I’m a little fired up this week after watching the documentary Fed Up this past weekend. I’m not going to sugar-coat (no pun intended) this week’s post because I consider the discussion on food and our children’s health to be of utmost importance. I take it very seriously and my hope is to inspire you to take action for yourself, your children or children that you know.
What if the foods your daughter (and son) are eating today could be negatively imp[acting their future fertility? Pretty scary to think about huh?
This is a question every parent should be thinking about and it is also one of my many takeaways from “Fed Up”, a new documentary on the abysmal state of health in the US.
You might be thinking, “ugh, yet another movie on how bad things are,” and you’d be right. Things are REALLY bad and this film does a pretty bang-up job of highlighting our biggest issues. Like these:
- Children as young as SEVEN years old are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and the fastest growing population of diabetics are young adults
- Many young children (the youngest is two!) are having bariatric surgery to combat their obesity
And you know what the culprit is behind most of this? The mighty food industry and it’s darling sugar. The sugar industry has worked tirelessly to become a staple in everyone’s diet and they don’t show any signs of stopping.
What got me really pissed while watching the movie was learning that when the World Health Organization came out with revised guidelines on sugar consumption in 2003, the sugar lobby in the US demanded that Congress withhold the 408 million dollars in funding the WHO receives from the US each year. Their strong-arm tactics were worse than any tactics employed by the tobacco industry and they worked.
The guidelines simply stated that our diets should consist of no more than 10% daily added sugar. We’re not even talking about natural sugars in fruit; this is additional sugar from sodas, fruit juices, cakes, cookies etc.
That was unacceptable to the sugar industry who claimed that sugar production in developing nations would slow down and devastate economies. Really?! Please. They essentially blackmailed the WHO into changing their guidelines from 10% added sugar to 25% added sugar. Of course our diets don’t need any added sugar so this is a ludicrous recommendation. Honestly I don’t know how these people sleep at night, much less live with themselves. Goes to show how much power these companies have over our governments and ultimately our buying choices though.
Ever wonder why food labels show the daily percentage of carbohydrates, fat and protein but not the sugar percentage. It’s the sugar lobbyists’ job to keep that vital information hidden so that the unassuming customer doesn’t see what the heck they are actually eating. If you’re eating more than 25 grams (6 teaspoons) a day, then you’re eating too much.
Eighty percent of the food-like substances (I refuse to call them foods) in grocery stores have added sugar. Everything from bread to spaghetti sauce. Make sure to do your homework and read your labels. Look for “no added sugar” on the products you buy and check the ingredients list for any of the names below. This is how food companies hide sugar in our food.
Let’s get back to what I said earlier about sugar and fertility. I’ve spoken about this before but after seeing this movie I think it’s very important to continue highlighting it. Our modern industrial diet is literally rendering us infertile and I can’t stress enough how crucial it is to limit our sugar intake or eliminate it completely.
I’m especially talking to women who are dealing with insulin dysregulation, insulin resistance and/or PCOS but this message is for everyone, especially children. PCOS affects 1 in 1o women and it is the number one cause of ovulatory infertility in the US and possibly worldwide. About 50% of women with PCOS have insulin resistance and 30% (a third of us!) of all women have symptoms of PCOS but are not diagnosed as having it.
Why am I talking about this? Because in many cases, PCOS comes down to sugar and refined carbohydrate consumption. While there is a genetic predisposition to PCOS, please understand that our genes are not our destiny and our food choices can turn this on or off. If we can reduce or eliminate these harmful foods, we can begin the healing process.
PCOS and our sugar addiction
Addiction begins very early in life, especially for girls. Whenever we are rewarded for good behavior or good grades with ice-cream, cake or cookies, we begin to associate being good or doing good with sugar. I can relate to this from my own childhood and maybe you can too? My parents had no idea they were doing this, and of course I don’t blame them, but I encourage you to think about whether this is happening with your own children.
In Fed Up, they reference a study in which cocaine-addicted mice were offered sugar or cocaine and across the board they opted for sugar nearly every time. Yikes!
Every time a child is given foods like this, her blood sugar and ultimately her insulin spike up and then crash again. No coincidence that we are in the midst of an obesity and diabetes epidemic. This cycle goes on for years, usually peaking around puberty, when there is a natural insulin resistance that occurs.
Note: There is evidence linking a mother’s insulin resistance while her baby is in utero, along with the over-consumption of sugary refined foods in childhood with the incidence of PCOS and PCOS symptoms in these children.
Girls as young as 11 are being diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which is the number one cause of ovulatory infertility worldwide. Puberty is when girls get their periods and the full spectrum of symptoms start to show up. To be clear though, even if children aren’t overweight they can still be pre-diabetic and at risk of PCOS later on if they have a genetic predisposition.
Our pancreas isn’t designed to be in over-drive all the time, constantly having to secrete insulin to clean up all the excess sugar in our blood. The real problem is insulin – a powerful storage hormone that is not to be messed with.
Over time, high levels of insulin do a number on our ovaries – too much can actually cause our ovaries to produce more testosterone than they are supposed to. When we produce too much testosterone our brains don’t send the right amounts of FSH and LH to our ovaries (the hormones that stimulate our ovaries to ovulate) and our ovaries get confused.
Confused ovaries don’t properly ovulate, instead their eggs make it halfway through the process and just sit on the ovary waiting for their cue that never comes. These unreleased eggs are what’s known as ovarian cysts. When we don’t ovulate properly we cannot get pregnant. We also won’t have normal periods. In addition, unfortunate symptoms such as facial hair, acne, oily skin, pelvic pain, male pattern hair loss, weight gain and severe PMS can occur. It makes sense then that Metformin, the diabetes drug used to regulate blood sugar is also used to treat women with PCOS.
The good news is that this is all within our control. Don’t buy the story that you have no control over your PCOS or insulin resistance/diabetes or that of your children. Start by seeing Fed Up or going to their site and taking their 10-day sugar challenge. Also read my post on my recommended PCOS Protocol here. When you get your’s and your children’s insulin under control, you are giving them a huge gift – long-term health and the preservation of their future fertility. Knowledge is power and it’s all yours babe!
There was a time not too long ago when a pregnant woman smoking a cigarette was accepted. Watch Mad Men lately? 🙂 I sincerely hope that the vision of a young child drinking a Coca Cola in the not-too-distant future will be as off-putting as the image of a pregnant woman smoking a cigarette is to us now.
***In March the WHO released new guidelines stating that the recommended amount of daily added sugar should be 5 percent. This time they have done their homework and they plan not to back down to any pressure they face! Whoo hoo for standing your ground!***