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Shatter Your Entire View Of Health

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September 10, 2023 | Max Jenkinson

Testing it out for yourself: Is sugar really that bad?

People know that I am interested in health.

When they see me drink Coke they look at me confused.

They ask me why I would drink Coke when we know that soda is unhealthy.

I answer that it is Gainz.

That is the usual response I have when I don’t feel like explaining something that needs a nuanced explanation.

Of course, they are not satisfied with the answer.

They think I am trolling them.

So, let’s get into it.

As I have a tendency to be theoretical, I’ve decided to be a bit more practical today.

I like the theoretical because I love the conceptual landscape in which ideas live.

I spend most of my time wandering around in the maze of theories trying to find the center.

But, for people who don’t want to wander around in a maze of ideas, I need to get more practical.

I am not here to convince a PhD in nutrition to drop their position on sugar.

So instead, here is my attempt to make the idea of testing if sugar is bad for us practical.

 

The Noticability Threshold

For something to be bad, especially as bad as we say sugar is, then that something should cause us to feel bad.

It’s not as if we exist external to the body and only once we get diagnosed with something does it become real.

Your body, mind and well-being are all intrinsically linked.

As your body begins to function worse you feel the effects.

And you know this to be true.

You have had a bad night’s sleep.

You have flown across the world and experienced jet lag.

You have had a night out where you drank way more than you should have.

You felt like shit because your body was functioning noticeably worse than the day before.

The more in tune you get with your body the less impact something needs to have to reach the noticability threshold.

Is this too theoretical?

I you think so, at least it’s the practical application of concepts.

When theory changes the way you live your life, it is practical.

This is why I love wearables like the Whoop or the Oura.

They show you how what you do impacts your body, forcing you to notice the impact certain things have.

I have been wearing a Whoop for over four years.

During this time I have experimented with a lot of things that should affect my body in specific ways.

  • Getting sun in the eyes first thing in the morning

  • adding/removing foods

  • going to sleep earlier

  • intermittent fasting

  • going to sleep later

  • blue light blockers

  • workout timing

  • extended fasts

  • supplements

  • meal timing

  • alcohol

Some things have a noticeable difference in my recovery stats (algorithmically calculated by the Whoop).

Some things have a noticeable difference in how I feel (algorithmically calculated by my brain).

Over time the noticability threshold has decreased.

I have become more in tune with my body

But, the threshold goes both ways.

There is a noticeable threshold for when things affect you positively as well.

What we then want is to lower the noticeability threshold for both positive and negative things

The first step to do this is to understand some of the symptoms we can notice.

Physical health

  • Inflammation

  • Water weight, puffy face or a bloated feeling

  • Feeling weaker during exercise

  • Joint pain or general stiffness

  • Gut irritation

  • Bloated after meal

  • Gasses (farting)

  • Hard stools

  • Loose stools

  • Worse sleep

  • Waking up tired

  • Hard time falling asleep

Mental health

  • Motivation to move

  • Motivation to be social

  • Irritability

  • General mood

  • Anxiety, etc

Now I want you to test how sugar affects you.

I don’t want you to do this in the theoretical world.

Googling how sugar affects your body will unfortunately not give you any clear indication of how it actually will.

You’ll have to test it yourself.

You’ll have to become a scientist with the subject being you.

 

The Mismatch Hypothesis Applied To Sugar

My main principle when it comes to health is that what we evolved around is generally healthy, and anything that diverges from that is usually unhealthy.

The larger the divergence, or mismatch, the greater the negative impact on our health.

As you read in the last post, it seems as if humans have eaten sugars, preferentially, for our entire evolutionary history.

To me, it seems illogical that it today would cause health issues that it never caused before.

The real problem is not a food that we have eaten for the past 400,000 years.

The real problem is getting exposed to things we never had before.

Things that affect our biology in ways we cannot cope with.

The real problem is:

  • heavy metals

  • micro-plastics

  • seed oils

  • fried foods

  • additives

  • sweeteners

  • air pollution

  • bad sleep

  • insufficient movement

  • anti-nutrients

  • pesticides

  • endocrine disrupters (clothes, dishwasher, soaps, hair products, hygiene products

What makes you think that we have adapted to be able to function properly in an environment chronically exposed to these things?

And, what makes you think that something we have eaten as far back as humans go is somehow the worst possible thing we could eat?

 

The Sugar Experiment

Step 1 – OJ

The first thing I did, and the first thing I recommend you to do, is to add a glass of orange juice for breakfast.

It’s tasty, it’s sweet and it is made from fruit.

I know the leap to drink Coca-Cola after decades of indoctrination will be hard.

But, you should have no problem getting some fresh pressed orange juice down your hatchet.

Do this for a couple of days or weeks and analyze if it reaches the noticeability threshold, positive or negative.

Does it affect your digestion?

Do you feel bloated, energized or tired?

How’s your motivation to move?

How’s your energy in the gym?

Go back to the list of symptoms and notice how it makes you feel.

Step 2 – Eating fruits as if you were a monkey

You probably have no aversion to fruit.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right?

During this phase I want you to eat more fruits.

Instead of eating bread or cereals for breakfast, eat some eggs, some fruit and that tall glass of orange juice.

Add some fruits to all your meals and maybe even make yourself a yoghurt with berries and fruit.

Again, stay in tune with your body.

Notice what happens, notice how you feel, and notice if any changes occur.

Step 3 – Eat honey

Honey is the Hadza’s favorite source of carbs, and for good reason I assume.

Honey has some properties that we don’t understand yet.

Add some honey to your coffee, to your yoghurt on your meat, or on your fruit.

Or perhaps use it as a pre-workout with some salt.

Make sure it is real honey.

If you are in Sweden, buy Swedish honey.

And, a fun fact.

Per gram of sugar, honey is almost as cheap as potatoes.

Step 4 – Eat pure sugar

I am poor, so getting all my carbohydrates from fruit and honey is quite expensive.

The cheapest source of carbohydrates by far is pure white sugar.

It took me many months of cutting down on starches and adding sugars from fruits and honey before I ventured into pure sugar.

My first tango with white sugar in years was drinking Coca-Cola.

It tasted good, my digestion was great and I felt great.

So good in fact, that I tried pure white sugar soon after.

Anything that affects my digestion negatively triggers acne for me.

It is my first symptom.

Straight into my coffee, I poured what I had feared for half a decade.

Again, I felt fine.

However, I felt almost dirty.

As if I was taking an illegal drug that was good for me but I couldn’t tell anyone.

Step 5 – Replace all starches with simple sugars

The last and final step in the sugar experiment.

This is where the real difference is noticed.

If “simple sugars” are bad, and “complex carbs” are good, then replacing “complex carbs” with “simple sugars” should make you feel worse.

This is the step that should put the final nail in the coffin.

Do this for two weeks and see the profound changes.

Better energy, better sleep, and better workouts.

More mental clarity, elevated mood, and more motivation.

If you do not feel any difference, at least you now know starches are no better than sugars.

 

You do not have to do all the steps.

You can stop at anyone you want.

I am moving to Spain at the end of the month. There I’ll have access to cheap, fresh fruit.

So, I will likely get most of my carbs from fruit.

As I have talked about before, the purpose of food is to get nutrients (macros & micro) to the cells in the most efficient way possible.

Digestion -> Absorption -> Assimilation -> Energy production

Simple sugars are easy to digest, absorb quickly and produce energy more efficiently than fats

Slowly replacing starches with simple carbs should create a more efficient pathway from food to energy.

Energy is at the root of health.

Creating a biological system that produces energy more efficiently will create a healthier one.

If sugar does this, as it looks like, then you should be able to notice the effects.

You live inside of your body, no one else.

You are the one who can create a healthy, happy and strong body.

It is your responsibility to figure out how you feel the best.

A two-week experiment won’t change your life but it might change the way you feel.

And more importantly, it will make you question everything you’ve been told about what is healthy, and what is not.

Remember, until next Sunday, do what makes your future self proud.

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Shatter Your Entire View Of Health

Join others getting their entire idea of what health is shattered every Sunday while reading Health Decoded.