“Train the pallet” — that’s what wine tasters and connoisseurs do so that they can enjoy fine differences in food. They have learned to detect minute changes in flavors and then they expect them and seek them out. Also, notice how people from different cultures often have very different tastes and expectations of their meals. Grocery stores even have aisles dedicated to cuisine from various countries, because people from those cultures have had their pallets trained, and they desire those foods.
Unfortunately the Standard American Diet (SAD), which has spread throughout the world, has trained millions of pallets. The SAD has many bad elements, but the worst aspect is probably sugar. Even “health” food is often loaded with sugar. If we are health-conscious, we may be willing to give up the trans-fats and pesticides, which our pallets care little about, but sugar is something we fight to hold on to. Perhaps we are even willing to give up products with added sugar, favoring something natural — like fruit. But fruit is packed with a specific form of sugar called “fructose”, and thanks to public demand for sugar, most modern varieties of fruit are hybridized to maximize sweetness.
The bad news about fructose
Fructose is not directly usable by your body, but many undesirable bacteria can thrive with it. Even “good” gut bacteria, in the presence of fructose, can cause damage. This was shown in a study by the University of Wisconsin – Madison and published in UWMadScience, where a typical lactobacillus bacteria produced acetic acid when fed a fructose-enriched diet, and that triggered production of viruses in the gut. That is because some bacteria are lysogenic, meaning that they contain normally dormant viral DNA, and high levels of fructose trigger the viral DNA. One result of these viruses was the destruction of other good gut flora.
Fructose metabolism is not governed by the body’s energy requirements. Ironically, fructose had been considered a useful sweetener for diabetics because it does not raise insulin levels — it is metabolized independently of insulin and avoids hyperglycemia. Most fructose goes directly to the liver, where it is converted into useful forms, but some will be converted to fatty acid. “Fatty liver” develops when too much fat builds up in the liver, causing it to inflame, and then scar. Too much scarring can lead to liver failure. A condition known as “non-alcoholic fatty liver disease” (NAFLD) affects 25% to 30% of people in the US and Europe, according to studies published by the World Journal of Gastroenterology, where it calls NAFLD a “pandemic disease worldwide”. Damaged liver function sets the stage for type 2 diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. Since the liver filters the blood of many harmful substances, and it helps process nutrients, any loss of liver function leads to decreased health.
Specific damages from fructose
Fructose ingestion decreases VLDL-triglyceride clearance, which means that the concentration of triglycerides remaining in the body rises, and VLDL (the smaller particles of LDL, which are the most dangerous) rises. A study published in The Journal of Nutrition determined that diets containing more than 20% of energy consumption from fructose over a 4 to 6 week period are more likely to cause “lipid abnormalities” (VLDL increases or LDL-C increases) than diets containing more than 20% of energy from starches and glucose.
A study published in Nature Metabolism found another destructive pathway of fructose: damage to the intestinal lining which is commonly called “leaky gut”. Excessive fructose metabolism was found to reduce the production of proteins that maintain the intestinal barrier that prevents leakage of toxic products into the bloodstream. These toxic products (endotoxins), when they reach the liver (whose job it is to filter out such toxins) increased inflammatory cytokines — the immune system warriors that do collateral damage, and that stimulates the production of fatty acids.
The combination of fats with fructose were found to be the most damaging. This combination is very common in the Standard American Diet. Substituting sucrose for fructose doesn’t fix the problem: sucrose is chemically 50% fructose and 50% glucose. Consider ice cream, or a sugary drink with french fries: these are great combinations of fat and sugar. “High fructose corn syrup” (HFCS) — soon to be labeled simply “corn syrup” since HFCS has developed a bad enough reputation to start damaging sales — is only a slightly different ratio of fructose to glucose. Many packaged foods, including many processed “health foods”, contain this harmful combination of sugars and fats.
The good news
As we continue to consume the SAD, or even shift to more “healthy” forms that still satisfy our taste buds while making us think we are improving our health, we are training our pallet the wrong direction. If you shift to less sugar habitually, you will find that standard sugary foods that others consume regularly now seem just too sweet to you — that’s training your pallet the right way. This is truly good news: you can train your pallet to reject bad foods, and you can come to enjoy and desire the foods that are actually good for you!
Dr. Nemec’s Comments:
The take home message is this: Your liver controls your health the most, after your brain, so you definitely want to support it — and do nothing to make it work harder or get damaged in any way. In 36 years of treating patients I cannot recall any patient that came to Total Health Institute with a diagnosis of cancer that did not have liver dysfunction. Also intestinal micro lining dysfunction or leaky gut syndrome is extremely important in health and inflammation. As the study showed, fructose and sucrose (which is 50% fructose) damages the intestinal barrier, causes an immune system response and increases inflammation in the body. You cannot afford to damage this lining and you cannot feed good bacteria a sugar that turns them pathogenic. Once you destroy the beneficial flora of the intestinal tract you open the second door to leaky gut, allowing bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses to leak into the blood, greatly stressing your immune system and depleting your immune health. These two open the door for all disease, including cancer. Strike three comes when we give individual bacteria, fungi and cancer cells (that would have been taken care of by our healthy immune function but now have become overwhelmed with everything leaking across the damaged gut lining) their favorite food to grow — which is sugar. There is absolutely no good thing that will come from keeping sugar in your diet. So if you like sweet, start transitioning to herbs, spices, hot peppers or different flavors to wean you away from a food that potentially can destroy your liver, gut lining and immunity along with being a major inflammatory and growth stimulus for cancer. If you would like help in your health journey you have the following options at Total Health Institute:
- Outpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-has the most benefit of teaching, treatment, live classes and personalized coaching. This program has the most contact with Dr. Nemec with 3- 6 month programs that can be turned into a regular checking and support program for life. This is our core program that has helped so many restore their health and maintain that restoration for years.
- Inpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-is our four-week intensive inpatient program for those that are not in driving distance, usually over 4 hour drive. This is the program that is an intensive jumpstart with treatment, teaching, live classes and coaching designed for all our international patients along with those in the US that do not live in Illinois. This program is very effective especially when combined with our new membership program support.
- Stay at Home Program-is offered to continental US patients who cannot come to Total Health Institute but still want a more personal, customized plan to restore their health. This program also includes our Learn Membership Program.
- Membership Program is our newest program offered for those that want to work on their health at a high level and want access to the teaching at Total Health Institute along with the Forums: both Dr. Nemec’s posts and other members posting. And also, to have the chance to get personalized questions answered on the conference calls which are all archived in case you miss the call. The Membership Program has 3 levels to choose from: Learn, Overcome and Master. The difference is at the Overcome and Master levels you received one on one calls with Dr. Nemec personalizing your program for your areas of focus.