In our last several +1s, we’ve been exploring some powerful, sobering, and eye-opening wisdom from Mark Hyman’s great book Food Fix.
Today we’re going to chat about that #1 thing you can do for yourself and family and world.
First, a couple “Did you know?”s.
Did you know that: “Approximately 60 percent of our calories in the United States come from ultraprocessed foods, with the poor, minorities, the young, and the less educated consuming the most.”
And, did you know that: “Ultraprocessed foods and the food system that produces them are at the root of the chronic diseases that account for 80 percent of the deaths from noncommunicable disease worldwide (heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.).”
And, did you know that: “For every 10 percent of your diet that comes from processed food, your risk of death goes up 14 percent.”
Pause. Reflect. Exhale.
Back to work.
Here’s the #1 tip to IMMEDIATELY boost your well-being and that of your family while chipping in to the global health crises we face:
“Stop drinking sugary beverages. If you’ve gotten this far, then my next recommendation probably goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: Don’t drink sugar. The best way to reform the food system is to make sugar-laden foods less profitable. If consumers demand healthy products, then eventually companies will have to comply. It’s not just soda. Fruit juice has a health halo. But don’t be fooled by its vitamins and antioxidants. Fruit juice is loaded with sugar and is just as harmful as soda. Avoid buying it, and certainly don’t give it to your children. Cutting sugar-sweetened beverages from your diet is the single-biggest thing you can do to improve your health.”
That’s from a chapter called “Leveraging Fiscal Policies to Address Obesity and Chronic Diseases” in Part I of the book called “The Health and Economic Impact of Our Food System.”
Each chapter ends with a section called “Food Fix: What You Can Do” in which we are given some big and little things we can do play our roles well.
The #1 Fix for this section and arguably THE biggest single lever we can pull?
Simple: STOP DRINKING SUGARY BEVERAGES.
Two reasons. One personal and the other structural.
First, the personal: “Cutting sugar-sweetened beverages from your diet is the single-biggest thing you can do to improve your health.”
👆 Note: That’s a POWERFUL STATEMENT!!!
Again: The SINGLE-BIGGEST THING WE CAN DO TO IMPROVE OUR HEALTH? STOP DRINKING SUGARY BEVERAGES.
Am I shouting? Yes, I am. (Can you hear me? 🤠)
Second, we have a structural/societal issue: “The best way to reform the food system is to make sugar-laden foods less profitable.”
👆 Big Food and Big Soda companies make WAY too much money making us WAY too sick. And, we make it way too easy for them with our buying habits AND our subsidies and other policies like allowing their sugary drinks to be purchased via SNAP while allowing them to spend BILLIONS of dollars advertising to our kids (most countries radically limit this), etc., etc., etc.
One more time: STOP DRINKING SUGARY BEVERAGES.
P.S. We’ve talked about all this many times before but, it’s important, so I will remind you:
“Fruit juice is loaded with sugar and is just as harmful as soda. Avoid buying it, and certainly don’t give it to your children.”
👆 PARENTS: Are you still giving your kids fruit juice thinking it’s a healthy drink? IT’S NOT!!!
How about one more piece of candy for us to chew on before we wrap it up.
Mark also talks about how much money Big Food/Big Soda companies pour into health organizations that are supposed to be serving OUR interests not their corporate sponsors.
Get this: “Twix is a health food according to the American Heart Association, in case you weren’t aware—and so are Froot Loops, Cocoa Puffs, and French Toast Crunch, right along with the 7 teaspoons of sugar per serving. It shouldn’t be called breakfast; it should be called dessert. When you grind it into flour, whole wheat or not, it is worse than sugar. The glycemic index of sugar is 65 and that of whole wheat bread is 75, which means that the bread raises your blood sugar more than table sugar. Below the neck, there is no difference between a bowl of sugar and whole wheat bread. Well, actually, the bread is worse.”