Cold Turkey

While at the General Convention, Aleksandra (Schab) gave me a book that was recommended to her entitled Sugar Blues, by William Dufty. I believe she tried reading it, but although her spoken English is awesome, the written word does tend to get complex. In any case, it has been eye-opening.

The book came out long ago (1975) and I would venture to guess that Pete would have a field day critiquing the guy’s arguments (some even seem weak to me – and we all know I’m a pushover), but the history alone of sugar is fascinating. Dufty links sugar consumption to the heyday and subsequent downfall of several powerful empires – not purely causative, but a seriously contributing factor. He also points out how sugar addiction (and the profits that accompany it) encouraged the slave trade.

I’ve got a long way to go in my reading, but one of the pieces that struck me immediately was a description of why sugar does what it does (to me, at least). The refining of sugar is compared to the refining of opium into morphine and even further into heroin – we take sugar cane, extract its juices, refine them into the purest crystalline form imaginable and then add it to our food. Essentially, sugar refinement is just improving the delivery method for getting sugar into the bloodstream as quickly as possible. And this brings us to its effects:

“While the glucose is being absorbed into the blood, we feel ‘up.’ A quick pick-up. However, this surge of mortgaged energy is succeeded by the downs, when the bottom drops out of the blood glucose level. We are listless, tired; it requires effort to move or even think until the blood glucose level is brought up again. Our poor brain is vulnerable to suspicion, hallucinations. We can be irritable, all nerves, jumpy. The severity of the crisis on top of crisis depends on the glucose overload. If we continue taking sugar, a new double crisis is always beginning before the old one ands. the accumulative crisis at the end of the day can be a lulu.

After years of such days, the end result is damaged adrenals. They are worn out not from overwork but from continual whiplash. Overall production of hormones is low, amounts don’t dovetail. This disturbed function, out of balance, is reflected all around the endocrine circuit. The brain may soon have trouble telling the unreal from the real; we’re likely to go off half cocked. When stress comes our way, we go to pieces because we no longer have a healthy endocrine system to cope with it. Day-to-day efficiency lags, we’re always tired, never seem to get anything done.” (pg. 47)

Boy, does that ever sum up my experience with sugar bingeing!

Now, I’ll admit some of his arguments seem a little oversimplified and Dufty even comes across that all the worlds ills quite literally are to be blamed on sugar consumption – but as in the above quoted passage, some really dovetails nicely with my experience.

To quote a quote, Dufty cites Dr. Robert Boesler, a New Jersey dentist from the early 20th century as saying:

“Modern manufacturing of sugar has brought about entirely new diseases. The sugar of commerce is nothing else but concentrated crystallized acid. If, in former times sugar was so costly that only the wealthy could afford to use it, it was, from the national standpoint, of no consequence. But today, when, because of its low cost, sugar has caused a degeneration of the people, it is time to insist on a general enlightenment. The loss of energy through the consumption of sugar in the last century and the first decade of this century can never be made good, as it has left its mark on the race. Alcohol has been used for thousands of years and has never caused the degeneration of a whole race.” (pg. 42)

I’m only 80 pages in, but this guy’s got my attention. And while I don’t pin all the ailments of humanity on sugar, I don’t find it farfetched that it might be responsible for a great deal of them.

Oh, and lest you wonder wherefore the title of this entry – I’m going to see just how well I can give up processed sugars (that is, anything but evaporated can juice and raw honey – a tall order!!!) 🙂

(edited: July 24 @ 4pm – the quotes didn’t turn out right the first time)


9 Responses to “Cold Turkey”

  1. Stephen Says:

    The Wikipedia entry on Dufty.

    Turns out this book was inspired by his 1960 marriage to Gloria Swanson, who herself (as her Wikipedia entry points out) was a nutrition (and macrobiotic diet) enthusiast.

    It must have secretly galled him that her last name had sweet and salty TV dinner connotations.


    And, separately, are you saying that if we play Ghost Recon in the future your new handle will henceforth be ‘Raw Honey’?

  2. repercussio Says:

    You guys crack me up. The criticism, as you “dufty” point out, is the wholesale attribution of a particular causation; however, I haven’t read it. But, I have eaten a lot of sugar, and it really doesn’t do that much to me (not that I should be proud of this). The point, though, is that humans are amazingly diverse in the adverse reactions. Take drug addicition–since he raised the comparison. Research has shown that some people definitely have more addictive personalities than others. I’d recommend The Craving Brain

  3. Well, I’d definitely agree that some have more addictive personalities than others (me being one of those people). Though the phrase “addictive personality” suggests it is not a physical but a mental condition…? In any case, though you don’t have the same physical response as I do, I still feel there’s a thread of truth to the claim that it taxes the system in SOME way.

    But I’ll definitely have to check out The Craving Brain!

    And on another note – how the HECK did you get that hyperlink in there for the book???!

  4. repercussio Says:

    Dropped in with HTML code.

    Visit my html page >

    (Ignore the –they stop the browser form reading this as “code”.) The quotes part is the URL behind the text, the second half “Visit…” would be the text you want to show.

  5. repercussio Says:

    Crikey–that didn’t work. I know enough code to be dangerous. I’ll gmail you.

  6. I’ll just give this a try based on my HTML experience (didn’t realize you could just type HTML straight into your comments.

    For hours of addictive and mind-numbing enjoyment, click me.

  7. doh!!! I was so close!!!! 😛

  8. what am I doing wrong???
    the text looks like a link, but won’t let me click on it!!!!


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