Saturday, September 5, 2009

Sugar Blues by William Dufty

I just finished reading Sugar Blues by William Dufty.  It was written in 1975, but is so very relevant to today! 

Nourishing Traditions quoted it often, as have a number of other books I've read.  I like to go to the source when possible, so I decided it was time to read this book.  While I can't verify his historical facts, they make sense with what little knowledge I have of the past.  I look forward to validating (or not) a lot of these facts as the kids and I study history together.

He  starts with his own story of healing from 'unknown causes', by taking himself off of sugar and white flour, and essentially following an 'eastern' diet of whole grain rice, fermented foods, squash, seaweed, and lots of veggies.  After his own healing, he did a lot of research on sugar specifially, although processed foods in general also.  He had found conventional doctors to be useless in diagnosing and healing him, and he wanted to offer a book for others in similar situations.

He explains how sugar is absorbed into the body and how it affects all bodily processes, esp digestion, and how it is the cause of many of our degenerative diseases today. He follows the history of the sugar cane from the Caribbean islands to the rest of the world, and the detrimental effects it had wherever it was introduced.  Did I mention how incredibly fascinating the book was?

He followed the history of natural healers (and the evolving of today's 'medical community'), and how they learned all they knew from older generations.  But as people became more refined and the governments enlarged and needed more control (and money), those healers became known as 'witches' and were burned, along with their knowledge of natural aides that God gave us and were passed on down the generations.   A lot of people today are trying to get that information back, as they realize all these man-made 'miracle drugs' are only making us sicker.

He quoted Weston Price quite a bit.  He found his work to be ground-breaking, while incredibly 'obvious' in it's nature (Price was a dentist in the 1930s who was concerned about his patient's declining health and decided to study primitive 'savages' in their natural environment to see why they were so healthy).

He also talked a lot about chemicals, and the government's place in encouraging them into our food supply.  As well as the issues caused by the refining of rice and grains (flour). 

He related most of today's health issues to sugar, and the refinement of our food supply in general.  Which I tend to agree with.  Now if only I could 'never eat sugar again'.  Someday....

Some quotes I enjoyed:

"In the 1500's, precious little sugar was to be had unless you were invited to court and somebody gave you a pinch-like someone turning you onto cocaine today."

"In Britain in the 1300s, sugar was a courtly luxury in a price class with the most expensive drugs on today's market.  At $25 a pound, it was the equivalent of a year's salary for a working man."  

'The Greek had no word for it.  Alexander the Great described it as 'a kind of honey' 'Indian salt' 'honey without the bees' and it was  imported in small quantities at enormous cost.  It was used like honey, as a medicine."

"'since the cells of the brain are those that depend wholly upon the moment-to-moment blood sugar level for nourishment, they are perhaps, the most susceptible to damage.'"  (maybe this explains why people think that national health care is the answer to America's health crisis today-they're consuming too much sugar and can't think straight)
"Appeals for self-regulation to control sugar diseases are drowned out by the clamor for more millions of federal funds to find a potion, a pill, a shot, perhaps a magical Medicare atomic pancreas pacemaker-which can one day magically conquer disease.  We want to have our health and eat our sugarcake too." 

"During the building of the great wall of China, coolies were fed salted cabbage with their rice to keep them strong and healthy.  Salting preserved the cabbage in season and out, and it was the only vegetable they had to supplement their complete, unrefined rice."

"Indians ate the adrenal glands, stomach, internal organs of animals, but often threw out the muscle meat and filet mignon.  Modern civilized man, eating for pleasure and not for survival, does the reverse." 

"During the flowering of the industrial age in Europe and America, millers in every land competed with one another in perfecting more complicated devices for torturing wheat berries into fine white flour. As the refinement of sugar reached the ultimate state where it was bare of anything save calories, extensive court litigation ensured patented milling and refining devices."

"For years, the guerrilla bands of the Viet Minh and Viet Cong sustained themselves with a food supply system as simple and primitive as that of the Roman legions of Julius Caesar.  Each man carried a little sack of whole rice and some salt. They added manioc leaves, from the jungle, and fish when possible.  For years, they stymied the elaborately equipped and lavishly rationed armies of the West."

"Refined sugar is lethal when ingested by humans because it provides only that which nutritionists describe as empty or naked calories.  In addition, sugar is worse than nothing because it drains and leeches the body of precious vitamins and minerals through the demands its digestion, detoxification, and elimination make upon one's entire system.  Sugar taken every day produces a continuously overacid condition, and more and more minerals are required from deep in the body in the attempt to rectify the imbalance.  Finally, in order to protect the blood, so much calcium is taken from the bones and teeth that decay and general weakening begin.  Excess sugar eventually affects every organ in the body."  

"The more scientists disappointed them (in finding some positive qualities of sugar), the more the sugar pushers had to rely on the ad men.  "It is a rule of thumb, wrote Paul Hawken, "the more you see a product advertised, the more of a ripoff it is."

"When proteins are digested they are broken down into amino acids, which are usable substances-nutriments. When proteins are taken with sugar, they putrefy, they are broken down into a variety of ptomaines and leucomaines, which are nonusable substances-poisons.  Enzymic digestion of foods prepares them for us by our body.  Bacterial decomposition unfits them for use by our body.  The first process gives us nutriments, the second give us poisons."

He has some great stories of people 'stumbling upon' the fact that sugar is harmful to the health.  Too many and long to type up.  But definitely worth reading. 

Some of the health issues he associates with sugar consumption are: alcoholism, schizophrenia, allergies, diabetes, crohn's disease, bubonic plague, scurvy, tuberculosis, IBS, death by accidents (reflexes are slowed by sugar), cancer of all sorts, adrenal fatigue, hypertension, low/high blood sugar, beriberi, asthma, obesity, infertility, birth defects/miscarriages, malaria, ulcers, stomach pains, indigestion, lupus, sunburns. I know I missed a lot that he mentioned. These are just what I remember or noted.  It's pretty long though. And imagine the money saved if doctors had just said to their patients 'change your diet' instead of telling scientists to find 'cures' for all those diseases!

Of course, I don't believe that our food is the 'be all to end all'.  God is in control, and sin, unfortunately, reigns in this present world.  And it does so in many guises, including our food supply, affected by laziness, greed and ignorance.

I did not agree with everything he said, of course. :)  He bought into the 'low fat' way of eating, and thought dairy and meats were not nourishing.  And he was rather 'new agey' and into the Eastern philophies of religion as well.

But, all in all, I read and thoroughly enjoyed the book.  Now if I could only say 'I will never eat another bit of sugar as long as I live'.  Baby steps Sarah, baby steps... I'll get there.  At least for the present, I eat sugar with my eyes wide open, fully aware of the results.  And definitely in smaller quantities then a year ago.

That's my take on Sugar Blues.  In case anyone wonders. :)


  1. I loved this book. It was one of the first books I read when I began moving to a diet based on whole foods. Like you, I didn't care for the low-fat nonsense, nor the references to macrobiotics.

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