In my professional (and personal) opinion there is one food substance that has contributed more to the degeneration of health than any other chemical or toxin out there. SUGAR!
Every day I work with clients who battle their sugar addictions (and/or corn syrup and/or refined carbohydrates which are converted into sugar in the small intestine) and every day I watch as those who are able to successfully reduce or eliminate sweets from their diet - experience amazing improvements in health. But it's one thing to get an adult to give up the sweets and quite another to expect it of kids, right? I'm quite used to the panicked look in a parent's eyes when I even suggest it. The idea that springs into their heads is that if the children don't get their sweets they won't eat anything at all and then they will starve! Right?
Well, you may be surprised to know that just like adults, children do have a self-preservation instinct. So, they will eat whatever you give them if there is nothing else available. Yes, they will certainly not like it and they will probably cry and fight and do all kinds of horrible things that every parent dreads but... they will get over it. Perhaps you might think it is cruel to deny sweets to kids? Far better that they should suffer from lifelong health issues?
I am noticing a distinct trend in my clients.
From my grandmother's generation most were raised on real food made at home and often straight from the farm or their own family gardens. Yes, there was certainly sugar but it was not nearly as ubiquitous as it is today. In Iridology analysis, these clients exhibit nearly perfect constitutional health. When questioned, the women claim they had no trouble with menstruation and hardly any menopausal difficulties. Children were birthed easily and good health was enjoyed well into adulthood. It is only now in their later years that they experience poor health and degeneration. Most are just looking for advice on how to reduce or eliminate the number of pills and supplements they take. They are not accustomed to these aches and pains and find them to be an annoyance. There are of course exceptions but let me continue.
In my parent's generation poor health begins to truly present itself on average now as they reach 50 and 60 years of age. This generation also enjoyed mostly real food and home-cooked meals in youth. Although pop and candy were becoming fast favorites at Ice Cream and Soda Shoppes around the country. Most were breastfed as infants although the trend was starting to change and few would breastfeed their own children in favor of a "more scientific" approach. There is more thyroid, heart disease, bone and joint degeneration, and digestive issues but again, not presenting much until after age 50. Menstruation was easy for the most part but menopause brings significant discomfort.
Then in my generation. The clients I see are experiencing poor health in their 20's and 30's. Mostly allergies, digestive disorders, and joint problems, but some auto-immune and arthritis as well. ARTHRITIS! That which was supposed to be relegated to old age. I suffered from it myself in my 20's before I started my education. We still grew up on mostly home-cooked meals but fast food was becoming more common. Every school outing involved a stop at McDonald's or Burger King. Little Debbie cakes graced our lunches and Halloween Trick-or-Treating became a contest of gluttony. Dental cavities and braces became the norm. More and more kids got glasses. More and more "fat" kids suffered from the bullying of their peers. As adults, more women experience menstrual pain and irregularities. Childbirth and breastfeeding do not come as easy as they had hoped. Maintaining an ideal weight is a struggle. Thyroid problems and heart disease are common.
And now, in my children's generation. Childhood resiliency is a thing of the past. Obesity is common, asthma, ADD and Autism are rising fast. Food allergies and eczema run rampant. Digestive troubles start even at birth. The physical health of our children is so poor that a simple trip and fall can result in a serious fracture. But then again, sugar is everywhere. Candy is used for teaching math in school. Every week a child's birthday or upcoming holiday is cause for yet another sugar-filled party. This generation is not destined to have the same longevity that their parent's will have. If this trend continues, I predict that infertility rates will skyrocket within one more generation and population rates will fall. But maybe that was the plan all along?
I certainly don't want to give you the impression that I think sugar is the only factor in this but it is certainly a significant player. I started this post thinking I was going to talk about my own experiences with converting my kids to a diet without sugar but that will have to wait for a part two. What needs to happen now is we need to wake up to what is going on around us! We need to take action to reverse this trend of degeneration. If not for us, if not for our children, then for our grandchildren's sake we need to do this. Because even though I am doing the best that I can for my own children, I know that some damage has already been done and may not be reversible. But by giving them the best that I can in their growth and development phase and teaching them how important it will be for their own children - perhaps my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will enjoy better health than I, instead of worse.
To Be Continued...
To Your Health and that of your children and grandchildren,
Kathryn Doran-Fisher is a Traditional Naturopath, Certified GAPS Practitioner and owner of Elder & Sage.