By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
September 30, 2016
A few years ago, one of the most worthless scourges of humanity died. I have no problem with putting down someone like Andrew Breitbart, an individual who lied and made stuff up as some form of new age journalism. If anything, he encouraged such misgivings in the profession. So when he finally died due to bad health (or if you listen to the conspiracy theorists, who was put down by Obama and the tooth fairy) I was happy as a clam. Yes, I have no issue with slandering and libeling his name, because in reality, the truth is not libelous. So yes, I have only a few people in my life that would easily find themselves on my shit list, but I choose to keep that list short for the reason that life can be too short. So I have to reserve such anger and harshness for people that certainly deserve my disdain. So a man that helped destroy modern journalism a little more and inspired one of the worst news blog websites in the history of the internet firmly sets himself on my grudge list. The “journalism” he helped usher into the world was a type that was inflammatory and outright crazy, so crazy one has to believe it is true because it is not on some rack at the grocery store. Sure, the sacred oaths of journalism had already seeped into the sand, his inclusion in the game was the final straw; the reason why I may never go back into the media despite having a journalism degree. The system has been corrupted to the point where even if someone turned back the clock and removed Bill Clinton’s greatest mistake—the Telecommunications Act of 1996—nothing will likely change. It’s a lot like college sports, where so many like myself believe it should no longer be a thing, that we should go ahead and blow up the system and create a more expanded pro system, much like European soccer and basketball. I mean, why deny the fact that everyone is cheating and that schools are putting too much money into the athletic departments, forgetting the major reason why they exist in the first place. Yeah, I know, I am a liberal pinko true hugger and blah, blah blah. I just think it is something that can do without.
Anyway, this is my life these days, wondering what can be trimmed out of society and what needs to be bolstered in order to make things much better. I think small businesses should have fewer regulations, not more than their mega-billion cohorts. I think as a country we should invest in some mass transit that makes it easier to travel this great country of ours, not confining people to small areas where they might be trapped due to better transportation options. And we should also seriously consider putting our country’s health in the hands of nutritionists and dieticians, rather than in the hands of Coca-Cola or some sizable behemoth that is trying to poison us or some whack job trying to make some bucks with miracle cures. All of this info I am remarking about in regards to ethics, journalism and health all ties in to the fact we put a lot of faith in the people we deem smart or in a position of power. It always harkens back to the Stanley Milgram experiment about obedience and the release of personal power. We will believe a lot of things if we view the subject being lorded over a reputable source. Just think, if Walter Cronkite said something was bad, then is was most likely bad. If Edward R. Murrow wasn’t on television, using his fairness and balance to help bring news to the people, it was obvious what he was speaking against had to have some backbone. Those days are gone now, for the potential to earn 20+ million to be a so-called commentator has taken a back seat to ethics, morality and objectivity.
Anyway, while the news was quietly set aside due to the deluge of the first presidential “debate” and the opening of the football season, another interesting story has been surfing around in the health blogs. Back in 1967, a Harvard backed study laid down some of the first real opinions about human health. Heart disease has always been an issue in our country, and it used to be a pretty common factor in early death (but then again, when has bad heart health not been a problem). The obvious reason was not too obvious, for their seemed to be some discussion between which is worst for you, saturated fat or sugar. Now fat was the obvious culprit, and it still is considering how much seems to be added to everyday foods. Since lard was still heavy in use during those days, a person dying before the age of 60 was not really an uncommon thing. So yes, saying saturated fat can play a role in your death is a correct one. The part that is sneaky and underhanded was the fact sugar was not deemed bad for the body. Thanks to some actual research and GASP—journalistic know-how—it turns out the reason why Harvard didn’t put a massive smackdown on sugar is because they were paid to look the other way. http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/09/13/493739074/50-years-ago-sugar-industry-quietly-paid-scientists-to-point-blame-at-fat As the story stipulates, several people within the sugar industry helped shape the tone of the study, compelling the lead researchers to look the other way in regards to sugar and the correlation of heart disease and strictly look at saturated fats. Now of course, there was no social media and it was a little easier to keep stuff secret in 1967, but it is not like this impasse in integrity and objectivity didn’t play a large role in the shaping of America. It took nearly 50 years to finally correct the sneaky lie that Harvard posted about sugar, and it took a lot of studies that potentially only modern machinery could actually utilize. So to put it softly, that particular Harvard study was “Breitbart before Breitbart.” Luckily for the sake of humanity, we are changing some of our ways. We finally have a recommended daily usage for sugar intact (50 grams a day, or 17 ounces of your standard soda pop) and we finally have a bigger understanding of how sugar works on the brain. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/06/sugar-brain-mental-health_n_6904778.html But there is still a lot of work to do, and it is not like the younger generations are bringing up the rear with sound facts and ideas (the other day, a younger guy at worked claimed the fact he drank a couple Mountain Dews and energy drinks a day would have no effect on the potential of diabetes, while eating a McDonalds cheeseburger of course). The idea of “YOLO” and resisting all forms of perceived authority has created lot of wacky subdivisions in our society, some as tame as Doomsday Preppers and Crossfitters and some as insane as Flat Earth Theorists and Red Pill “Meninists.” So it is no surprise that health should not play a role.
If you doubt how one little story could really change the way we see things, think about the name that Harvard carries with it. You instantly think “smartest people in the world” and would take their word for it. Either way, the collective health of America has been declining for years, and even if that study played only a small role in the expanding of our country’s waistline, it still played a role. These days, it is a little harder to establish those parameters, for the inclusion of extensive peer groups and reviews has made it easier to point out the bullshit from the not so crazy bullshit. This should come as a surprise, for the idea of a industries backing these types of studies for their own nefarious desires is nothing new. Coca-Cola itself tried backing a special study in regards to the positive effects on sugar, but ultimately called it off when the public got wind of the idea. Or how about PepsiCo saying Naked juice was a great all-natural fruit drink, only to find out there were multiple additives not listed as well as added sugar. One of the greatest bamboozles came in the 1920s, when bacon and egg suppliers wanted to figure out a way to get a stronger foothold in the market. So they created a massive ad campaign that stated eggs and bacon was the best breakfast a person could have, even though people seemed more akin with the idea of eating porridge, or oatmeal or some fruits. And entire meal was altered due to some slick advertising and some vested interests in the medical community. A lie that has been inflicted onto the populace for so long that no matter how unhealthy research and medical professionals state bacon is for you, people will just flay out refuse because they believe that is the way it always has been. Kind of like the brouhaha over putting your hand over your heart for the National Anthem, even though as recent as the 1940s people would put their hands up similar to a Nazi salute and eve the Fascist Roman Salute the Italians partook in (though it was known as the Bellamy salute and was changed to fully differentiate ourselves). It wasn’t until 1942 when this was changed.
Now you know me, I will speak my mind about sugar and sugary drinks. One might say I am just a miserable troll that wishes he could wantonly eat with no remorse, I am just a man that is trying to help lead people down a healthier path. I get it, I was there when the whole energy drink phase really kicked off in 2004 or so, when Red Bull finally had legitimate competitors in Monster and Rockstar. I remember tasting all of those drinks, explaining the drinking texture and acidity like a seasoned wine enthusiast. I was definitely an energy drink connoisseur, and I even found a fun website once where you got to create your own lists. Mine of course was “100 Energy Drinks—Have You Tasted These.” Needless to say, I had managed to try all of them, even the original Four Loko formula that would keep your buzzed for hours on end. When I tried my first energy drink in roughly two years earlier this summer, I was pretty much overwhelmed even though it was looked upon as a relatively weak energy drink. But it hit me like a ton of bricks, and I got pretty jittery for a couple hours before I finally crashed Of course, the crashing part may have been the fact I was in Denver for the first time ever and was not used to the idea of high altitude living.
Just a couple days ago, we witnessed yet another story that illustrated the harmful effects of how a high sugar get can effect your body, making you more susceptible to diabetes or pre diabetes at younger ages. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/sugar-can-too-much-cause-type-2-diabetes/ While obesity and bad eating habits still constitute 80% of the Type 2 Diabetes cases, the other side of the coin in regards to “healthier” looking people being susceptible to the disease are on the rise, giving new ways to potentially look at the disease and educate more people on the subject. Perhaps the reason why you have such a affinity for sugary energy drinks is not out of fatigue, but out of low blood sugar that needs to be better regulated through diet and exercise or may be the sign of a poorly working body part. There will never be a full answer on the subject, for we will keep learning more and more about sugar now that it has become a convenient target to look at (much like health and fitness in regards too longevity in older people is kind of a major field study as the Baby Boomer generation continues to age). But look at it this way, why has it taken until the last decade to really put the screws to the idea of added sugar and sugar intake as a dietary requirement. Just remember, it takes a few smart people (or in some cases, very convincing dumb people) to set back certain ideals and institutions whether they are for the good or the bad. Let’s just hope we can keep finding the real truth, the kind of reality that will enrich our every day lives rather than seek to destroy it. One of my co-workers (who is few years older than me) had a rather interesting assessment when he also heard my other co-worker spout off about the sugar and diabetes link. “Everything will probably kill you, it’s just about staying away from the stuff that will kill you faster.” Of course, he was met with a blow-off and a YOLO from the other co-worker. Young people. Sheesh.
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