symptoms until he gets the food again. And what is almost every one of McDonald’s products loaded with? Sugar, or High fructose corn syrup which is chemically almost identical to sugar. In this documentary “That Sugar Film” Australian filmmaker Damon Gameau goes on an experimental high sugar diet for 30 days. Despite consuming the same amount of calories and just upping his sugar intake, in these 30 days alone he gained 8.5 kilograms (19 lbs) And by the 18th day he already had developed fatty liver disease. When he finally goes off the diet, he talks about his withdrawal symptoms: “Frankly, it didn’t feel that different from giving up cigarettes. I had headaches, I was moody, and my sleep patterns were terrible. Woke up, very early, and as soon as I was awake I kind of.. I’m craving sugar.”
As paracelsus said, “the dose makes the poison.” So if you’re not someone who’s eating candy or drinking soda on a regular basis, you might not be worried about all of this. However, the real issue is that a lot of people could be over dosing on sugar without even realizing it. Ever since the low fat craze, our food supply has become more and more overrun with added sugars and now 80% of our food has sugar added to it. One of the reasons is that if you take the fat out of something, it tastes like garbage. If you’re a food company looking to maximize your profit, your product needs to appeal health conscious consumers and it needs to taste good. So, you take the fat out of the product so you can market it as low fat and then you put sugar in where the fat was so it still tastes good.
In fact, food companies found out that you can make almost anything taste better by putting some sugar in it. The “Bliss Point” is a term the food industry uses to describe the point at which a product is most likeable for the majority of consumers. And the majority of consumers like more sugar than less. So the Bliss Point is going to be the point at which the maximum amount of sugar has been added before the product becomes too sweet. This includes anything from bread to pizza sauce to salad dressing.
Sugar used to be way more expensive than it is nowadays – way back in 1319 it sold for about 50 dollars a pound, but as sugar cane and sugar beet cultivation improved and the refinement process became more advanced, sugar became significantly cheaper. Then things got really cheap with the advent of high fructose corn syrup, which again is almost identical to sugar. Because of the way subsidies are managed in the United States, we end up with a massive amount of corn. In 2010, 32 percent of the world’s corn supply, 63.9 billion dollars worth, came from US farmers. That’s a lot of corn. No wonder this corn derived sweetener is in almost everything.
High fructose corn syrup and sugar have built up a bad reputation over time, but there’s 54 other names for sugar that the food industry can use to have us feeling better about their products while keeping the sugar in.
This is how even the more health conscious people can end up consuming more than twice the daily recommended intake of sugar without even knowing it.
And now we have the question: are you addicted to sugar? If you’re like most people, you’re fulfilling your cravings at almost every meal without even knowing it, so how could you tell? With something like caffeine, you can take a pretty good guess about whether or not you have some dependence on it. You can just go without a coffee for a while and see how you feel. However, with sugar, it will take some deliberation and careful label reading to properly cut it out from your diet.
But I really recommend you do trying cutting it out so you can know how you feel without it. It’s important to know whether or not you are dependent on this stuff, because as I’ll discuss in my next video, sugar has some particularly negative effects on your health.
“Disease doesn’t happen with one meal, but it happens with a thousand. But that’s what we have because now sugar is with EVERY meal.”

Everything wrong with the “System” (Trust yourself) [Transcript]

The transcript for my video about some of the perils of accepting conventional practices without question.

In the Movie “Catch me if you can,” Leonardo DiCaprio’s character plays the role of Frank Abagnale – a fugitive who is running from Tom Hanks’ character, an FBI agent. There is one scene where Tom Hanks finally gets to the hotel where Leonardo DiCaprio is staying, and instead of running, Dicaprio pretends to be a secret service agent who actually just caught Frank Abagnale. Hanks doesn’t believe him at first but DiCaprio confidently hands him his wallet as proof that he is indeed a secret service agent. Tom Hanks accepts the wallet and takes it as reason enough to believe DiCaprio. After a while he decides to actually open the wallet and he sees it’s just filled with random soft drink and condiment labels.

So… What this channel is is an invitation to open up the wallet. And to explain what I mean by that and what this has to do with taking the time to research things by yourself, let me tell you the story of Jeff:

As per conventional practice, Jeff’s life starts out with his mother lying on her back attempting to give birth to him. The position she’s in makes it harder to push Jeff out so she’s having a lot of difficulty with the birth, is in a lot of pain and an epidural is recommended. The epidural relieves her pain but makes it even harder to actually give birth. It’s getting pretty late in the day and this whole process is taking far too long so a C-Section is recommended. The surgery is completed without complications, and Jeff comes out a healthy baby boy.

A little while after the birth, he is to be circumcized, and since you can’t give a baby anaesthetic, Jeff has his first taste of sugar in the form of a pacifier dipped in a concentrated sugar solution called “sweet ease” . This activates Jeff’s endogenous opioid system, providing an analgesic effect and the procedure is completed without too much fuss.

At home, Jeff’s mother takes great care of him, and after 6 months puts him on Nestle’s good start baby formula. When he begins to eat solid foods, his Mom makes sure it’s a low fat diet with plenty of heart healthy whole grains as recommended by the USDA. His usual breakfast before school would be maybe an egg, some toast, yogurt, cereal (but not the sweet cereal), and a glass of orange juice- which Jeff will get refills on.

While Jeff is a pretty good kid at home, he can’t quite behave and focus properly in school so his teacher tells his Mom that he may have ADHD. They have all these commercials for Ambien, Celebrex, Lamisil, Mirapex, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Paxil, Rozerem and Crestor that all end with “Ask your doctor about…” [Ask your doctor, ask your doctor, ask your doctor, ask your doctor, ask your doctor today, ask your doctor, ask your doctor] so she decided to ask her doctor about Jeff’s ADHD, and he gave her a prescription for him. At the pharmacy she picks up adderall for Jeff and some Oxycontin for her back pain.

Thanks to the adderrall, Jeff’s behavior and grades improve and he quickly develops a skill for rote memorization and keeping information in his head just long enough to pass the standardized tests. Come senior year of high school he is told he needs to decide on what he will be majoring in college. He’s informed that this decision will ultimately determine the path of his entire adult life so he needs to consider it thoroughly. This is a little bewildering considering he spent the past 10 years learning that disobedience means punishment, and that authority figures should make the important decisions for him. So during 3rd period, he raises his hand to ask permission to go to the bathroom and think about this in private.

After high school, the cost of college is steep but he needs an education to get a good job, so he takes out some loans, gets a part time job and he even got a grant, so it works out. Although he is kind of pissed that half of his classes require the newest edition of each textbook which cost more than a hundred dollars each. There’s barely any difference between the newest one and the 4 preceding editions which are less than half the price, but the class requires the new edition.

College was tough but he got through it and he even landed a reasonable job. Adult life isn’t too bad, he’s making enough money to handle his student loans and live comfortably. He meets a great girl, saves up for an engagement ring and proposes to her. Now that he got that step out of the way, he has to figure out how to finance the wedding. He doesn’t quite understand why it has to be so expensive, but it’s a very special occasion so he tries to make it as extravagant as he can.

“Meet Vicki Howard – she’s the author of Brides Incorporated and an expert in wedding commercialization. Weddings used to be simple affairs but then bridal magazines encouraged brides to marry like the wealthy. It was the birth of an entire industry and now the cost of weddings keeps sky rocketing. The wedding industry systematically overcharges young couples, just because they can. One study found that a majority of flower shops, photographers charged more for a wedding than they did for a birthday party of the same size.”

Over time Jeff gains a bit of weight so he starts counting calories, makes sure to reduce the fat in his diet and he even picks up jogging. He had been hearing that he should reduce his sugar consumption, so he avoids sodas and candies. “Much of the sugar we eat is hidden in foods we don’t necessarily think of as sweet. This oatmeal, 3 and 3 quarter teaspoons of sugar a bowl. You can find sugar added to bread, soup, all kinds of condiments, hot dogs…” He loses a little bit of weight, but he feels hungry and tired all the time. He sticks to it, but isn’t losing weight as fast as he’d like so just in case, he checks with his doctor about any health risks coming from his weight. Jeff’s cholesterol is not super high but his doctor recommends he take a statin just in case. Jeff says “Yea sure doc, give me the Lipitor”

“all of the long term data on the statins show that you will die sooner if your cholesterol is lower, particularly if you are over 55 if you are female or male. There is no benefit to the drugs. The sickest people I have ever seen in my 32 years of practice were people who’s cholsterol was too low. Without enough cholesterol in your system, your immune system can’t work properly.”

A couple weeks later his wife complains about his performance in the bedroom so he gets some viagra for that.

“What is one of the major side effects of cholesterol lowering drugs? Impotence is one of the things that is complained about most frequently. Well guess what the same manufacturer’s number 2 selling drug is that makes lipitor? Viagra. Viagra! Heyyyy!”

He’s also feeling a little foggy in the head so he consults his doctor and his doc reassures him he’s just getting a little older and probably just under stress. The doctor finds out Jeff used to have ADHD as a kid, so he recommends Jeff to get back on some ADHD medication. He gives Jeff a prescription for the ADHD and a painkiller for some pain in his back from slipping on the stairs the other day. Jeff swings by the pharmacy to pick up his ADHD medication, the oxycontin, a refill of lipitor and some Listerine for his Halitosis.

Jeff was then getting a lot of relief from the pain killer, but he started to worry about becoming dependent on it. On the weekend he met up with his friend Tony who said he got off the Oxycontin and started using Marijuana to treat his pain instead. Jeff was very wary of illegal drugs, courtesy of Nancy Reagan “say no to drugs.” and the 1987 egg in a frying pan commercial. “this is your brain on drugs, any questions?” When Tony started talking about how Oxycontin is essentially legal heroin and substances like Marijuana only became illegal to benefit Richard Nixon’s political campaign, Jeff politely changed the subject.

“He said quote: The Nixon campaign in 1968 and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: The antiwar left and black people. We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black. But by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Later Jeff and his wife have a beautiful son Jack, who has an upbringing similar to Jeff’s. In primary school, Jack’s teacher tells Jeff that his son has trouble focusing so medical attention may be necessary. Jeff recently had gone off the ADHD medication and the Oxycontin because it was making him feel weird and he didn’t want his son to have to go through that. He starts doing some research and learns that Jack’s ADHD may stem from a couple things, one of them being Jack having been delivered via C-Section. Apparently the procedure doesn’t allow the healthy bacteria in his mother’s vaginal canal to be transferred to the baby, making it hard for Jack to develop a healthy gastrointestinal microbiome. This sounded a little cooky to Jeff but it would explain his own difficulties with ADHD as a child. Considering the recommended treatment to improve Jack’s GI microbiome was just to make some changes in his diet like adding fermented foods and probiotics, he figures it’s worth trying before giving his kid prescription methanphetamine.

“The drugs that the doctors are giving us are the same as the drugs being sold on the streets? Take adderrall and ritalin which are made from the same stuff as meth. So basically, those pills that you have your children popping are street legal meth.”

A while after changing Jack’s diet, Jack’s teacher mentions to Jeff that his focus had noticeably improved. They continued Jack on the diet and he kept getting better little by little without any bad effects at all.

At this point Jack is kind of pissed off that he didn’t learn things like this earlier as it could have saved him a lot of trouble as kid. He starts to question other things like whether or not he really needs to be on the statin. Some articles he read suggest that his low fat diet and the sugar in all these things he’s been consuming virtually ever since birth could be causing his weight troubles and some other health problems. The calories in calories out thing never really quite worked for him so he gives that low carb thing a shot even though he’s worried about heart disease. Then he starts to lose weight without feeling like crap and his bloodwork actually shows better numbers. He starts to think that all these potential diseases linked to being overweight are certainly not prevented by and could even be caused by the USDA dietary guidelines.

Later, his son Jack seems to be frustrated with school despite having good grades. After seeing the kind of homework he has to do, Jeff starts to think he might as well save his kid 10 years and a just teach him how to use an Encyclopedia. Then he finds out he doesn’t technically have to have Jack in public school and there are other school systems like ISD’s or Montessori School or Sudbury schools or Charter Schools that are actually more conducive to creativity, critical thinking and better financial achievement later in life.

What Jeff realizes is that more often than not, organizations don’t always have the best methods, and are just saying and doing whatever best suits their interests and their profits.

“In 1971, then president Richard Nixon began the war on drugs. Since then, the war on drugs has cost the US over 1 TRILLION dollars. And the prison population has risen over 700%.”

“But in 1996, a company called Purdue Pharma released a new drug: OxyContin. Purdue spent hundreds of millions of dollars to convince doctors that OxyContin was safe and not addictive.”

“Just yes or no, do you believe nicotine is not addictive? I believe nicotine is not addictive, yes. Mr. Johnston? I don’t believe that nicotine or our products are addictive. I believe nicotine is not addictive. I believe that nicotine is not addictive. I believe that nicotine is not addictive. And I too believe that nicotine is not addictive.”

“You know, there were imminent scientists of the time saying this is nonsense, there is no good scientific evidence that either fat or cholesterol y’know is at the root of heart disease. And I have pleaded in my report and will plead again orally here for more research on the problem before we make announcements to the american public. I would only argue that senators don’t have the luxury that a research scientist does of waiting until every last shred of evidence is in.”

“Does the money that students put into their tuition, do they actually get it back? A lot of this extra money that students pay for tuition is not going into the classroom to improve their education but is going for administrators.”

So… Back to Catch me if you can. In that scene, Tom Hanks could have looked inside the wallet DiCaprio gave him much earlier, found that it was filled with a bunch of garbage and catch Frank Abagnale on the spot. So this is what I am encouraging people to do: be like Jeff. Take the time to look inside the standard systems, conventional practices and mainstream products we’ve been asked to buy into, because you may start to find that most of them are filled with random soft drink and condiment labels.

Why your Body makes you Fat AND Hungry [Transcript]

The bare transcript for my youtube video of the same title. Explores some of the biological processes (namely insulin function) that affect weight gain

This is the bare transcript for my youtube video of the same title

Growing up in Texas, I thought that the weight gain of people around me was just something that naturally happened. Though, I didn’t realize how big us Texans were getting until I saw Morgan Spurlock’s “Supersize Me!” and he mentioned how 5 of the fattest cities in America were in Texas. This was surprising, but I was chubby when I was younger and then in high school I exercised and slimmed up. I thought what to do to lose weight was obvious, so I unfairly figured people in Texas were just lazy. Then in 2010 I went to Japan, and when I came back 3 years later I realized people were significantly bigger compared to when I was young – If there was an obesity epidemic then I was looking at it. At this point, I started to think it couldn’t be just a matter of not trying hard enough. Because that would suggest that we really have an epidemic of is not caring.

Maybe what actually happened is that the advice we’d been given for losing weight doesn’t work. This may be hard to believe considering 80% of the USDA’s $140 billion budget goes to the Food and Nutrition Service program, but hear me out.

In my previous video, I talked about how weight regulation isn’t just calories in calories out, which is justified mainly by bad Physics. As Dr. Blake Donaldson suggests in his 1962 book “Strong Medicine,” : Continuous success in any line of endeavor, including weight reduction, demands rigid adherence to biological laws.”
It is Biology, not Physics that will help us to understand the human body, and that when your body is properly fed, it will not choose to store fat in excess nor make you hungry all the time.

First off let’s say you wanted to make an animal fat. What would you feed it? If you want your cows produce steaks with more fat on them, you feed them corn and grain instead of grass. To make Foie Gras, they force feed ducks primarily corn. In this study, they found the best way to fatten up rats was to give them a diet with ample amounts of cookies, cereals, chips, crackers as well as some processed cheese and meats.
Of course, Animals are not the same as humans, so let’s look at a population of humans that intentionally try to get fat. Japanese Sumo wrestlers pack on as many pounds as they can in order to be able to push their opponent out of the ring. According to the Sugahara Institutes’ examination of Sumo wrestler’s diet and lifestyle while in training camp, the wrestlers, as expected are eating massive amounts of food. Some days they are hitting as much as 15,000 calories. But what macronutrient do they rely on to pack on the pounds? They’re getting more than twice as much carbohydrates as they are fat or protein.

It may not be surprising that carbohydrates drive fat accumulation, considering low-carb has been a pretty big thing since 2002, when the New York Times Magazine published a cover story entitled “What if Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat?” What may be surprising is that “low carb” is not new in the least. For almost 200 years, reducing carbohydrates for weight loss was a common practice.

In 1797 the Scottish Military surgeon John Rollo successfully treated a diabetes patient with a low carbohydrate diet. Jean Savarin published a book in 1825 called “the Physiology of taste” in which he talks about his patients not being happy that they need to reduce tasty things like flour, sugar, bread, and potatoes and cookies in order to lose weight. In 1844 Jean Dancel published a book called “Obesity, or Excessive Corpulence: The Various Causes and Rational Means of a cure” that recommended to avoid carbohydrates and eat meat in order to “cure” obesity. There are dozens more examples I could list going up to the late 1900’s, but let’s jump to 1971. This is when Charlotte Young released a study showing that “With fewer carbohydrates and more fat in the diet, greater weight loss and fat loss would be observed in subjects”

So for a while obesity was relatively under control, if people needed to lose weight they knew what to do. That was until around 1977, when something interesting happens. Any graph you pull up on the obesity trends, you can see a very noticeable change around that year which shows a clear increase in weight gain which leads ultimately to our current obesity epidemic. 1977 is the year when the USDA put out the new dietary recommendations to cut fat and replace it with “heart healthy” starches, bread, pasta and other carbohydrates. I guess it’s not that big of a surprise that when you bury a method that worked for 200 years for reversing obesity and controlling diabetes, that you get an obesity and diabetes epidemic.

The history paints a pretty good picture, but it’s important that we understand the biological mechanisms behind this. To save you the suspense, it’s not total calories, but your hormones that cause weight gain. Particularly one called insulin, which you’ve surely heard of. It’s known as the fat storage hormone. Where there’s insulin, there’s fat. And When people have to routinely inject insulin in themselves, they experience something called lipohypertrophy – the site at which insulin is injected has a clear accumulation of fat.
So how does insulin work in the body?
As you know, your blood glucose or blood sugar rises when you eat carbohydrates, particularly ones low in fiber. This then causes insulin to be released so the insulin can carry the glucose into the cells that have an insulin receptor, which then allows the cells to break down the glucose and produce energy in the form of phosphates. So far so good.

However this process can only happen at a certain rate, so glucose needs to be put somewhere else. In the form of glycogen, you can store about 200 grams of glucose in the muscle and 70 grams in the liver. When those are filled up, insulin receptors decrease on those cells so glucose can’t go in. But the glucose still needs to go somewhere because if it sits in the blood stream it will bind to proteins in a damaging process called glycation.

Glycation is a process where sugar in the bloodstream mucks onto proteins, creating something called advanced glycation end products or AGE’s for short. It’s the cellular equivalent of pouring maple syrup on your keyboard. One example is a banana. As it gets more ripe, you see some brown spots on the peel and if you peel the banana you can see some dark spots which are particularly sweet. The same thing happens to your skin over time: proteins in your bloodstream get sugar stuck on them and the resulting AGE’s damage your skin internally, creating age spots. You also see these spots from external damage from the sun. Where these things become a real problem is in diabetics who have trouble controlling their blood sugar, and end up with a large amount of AGE’s. This is why diabetics can lose sight in their eyes and may even end up having to amputate their toes because these are the places with very small capillaries where it’s easy for these AGE’s to get stuck and cause serious damage.

So back to the glucose processing: Your muscles and liver have stored as much glucose as they can, and your body really does not want glucose overloading the cells, so it decreases the insulin receptors on most cells preventing the glucose from getting in. Then, glucose is broken down and stored as triglycerides in the only place where insulin receptors are actually increasing- your body fat.

So this is how carbohydrates and the insulin response cause you to get fat.

A couple years back before I learned about intermittent fasting and this low carb business, there was an all you can eat Yakiniku- Japanese barbecue place that I’d sometimes go to. It’s common to always have a bowl of rice to accompany the meat when you’re eating, but one day I decided to skip the rice and just focus on the meat. The next day I noticed something new: I felt stuffed the entire day and I didn’t want to eat until dinner. Whereas when I usually had the rice with my meat, I was already starving for breakfast by morning.

Now, I finally understand what was going on. To use the energy within our fat tissues, fatty acids are taken out of the tissue to be broken down for energy. Which obviously would make you shed fat. But when you have a high serum insulin level from eating too much carbohydrate, you cannot break down your fat tissue because the enzyme that allows that – hormone sensitive lipase, is sensitive to insulin, which will not allow the fat to be broken down.

So you then have this situation where insulin won’t let you use your fat for energy, so when you’re low on energy, you’re going to feel very lethargic and hungry until you get new glucose. This is how high blood sugar and insulin keeps you fat and keeps you hungry.

People don’t get fat because they want to eat all the time, they want to eat all the time because they’re getting fat. So then, are people staying fat because they don’t exercise, or do they not exercise because they don’t have any energy available to do so? I would argue the latter.

So the diet and exercise recommendations we’ve been getting the past several decades ignore basic endocrinology and something natural to all animals: the desire to keep their biological processes balanced and remain in homeostasis. For example: Your body always wants to stay at a constant temperature, so when it’s too hot, your metabolism slows down so you don’t overheat from the inside. When it’s cold, you start to shiver so the glycogen stored in your muscles breaks down and produces heat to maintain your body temperature. Your body will also auto regulate your blood pressure, as well as your sodium and other mineral levels.

Physiologist Edward F Adolph back in the 1940’s found that however he tried to trick his lab rats, he couldn’t get them to take in more nutrients than usual. He would dilute their food with water and they just drank more of it until they got the same amount of nutrients, and he would even pump food into their stomachs and they would then just eat less.

So why would we humans, the smartest and most evolutionarily successful creatures on the planet, have to expend willpower and consciously regulate how much we eat? The simple answer is that if you feed your body properly, it will regulate consumption for you.

In the 1960’s Ethan Sims conducted experiments where he took prisoners from the Vermont State prison and tried to overfeed them with either carbs or fat on top of their normal diet. He could get them to eat an excess of 7000 calories in carbs per day, yet getting them to eat 800 calories of fat, about 1 stick of butter, took a heroic amount of effort. It takes willpower to overeat if you are on the right diet, but it takes even more willpower to not overeat if you are on the wrong diet

This is the issue. Humans have not had time to adapt to the massive amount of low fiber carbohydrates recently introduced to our diet. The low fiber aspect is important because Fiber reduces the rate of intestinal carbohydrate absorption, reducing the insulin response, and essentially preventing all these problems I just talked about. Way back when we were hunting and gathering and before the cultivation of sweeter and juicier fruit, we were getting about 100 to 300 grams of fiber a day, whereas today the average is more like 15 grams.

So no, the people of Texas and others struggling with their weight are not just lazy, we’ve just had the wrong food and the wrong advice pushed on us the past 40 years. By the way, remember how I said I slimmed up by exercising when I was young? That wasn’t really me, it was my hormones. I went through a massive hormonal change called.. puberty, which slimmed me up and gave me the energy to exercise- not the other way around.

★Credit for some of the information in here goes to Albert Lehninger’s principles of Biochemistry textbook, Gary Taubes’ book “Good Calories Bad Calories,” his other book “Why we get fat”, Robert Lustig’s book “Fat Chance” and Johnathon Bailor’s book “The Calorie Myth”