By Dr. Yasir Abunamous,
DocReady Primary Care and Urgent Care Physician
“If you are what you eat then don’t be fast, cheap, easy, or fake”
What percentage of patients that have heart attacks also have high cholesterol?
What percentage of patients that have heart attacks also have sugar sensitivity issues?
More than 85%!
Historically, to decrease the risk of heart attack, the emphasis was put on controlling cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Interestingly, in the 1960s, the first nutrition study that was done turned out to be massive misinformation that was spread by the sugar industry. The sugar industry funded a study at Harvard basically stating that fat consumption was the main dietary cause of heart disease. This first study then cascaded multiple other studies which exponentially created a large amount of misinformation from which the nutrition foundation was first laid down — the origin of the food pyramid.
Soon after the development of the food pyramid, we continued to see expanding waistlines and noted problems with heart disease. Over some time, many in the medical world knew that something was off, that the full equation was not adding up. As we noted larger waist circumferences, we started to see more diabetes mellitus type 2 and along with that heart disease.
Soon a correlation between sugar intolerance and heart disease started to become more apparent. We always knew that elevated sugar levels in the bloodstream led to damage due to Advanced Glycation End (AGE) products; we knew that patients with diabetes would have peripheral neuropathy, blindness, kidney disease, poor circulation to extremities. Though, it took many years to fully discover that this was also occurring in the heart eventually we made the connection.
Why did it take us so long? It’s not always so simple. Today it appears obvious that sugar is the main culprit to vascular disease but recalling the initial article by Harvard threw us a curveball which then snowballed us in the wrong direction. Another reason is that medical schools generally teach very basic nutritional information and therefore most doctors do not understand the relationship between food and how the body reacts to it — Counterintuitive? Surprised? Baffling? Yes, yes, and yes. There definitely needs to be a curriculum change in medical schools, but this unfortunately will take time.
Today, we eat about 35 teaspoons of sugar a day. However, the recommended maximum amount is 6 teaspoons per day. Without having to go into too much detail — high levels of sugar in our diets causes an insulin spike which thus causes storage of fat, leading to obesity, inflammation, and heart disease.
So how can we fix this problem? The simple, quick answer is — fix your diet. Decrease your sugar intake, cut back on processed foods, and cut out soda, including diet soda. Food is medicine, therefore make sure that you take the right medicine.
“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.”
– Ann Wigmore
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Dr. Yasir Abunamous (“Dr. A”) is a Family Physician who specializes in patient-centered care leveraging the strengths and resources of each individual to optimize and maintain health, and endeavors to restore health during times of illness. He treats patients of all ages (including newborns and infants), with experience in pediatrics and women’s health in addition to general medicine. When not at work, Dr. A spends much of his free time with his beloved family, community members, and friends.