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I saw them perform in Brandon MB, pretty good band.

Log off and go ride!
1,776 Posts
Why the brouhaha over 'newly released documents' when the food science world knew of the paid studies back in the 1990s and before?

Funded studies does not necessarily mean the findings are bogus. You can still have good solid science paid from a biased source. In this case it may be skewed analysis, but the funding source of any study does not automatically imply the findings are biased. Every study is funded by someone.

9 lives
16,124 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
An interesting article (also from NYT) How to Stop Eating Sugar

I was a lifelong vegetarian, but I had a goal to eliminated dairy products until reaching a plant-based diet (a few years ago). As a result, I've become more conscious of phasing out less healthy foods (eg pop, sugary cereals etc) and replaced with healthier choices. Although I read labels, and try not to overindulge (I do treat myself to a vegan dessert once in a while ::)) I still found that this article had some good observations for raising awareness and reports some good strategies for guidance.

The Added-Sugar Problem
Here's why you eat more sugar than you realize, and why it's a problem.

The first thing to know: Added sugars, of one kind or another, are almost everywhere in the modern diet. They’re in sandwich bread, chicken stock, pickles, salad dressing, crackers, yogurt and cereal, as well as in the obvious foods and drinks, like soda and desserts.

The biggest problem with added sweeteners is that they make it easy to overeat. They’re tasty and highly caloric but they often don’t make you feel full. Instead, they can trick you into wanting even more food. Because we’re surrounded by added sweeteners — in our kitchens, in restaurants, at schools and offices — most of us will eat too much of them unless we consciously set out to do otherwise.

It’s not an accident. The sugar industry has conducted an aggressive, decades-long campaign to blame the obesity epidemic on fats, not sugars. Fats, after all, seem as if they should cause obesity. Thanks partly to that campaign, sugar consumption soared in the United States even as people were trying to lose weight. But research increasingly indicates that an overabundance of simple carbohydrates, and sugar in particular, is the No. 1 problem in modern diets. Sugar is the driving force behind the diabetes and obesity epidemics. Fortunately, more people are realizing the harms of sugar and cutting back.

Health experts recommend that you focus on reducing added sweeteners — like granulated sugar, high fructose corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, stevia and molasses. You don’t need to worry so much about the sugars that are a natural part of fruit, vegetables and dairy products. Most people don’t overeat naturally occurring sugars, as Marion Nestle of New York University says. The fiber, vitamins and minerals that surround them fill you up.

A typical adult should not eat more than 50 grams (or about 12 teaspoons) of added sugars per day, and closer to 25 is healthier. The average American would need to reduce added-sweetener consumption by about 40 percent to get down to even the 50-gram threshold. Here’s how you can do it — without spending more money on food than you already do.

Changing your diet is hard. If your strategy involves thinking about sugar all the time — whenever you’re shopping or eating — you’ll likely fail. You’ll also be miserable in the process. It’s much more effective to come up with a few simple rules and habits that then become second nature. (One strategy to consider: Eliminate all added sugars for one month, and then add back only the ones you miss. It’s easier than it sounds.)

Above all, most people’s goal should be to find a few simple, lasting ways to cut back on sugar. Once you’re done reading this guide, we suggest you choose two or three of our ideas and try them for a few weeks.

1) First Thing in the Morning: Remember, breakfast shouldn't taste like dessert.

Breakfast is the most dangerous meal of the day for sugar. Many breakfast foods that sound as if they’re healthy are in fact laden with sugar. In Chobani Strawberry Yogurt, for example, the second ingredient — ahead of strawberries! — is evaporated cane sugar. And many brands of granola have more sugar per serving than Froot Loops or Cocoa Puffs. In the United States, as the science writer Gary Taubes says, breakfasts have become “lower-fat versions of dessert.”

There are two main strategies to ensure that breakfast doesn’t become a morning dessert. The first is for people who can’t imagine moving away from a grain-based breakfast, like cereal or toast. If you fall into this category, you have to be quite careful, because processed grains are often packed with sugar.

A few grain-based breakfasts with no or very low sugar:

Cheerios. They’re quite low in sugar.
Plain oatmeal. Flavor it with fresh fruit and, if necessary, a small sprinkling of brown sugar.
Bread. A few breads have no sugar (like Ezekiel 4:9 Whole Grain). A longer list of brands have only one gram, or less, per slice (including Sara Lee Whole Wheat and Nature’s Own Whole Wheat). Authentic Middle Eastern breads, like pita and lavash, are particularly good options and a growing number of supermarkets sell them.
Homemade granola. You can also make your own granola and play around with the sugar amounts.
But there is also a more creative alternative. Move away from grain-based breakfasts. If you do that (as I have recently, after decades of eating cereal), avoiding added sugar is easy. My new breakfast routine actually feels more indulgent than my old one. Most days, I eat three or four of the following:

Scrambled or fried eggs
Plain yogurt
A small piece of toast
A few nuts
A small portion of well-spiced vegetables, like spinach, carrots and sweet potatoes.

I realize the part about vegetables may sound weird. Maybe morning veggies aren’t for you. But maybe you’ll be surprised to discover they are, as I was. Remember: In much of the world, including large parts of Asia, breakfast is a savory meal, not a sweet one, just as lunch and dinner are. Vegetables aren’t a weird thing to eat for breakfast in China or India. For more breakfast ideas, check out breakfast recipes from Whole30 (a food program that eliminates much more than just sugar).

A final tip: Keep your juice portions small. Real juice doesn’t have added sweeteners. But fruit juice is one source of natural sugars that can be dangerous, because of how efficiently it delivers those sugars. You’re not eating the stomach-filling fiber of an orange when you drink a glass of orange juice. Keep your juice portions to no more than six ounces, and have only one per day.

2) From the Bottle and Can: Beverages are one of the biggest sources of added sugars in our diets.

Eliminate soda from your regular diet. Just get rid of it. If you must, drink diet soda. Ideally, though, you should get rid of diet soda, too.

That may sound extreme, but sweetened beverages are by far the biggest source of added sugar in the American diet — 47 percent, according to the federal government. Soda — along with sweetened sports drinks, energy drinks and iced teas — is essentially flavored, liquefied sugar that pumps calories into your body without filling you up. Among all foods and beverages, says Kelly Brownell, an obesity expert and dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke, “the science is most robust and most convincing on the link between soft drinks and negative health outcomes.”

Get this: A single 16-ounce bottle of Coke has 52 grams of sugar. That’s more added sugar than most adults should consume in an entire day.

As for diet soda, researchers aren’t yet sure whether they’re damaging or harmless. Some scientists think diet soda is perfectly fine. Others, like the Yale cardiologist Dr. Harlan Krumholz, think it may be damaging. Dr. Krumholz recently announced that after years of pounding diet sodas, he was giving them up. There is reason to believe, he wrote, that the artificial sweeteners they contain lead to “weight gain and metabolic abnormalities.”


Many people who think they’re addicted to soda are attracted to either the caffeine or the carbonation in the drink. You can get caffeine from coffee and tea (lightly sweetened or unsweetened), and you can get carbonation from seltzer, flavored or otherwise.

For many people, the shift to seltzer, club soda or sparkling water is life changing. It turns hydration into a small treat that’s still calorie-free. Buy yourself a seltzer maker, as I have, and gorge on the stuff at home, while saving money. Or buy fizzy water in cans or bottles. Sales of carbonated water have more than doubled since 2010, with the brand LaCroix now offering more than 20 different flavors, all without added sugar.

If they’re not sweet enough for you, you can also add a dash of juice to plain seltzer. But many people find that they lose their taste for soda after giving it up. And many Americans are giving it up: Since the late 1990s, sales of full-calorie soda have fallen more than 25 percent.

3) Check Your Pantry : Check the labels of your pantry staples for some easy places to cut the sugar.

Food makers sneak sugar into more foods than you may realize. It’s in many brands of chicken stock, soup, salami, smoked salmon, tortillas and crackers. And most of these foods do not need sweeteners to taste good.

If you take a little time to look at labels — at the grocery store or online — you can quickly learn which staples have sugar and which don’t. Here’s a sampling of some quick switches you could make:


Tip: If you live near a Trader Joe’s, it provides a lot of good, affordable options. Many of its staples have little or no added sweeteners, including some of its house brand sandwich breads, tortillas and bacon.

Try it: When you go to the supermarket, compare various brands, and choose one with little added sugar. Do this once, and then it’s easy to make the no-sugar items your default. You no longer have to spend energy thinking about it.

Start with a product’s Nutrition Facts table. Some products now include a helpful line listing the amount of “added sugars,” in addition to the standard “sugars” line (which includes naturally occurring sugars). The Trump administration has made the “added sugars” line voluntary, however, so you may also need to look at the full ingredient list next to the Nutrition Facts table, to figure out whether a food has an added sweetener. Here’s a helpful list of the many sweetener names.

Snacks can all too easily turn into yet another dessert. Many granola bars and power bars are packed with added sugars. The same goes for canned and dried fruits. And don’t kid yourself about those flavored Starbucks drinks: They’re more like a milkshake than a cup of coffee.

What are better alternatives for snacking? Have some nuts, as Barack Obama famously does. Or popcorn. Or fresh fruit. Or canned fruit that doesn’t come soaked in thick syrup.

Several companies have also realized that more people are trying to reduce their sugar intake and have begun offering snack bars without added sweeteners. These options include Larabars and Rxbars.

4) The Sauce Risk: What's hiding in your ketchup? Sugar, most likely.

Other than breakfast, sauces and toppings are the biggest stealth sugar risk.

Two of the four biggest ingredients in Heinz Ketchup are sweeteners. The biggest ingredient in many barbecue sauces is high fructose corn syrup. Many pickles — especially those labelled “bread and butter” — are heavily sweetened. Not only does Ragu pasta sauce have added sugar but so does Newman’s Own Marinara. Even Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard has some added sugar.

It is easy enough to use sauces without sugar in most cases. These products are good examples of sauces that forgo the sugar:

Maille dijon mustard
Gulden’s spicy brown
French’s Yellow Mustard
Prego’s Marinara
Victoria pasta sauces
Vlasic Kosher Dill Pickles
Newman’s Own Classic Oil and Vinegar salad dressing
As for barbecue sauce: You’re probably won’t find a good one without sugar. And as a Texan by marriage, I’m not going to suggest you give up barbecue. But no one said that you have to eliminate all sugar from your diet. Cut back on it elsewhere, and you can enjoy your brisket, ribs or pulled pork, slathered in a delicious sauce, without feeling guilty.

Want to control what’s in your sauces? Make them yourself. You can quickly and cheaply make your own salad dressing with some combination of olive oil, an acid (like vinegar, lemon or lime), herbs, garlic and shallots. Here’s a great, and extremely simple, recipe from my friend Sam Sifton.

While you’re at it, try making your own homemade marinara sauce, and impress your friends with ketchup cooked on your own stove.

5) Don’t Ruin it All at the End of a Meal : Dessert doesn't have to be any less sweet if you are cutting back on sugar.

1. Portion size. Many standard American desserts have become grotesquely large. At Applebee’s, the country’s largest casual dining chain, a single piece of cheesecake has 1,000 calories (which is half the calories a typical adult should eat in an entire day) and a whopping 21 teaspoons of sugar. Imagine pouring 21 teaspoons of sugar into your mouth after a meal. At Starbucks, a piece of chocolate marble loaf has 490 calories and is also packed with 43 grams of sugar.

The desserts of yesteryear were not nearly so monstrous. Even if you’re not a fan of Oreos, which have been around since 1912, they’re illustrative. A single Oreo cookie — the regular kind, not “double stuff” or “mega stuff” — has only one teaspoon of sugar. You should think of two or three Oreos, or a different dessert of similar size, as a normal dessert. Anything larger is a big splurge, the sort of indulgence to reserve for special occasions.

2. Habits. I’ve gone through periods when I ate a bowl of ice cream every night. It’s not a great idea.

If you want to keep your sugar consumption under control, you can help yourself by getting out of the habit of having a full artificially sweetened dessert every night. There are other end-of-day rituals that can help you fill the void, like a cup of tea or...

3. Fruit. Fruit is really a miracle food. It’s sweet, delicious and full of nutrients and fiber. Yes, it’s possible to eat so much fruit that you end up getting too much sugar in your diet. But very few people have this problem. For people who want a sweet every day, fruit is the way to go.

Some tips on picking great fruits?

Eat it fresh. (Here’s a guide to seasonality.)
Experiment with new fruits (like pomelos and papaya).
Eat it dried (again, Trader Joe’s excels here).
Eat it jarred or canned in the winter. (Just avoid all the fruit that comes with extra sweeteners.)
The beauty of fruit helps to underscore the overriding point about sugar. It’s normal to have some sugar in your diet. The problem is all of the processed sugar that has snuck into the modern diet. It’s so prevalent that you need a strategy for avoiding it. Once you come up with a strategy, eating a healthy amount of sugar isn’t nearly as hard as it sometimes seems.


9 lives
16,124 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
A little more about sugar

How to be sugar savvy: Essential tips for avoiding the type 2 diabetes epidemic
5 tips to help you with cravings, lurking sugars and warning signs

Ice cream, apple pie, crème brûlée; if your mouth is already watering, you can thank your genes. For early humans nutrition was scarce; that's why scientists believe our brains evolved to crave and seek out sweet foods high in survival-friendly calories. Of course this is far less useful now that we can find chocolate bars in every grocery-store checkout lane. Combine that with years of positive social reinforcement (think birthday cake and date-night desserts) and it's no wonder many of us have an unhealthy relationship with sugar. Over time, however, these indulgences can lead to a world of trouble. Not only can bingeing on sugar cause fatigue and weight gain in the short term, but in the long run it can increase your risk of serious diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes—which can shorten your lifespan by up to 15 years. What's more, 1 in 3 Canadians has either diabetes or prediabetes, so being sugar savvy is more important than ever. Here are 5 tips to help you navigate the sweet stuff.

1. Don't let your brain trick you

If you crave junk food when you're feeling depressed or stressed, blame it on your brain chemistry. Research shows that eating simple carbohydrates increases the action of tryptophan in your brain, temporarily boosting your levels of serotonin, a feel-good neurotransmitter. Not surprisingly, studies also show that women tend to crave high-carb, high-fat foods in the days leading up to their periods. Interestingly, adding protein into the mix can prevent you from reaching that carb-induced high, which is why low-protein treats like candy, chocolate and potato chips are often the most enticing.

Tip: Keep in mind that simple sugars and starches break down quickly, typically leading to a mood and energy crash less than 2 hours later. If you need an immediate carb pick-me-up, snack on slow-release ones like whole grains, oatmeal and sweet potatoes to avoid the rollercoaster.

2. Artificial sweeteners are not your friend

We've all seen them on grocery-store shelves; "diet" and "sugar-free" versions of foods that promise fewer calories thanks to sugar substitutes. Although this may seem like a weight-loss win, in practice artificial sweeteners have in fact been linked to weight gain. A 2014 study from Johns Hopkins University showed that overweight and obese adults who drank diet beverages consumed significantly more calories from food than regular soda drinkers. Meanwhile, recent research from Manitoba suggests that long-term, regular intake of artificial sweeteners is linked to weight gain and even diabetes. Scientists believe that overly sweet substitutes prime your tastebuds to want more, leading to increased overall calorie intake.

Tip: If you're trying to lose weight but must indulge, the evidence says it's probably better to eat real sugar. Remember that portion size is key to maintaining healthy weight—so cut that brownie in half and save the rest for later.

3. Sugar is sugar is sugar

Don't be fooled by health-washed food labels trumpeting ingredients like "organic cane sugar" or "naturally sweetened with honey". Your body doesn't care if added sugar comes from artisanal bees who dine on organic clover or a teaspoon of the granulated stuff—sugar is sugar is sugar. Also, don't forget that refined, starchy foods like white rice, bread and pasta are rapidly broken down into sugar and absorbed from your digestive tract. Though there are some differences between how your body processes simple sugars, the end results of overconsumption are the same: weight gain, high blood pressure and increased inflammation.

Tip: Reach for whole, unprocessed foods like fresh fruit if you're in the mood for a sweet fix. The added fibre will slow insulin release and sugar uptake in your body, and an apple provides healthy vitamins and nutrients that a donut won't.

4. How to cut back

The most effective lifestyle change is one you can sustain in the long run, so it's important to know your sugar-reducing style. If you're an all-or-nothing kind of person, be aware that your brain and body can get habituated to running on sugar—which can result in headaches, grogginess and irritability if you suddenly and drastically reduce your intake. Thankfully withdrawal symptoms typically resolve within a week, though you may still experience cravings for a few weeks afterwards. If your style is slow and steady, set regular goals for yourself to keep yourself accountable. Cutting your sugar intake by 1/5 per week is reasonable.

Tip: Keep your eye on the prize. Canadian guidelines recommend that no more than 10% of your daily calorie intake (and ideally less than 5%) come from added sugar, which works out to 12 teaspoons (or 6 teaspoons) for the average adult. To put it in perspective, one can of pop contains about 40 grams, or 85% of your sugar budget for the day. So watch those labels and do the math.

5. Know when to get tested

The prevalence of diabetes in Canada has doubled since the year 2000, and every 20 minutes a Canadian dies from a diabetes complication like heart attack or stroke—so knowing whether or not you're at risk for becoming a statistic is essential. Talk to your doctor about getting screened if you're:

age 40+
10 years before the age at which your relative was diagnosed
subject to other cardiovascular risk factors like abnormal cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure or obesity
of African, Asian, Indigenous or Latin descent
at moderate or high risk of having pre-diabetes or diabetes according to a validated risk calculator score
Tip: Know your allies when it comes to the battle against sugar. See your primary health-care provider to have your risk factors assessed. Consult a dietitian to tune up your diet. Diabetes Canada is an especially valuable resource for doctors and patients alike—so consider donating or volunteering to support ongoing research and education in your own community.


9 lives
16,124 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ok, but why cut stevia? It is zero calorie, or close, right?
It's a good question.

I found this study . Right now, more research is still needed before determining the safety of stevia, but is currently considered safe in at least the U.S. and Europe. So, in short, if you're consuming stevia in moderation, you're probably ok.

Here's another article (less detailed)

5,485 Posts
Regarding non-sugar sweeteners, there is some evidence that the sweetness can still cause signals to be sent to the pancreas to start pre-emptively producing insulin. Of course, there's no sugar spike for the insulin to respond to, so the system gets fooled and begins to subtly change in function over years. I'm pretty sure small amounts of stevia probably don't do much damage - if any at all - but it's something to consider. Most of us can process "reasonable" amounts of almost anything. But there are subsets of people who are more affected, and other factors such as age can degrade that ability.

I'm of the opinion though, that the shift from fats to sugar in the diet was a terrible thing for general population health.

223 Posts
Water, coffee and non-sweetened tea is basically all you can drink if you want to really cut back on sugar. Also eliminate packaged and processed foods because like the article says almost everything has sugar added. New research linking sugar and cancer is scary stuff.

1,498 Posts
I gave up refined sugar 3 years ago. Now im 10kg lighter, dont have the afternoon sleepyness and am fitter, faster, both up and down with more endurance than pre sugar me. I am also more mentally robust with less anxiety.

Killing refined sugar was a game changer for me. The positives far outweigh the loss of eating chocolate and icecreams.

Its hard to begin with and the body craves the sugary goodness. Once your body recalibrates to less sugar your taste buds dont like the taste of those sugary treats anymore. Icecream for example becomes sickly. Food that you once felt was bland is now tasty.

9 lives
16,124 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Consumption of sugary drinks linked with cancer risk: study

Consumption of sugary drinks such as soda and fruit juice is linked to a higher risk of developing certain kinds of cancer, researchers reported on Thursday.

The consumption of sugary drinks has exploded worldwide in recent decades and the high-calorie beverages have already been associated with a elevated risk of obesity -- itself recognised as a leading cancer risk factor.

A team of researchers in France wanted to assess the associations between heightened consumption of sugar drinks and the risks of overall cancer, as well as several cancer types, including breast, prostate and bowel cancers.

They surveyed more than 100,000 adults, with an average of age of 42, 79 percent of whom were women.

The participants, who were followed for a maximum of nine years, completed at least two 24-hour online validated dietary questionnaires, calculating their daily consumption of sugar and artificially sweetened beverages as well as 100 percent fruit juices.

Researchers measured the daily intakes of sugary drinks against those of diet beverages and compared them to cancer cases in participants' medical records during the follow-up period.

They found that just a 100 ml increase per day of sugary drinks was associated with an 18 percent increased risk of cancer, and with a 22 percent increase in breast cancer.

Both sugar-sweetened drinks and fruit juices saw a similar higher risk association.

During a follow-up, researchers found 2,193 cases of cancer were diagnosed, the average age at diagnosis being 59 years.

Authors of the study, which appeared in the BMJ medical journal, stressed their work was based on observation and so could not establish the cause of cancer prognoses.

But the sample size was large and they adjusted for a number of other influential factors.

Its authors suggested that, based on their findings, taxing sugary products could have a significant impact on cancer rates.

"This large, well-designed study adds to the existing evidence that consumption of sugary drinks may be associated with increased risk of some cancers," Graham Wheeler, senior statistician of the Cancer Research U.K. said of the study.


Link to study

513 Posts
I gave up refined sugar 3 years ago. Now im 10kg lighter, dont have the afternoon sleepyness and am fitter, faster, both up and down with more endurance than pre sugar me. I am also more mentally robust with less anxiety.

Killing refined sugar was a game changer for me. The positives far outweigh the loss of eating chocolate and icecreams.

Its hard to begin with and the body craves the sugary goodness. Once your body recalibrates to less sugar your taste buds dont like the taste of those sugary treats anymore. Icecream for example becomes sickly. Food that you once felt was bland is now tasty.
I gave up refined sugar at the new year based on one of your posts in another thread (the no alcohol challenge). I'll echo everything you said here. I've never felt better! Afternoon drowsiness is gone. Cravings are much reduced. Fruit tastes much sweeter (and indulgent). Focus and mental clarity is better. Mood is better and more stable. . .

A few weeks in, I was having problems staying asleep, and would usually wake up for a few hours in the middle of the night. (Despite that, I still felt better and more awake during the day). Looked into it, and I wasn't alone. It seems carbs are involved with serotonin production (via insulin and tryptophan transport into the brain).

After a few more weeks, my body adapted, and the sleeping is no longer a problem. Feeling so good I don't expect to ever go back to eating refined carbs. the hardest part has been others' reactions/shock when they hear you aren't eating sweets/bread/pasta, and their insistence that you have some cake.

1,498 Posts
I gave up refined sugar at the new year based on one of your posts in another thread (the no alcohol challenge). I'll echo everything you said here. I've never felt better! Afternoon drowsiness is gone. Cravings are much reduced. Fruit tastes much sweeter (and indulgent). Focus and mental clarity is better. Mood is better and more stable. . .

A few weeks in, I was having problems staying asleep, and would usually wake up for a few hours in the middle of the night. (Despite that, I still felt better and more awake during the day). Looked into it, and I wasn't alone. It seems carbs are involved with serotonin production (via insulin and tryptophan transport into the brain).

After a few more weeks, my body adapted, and the sleeping is no longer a problem. Feeling so good I don't expect to ever go back to eating refined carbs. the hardest part has been others' reactions/shock when they hear you aren't eating sweets/bread/pasta, and their insistence that you have some cake.
That is excellent news man. I happy that its working well for you.

For the record i still eat long chain refined carbs like bread, pasta, oats etc I have ditched the refiend sugars, cafene and alcohol. It is important to note that different foods will spike blood sugar levels for different people. As an example i am fine with bread where several of my buddies put on weight if they eat bread.

So you need to experiment and find what works for you. That said refined single sugars are universally bad.

I agree with reaction reaction from other people. And even when they know you dont do sugar and you have told them many times they still offer sugar packed snacks!... Such is life.

I still feel great. The impact does not dull off over time. I'm just running at a constant higher performance all round.

6,509 Posts
whiskey and bacon for me... peak performance

9 lives
16,124 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
If you want a better sleep.... some food for zzzzzzz :)

How Foods May Affect Our Sleep


This has not been a very good year for sleep.

With the coronavirus pandemic, school and work disruptions and a contentious election season contributing to countless sleepless nights, sleep experts have encouraged people to adopt a variety of measures to overcome their stress-related insomnia. Among their recommendations: engage in regular exercise, establish a nightly bedtime routine and cut back on screen time and social media.

But many people may be overlooking another important factor in poor sleep: diet. A growing body of research suggests that the foods you eat can affect how well you sleep, and your sleep patterns can affect your dietary choices.

Researchers have found that eating a diet that is high in sugar, saturated fat and processed carbohydrates can disrupt your sleep, while eating more plants, fiber and foods rich in unsaturated fat — such as nuts, olive oil, fish and avocados — seems to have the opposite effect, helping to promote sound sleep.

Much of what we know about sleep and diet comes from large epidemiological studies that, over the years, have found that people who suffer from consistently bad sleep tend to have poorer quality diets, with less protein, fewer fruits and vegetables, and a higher intake of added sugar from foods like sugary beverages, desserts and ultra-processed foods. But by their nature, epidemiological studies can show only correlations, not cause and effect. They cannot explain, for example, whether poor diet precedes and leads to poor sleep, or the reverse.

To get a better understanding of the relationship between diet and sleep, some researchers have turned to randomized controlled trials in which they tell participants what to eat and then look for changes in their sleep. A number of studies have looked at the impact of a diverse array of individual foods, from warm milk to fruit juice. But those studies often have been small and not very rigorous.

Some of these trials have also been funded by the food industry, which can bias results. One study funded by Zespri International, the world’s largest marketer of kiwi fruit, for example, found that people assigned to eat two kiwis an hour before their bedtime every night for four weeks had improvements in their sleep onset, duration and efficiency. The authors of the study attributed their findings in part to an “abundance” of antioxidants in kiwis. But importantly, the study lacked a control group, so it is possible that any benefits could have resulted from the placebo effect.

Other studies funded by the cherry industry have found that drinking tart cherry juice can modestly improve sleep in people with insomnia, supposedly by promoting tryptophan, one of the building blocks of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin. Tryptophan is an amino acid found in many foods, including dairy and turkey, which is one of the reasons commonly given for why so many of us feel so sleepy after our Thanksgiving feasts. But tryptophan has to cross the blood-brain barrier to have any soporific effects, and in the presence of other amino acids found in food it ends up competing, largely unsuccessfully, for absorption. Studies show that eating protein-rich foods such as milk and turkey on their own actually decreases the ability of tryptophan to cross the blood-brain barrier.

One way to enhance tryptophan’s uptake is to pair foods that contain it with carbohydrates. That combination stimulates the release of insulin, which causes competing amino acids to be absorbed by muscles, in turn making it easier for tryptophan to cross into the brain, said Marie-Pierre St-Onge, an associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and the director of the Sleep Center of Excellence at Columbia.

Dr. St-Onge has spent years studying the relationship between diet and sleep. Her work suggests that rather than emphasizing one or two specific foods with supposedly sleep-inducing properties, it is better to focus on the overall quality of your diet. In one randomized clinical trial, she and her colleagues recruited 26 healthy adults and controlled what they ate for four days, providing them regular meals prepared by nutritionists while also monitoring how they slept at night. On the fifth day, the subjects were allowed to eat whatever they wanted.

The researchers discovered that eating more saturated fat and less fiber from foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains led to reductions in slow-wave sleep, which is the deep, restorative kind. In general, clinical trials have also found that carbohydrates have a significant impact on sleep: People tend to fall asleep much faster at night when they consume a high-carbohydrate diet compared to when they consume a high-fat or high-protein diet. That may have something to do with carbs helping tryptophan cross into the brain more easily.

But the quality of carbs matters. In fact, they can be a double-edged sword when it comes to slumber. Dr. St-Onge has found in her research that when people eat more sugar and simple carbs — such as white bread, bagels, pastries and pasta — they wake up more frequently throughout the night. In other words, eating carbs may help you fall asleep faster, but it is best to consume “complex” carbs that contain fiber, which may help you obtain more deep, restorative sleep.

“Complex carbohydrates provide a more stable blood sugar level,” said Dr. St-Onge. “So if blood sugar levels are more stable at night, that could be the reason complex carbohydrates are associated with better sleep.”

One example of a dietary pattern that may be optimal for better sleep is the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes such foods as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, seafood, poultry, yogurt, herbs and spices and olive oil. Large observational studies have found that people who follow this type of dietary pattern are less likely to suffer from insomnia and short sleep, though more research is needed to confirm the correlation.

But the relationship between poor diet and bad sleep is a two-way street: Scientists have found that as people lose sleep, they experience physiological changes that can nudge them to seek out junk food. In clinical trials, healthy adults who are allowed to sleep only four or five hours a night end up consuming more calories and snacking more frequently throughout the day. They experience significantly more hunger and their preference for sweet foods increases.

In men, sleep deprivation stimulates increased levels of ghrelin, the so-called hunger hormone, while in women, restricting sleep leads to lower levels of GLP-1, a hormone that signals satiety,

“So in men, short sleep promotes greater appetite and desire to eat, and in women there is less of a signal that makes you stop eating,” said Dr. St-Onge.

Changes also occur in the brain. Dr. St-Onge found that when men and women were restricted to four hours of nightly sleep for five nights in a row, they had greater activation in reward centers of the brain in response to pepperoni pizza, doughnuts and candy compared to healthy foods such as carrots, yogurt, oatmeal and fruit. After five nights of normal sleep, however, this pattern of stronger brain responses to the junk food disappeared.

Another study, led by researchers at King’s College London, also demonstrated how proper sleep can increase your willpower to avoid unhealthy foods. It found that habitually short sleepers who went through a program to help them sleep longer — resulting in their getting roughly an hour of additional sleep each night — had improvements in their diet. The most striking change was that they cut about 10 grams of added sugar from their diets each day, the equivalent of about two and a half teaspoons.

The takeaway is that diet and sleep are entwined. Improving one can help you improve the other and vice versa, creating a positive cycle where they perpetuate one another, said Dr. Susan Redline, a senior physician at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a professor of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School who studies diet and sleep disorders.

“The best way to approach health is to emphasize a healthy diet and healthy sleep,” she added. “These are two very important health behaviors that can reinforce each other.”


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I went on a crusade against added sugar and went from ~230 to ~200lbs within 9month doing nothing else differently.
Craving for sweet stuff went away pretty fast but I tried some amaretto in my coffee which I used to do quite frequently just recently and my teeth were screaming.
My dental hygienist was also impressed how much less deep my pockets in my gums are.
I am done with that crap.
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