So we had left Damon looking into the effect that removing sugary drinks from local stores had made inroads into making the people of Amara in the Northern territories more healthy , as they are severely affected by the effects excess sugar on digestive systems unused to processed food generally, but sugars particularly.
By this point in the experiment, Damon had increased his waist measurement by 7cms.
Damon decides to go to the obesity capital of the world- The USA .
Here to ward off his jet lag , he buys a giant juice. The size of American soft drinks cups have always astounded me, but this was a veritable bucket. It contained the equivalent juice of Had they remained in their healthy , fibre rich fruit forms there would be 4 peaches, 9 Limes, 30 lemons and 30 Strawberries, but here smoothed up into one fructose glucose cocktail of fun containing 35 teaspoons of sugar Damon now used to the high sugar diet got manic eye from just one slurp.
He first visited Kentucky home to one of the hugest coca cola vs Pepsi skirmishes. Pepsi won out with the introduction of that refreshing brew Mountain Dew which contains massive quantities of sugar and caffeine. I believe they have changed their formulas this year, but at the time of filming they were still working with the old recipe. Damon was there to meet a mobile dentist, who attends to the damage done by Mountain Dew in rural more Kentucky, he has a number of RVs converted to dental surgeries to treat youngsters whose teeth have been damaged by fizzy drinks. The telltale brown decay at the gum line of younger Kentuckian residents has been called Mountain Dew Mouth.
Youngsters as little as three are being introduced to the drink, getting energy from the combination of sugar and caffeine in an area of poverty where nutrition advice is severely lacking. We meet a 17 year old whose tooth decay is so severe he will have to have almost all his teeth extracted and dentures given. It is shocking to see his mouth in such a state, but he equates his consumption of Mountain Dew at about 12 cans a day starting with daily consumption St about two or three. He states his aunt gave his cousin a baby bottle with Dew inside and he is up to about six cans already.
The poor lad's mouth is cautionary tale enough, but watching him cling to the arms of the chair in an attempt to assuage the pain of the work was really , really uncomfortable viewing. It see,s that adrenalin and infection is preventing the anaesthetic from working, his painkiller consumption has nullified the efficacy of the novocaine. He goes through agony but the procedure had to be halted as Dr was not willing to submit him to hours of agony. I suspect a barrel of antibiotics is required for this boy who still cannot give up the fizz despite the pain.
The problem is actually compounded by the soft drink industry trying to get optimum custom from as broad demographic as possible. The level at which sugar levels are set in a formulation to maintain maximum attraction is called the Bliss Point, a term popularised in the Seventies by Howard Muscowitz, who employed by the makers of Dr Pepper conducted extensive research with 61 levels of sweetness trialled in 3000 taste tests. It was shown that a certain point of sugar saturation, demand tapered off so the formulation at that optimal demand and enjoyment level was called the bliss point. The fast food industry uses it extensively in the formulation of their soft drinks making their drinks marginally sweeter but with more ice in the cup to optimise profit.They have been known to wash their potatoes in sweetened water prior to frying to combine with salt added afterward to make them almost addictive, you eat them and crave more within half an hour.
There are even products available from nature that enable anything to taste sweet and Damon takes the claim of the miracle berry tablet to it's extremist point and tries it against , a lemon, a chilli pepper and a sizeable shot glass full of apple cider vinegar. He claims lemon tasted of orange,the vinegar he equated to a lemonade sort of tang and a chilli pepper lost all heat in his mouth, but it hit full throttle once the masticated pulp hit his oesophagus to quite humourous effect as his distaste for them was evident in his voice and watering eyes .
His liver function dropped even further.
Now Damon decided to examine the mental effect a regularly high sugar diet had on the brain. Placing him in a special kind of magnetic scanner, Damon is given a visual cue which triggers the primeval need in Humans to get quickly. This releases dopamine into the bloodstream. Once we taste the product we are rewarded with opioid release which triggers endorphins into the brain. This high is temporary, so we hit ourselves again. The problem with using sweetness to obtain a good mood is that fructose and glucose have a tangible effect on the brain that is not good, fructose effects impulse control and glucose highs and lows affect mood.
The addictive nature of sweetness serves the sugar industry well, they push the idea that with moderation all will be well,and that people who are overweight got that way through gluttony or poor self control or are too lazy to exercise off the calories, when in actual fact, sugars as a calorie source are a whole different animal to a calorie of protein say.
Damon is eating the same (and sometimes less) than the calories he was eating in his pre experiment food intake and yet, his energy is much lessened overall, he has put on weight as fat and his appetite is rarely satiated. So the weight he has gained is not because of an imbalance in calories eaten against those burnt, as they are comparable and he has kept the same level of of intensity in his work outs.
The food industry will do everything it can to avoid a debate it seems, a symposium on obesity that stays on the beaten track of fat as the culprit and active seeks to disprove the sugar theory for example is sponsored by Coca Cola. The keynote speaker is also funded by monies from the Voke people. They serve their own interests whilst reinforcing the idea that a lazy, greedy populace is at fault for the metabolic health issues in the western world.
We adapt to our environment or diet, the body does the best it can with what it is given, Damon knows he is not as efficient, he feels generally more fatigued all of the time and has a much shorter temper. Experts in cognitive capacity have proven that those used to a sugary diet are often cloudier of mind than those whose diets are based on other food groups, but we have been fed the idea of sweetness as a part of our lives at times of happiness, it is worth considering that 200 years ago sweet things would not have been the mainstay of a celebration, but now every holiday seems to require sugary items in abundance, Halloween, Easter and Valentine's day being prime examples..sweet things are equated to communicating love the brain reacts in the same way as live on the brain, but imagine if your paramour gave you a bag of nuts or an avocado for Valentine's Day ? They are heart healthy after all !!
The sight of a man shovelling a pumpkin pie into his mouth in a eating competition is disturbing on two levels, the need we have to over indulge and using food as sport when obesity is an epidemic in the USA .
The Experiment Ends
In total Damon has added 2360 teaspoons of sugar to his diet. He crams the last 40 spoons into items often found in children's lunch boxes..
From being -20 below the safety line for fatty liver from the amount of ALT hormones not the blood to +20 putting him in the worst 10% of men within a month. His liver is fatty and leeching tissue into his blood stream.
A fatty liver increases the risk of insulin resistance which leads to type 2 diabetes if not addressed. In Australia , Nine people daily are subject to limb amputation through diabetes complications.
Triglycerides were elevated in his blood o.o8 to 1.5 increasing the likelihood hood ofHis small dense LDL cholesterol which embed in arteries and form plaques.
His weight had increased by 8.5kg , a 7% rise in body fat and his waist had increased by 10cm.
His diet pyramid had completely reversed, his normal 50% from healthy fats was replaced by sugars. His calories remained stable or lower than on his normal diet. So on a diet of heart approved healthy food, he had gained a myriad of potential health problems just by adding sugars back into his diet.
Sugar is Evil!! Know your enemy....
RECOVERY. Giving up sugar again Damon just reverts to his old diet, he does not exercise madly or crash diet.
Beyond week two to four.
Desire for sugar goes completely.
He just returned to his diet, out went cereal and low fat flavoured yoghurt for breakfast in came bacon eggs and avocado
Muesli bars were swapped for nuts and cheese for snacks.
Meat ( with the fat still on) and fish and green vegetables. He lost six kilos with minimal exercise. He felt fuller and did not need to snack.
ALL his blood tests returned to normal.
It took time to adjust to flavours, but he did. He has given up all hidden sugars and reduced carbs. For those of us needing a more practical approach:
Staying within healthy bounds:
9tsps of sugars for men or 36g
6tsps for women or 24g
The film was such an eye opener and I am now looking at everything I eat so carefully, I thought I was pretty good, but my wheat consumption is pretty high... Time to rethink methinks!