Compassion For Self – Part 6


Living a compassionate life begins by taking compassionate, loving care of your health and your self. This is the 2nd Compassion enabling each us to achieve The Great Healing – for ourselves and for our planet. This weekly 11-part series excerpts and adapts Chapter 2 of the new book, The Great Healing – Five Compassions That Can Save Our World.

“An exceptionally well and persuasively written clarion call to personal and collective action, “The Great Healing – Five Compassions That Can Save Our World” is unreservedly and urgently recommended.”
— Midwest Book Review


. . .

Brady and his mother realized how calorie rich, refined
carbohydrate loaded, and sugar amped their accustomed diet was. They learned
the benefits of eating whole foods and a plant-based diet. So, they made
healthy adjustments.

What they didn’t realize is that something insidiously
perverse has happened to the food we eat. The core ingredients in the vast
majority of products on supermarket shelves, as well as in the meals you order
in restaurants, have changed.

They are now significantly different in these ways:

  • New sugars and a vast array of synthetic
    ingredients have been created in recent decades and, along with refined
    carbohydrates, are now contained in hundreds of thousands of processed food
    products that the food industry creates and markets. These have become leading
    drivers in our growing diabetes and disease epidemic.[i]
  • Corn, wheat and other grains, vegetables, as
    well as meat and dairy products no longer contain the vitamin and mineral
    quantities, and consequently the nutritional value, they once did. Frequently,
    not even close.
  • GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) crops —
    also known as GE (Genetically Engineered) crops — now dominate American
    agriculture and bring with them two other unique hazards.

. . .

Sugar has changed.

Sugars are a major cause of diabetes. Americans eat — on
average — 152 pounds of sugar per person per year. In and of itself, that’s way
too much sugar, but on top of that, sugar
has changed.

sugar, which is found in cane or beets,
is sucrose, which when broken down yields a 50/50 mixture of glucose and

Mr. Beet and Ms. Cane have found that their family of
sugars has grown. Rather than spawning genetically related sweet little
offspring, they now have sugary siblings showing up at the door — hundreds of
them — who bear little genetic or chemical resemblance to them but have been cast
into their “adoptive” family. And these new sugars don’t affect your body in the
same way.

High-fructose corn syrup is a sweetener that arrived at
the door in the late 1960s. Glucose and fructose are digested, absorbed and
metabolized differently in the body. “Whereas almost every cell in the body can
use glucose for energy, no cell has the ability to use fructose… Once inside
the body, only the liver can metabolize fructose.” Dr. Fung continues, “Excess
fructose is changed into fat in the liver. High levels of fructose will cause
fatty liver. Fatty liver is absolutely crucial to the development of insulin

High-fructose corn syrup tastes even sweeter than sugar.  Food manufacturers also like it because it
extends shelf life, keeps breads softer, and also important from their
perspective, it is a less expensive ingredient. Your body doesn’t like it
because it breaks down more rapidly, spiking your blood sugar level and forcing
your liver to work harder to metabolize it — all before it gets stored as fat.

Data from the American Society for Clinical Nutrition links
the increase in high-fructose corn syrup consumption to the obesity epidemic.[iii]High-fructose corn syrup is found, in large
amounts, in soft drinks and juices, sauces like spaghetti and barbeque sauce, commercial
salad dressings and condiments like ketchup, and is common in significant
quantities in processed foods. 

Consumption of
high-fructose corn syrup in the United States increased 1,000% between 1970 and
1990.[iv] It
has now become the biggest source of calories in our diet with Americans
consuming more than 50 pounds a year on average.[v]

High-fructose corn syrup is especially dangerous as a driver of obesity, diabetes,
cancer, liver and heart disease.

Dr. Hyman writes, “In the late 1970s, in concert with Big
Ag (the likes of Cargill and Monsanto) and fueled by new agricultural subsidies
that promoted massive increases in the production of corn and soy, Big Food
poured high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated fats into 600,000 industrial
processed foods, 80% of which contained added sugar. These high-sugar,
high-glycemic foods are highly addictive and spike insulin, which in turn leads
to fat storage, hunger, a slow metabolism, and the cholesterol profile most
linked to heart disease.”[vi]

Dr. Robert Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics in the
Division of Endocrinology at U.C. San Francisco, is a leading expert on
childhood obesity. In his lecture, Sugar:
The Bitter Truth,
he states, “Fructose is a carbohydrate but fructose is
metabolized as a fat… A low-fat diet isn’t really a low-fat diet. Because the
fructose or sucrose doubles as fat, it’s really a high-fat diet. That’s why our
diets don’t work… Fructose is also a toxin… Glucose is good carbohydrate.
Glucose is the energy of life. Fructose is poison.”[vii]

A research team at Princeton University demonstrated that
rats drinking high-fructose corn syrup, at levels well
below those in soft drinks, gained significantly more weight than rats drinking
sugar water, even when calories consumed were the same. The rats drinking the
high-fructose corn syrup exhibited signs of metabolic syndrome, a dangerous
condition in humans, including abnormal weight gain, especially visceral belly
Bruce Blumberg, Professor of Developmental and
Cell Biology and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of California,
Irvine, says, “Crystalline fructose doesn’t exist in nature, we’re
making that. Fructose is not a food. People think fructose comes from fruit,
but it doesn’t. The fructose that we eat is synthesized. Yes, it’s derived from
food. But cyanide is derived from food, too. Would you call it a food?”[ix]

The documentary feature Fed Up reveals the power of the food industry with its dominant
corporations (Big Food) leading the charge. In the 1980s when a Congressional panel
examined the dangerous health risks to Americans from consuming increasing
amounts of sugar, the sugar industry moved decisively to attack their report. U.
S. Congressman Tim Ryan, in The Real Food Revolution, writes, “In 2003, when the World Health Organization
(WHO) published dietary guidelines suggesting that no more than 10% of an
adult’s daily calories should come from ‘free’ sugars (those added to food, as
well as natural sugars in honey, syrup, and fruit juice), the U.S. Sugar
Association pressed the federal government to withdraw funding for the WHO if
the organization did not modify its recommendations.”[x] The
WHO withdrew them.

Eleven years later in 2014 the WHO finally overcame industry pressure and published an updated report — one that, based on new health data, went even further and recommended cutting the sugar percentage of an adult’s daily calories to 5%.

Ryan cites, “One example of the strength of the corporate lobbying dollar is
the Corn Refiners Association (CRA), a trade association that is made up of six
giant corporations including Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland. In recent
years the CRA has been spending tons of money to promote the positive image for
high-fructose corn syrup. Between 2000 and 2013, the CRA spent approximately
$5.2 million in federal lobbying. It was also revealed that the CRA spent more
than $30 million on a private PR campaign, including $10 million to fund a
four-year research project by a cardiologist that disputed the contention that
there are any negative health consequences from corn-based sweeteners!”[xi]

In your supermarket, you may notice that, on the
Nutrition Facts labels appearing on food product packaging, on the line for the
ingredient Sugar, there is no percentage listed. The percentages of daily value
based on a standard calorie-a-day diet appear beside the other itemized
ingredients, but not next to Sugar. Food manufacturers are not required to list
the sugar percentage. If it had to be revealed, it would most likely be scary-high.
The sugar industry has fought very aggressively, and successfully, to be
exempted from having to reveal that information to you.

A modeling study, Cost-Effectiveness
of the US Food and Drug Administration Added Sugar Labeling Policy for
Improving Diet and Health
, published April 15, 2019, projected that adding
a sugar label can, “Prevent or postpone nearly 1 million cases of
cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” and “Save $31 billion in net healthcare
costs and $61.9 billion in societal costs over 20 years.”[xii] [xiii]

At long last, this sugar labelling exemption is scheduled
to end in 2020.  

There is another reason why the food industry prefers
synthetic sugars and has developed so many of them. This is another way to hide
how much sugar is in any given food or beverage. Processed and packaged foods
like yogurt, spaghetti sauce, ketchup, and salad dressings often contain large
amounts of multiple sugars.

If sugar is one of the main ingredients by volume in a
food product and you want to mask that, one way is to mix in several different
types of sweeteners, which, while adding up to the same overall amount of
sugar, can now be listed as separate ingredients, and each one, now
constituting a lower percentage of the ingredient total, will appear further
down the list. And since most sugars, such as high-fructose corn syrup, do not
contain the word “sugar” in their names, most consumers glancing at an
ingredient list on a package won’t be able to spot them.

Huge food corporations like General Mills, Nestlé and
Coca-Cola create products for a competitive market that are hugely profitable.
Part of their popularity is their taste and appeal, which comes in no small part
from the amount of sweeteners they add. Of primary concern to these
corporations is their market share and the relentless pursuit of profit, rather
than consumer health and wellbeing.

As Brady and many of us have realized, the labels the food
industry adds to these products such as “natural,” “healthy,” “low-calorie,”
and “low-fat,” are misleading. Manufacturers have also been reducing suggested
portion sizes on packaging. If a cereal box contains 12 servings and its
manufacturer decides that same amount of cereal in the same box actually
constitutes 16 servings, the amount of calories and sugar per “serving” listed
on the packaging can now be reduced 25%.  

The research study, Sugar Industry and Coronary Heart Disease Research – A
Historical Analysis of Internal Industry Documents
, revealed that the sugar
industry was aware that consumption triggers poor health, and had evidence since
the 1960s that linked sugar consumption to heart disease and cancer. It
concludes that the industry “has spent decades manipulating, molding and
guiding national research to exonerate sugar and shift the blame to saturated
fat instead.”[xiv]

Sugar Industry corporations have also done an effective
job in shielding themselves from legal responsibility for the adverse health
consequences resulting from the consumption of their products. Corporate executive
decisions throughout the food industry reveal an equally pervasive void in
ethical responsibility as well.

The easiest way to make sure your diet is not too
sugar-heavy, is to prioritize plant-based, whole, and unprocessed foods.

. . .

Refined carbohydrates have become

Refined carbohydrates from processed grains are a major
cause of obesity, diabetes and chronic disease. In fact, refined carbohydrates
such as white sugar and white flour stimulate insulin levels more than
virtually any other food. Macaroni and cheese, pastas and pancakes containing
processed grains  — each of these is a
highly refined carbohydrate. Most breakfast cereals and packaged white breads
are made from ultra-processed grains.

In what is being described as a landmark study, Ultra-Processed Diets Cause Excess Calorie Intake and Weight Gain: An Inpatient Randomized Controlled Trial[xv],  published May 16, 2019, found that the hormonal balance of participants eating a diet high in ultra-processed foods changed reducing their levels of an appetite-suppressing hormone. They ate significantly more carbs and fat, and they consumed food faster. After two weeks, their diet was changed to one consisting of minimally processed foods like stir-fried beef with vegetables, basmati rice, and fresh fruit, and their hormone levels returned to normal as did their eating habits.[xvi]

Dr. Fung makes an important distinction: “These foods are
quite fattening, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that all carbohydrates are similarly bad. ‘Good’ carbohydrates (whole
fruits and vegetables) are substantially different from ‘bad’ (sugar and

Whole grains protect you against obesity due to their
natural fiber. Your body needs fiber daily to remain healthy. Fiber only comes
from plants — and plant foods contain high amounts of it. Processed grains are
grains stripped of their natural fiber. Processed grains are less nutritious in
part because they are digested differently by your body.

Daily consumption of high-fiber whole grains lowers the
risk of type 2 diabetes by 11% according to a 2018 study published in the Journal of Nutrition.[xviii]

now consume, on average, 146 pounds of flour a year. Flour actually raises
blood sugar more than sugar does.[xx]The vast majority of fast food, junk
food and processed foods contain refined carbohydrates. Reducing them in your
diet can vastly improve your ability to lose weight.

. . .

Wheat, corn, other grains and
vegetables have changed

Take a step back in the food supply chain, to food in the
fields, to crop source. Food before “food manufacturers” have gotten their
hands on it. There is a problem even here.

David Thomas researched mineral content in vegetables and
determined that from 1940 to 1991 copper declined by 76%, calcium by 46%, iron
by 27%, magnesium by 24%, and potassium by 16%.[xxi] 

In her article, The
Great Nutrient Collapse,
Helena Bottemiller Evich writes about Irakli
Loladze. Irakli is a mathematician, and like many mathematicians, he wanted to
solve a mystery. The mystery perplexing him was this: Why, over the past 70
years, has the vitamin, mineral and protein content of our most important grains,
fruits and vegetables been declining? He had a theory as to why, and in 2002 he
set about to test and prove it. He suspected that the rising level of carbon
dioxide in the atmosphere due to global warming was the cause. And he was

Helena Bottemiller Evich writes, “As best scientists can tell, this is what happens: Rising CO2 revs up photosynthesis, the process that
helps plants transform sunlight to food. This makes plants grow, but it also
leads them to pack in more carbohydrates like glucose at the expense of other
nutrients that we depend on, like protein, iron and zinc… Across nearly 130
varieties of plants and more than 15,000 samples collected from experiments
over the past three decades, the overall concentration of minerals like
calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron had dropped by 8 percent on

There is a correlation between the increase in chronic diseases and the diminished nutritional value in the foods we are consuming.

. . .


Read Part 7 of this 11-part series next week. If you can’t wait, the book The Great Healing – Five Compassions That Can Save Our World is available on Amazon or at

“The ambitious book’s five chapters highlight compassionate approaches toward animals, self, the land, community, and democracy. Erickson’s writing displays passion, clarity, and a grasp of every topic he tackles.”

— Kirkus Reviews

“Erickson’s ability to connect climate science, copious data, and public policies with the lived experiences of people and other creatures sets this book apart. His emphasis on humane and caring methods reminds readers that winning hearts and minds is a prerequisite to capturing carbon. An inspired synthesis of environmental, cultural, economic, and political calls to action.”

— Kirkus Reviews

“An exceptionally well and persuasively written clarion call to personal and collective action, “The Great Healing – Five Compassions That Can Save Our World” is unreservedly and urgently recommended.”
— Midwest Book Review


[i] “Compelling evidence shows your net carbohydrate intake
is a primary factor that determines your body’s fat ratio, and processed grains
and sugars (particularly fructose) are the primary culprits behind skyrocketing
obesity, diabetes and chronic disease rates.”

Mercola, D.O., Obesity Takes Greater Than
Ever Toll on Global Health
,, Jun. 28, 2017,

[ii] Jason Fung, M.D.  The
Obesity Code
, British Columbia, Vancouver: Greystone Books, 2016  pg. 163 

[iii] George A. Bray, et all, Consumption of High-Fructose Corn Syrup in
Beverages May Play a Role in the Epidemic of Obesity
, American Journal of
Clinical Nutrition 79, no 4 (2004): 537-543

[iv] Department of Biology,
University of Indiana, Obesity, Type 2
Diabetes and Fructose,  Aug. 24, 2010,  (access via Safari)

[v] Mark Hyman, M.D.  Eat
Fat, Get Thin
, New York, New
York: Little, Brown and Co., Hachette Book Group, 2016 pg. 49

[vi] Mark Hyman, M.D.  Eat
Fat, Get Thin
, New York, New
York: Little, Brown and Co., Hachette Book Group, 2016 pg. 48

[vii] Robert H. Lustig, M.D., Current Controversies in Nutrition: Letting
Science Be the Guide — Sugar: The Bitter Truth
, University of California
Television , Jul. 30, 2009,

[viii] Hilary Parker, A Sweet Problem: Princeton Researchers Find that High-fructose Corn
Syrup Prompts Considerably More Weight Gain
, Princeton University, Mar. 22,

[ix] Kristin
Wartman, What’s Really Making Us Fat?,
The Atlantic, Mar. 8, 2012

[x] Tim Ryan, The Real Food
, Carlsbad, California: Hay House, 2014

[xi] Tim Ryan, The Real Food Revolution, Carlsbad,
California: Hay House 2014, pgs. 39-40

[xii] Lisa LaPoint, FDA Added Sugar Label Could be a
Cost-effective Way to Improve Health, Generate Savings
, Tufts Now, Apr. 15,

[xiii] Yue Huang, Chris
Kypridemos, Junxiu Liu, et al. Cost-Effectiveness
of the US Food and Drug Administration Added Sugar Labeling Policy for
Improving Diet and Health
AHA Journals – Circulation,  Apr. 15, 2019,

[xiv] Cristin E. Kearns, DDS, MBA, Laura A. Schmidt, PhD, MSW, MPH, Stanton A.
Glantz, PhD, Sugar Industry and Coronary
Heart Disease Research – A Historical Analysis of Internal Industry Documents
American Medical Association, 2016, JAMA Intern
Med. 2016;176(11):1680-1685.

[xv] Kevin D. Hall, Alexis
Ayuketah, Robert Brychta, et al. Ultra-Processed Diets Cause Excess Calorie
Intake and Weight Gain: An Inpatient Randomized Controlled Trial of
Libitum Food Intake, Cell Metabolism, May 16, 2019, DOI:

[xvi] Maria Godoy, It’s Not
Just Salt, Sugar, Fat: Study Finds Ultra-Processed Foods Drive Weight Gain
NPR, May 16, 2019,

[xvii] Jason Fung, M.D. The Obesity Code, British Columbia, Vancouver: Greystone Books,
2016  pg. 175 

[xviii] Kyro C, Tjonneland A, Overvad K, et al. Higher Whole-Grain Intake is Associated with
Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes among Middle-Aged Men and Women: The Danish Diet,
Cancer, and Health Cohort
, Journal of Nutrition, Sep. 1, 2018,
148(9):1434-1444. Doi: 10. 1093/jn/nxy112.

[xix] Good Medicine, Whole Grains Help Protect Against Type 2 Diabetes, The Physicians
Committee For Responsible Medicine, Winter, 2019, Vol. 28, No. 1, pg. 5

[xx] Mark Hyman, M.D.  Eat
Fat, Get Thin
, New York, New
York: Little, Brown and Co., Hachette Book Group, 2016 pg. 48

[xxi] The
Mineral Depletion of Foods Available to Us as a Nation (1940 – 2002) – A Review
of the 6th Edition of McCance and Widdowson
, research article by
David Thomas, July 2007

[xxii] Helena Bottemiller Evich, The Great Nutrient Collapse, The Agenda
– Politico, Sep. 13, 2017


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