Why Sugar is Just as Bad for Your Skin As It Is For Your Waistline

While most people know that ingesting excess sugar can lead to obesity, most do not consider the ramifications that excess sugar has on the skin. Sugar however does not just mean sugar from processed foods or refined sugar, but sugar that comes from broken down carbohydrates in our system. When these foods are broken down, insulin is produced in response to the sugar, causing an insulin spike which causes overall inflammation in the body. This inflammation produces enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, which leads to sagging skin and wrinkles. Acne and rosacea can also be increased by excess sugar intake, and insulin resistance can cause excess growth of hair and dark patches on the body. The article presents what sugars you should eat (complex carbohydrates over simple carbohydrates) and other ways to combat sugar’s effect on the skin. I definitely think this article presents interesting information that can potentially decrease the amount of stress induced, junk -food eating breakouts during finals week!


How A Scientist Sounded the Alarm on Sugar Back in the 1950s — But Was Ignored

One of our classmates did a midterm project on the bad effects of sugar, but the concept of excess sugar as “bad” is really a more recent finding. This article actually shows why sugar was dismissed as being a health threat back in the day. British Scientist John Yudkin published findings from more than a decade of research in “Pure, White and Deadly: How Sugar is Killing Us and What We Can Do to Stop It” in 1972. However, at the time, the major health threat that people were focusing on was saturated fats, causing Yudkin and his research to be ridiculed and overlooked.

Now, the main reason behind the dismissal of Yudkin’s claims was an interesting one. The time around which Yudkin first theorized that sugar was a health hazard was when President Dwight Eisenhower had a heart attack while in office. Eisenhower’s doctor then treated him with a low – cholesterol regimen to prevent further issues, and Yudkin was very critical of this. Essentially, these two scientists had a stand-off, and in the end Yudkin lost, leading to a dismissal of his claims.

However, now findings have shied away from pointing fingers at cholesterol and saturated fat as causing health issues. Yudkin has posthumously received credit for his findings and we have learned the addictive and negative nature of sugar and the impact it has on our health.

Attention Whole Foods Shoppers Summary

Sustainability versus World Hunger

  • Current preoccupation with food in the West
    • Help local farmers
    • Fight climate change
    • Prevent childhood obesity
  • But can eating sustainably really help others?
    • Focus has been drawn away from helping feed the world’s poor to this trend of sustainability
    • “Food may be today’s cause célèbre, but in the pampered West, that means trendy causes like making food “sustainable” — in other words, organic, local, and slow. Appealing as that might sound, it is the wrong recipe for helping those who need it the most.”


Too Much Focus on Food Prices

  • April 2008
    • Cost of rice for export had tripled in just 6 months
    • Wheat reached its highest price in 28 years
    • “World Food Crisis”
    • Robert Zoellick
      • Warned that high food prices would be, “particularly damaging in poor countries, where there is no margin for survival”
    • April 2010
      • Rice prices down by 40%
      • Wheat prices down by more than half
    • Yet the number of people chronically undernourished has grown!

Facts about Undernourished People

  • 62% live in either Africa or South Asia
  • Most are small farmers or rural landless laborers
  • Are shielded from global price fluctuations by their own governments
    • Also by poor roads and infrastructure
    • Cut off from many urban markets
  • Poverty is the primary source of hunger in Africa
    • Caused by low income productivity
  • Food insecure people in Africa
    • Those who consume less than 2,100 calories a day
    • Will increase 30% over the next decade

Real Solution vs. Our Misguided One

Real Solution

  • Improved roads
  • Modern seeds
  • Less expensive fertilizer
  • Electrical power
  • Better schools
  • Better clinics

Our Current Solution

  • Sustainable eating!
    • Advocacy against agricultural modernization
    • Against foreign aid
    • Idea of organic, local, and slow



Green Revolution A Failure?

  • In the present, many claim that the Green Revolution has done more harm than good
  • People claim that the Green Revolution:
    • Has brought nothing to India except “indebted and discontented farmers”
    • Has been a factor in the rise in world hunger


Setting The Record Straight: Asia

  • New seeds
    • Lifted small farmers out of desperate poverty
    • Ended the threat of periodic famine
  • India
    • Doubled wheat production
    • Was able to terminate all dependence on international food aid by 1975
    • Rural poverty fell from 60% to 27%
  • Small farmers took up new technology just as quickly as big farmers
    • Dramatic income gains and no increase in inequality or social friction
  • Good for both agriculture and social justice


Setting The Record Straight: Latin America

  • When powerful new farming technologies are introduced into deeply unjust rural social systems, the poor tend to lose out
  • Seeds
    • Increased income gaps
  • Peasants were pushed off land by absentee landlords to be replaced by commercial growers
    • Many rural poor became slum dwellers
  • YET
    • Prevalence of hunger has still declined more than 50% between 1980 and 2005


Setting the Record Straight: Africa

  • More like Asia than Latin America
    • Due to relatively equitable and secure distribution of land
  • “If Africa were to put greater resources into farm technology, irrigation, and rural roads, small farmers would benefit.”




Hang-ups with Industrial Food Systems

  • Focus on critiques of American and European food systems
    • But such concerns cannot be transferred or applied to the developing world

Health and Safety Issues

  • CDC has found that over the past several decades the U.S. food supply has become steadily safer
    • Industrial-scale technical improvements
  • Since 2000, E.coli contamination in beef has fallen 45%
  • Most hospitalizations and fatalities come from mishandling or improper preparation of food
    • Not from contamination
  • Example: Spinach Scare in 2006
  • Contamination still remains a major risk in the developing world
  • Africa
    • Open-air markets
    • Estimated 700,000 people die every year from food and water borne diseases
      • Compared to 5,000 in the U.S.
  • Food grown organically is NOT an answer
    • American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
      • No nutritional advantage of organic foods over conventionally grown foods
  • Mayo Clinic
    • “No conclusive evidence shows that organic food is more nutritious than is conventionally grown food”.


Why Isn’t Eating Organic an Answer?

  • Doesn’t organic food have lower pesticide residues?
    • FDA states that the highest dietary exposures to pesticide residues on foods in the US are so trivial that the safety gained from eating organic is insignificant
    • Exposure is less than one one-thousandth of a level that would cause toxicity
  • Doesn’t organic food protect the environment?
    • Nitrogen fertilizers created a “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico
    • BUT, having all farmers go organic would cause even worse environmental problems


Problems with Total Organic Production

  • Less than 1 percent of American cropland is under certified organic production
    • Would need a lot more composted animal manure
    • Would need a fivefold increase of the U.S. cattle population
    • Those animals would have to be raised organically
      • Most of the land in the lower 48 states would need to be converted to pasture
  • Organic crops have lower yields per hectare
    • Europe
      • Would need an additional 28 million hectares of cropland
      • Equal to all of the remaining forest cover in France, Germany, Britain, and Denmark


Smarter Ways to Protect the Environment

  • Reduce synthetic fertilizer applications
    • Taxes
    • Regulations

Modern Farming is Sustainable!

  • Many of the damaging insecticides were banned and replaced by chemicals that could be applied in lower volume and were less persistent in the environment
    • Carson’s Silent Spring
  • Drop in soil erosion
    • “No-till” seed planting
  • Conservation of water through drip irrigation
    • Also leveling of fields with lasers
  • GPS equipment
    • Starting in the 1990s
    • Precise adjustments in chemical use
  • Infrared sensors
    • Can tell farmers how much more or less nitrogen might be needed
  • Development of technology to reduce wasteful nitrogen use
    • Insertion of fertilizers into the ground
  • Also known as PRECISION FARMING



  • In 2008, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development published a review of the “environmental performance of agriculture” in the world’s 30 most advanced industrial countries
  • Results
    • Between 1990 and 2004, food production continued to increase by 5% in volume
    • Adverse environmental impacts were reduced in every category
    • Land area taken up by farming decreased 4%
    • Soil erosion fell
    • Greenhouse emissions from farming declined 3%
    • Excessive fertilizer use fell 17%
    • Increased biodiversity




Africa’s Food Crisis

  • Population versus food production?
    • Not the cause
  • Current food production versus the potential of the land
    • African farmers still use almost no fertilizer
    • Only 4% of cropland has been improved with irrigation
    • Yields are low because lack of use of scientifically enhanced seeds


Why Does Africa’s Food Crisis Persist?

  • Diminished assistance from international donors
  • Food -aid over development assistance
    • Can cause long term-dependency


Easy Alternative

  • Foreign assistance for agricultural improvement!
    • Previous success
  • 1960s
    • Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, and donor governments led by the US
    • Made Asia’s original Green Revolution possible!
  • Assistance to India
    • U.S. Agency for International Development + World Bank
    • Helped finance fertilizer plants and better infrastructure
  • Africa
    • World Bank has documented average rates of return on investments in agricultural research in Africa of 35% a year


Kraft’s Singles No Longer Considered a Kid’s Health Food

If all of you remember, there was a brief discussion in class about how Kraft singles cannot legally labeled as cheese due to the low percentage of actual cheese that makes up the product. At the time, I wondered how such a product could still be advertised as a product that would maintain kids’ balanced diets, so I just had to share when I came across an article that addressed this. According to the article, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is discontinuing it’s partnership with Kraft and endorsing the product. While this does seem to be good news and a step forward in eating more sustainably, the article does not address why this partnership began in the first place. The more that such organizations endorse food products such as Kraft singles — which are only about 51% real cheese– the harder it will be for the general population to make food decisions that are sustainable.

Dietary Restrictions and Sustainable Food?

Since beginning this course in sustainable food, I have found myself being much more conscientious of what I am picking up whilst grocery shopping. Thus far, I have noticed that eating sustainably is a challenge. In a world that has become so globalized, where almost anything we want is within our reach, choosing to eat in season fruits and vegetables and local products instead of something that we may be craving is quite difficult. Something that I previously gave no thought in terms of eating sustainably was the problem of dietary restrictions. I planned a dinner for a friend who is both gluten free and lactose intolerant, and shopping sustainably for a meal posed to be a challenge. In particular, I needed butter for the meal and the only other option was to pick up vegan butter. I ultimately went with Earth Balance’s organic buttery spread that is GMO free, vegan, gluten free, lactose free, and overall a good alternative for butter. However, as we have seen in class sustainability also must take into account the processing of foods as well as the shipping of foods all around the world. Is choosing a more processed product that is created closer in proximity to the sale location better than choosing a less processed product that may have been produced farther away? I think it’s quite interesting to see how such dietary restrictions could impact the ability to eat sustainably, at least in terms of eating local and organic foods versus processed ones.

Oil Map

The oil map that we created showed the same results as all of the other food categories — a lot of the oil products we consume are not locally produced! Many of the brand names that we look for tend to have distribution centers not in Florida.This exercise helped to cement the fact that we should be conscientious of the food products we buy in order to improve sustainability.

Food Inc.

Watching Food Inc. was both incredibly enlightening and very disturbing. What I noted while watching the first part of the documentary was that food is marketed very well by major food companies such as Perdue. In seeing the state of the chicken farms that ship out to Perdue I was astonished and disgusted, as I actually do have a bag of frozen Perdue chicken breasts in my fridge. The packaging of said chicken seems to appeal to those trying to be healthy with screaming labels claiming that the chicken is, “Antibiotic free!” and Aalthough these claims may be true, I doubt that people would be thoroughly convinced of the quality of chicken they were consuming if they saw this documentary. I am curious to know how policy has changed since the creation of this documentary, and how policy will change moving forward.