My Notes From The Functional Health Summit
An Interview with JJ Virgin
Sugar Impact Secret
I am on the warpath against sugar because what I have discovered was with the virgin diet the top question I got asked was about sugar. What I discovered is people fell into two camps they were either confused, what about honey, what about natural, what about juice. They were either confused or controlled by it and even though they knew they had to stop they just couldn’t. With both those things especially the confusion part which really breaks my heart seeing people getting duped by misinformation, people trying so hard and seeing sugar sneak into crazy places and think their eating healthy. I knew I had to work on this, I also knew we were looking at sugar all wrong and had to give us a new framework for getting rid of those cravings and get back control over sugar. I think what is really the tragedy is people think it was OK it was just fruit juice concentrate and it says no sugar added. Your trying so hard your having that low fat yoghurt with the fruit that has more sugar than an ice cream cone and a half, your having the green drink that has more sugar than a soda. Your doing these things and your not getting the results so you think it’s you and you failed when in reality your just following the wrong information.
When you lower your sugar impact everything becomes easy, that’s the real key. Instead of looking at sugar because it’s not really about no sugar, it’s about what to choose and what to loose based on it’s impact. This means we have to look at differently, if you look at this old model of how we look at sugar it’s been all about the glycemic index. That’s where you look at a 50 gram dose of food and how much it raises your blood sugar which is silly for a couple reasons. We don’t eat that way unless were eating snack packs in the afternoon, for the most part were not eating a 50 gram dose of baby carrots. It makes carrots look the same as potatoes because it’s looking at a 50 gram dose not an average amount that’s normal for someone to eat so it doesn’t work for a variety of reasons.
The biggest reason the glycemic index fails us besides not taking amounts into account is it doesn’t take fructose into account. If there is one takeaway that we can get today is that fructose is the single most damaging sugar out there, it’s the most aging, it’s the most destructive. It’s destructive because it goes strait to the liver where it tells your body to make fat, it doesn’t raise blood sugar which sounds good but it also doesn’t trigger any of the satiety signals along the way so your making fat and your still hungry. Because it’s super sweet it makes you crave even more sweet, we all know that the more sweet you eat the more sweet you want. If you look at the worst of the worst, the worst is having fructose and glucose together as in high fructose corn syrup HFCS, because you have the bad fructose going to the liver making fat and you have the glucose raising blood sugar causing insulin resistance or diabetes. You just have a perfect storm of problems there. When I was looking at this I said we’ve got to take fructose into account, we have to take the amount of food were eating into account, we have to offset this. Fiber changes everything it slows down what your eating and so does nutrients, the takeaway is you don’t want to mainline sugar you want to eat foods that your body can slowly make sugar from that’s the real goal.
The seven foods to swap, when I’m looking at things I ask how do I make this a program that people can be successful with, that’s easy to do because ultimately if that’s not the case there’s no point. When I looked at this I said ok let’s look at food in terms of bad is fructose grams and glycemic load and good is fiber and nutrient density. I’m going to divide them into seven categories of grains, roots, fruits, no fat/low fat dairy and diet foods, drinks, dressings and sugars. Then I divided them up into high, low and medium impact foods so that you would know if you were eating roots a potato would be high impact, medium would be a sweet potato and low would be pumpkin. Grains white rice would be high impact, brown rice would be medium and wild rice would be low. So all of a sudden you could start tapering down your sugar impact without losing anything, I’m not taking anything away I’m just trading.
The number one thing I hear from people is What do I Eat, they don’t know what to eat and if you just tell them what to take out and you don’t tell them what to put in their going to put in worse stuff than they were doing before. I’ve seen it enough times so you really have to start instead of pulling out start with putting in so that’s where I like to start with people. Let’s look first at eating enough protein and eating healthy fat’s because I find that a lot of people crave sugar because their not getting enough clean lean protein and healthy fats. It’s interesting with any diet trend, paleo or vegan, there’s always the junk food side of it, there’s always the paleo treats, the gluten free cupcakes and it’s like gosh just eat real food.
I do think it’s food addiction, addiction to gluten, dairy and sugar, those are the three most addictive food substances and sugar is the most addictive substance on the planet. I was the same and took war out on sugar when I was 12 that’s when I started being crazy about food, nutrition and fitness. I got rid of my ice cream and started having frozen yoghurt and I stopped eating candy bars I started eating tigers milk bars and I stopped drinking sodas I had Tab. I didn’t lower my sugar impact at all and here I’m going I’m trying so hard and my face is still broken out I’m still bloated what the heck. I think so many people are like that they think their doing better, so I was still totally addicted to all of these things because I hadn’t gotten the foods out. That’s what happens you start addicted to something and decide to go into a trend and you find out oh I kept a paleo brownie, cool.
I was so excited about the latest study on the gut microbiome and the glucose intolerance in one week, they took a group of people that didn’t have any artificial sweeteners in their diet and put them on the artificial sweeteners for one week. In one week their gut microbiome changed so much that they became glucose intolerant, in a week! That’s just insane that you could shift your gut microbiome with these artificial sweeteners to start not being able to tolerate sugar which is going to lead to diabetes. If you look at what’s going on with these artificial sweeteners just the very nature of when you eat sweet you crave sweet so you eat them and you want more sweet, there’s the problem number one. Number two you get calorie dysregulation because your brain goes oh were getting sweet but all of a sudden your not getting any calorie hit with it and so you tend to over eat. Then you have the issue with feeding the bad bacteria in the gut so that you extract more calories from the food and store it as fat. Then you have the issue of some raising the blood sugar and insulin it’s the very thing they weren’t supposed to do in the first place. It’s such a big loose all the way around besides the toxicity and the neurotoxicity, it’s like why are these toxic substances still being used and being used by the diabetic community that’s the worst of the worst. I can’t blame anybody who should be using them but they especially shouldn’t be using them.
I remember reading one study that showed if you walk into a bakery you start to increase insulin from the smell, if that happens when you walk into a bakery what happens when you get a sweet taste on your tongue, clearly it’s going to have an impact. It’s frightening knowing what the food chemists know and what they can do, what they can create to make us not be able to just run away from the cookies and the cakes and all these things.
I am not a fan of honey, ok if you’ve got allergies raw local organic honey 1/2 – 1 teaspoon a day but that’s not what people are doing their making paleo treats and thinking it’s ok because it’s all natural. A challenge with a lot of those things is they are trigger foods and too much healthy foods is unhealthy. I’ll give you an example, making something with almond flour, coconut flour and maybe using some erythritol or something ok but if you can have one or two it’s a simple thing but all of a sudden it becomes a trigger and your overdoing it and that becomes a problem. That’s my concern with a lot of these things is that they become real trigger foods, it’s a gateway drug. Baby carrots can be a gateway snack because then you realize I think I need some ranch dressing with this and the next thing you know you have chips out. If you can manage your treats and you can do a protein popsicle but if it starts you searching for everything stop it. I think were better off with low impact sweeteners that I recommend but my bigger recommendation is to get yourself tapered off all these things altogether and start appreciating natural sweetness like cinnamon, vanilla and blueberries and savory and spicy and stop using these things to jack up the sweetness.
Cinnamon is an amazing nutrient, it’s one of the most underutilized things and when you get used to it it’s sweet it’s really incredible. So much more cinnamon and vanilla I love that too that’s fantastic, zest of lemon and orange work great to. I don’t want to switch someone off something and have then overdosing on erythritol and zylotol you didn’t fix anything then you have to taper off of this.
What makes me the most angry is seeing a product that says no sugar added and then you flip it over and you find out that they used apple juice concentrate in it. Example I bought these dried cranberries to use in my food porn in one of my videos, the reason I bought them is it said it was dried cranberries all natural and I’m thinking what else could these cranberries be it said no sugar added I flipped it over and they put apple juice concentrate on these dried cranberries. There’s a green drink out there that says all natural no sugar added and it’s got 56 grams of sugar because this green drink has 5 serving of fruits in it, I guess they didn’t want it to taste green. That’s what gets me is these people getting it because it said no sugar added but it’s got fruit juice concentrate which let’s face it want to talk about the worst thing you can do apple juice concentrate the highest fructose fruit out there. Apple juice concentrate is far worse than HFCS.
People think agave and honey are good because their all natural, arsenic is all natural, all natural is a meaningless term, unfortunately it’s an easy way to lie or distract. I also found one that said no artificial flavorings or colorings but what they did was distract you from the fact it had artificial sweeteners in it, didn’t say no artificial sweeteners so you just made the assumption that’s just rotten. One other thing is maltodextrin which is basically sugar from corn, I’m not a corn fan with corn there’s a couple of issues we know it’s genetically modified unless your buying organic corn, and even then what do we feed cows and pigs to fatten them up we feed them corn. Corn is starch it starts turning to sugar in your mouth stop buying corn, popcorn as a diet food is the most ridiculous thing on the planet, I mean this is just silliness so no skinny popcorn.
There’s a ton of different manes for sugar but one of the easiest ways you can find it on the labels is just look at the label under sugars. It goes deeper than that remember that all carbohydrates except fiber turn to sugar it’s just how fast it’s going to happen and two slices of whole wheat bread raises your blood sugar more than six teaspoons of sugar. It’s not just about looking at the sugars on the label it’s also about looking at the starches and how quickly those starches get converted to sugar in your body. That’s why it’s so important to get away from the packages and get back to real food of wild rice for a starchy carb and pumpkin and things that have a great fiber and a very slow release of sugar and your body has to work to do it.
The squash family is such an underutilized family, eat more squash especially pumpkin. My whole world is built on eating by the plate because when you eat by the plate and you get clean lean protein, all these things have different hormonal rolls. The protein is going to slow down stomach emptying, it’s going to release glucagon and help push a little against insulin it still can raise insulin some but it’s more focused on glucagon, your going to suppress ghrelin so you feel fuller longer. Then your going to look at fat and where fat really gets into some of the neuropeptides and tells the brain that your full it’s not going to trigger an insulin response, fiber again slowing down stomach emptying helping with satiety. When you put this all together instead of just looking at a carb hit where you have nothing to slow it’s impact your going to get in trouble but when you put these other things in there your going to improve satiety, slow the release and help you feel fuller that’s the win. I believe you should be having protein, healthy fat, a little bit of low impact carb and a lot of non starchy vegetables, lot’s at every meal.
The amounts of each shifts a bit with where people are metabolically, depending what’s going on with their adrenals and their insulin resistance but probably 40-50% fat, 30% on the protein and 20% on the carbs, I’m definitely a high fat diet person. For fat I am telling you to eat ghee and grass fed butter and coconut oil and I’m also telling you not to have potato chips and trans fats, the garbage. It’s really about the quality of the oils we have to make an oil change. When your eating extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds, cold water fish and grass fed beef that’s where your getting the fat’s from. Real food fat and when you eat fat your not hungry and your happy, your face looks good, your hair looks good, your bones are remodeling, you’ve got reduced inflammation. It all comes down to controlling blood sugar and reducing inflammation.
When we eat sugar you can create something called advanced glycation end products and the way I look at it when you bake a loaf of bread and you have the crust that’s what that is you don’t want that happening in your body. You don’t want to age faster you don’t want to create that inflammation, you have people doing all kinds of things to reduce the aging process, reduce your sugar impact that’s the fastest way to reduce your aging process. Fructose goes through that glycation process where this happens faster, seven times faster than when you do with regular sugars, artificial sugars glycate too. It’s not just a glucose thing it’s also fructose and artificial sweeteners. This is another process that we don’t think about so much because we think this is causing weight gain well it’s aging you and creating inflammation.
The average person on my program in the two week cycle where we take fructose down to zero after we’ve tapered, the average person loses up to ten pounds and two inches off their waist. I tell people that is not the big deal, the big deal is that you loose your sweet tooth, reduce the inflammation, blood sugar comes back into control but what people care about is they loose the ten pounds. I want to get people to get blood sugar under control, reduce their inflammation, reduce their risk of cancer all those types of things but ultimately if you can get them to have some fast results first then they get all in. They recognize the correlation of diet and how it impacts their health, for so many people they have tried so hard and it hasn’t worked because they have been duped by misinformation and sneaking it in places you don’t expect, I guess it’s just my genetics and where I’m supposed to be. When you can show them quickly how it can change without them feeling like their giving anything up just swapping food makes a massive difference.
With yeast problems I have people taper for 1-2 weeks, for people with insulin resistance, diabetic, G.I. issues, they may take two weeks. Those are the people I want to sit in cycle two for as long as possible because you don’t get rid of that yeast overnight as we know depending on why it’s happening. This is the perfect diet for someone with yeast overgrowth because you will starve those suckers out and that’s what we want to do. It will help you get through because you taper, it’s going to help you get through that period that most people especially with that yeast overgrowth, where those little babies are making you eat the sugar will help you get that under control. When you taper a lot of the symptoms that you normally feel with a yeast die off don’t happen, the headaches. Whether it’s because of hypoglycemia and insulin resistance again whatever those things are that have been creating this when you taper you allow yourself to transition so you never get into that problem. Whether it’s because your a sugar burner or your diabetic or you have yeast overgrowth that’s why tapering is so critical.
As far as moving into cycle two where we bring fructose down to zero I basically live in cycle two because I’ve connected the dots when I eat things with a higher sugar impact, which is what we do in the third cycle so you can really understand how much you should be eating and how it makes you feel you can connect those dots. I don’t feel good so I’d much rather have pumpkin than sweet potatoes I feel better and I feel better on wild rice than brown rice so that’s what I do. When your looking beyond just the results and when I did this program based on science and then I looked at it based on the results you could have the science there but if the results didn’t check out why do it. We all end up kinda doing the same thing coming at it from different scientific perspectives looking at the results and they all end up with fairly similar programs. Functional medicine doctors all say to get off sugar and gluten.
I had one woman who was morbidly obese since she was 30 years old went on the program and lost 15 pounds over the two week transition cycle and started feeling good so she went to the gym to start working out. She’s telling about how she was never able to loose weight before and about her progress and gets offered a job there. She had just retired and thought she would stay home and quilt because she was morbidly obese, now she’s working at this gym and because of her amazing results she’s telling everybody how to do this. Because she works there she has to become a certified health and fitness instructor and then I find out this woman is 70 years old. For so many of us were being held back by these sugars sneaking into our life creating inflammation that are making us overweight we can’t think straight, were tired we have headaches and they stop us from doing the things we really want to do. We just figure were getting older, it’s my genetics not realizing that no it’s actually none of those things and that fixing this could be a matter of weeks. Then when you start to do this and you realize what’s possible how energetic and how good you feel about yourself again, your relationships change, it’s amazing that’s what I love I get excited about this stuff when I see those things happen. The interviewer then spoke of one of his patients where an 86 year old woman asked if it was too late and he told her it was never too late, she dropped weight and got rid of her rheumatoid arthritis. To me the older we get the lower the margin of error and the more important all of this stuff becomes, it’s not too late it’s even more important now.
I hate the cheat day, I had a client that lost 70 pounds when he first talked to me he said I’ve looked at your program I’ve read your book but I don’t know what to eat. I said really you have a wild seafood and grass fed beef company and you don’t know what you’d eat, seriously. He texts me and says he thinks he should have a cheat day, if you look at food as a food intolerance because you know it’s going to start a cascade of inflammation, a firestorm of problems in your body. It’s also going to turn back on those little receptors that go a drug came in I want more of that. Your not cheating with a steak your cheating with the cookie or cake the thing that’s the trigger for you and once you trigger you want more, it’s not innocuous, foods are not innocuous it’s either going to heal you or hurt you. If you work with anyone who has a food addiction because food is now created to make you addicted, you would never have a cheat day if you were an alcoholic. Sugar is more addictive than alcohol, it’s a bigger drug problem than alcohol in this country. Five year olds are not having tequila shots their having cookies and candy, if sugar were a drug you would never say lets have a cheat day it fires you all back up again so you want more.
JJ Virgin web page jjvirgin.com
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M. Scherker medical researcher