Medical Savings Account (MSA) – a different type of Medicare Advantage Plan

What are MSA plans and how to do they work?

An MSA is a high deductible health insurance plan combined with a savings account that you can use to pay for your health care costs. Since this is a type of Medicare plan, Medicare provides the funding. has a handy 10 step breakdown of how MSAs work.

  1. Choose and join a high-deductible Medicare MSA Plan.
  2. You set up an MSA with a bank the plan selects.
  3. Medicare gives the plan an amount of money each year for your health care.
  4. The plan deposits some money into your account.
  5. You can use the money in your account to pay your health care costs, including health care costs that aren’t covered by Medicare. When you use account money for Medicare-covered Part A and Part B services, it counts towards your plan’s deductible.
  6. If you use all of the money in your account and you have additional health care costs, you’ll have to pay for your Medicare-covered services out-of-pocket until you reach your plan’s deductible.
  7. During the time you’re paying out-of-pocket for services before the deductible is met, doctors and other providers can’t charge you more than the Medicare-approved amount.
  8. After you reach your deductible, your plan will cover your Medicare-covered services. Read information from the plan for details about out-of-pocket costs.
  9. Money left in your account at the end of the year stays in the account and may be used for health care costs in future years.
  10. If you use funds from your account, you must include this special form [PDF, 89.4 KB] with information on how you used your account money when you file taxes.

The available states in the West are now MT, WY, UT, AZ, NV, NM, and OR. Unfortunately, MSA plans are currently not available in WA, ID, CA, and CO.

How MSA plans work

When you see your medical provider, you present your MSA ID card to your provider’s billing office. The provider bills the MSA plan. The bill comes back to you, and you pay you provider from your debit card account. Meanwhile, the MSA plan applies that amount to your deductible. Never pay your provider prior to them billing the MSA plan.

MSA plans do not provide prescription drug coverage. Medicare beneficiaries who are enrolled in an MSA plan and who also wish to have drug coverage, will need to enroll in a stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan.


Q: Where do MSA plans get the money to set up my debit card account?

A: Remember, Medicare advantage (MA) plans are privatized Medicare plans. Let’s say that an MA plan without Rx coverage receives around $800 per person per month from Medicare to provide your health coverage. Out of that, MSA plans can fund your debit card account.

Q: Let’s say I spend $500 on doctor bills for 2021, what happens to the $1,500 still remaining in my debit card account?

A: Your unused funds rollover and will be available for a future year. This is not a “use it or lose it” deal. If you don’t use it, it rolls over.

Q: What happens if I exhaust my debit card account and still have more medical bills?

A: Your responsibility is to cover your bills until you reach your deductible. Once you have met your deductible, your MSA plan pays 100% of your Medicare approved expenses for the remainder of the year.

Q: What about networks. Am I restricted to a doctor network?

A: There are no networks with MSA plans. Most any provider that works with Medicare should be willing to accept your MSA plan. That’s great news for snowbirds or those who travel to other states.

Q: What about preventative checkups? How are they covered?

A: Unlike other Medicare advantage plans, there are no, zero copay physicals or other preventative services. Your provider will bill the plan, and then you’ll pay your physician from your debit card account.

Q: Can I use my MSA funds to pay for vision or dental services?

A: Yes. In addition, you can also use your MSA account for hearing aids, hearing aid batteries, prescription copays, and long-term care expenses. Please note: Using money in your account to pay for health care costs that aren’t covered by Medicare will not count toward your MSA plan’s deductible.

Q: Who can enroll in an MSA plan?

A: Most people who are on Medicare Parts A and B and reside in a state where an MSA plan is offered are eligible to sign up. You will need to decide if the program is right for you. There are some people that are ineligible to enroll in the MSA program. These exceptions primarily are those receiving VA or Medicaid benefits.

The following are some of the reasons why Medicare beneficiaries have enrolled in an MSA program.

  • Those that like the idea of a no premium plan.
  • Those that live in a county where no other Medicare advantage (MA) plans are offered. Many of the sparsely populated counties of Montana, Wyoming, and Oregon have no other MA plans to choose from.
  • Those that do little or infrequent doctoring.
  • Those that like the idea of having funds available for dental or vision.
  • Those that prefer to have their own standalone Part D Prescription (PDP) plan.
  • Those who are looking for an alternative to their Medicare supplement plan and don’t want or can’t get a standard HMO or PPO Medicare Advantage plan.

Important Information for Existing MSA plan Members

If you are already a member of an MSA plan, your membership for 2022 will automatically renew. Be sure to read your annual notice of change to keep informed of any changes to your plan. The MSA company is also offering a second version of their plan with a larger debit deposit and a larger deductible. Please contact us for details.


Please contact us with questions about this MSA plan or your interest in any other Medicare advantage plan. There are some situations where a switch to the MSA plan may be a good fit for your situation. Here are some examples.

Case #1: Alice is in her 90s and is on an old Plan F with a premium of over $300 per month. She has a medical condition which makes it difficult for her to switch to another Medicare supplement plan. She lives in a sparsely populated county that has no other Medicare advantage plans. Her out-of-pocket will hundreds of dollars less than the annual $3,600 Medsupp premium.

Case #2: Martha has Medicare supplement Plan L. Since there is a fair amount of cost-sharing with Plan L, the maximum circuit breaker limit rises to $3,110 in 2021. By the time she adds in her annual premium for Plan L and her cost-sharing, she could be out hundreds more with Plan L compared to the MSA plan.

Case #3: Bill has Medicare supplement Plan K. In 2020 his circuit breaker limit is $6,220. That’s more than double of what him maximum out-of-pocket would be with the MSA plan.

Case # 4: Shirley’s Plan F has climbed to $200 monthly, and she would like to shop for a lower cost Medsupp. Unfortunately, she has a COPD diagnosis making it impossible for her to switch to a lower cost Medsupp. The MSA plan may be a good alternative for her. There is no medical underwriting.

Please contact us for complete details to see if the MSA plan is a good fit for you. End

Annual Election Period (AEP) News

The fall Annual Election Period (also know as Medicare open enrollment) is upon us. We have started discussing 2022 plans as of October 1st. We can start taking applications October 15th for the 2022 plan year. December 7 is the closing date of the AEP.

Ignore the Medicare-related TV Advertising the best you can.

Many of you have contacted us saying, “I heard on the TV that……”

Let’s take a quick look at the psychology of advertising. Most advertising is designed to create anxiety, apprehension and discontent. It’s purposely choreographed to upset your equilibrium and peace of mind. Please keep in mind that this is all done very subtly, and that’s the cleverness and deceptiveness of advertising.

Another element of advertising is to create fear. Misguided Medicare advantage advertising creates fear that you might be missing out on something really important. The bottom line is that the advertising by design is manipulative.

A more sinister aspect of advertising, especially television advertising, is to bombard your senses to the point where your ability to differentiate between truth and fiction is broken down. Your senses are dulled. The trickery is to push your feelings button rather than your intellect button. Please refer to our companion article, Scams, Scams, and More Scams.

Now the viewers’ defenses are worn down to the point where they are begging for relief from the anxiety caused by the TV ad. They end up being snookered after they’ve called the 800 number on the screen. They are no match for a slick-talking commission chaser in a boiler room.

If you do have questions after viewing a Medicare advantage TV ad, please call us first! In a future issue of Northwest Senior News, we’ll discuss some of the self-inflicted disasters people have caused for themselves as a result in dealing with the boiler-room sharks.

If you are happy with your plan and it’s working well for you, there is no need to change. Lastly, there are no pots of gold sitting at the end of the rainbow!

The types of changes you can make during the fall AEP


  1. Medicare advantage plan = MA
  2. Prescription Drug plan = PDP
  3. Medical Savings Account = MSA

For those where a change is appropriate, the following list are changes you can make.

  1. You can change from one PDP to another PDP.
  2. You can add a new PDP if you never had one but need one now.
  3. You can change from one MA plan to another MA plan. Most plans include prescription drugs but not all.
  4. You can drop your Medicare supplement plan and switch to a MA if one is available in your county of residence.
  5. You can drop your MA plan, go back to original Medicare and add a Medicare supplement plan. Medical underwriting applies in most situations.
  6. You can drop your Medicare supplement or current MA plan and switch to the MSA plan, which is a type of MA plan.

Changing from one Medicare supplement plan to another

First, it’s important to note that you can change your Medicare supplement plan any month of the year. This change is not restricted to the fall October 15 through December 7 AEP, however, you must medically quality with the new company you are applying to. We usually seek a change in a quest for lower rates.

Part D Prescription Plan (PDP) News

We’re seeing mostly modest premium increases, although there are a couple of exceptions.

There’s a big shake-up with what we’ll call Company W. Company W bought three plans from Company A beginning the 2020 plan year. Medicare allowed Company W to run six PDPs for 2020-2021.

Starting in 2022, Company W is reducing their six plans down to three. If you currently have one of these plans, the Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) that you should have received in late September will inform you which of Company W’s three 2022 plans you will be moved to. They have Plan Low Premium, Plan High Premium, and Plan Xtra for those on Extra Help. Be sure to read you ANOC mailer to determine which of Company W’s three plans you will be moved to.

If it’s Plan Low, you likely will have a somewhat lower premium compared to 2021. If it’s Plan High, you will be shocked at how much higher your new premium will be. Call us, and we’ll shop a new plan on your behalf for 2022.

Lastly, we will be contacting as many of you with “Company W” as possible to determine the right plan for you for the 2022 year.

A terrific way to submit a list of your prescriptions to us is to use our website.

Ways to contact us

Phone: 208-746-6283 or 888-746-6285
Fax: 888-819-0176
Website:  Please click on the “Contact Us” tab. Submit a list of your prescriptions to us with this website.


As stated above, we strongly encourage you to use our website as a way of submitting of list of your current prescriptions to us. We thank you for your patronage and wish you the best for the upcoming 2022 season. End.

Shady Advertising and Scams: Avoid Becoming a Victim

by Lance D Reedy

In this article I will discuss two scams that Medicare beneficiaries are being hit with. The first is the advertising that is hitting your mailboxes. The second is email and text scams.

What is a scam? Some definitions are as follows:

  • A dishonest scheme: fraud
  • A fraudulent or deceptive act or operation
  • A confidence game or other fraudulent scheme, especially for making a quick profit, swindle
  • An illegal trick, usually with the purpose of getting money from people or avoiding paying a tax
  • An illegal plan for making money, especially one that involves tricking people

The objective of the scammer is to get money out of someone without a fair exchange of goods or services. Put another way, it’s taking money from someone that was not earned. It is done via artifice or trickery. Scammers are thieves.

I’m including “Bait and Switch” advertising in the scam box as such advertising is patently dishonest. The originators of such ads know what they are doing. They write the ad to bait people and then switch them to something else. It’s dishonest as the schemer does not reveal what is really being advertised.

Bait and Switch

Here is the language from a large post card that one of my clients received in the mail: I have added the numbers such as [1, 2, 3 and so on] in brackets.

Dear Jane Doe,

Our records indicate [1] that as a resident of [your] County, you may [2] quality for additional benefits that many on Medicare do not claim.

In addition to plans with more benefits, we will also check your eligibility for:

  • Adding up to $144 back into your monthly Social Security check (adding back to your Part B premium payments) [3]
  • Cost reduction savings from the Social Security Administration’s Extra Help program (worth $4,900 per year in extra savings) [4]

You may also quality for Medicare plans with benefits like $3,500 for routine dental work such as crowns, implants, and dentures. [5]

At SleazyHealth, we can check your eligibility to have up to $144 placed back into your monthly Social Security check. Please call (833) 555-xxxx (9TTY 7xx) today for your free, no obligation Medicare review. (Monday-Friday 8am-6pm CST)

[Disclosure at the bottom of the card in very fine print that you need a microscope to read:]

This is an advertisement for insurance. SleazyHealth is not connected or endorsed by any government entity. Eligibility for cost reduction savings is based on income verification. Not all benefits available in specific plans or regions. Visit and for more information. [6]


Let’s tear this piece of garbage apart.

[1] …..our records? They bought a list of names for people better than 65 in your county. In other words, they bought a mailing list! That’s their records.

[2] “May!” There is that pesky word “may. Maybe you do, but probably you don’t. If you are one of the 15% of Medicare beneficiaries already on Medicaid, then Medicare may not charge said person for his/her Medicare Part B premium. Those 15% are already on one form of Medicaid or another. It’s all based on income. Put another way, this only applies to 15% of the Medicare population. That 15% already has this Medicaid benefit. This will NOT apply to virtually 100% of the people receiving this card.

[3} “Adding up to $144 back…” The $144 is a 2020 number. The 2021 number is $148.50. This outfit couldn’t even bother to update their numbers. If they are sloppy here, where else do you suppose they are sloppy?

[4] “(worth $4,900…in savings)” People on Extra Help or Low Income Subsidy have reduced premiums or no premium for their Part D plan. Their copays are also reduced. They just grabbed this number out of the sky because it looked impressive. If you are not on Extra Health but think you may quality, call 1-800- Medicare (1-800-633-4227) to inquire.

[5} There’s that pesky word “may” again. SleazyHealth is referring to people on Medicaid that quality for more dental benefits. It is true that many Medicare advantage plans have a dental benefit. Usually, the benefit is capped at $1,000 per year, although I have seen one plan that brags a $2,000 cap. Implants are generally excluded from this benefit.

[6] This discloser is sort of okay. “This is an advertisement for insurance…” This is their mea culpa for running a bait and switch scheme. These guys are nothing more than commission chasers. I could write another article about how these boiler room idiots have deceived people over and over.

The bottom line: SleazyHealth’s goal is to get you to ring their call center. From there, you will be connected to any number of commission chasers who will do everything possible to drive a wedge between you and your current Medicare plan.

TV Advertising

Medicare related TV advertising isn’t much, if any, better. They throw out “learn about Medicare benefits you may be missing” of “get the dental benefits you deserve”, etc. They are baiting you to call their 800 number.

The Refund Scam

There are different iterations of this scam. The basic theme is that the scammer pretends to overpay the victim and then requests the victim to reimburse him for the excess payment. One of my daughters unwittingly got caught in one of these schemes.

My daughter while at college posted an ad on Craigslist looking for a roommate to share her apartment rent. A scammer answered her ad and strung her along with nonsense questions about room color and décor, and finally after much ado, sent my daughter an initial rent check.

Just after my daughter received the scammer’s check, the scammer contacted her and said that she wrote the check for too much and asked my daughter to please deposit it and then send her a refund for the difference. Of course, the scammer put on a big sob story about how this mistake is going to cause some sort of cataclysmic event in her life.

My daughter, being raised to be an honest person, promptly deposited the scammer’s check and cut her a refund check and mailed it off.

In these scams, the money the scammer sends is always fake. In this case, it was a phony check that bounced. Fortunately for my daughter, she kept a low balance in her checking account and the “refund” check she sent to the scammer also bounced.

In our next issue I will discuss over-the-internet refund scams involving gift cards.

Meanwhile, to help you better understand how these scammers work and to have some fun while you’re at it, I encourage you to check out professional scam baiter, Kitboga. Kitboga strings the scammers along for hours, getting them to think that they have a fish on the line. Here’s one of many YouTube videos titled “The Angriest Scammer I’ve Ever Called.” And yes, this is a “classic” refund scam. End

Fat Heals—Sugar Kills: Chapter 4 – Part 4, Sugar Isn’t Always Sweet

Chapter 4, Part 4: Fructose and Galactose

Recap of Part 3: Advanced Glycation End-Products (AGEs)

Dr. Fife explains that sugar consumption accelerates the aging process. He explains that elevated blood glucose levels increase molecular entities known as advanced glycation end-products or AGEs for short. The sticky glucose in your bloodstream can stick to fats, but it’s especially attracted to proteins.

He points out that aging is the accumulation of damaged cells.

The more AGEs you have in your body, the “older” you become functionally regardless of how many years you’ve lived. AGEs adversely affect other molecules generating free radicals, oxidizing LDL cholesterol (thus creating the type of cholesterol that collects in arteries and promotes atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes), degrading collagen (the major supporting structure in our organs and skin), damaging nerve tissue (including the brain), and wreaking havoc on just about every organ in the body. AGEs are known to play an important role in the chronic complications of [type 2] diabetes and in the development of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases. [Ed: My emphasis]

Part 4 Begins: Fructose

Fructose (erroneously pronounced fruit-ose) has primarily found its way into our modern processed diet through an industrial process that churns out what is called high fructose corn (HFCS) syrup. Obviously, fructose is derived from corn.

Fructose has been hailed as the preferred sugar for diabetics because it doesn’t raise blood sugar as much as does sucrose or regular table sugar. Fife attributes this misinformation due to clever marketing tactics from the sugar industry.

He explains the invention of HFCS in 1957 and its subsequent development. A big myth is that fructose comes from fruit, due to the similarity in the spelling of their names.

He explains the HFCS has a higher content of fructose compared to regular table sugar and that fructose and glucose in HFCS is more rapidly absorbed.

Fructose has a much greater overall damaging effect on the body than glucose. We normally think of glucose when we talk about glycation, but fructose undergoes glycation about 10 times the rate of glucose and intensifies AGE generation and tissue degeneration.

Fife points out that vegetarians tend to eat more fruit and more honey which results in them having a higher intake of fructose. He explains another problem with the excessive consumption of fructose. In animal studies high fructose consumption coupled with a copper deficiency in growing animals interfered with collagen production. Collagen is what holds our tissues and organs together. People who eat a processed food diet are typically copper deficient.

Fructose is metabolized in the liver, which can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Fife points out that the detrimental effects are very similar to liver disease caused by alcohol consumption. It gets worse:

Fructose is far more fattening that other sugars or fat. Eating foods containing HFCS does not satisfy hunger but encourages overeating, which is another reason why food manufacturers prefer to use it in place of other sweeteners. Fructose tricks you into gaining weight by turning off your body’s appetite control system. Fructose does not appropriately stimulate insulin, which in turn, does not suppress ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates hunger, and not activate leptin, the hormone that suppresses hunger. This leads to overeating and weight gain.

My comments: Ouch! The bottom line is that the consumption of HFCS is even worse than sucrose or regular table sugar. Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist, has written and spoken extensively how the consumption of HFCS quashes the production of the hormone leptin, which tells your body that you have eaten enough.

Continuing: The fat from the HFCS weight gain tends to land in the abdominal area causing a pot belly. This is visceral fat which is stored inside of the abdominal cavity. It gets worse:

Visceral fat is not just excess fatty tissue, but it’s a metabolically active tissue that releases hormones and promotes inflammation and increases your risk of a number of health problems, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, arthritis, sexual dysfunction, sleep disorders, and dementia.

Rat studies have borne out the rats fed HFCS at lower levels than in soda pop get fat. They don’t get fat when fed a high fat diet! Long term rat studies lasting over six months show these rats being fed HFCS develop metabolic syndrome. Again, this is obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and many other degenerative conditions. Male rats suffered even more from metabolic syndrome.

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is found in hundreds of processed food and beverage products. Included are fruit juice, soda, cereal, bread, yogurt, ketchup, mayonnaise, salad dressing, and dozens of others.

Fife slams the myth that fructose doesn’t have an immediate effect on blood sugar compared to regular table sugar. Fructose has a more detrimental effect on insulin resistance.  He continues by stating that researchers understand this phenomenon so well that they routinely use fructose when they want to cause insulin resistance in laboratory animal studies.

Some physicians are now claiming that the increased use of fructose in all our foods is largely responsible for the skyrocketing incidences of diabetes we are experiencing today.

Fife reminds his readers that all sources of fructose have the same effect on the body. It doesn’t matter if the fructose is from HFCS, sucrose or a natural source such as agave syrup (a popular sweetener used in the health food industry). The effects are all the same.

He unmasks the agave scam. Agave is marketed to diabetics as being superior to table sugar or HFCS because it doesn’t spike your blood sugar as much as table sugar. Agave nectar is processed from starch from the agave root. It’s a process similar to the production of HFCS, and the fructose content ranges from 70 to 97% He concludes by stating:

Despite the misinformation from marketers, agave syrup or nectar is far worse for your health then any other form of sugar. ED: My emphasis


Milk sugar or lactose consists of equal amounts of glucose and lactose, and lactose has similarities to fructose. Just like fructose, lactose is ten times more likely to form AGEs compared to glucose. Fife points out that when whole milk or cheese is consumed, there is not enough lactose to be concerned about. The problem occurs when the fat is removed as in non-fat milk, yogurt, and in other low-fat or non-fat iterations.

Dried non-fat milk is often added to low-fat or non-fat dairy products to add taste and texture. Fife explains that this is virtually doing the same things as adding HFCS.

All reduced-fat milk and milk powders are potential sources of excessive amounts of galactose…

My comments: I previously have not known what Dr. Fife just explained. I have used non-fat milk powder when camping as a way of having milk without refrigeration. Now I’ll have to rethink this.

Continuing: Fife explains that the galactose content of non-fat dry milk and skimmed milk powder is 49.5 to 52% galactose, which means that nonfat dry milk is predominantly sugar.

Like fructose, galactose is well known for promoting premature aging, inflammation, and excessive oxidative stress and vitamin deficiency due to the production of AGEs and free radicals. The consumption of high levels of galactose rapidly ages the body and the cardiovascular system, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Fife cites various studies concerning the consumption of diary products. Some people claim that the fat in whole milk is the culprit concerning heart disease. Fife makes it clear that the real issue is the high sugar content in low-fat or non-fat dairy products. The good news is that fermented milk and cheese have lower galactose levels, and they are not associated with oxidative stress or inflammation.

He references two groups of people that have thrived on whole milk. We can assume he is also referring to raw milk that has not been pasteurized or homogenized. One group is in Switzerland, and the other is the Masai in Kenya and northern Tanzania. Each Masai would consume several quarts of milk daily.

They were completely immune to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and other degenerative diseases until more recent times, as they have adapted to agriculture and a diet much higher in carbohydrate-rich foods.

Fife reminds us that dairy consumption has always been considered to be healthy. The problem is with the increased galactose intake due to the consumption of non-fat milk and non-fat milk powders. The latter seems to wipe out the health benefits of high-fat, whole milk products.

Here are more examples of processed food products that contain these non-fat milk additives.

  • Most low-fat dairy products; Cottage cheese, cheese, cheese spread, yogurt, chocolate milk, and ice cream
  • Dessert and pudding mixes
  • Chocolate milk mixes
  • Gravy mixes
  • Cookie dough
  • Processed lunch meats
  • Used in many dry goods including pancake and biscuit mixes, cake mix, cookies, crackers, bread, and other confectionary products

Fife throws one more dagger into the idea of consuming non-fat milk powder. Undamaged cholesterol is beneficial, but the processing of this product causes the cholesterol to become oxidized. Now, it’s harmful cholesterol. This is true for both dried non-fat milk and dried whole milk.

My Comments: This concludes our review and digest of Chapter 4, Sugar Isn’t Always Sweet. If you think Dr. Fide’s exposé of the destructive effects of sugar on your health in this chapter wasn’t damning enough, wait for his next chapter.

The 30-page chapter 5 is titled A Weapon of Mass Destruction. It’s not about chemical or biological weapons used for warfare, but rather he digs into the various processes of how the consumption of sugar thoroughly trashes our health. It ends up being chemical and biological warfare in your body.

Intellect Verses Feelings-Based Desires

Mexican restaurants typically serve a bowl of corn chips with hot sauce as an appetizer prior to your meal being served. My wife and I have avoided them for years due to the fact that they are baked with unhealthy oils.

Recently I was taken to a Mexican restaurant by some friends, and the server did the customary placing of the bowl of corn chips on our table. I was hungry, relented, and ate some of the chips. They tasted good. Unfortunately, I am very bad at stopping with just a few. In the next 24 to 48 hours, I could tell what I had eaten. My skin was more oily. I regretted my capitulation to what I know is not good for me.

Even more recently, a friend “Joe” and I were out for a hike. He mentioned to me that his wife sent some pie with him, and he asked if I would like some. I asked, “Does it have sugar in it?” Joe answered affirmatively. I passed up his offer. Later, we ate at a Mexican restaurant after our outing. Sure enough, the server dutifully placed a bowl of corn chips on our table. I didn’t touch them.

If you believe that these sugary foods and unhealthy seed oils are deleterious to your health, then your intellect will say, “No, I will not consume these products, no matter how good they may taste or how much pleasure I derive by consuming them. You leave your intellect in charge.


Northwest Senior News January 2021

Fat Heals—Sugar Kills: Chapter 4 – Part 1, Sugar Isn’t Always Sweet

We continue our review and digest this month of Fat Heals-Sugar Kills: The Cause of and Cure for Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, Obesity, and Other Metabolic Disorders by Dr. Bruce Fife. In the first part of Chapter 4 titled Sugar Isn’t Always Sweet, Dr. Fife stresses the point that sugar is sugar whether is be table sugar, fructose, agave, honey or any other of the myriad forms of sugar.

Fat Heals—Sugar Kills: Chapter 4 – Part 2

Part 2: The key takeaway here is that the over consumption of sugar leads to excessively elevated blood sugar (glucose) levels. This, in turn, forces the pancreas to produce more insulin to deal with the high sugar load, and this leads to our body’s cells becoming resistant to the effects of insulin. This situation is known as insulin resistance, which is the pre-cursor to type 2 diabetes.

Sugar Blues: Chapter 1

Seven years ago, we initiated our review and digest of William Dufty’s book, Sugar Blues. His account of his sugar addition is timeless as the problem of sugar addiction continues unabated. We have revised our original summary and digest of his Chapter 1 titled: It Is Necessary to be Personal.


Gary Taubes, a well-known scientific journalist and author, published on YouTube a speech of his titled: The Case Against Sugar. We have republished our original transcription of the first segment of his speech with updated comments. His talk is just as appropriate today as it was a few years ago.


Oils from Seeds: Maybe Not Such a Good Idea

by Al Sears, MD, CNS

Good old-fashioned lard has been unfairly demonized for too long.

I’ve told you how my grandmother made her pie crusts with lard and how most people used it until the government told us that animal fat caused heart disease. As a regular reader, you know that’s just not true. Your body needs animal fat to use as food and to help absorb important nutrients.

But what about other oils that are being touted as “healthy?” These oils are used in prepared foods like sandwiches, chicken salad, soups or even a loaf of whole grain bread. They are on the shelves at every “health food store,” yet they are some of the most unhealthy oils you’ll find.

I’m talking about seed oils.

Research shows these oils are linked with all the chronic diseases they’re supposed to help you avoid, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Industrialized seed oils, often called vegetable oils, are hard to avoid. They’re in everything from peanut butter to crackers and salad dressings.

And though seed oils and vegetables may sound like natural foods, they’re the farthest thing from it.

While native cultures put animal fats at the center of their diet and show no trace of heart disease, they never ate seed oils because they are chemically processed, lab-created oils and they don’t exist in nature. We never evolved to properly metabolize or digest them.

In the early 1900s, Proctor and Gamble began using a chemical process called hydrogenation to turn cottonseed oil into a solid fat that could be used for cooking instead of lard. The result, in 1911, was Crisco.1

The success of the world’s first vegetable shortening led to the marketing of soybean, corn, safflower, and canola (made from rapeseed) oils. They were cheap to make and manufacturers pushed them hard on the public. Soon, they were a staple of American cooking.

A few years later, the concept that cholesterol and saturated fat cause heart disease was first presented by a physiologist named Ancel Keys. Even though there were epidemiologists at the time who strongly disputed his findings, the hypothesis that animal fats raise the risk of heart attacks became conventional wisdom in mainstream medicine.2

As I’ve been saying for years, this is entirely wrong, and research bears this out.3

As a substitute for animal fats, Keys urged people to consume—you guessed it—seed oils. He championed polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) from plant-based foods as a superior alternative.

Over time, this erroneous belief became entrenched in mainstream medicine.

Doctors and medical organizations such as the National Institutes of Health and the American Medical Association declared war on animal fats. They strongly suggested lard and tallow should be avoided for cooking in favor of vegetable-based shortenings such as Crisco, corn oil or soybean oil. They insisted people should stop buying butter and use solid seed oil—margarine—instead.

It’s incredible, because scientific support for this nonsense is mainly based on deeply flawed, outdated studies from the ‘50s and ‘60s.

I recommend you rid your kitchen pantry of any vegetable shortenings such as Crisco and any of these oils: sunflower, cottonseed, soybean, corn, peanut, safflower, and canola.

Second, make a point of avoiding processed foods. These often contain seed oil in the form of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. The worst offenders include cookies, cakes, fried foods, frozen pizzas, margarine, biscuits, artificial coffee creamers, microwave popcorn, and pies.

The healthy fats I recommend instead of seed oils include:

Coconut oil. This healthy fat continues to get a bad rap. But, it’s made up of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are good for your brain and boost your immunity.4,5 They also prevent osteoporosis, protect your liver, and help your body burn fat.6,7,8

Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Studies show it protects against cancer, heart disease, stroke, obesity, Alzheimer’s, and arthritis.9 To make sure you’re getting the real thing, check the bottle labels. Look for these acronyms: PDO, DOC, DO, or DOP. These are European certifications of quality. The COOC (California Olive Oil Council) serves the same function for American-made olive oils. Also, only buy olive oil in dark or opaque containers. Exposure to light causes oxidation and rancidity.

Lard. Rendered from pig fat, it’s mainly made up of monounsaturated fat, the same as olive oil. But, it’s also rich in healthy saturated fat and a good source of vitamin D. Make sure the lard comes from a natural source. Check the label to be sure it hasn’t been hydrogenated to extend shelf life. If it’s not refrigerated, don’t buy it.

Tallow. Fat rendered from any animal other than pigs—usually beef—is called tallow. It has a high smoke point which means it’s excellent for cooking. Tallow is high in saturated and monounsaturated fats. Look for tallow from grass-fed cows—it’s higher in omega-3s. Like lard, tallow helps you absorb essential vitamins and helps keep your skin hydrated.

Other great sources of dietary fats include wild-caught fatty fish, avocados, and nuts such as almonds, walnuts, and pistachios.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD, CNS

  1. “Crisco.” Wikipedia (, accessed 10/27/20
  2. “Ansel Keys.” Wikipedia (, accessed 10/27/20
  3. Harcombe Z. “US dietary guidelines: is saturated fat a nutrient of concern?” British Journal of Sports Medicine 2019;53:1393-1396.
  4. “America’s most widely consumed cooking oil causes genetic changes in the brain.” University of California (http://health.universityofcalifornia), accessed 10/28/20 5. “Coconut Oil Offers Hope for Antibiotic-Resistant Germs” Coconut Oil (, accessed 10/28/20
  5. Hayatullina, Z., et al. “Virgin coconut oil supplementation prevents bone loss in osteoporosis rat model.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2012, 237236.
  6. Nagao, K., et al. “Medium-chain fatty acids: functional lipids for the prevention and treatment of the metabolic syndrome.” Pharmacological research, 61(3), 208–212.
  7. Otuechere, C. A., et al. “Virgin coconut oil protects against liver damage in albino rats challenged with the anti-folate combination, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole.” Journal of basic and clinical physiology and pharmacology, 25(2), 249–253.
  8. “11 Proven Benefits of Olive Oil” Healthline (, accessed 10/28/20

Sugar Blues Chapter 2—The Mark of Cane

by William Dufty: 

Dufty takes us back to the beginning of time, Paradise Lost and the Garden of Eden.  He references Biblical references to people living a very long time.  He discusses ancient Chinese acupuncture meridians, which are called beauty marks in the West, dark spots that appear at the time of birth or later.

When these charts are compiled thousands of year ago, “natural death” was going to sleep without waking up—was the normal way to die….refined sugar [sucrose] did not form a part of the human diet.

He relays to us the diet of these early people which consisted of a variety of nuts including almonds, chestnuts, walnuts, and pistachios.  For fruits and vegetables they had apples, fig, grapes, mulberries, olives, melons, carob, mint, onion, anise, cucumbers, lentils, and mustard.  For grains they had barley, millet, rye, and wheat.  They had milk and honey and a multitude of natural goodies.  Most all of these had natural sugars.

Dufty explains that none of the ancient books, the Bible, the Code of Mann, the I Ching, the Yellow Emperors Classic of Internal Medicine, the New Testament and the Koran, make any reference to sugar.  He references “sweet cane” that may have come from India and Polynesian myths and legends that made much of this sweet cane.  It was native to tropical climes, and efforts to cultivate it elsewhere failed.

The sweet cane “was cultivated with great labor by husbandman who bruise it when ripe in mortars, set the juice in a vessel until concreted in form like snow or white salt.”

The Greeks described it as a “kind of honey” growing in canes of reeds.  Early Roman and Greek accounts compared it to basic staples of the time, “Indian salt” or “honey without bees; and they imported it at an enormous cost.  The Persians were credited with the research and development of a process for refining the juice of the cane into a solid form that would last without fermenting.  It was feasible to transport the product.  He sets the time around 600 A.D.  Dufty continues with this interesting quote:

The Persian empire rose and fell, as empires always do.  When the armies of Islam overran them, one of the trophies of victory was the secret for processing sweet cane into medicine.

Dufty recounts the victories of the Arab armies and the spread of the Arab empire.  He continues:

It is tempting to wonder from eyewitness reports that turn up later, what role sugar played in the decline of the Arab empire.  Sugar is not mentioned [in the Koran], but the heirs of the Prophet [Mohammad] are probably the first conquerors in history to have produced enough sugar to furnish both troops and courts with candy and sugared drinks.  An early European observer credits the widespread use of sugar by desert fighters as their reason for their loss of cutting edge.

 The author quotes Leonhard Rauwolf, a German botanist:

The Turks and Moors cut off one piece [of sugar] after another and so chew and eat them openly everywhere in the street without shame…in this way [they] accustom themselves to gluttony and are no longer the intrepid fighters they had formerly been.

Dufty comments, “This may be the first recorded warning from the scientific community on the subject of sugar abuse and its observed consequences.”  He draws a parallel with the Christian Crusaders.  They, too, acquired a taste for the “sauce of the Saracens”.  He quotes Pope Clement V advocating that the Christians, too, get in the sugar business.

…If the Christians could seize those lands [the Sultans] great injury would be inflicted on the Sultan and at the same time Christendom would be wholly supplied from Cyprus.  Sugar is also grown in the Morea, Malta, and Sicily, and it would grow in other Christian lands if cultivated there.  As regards Christendom, no harm would follow.

Dufty explains that Christians took a big bite of the “forbidden fruit”.  What followed was seven centuries in which the seven deadly sins flourished across the seven seas, leaving a trail of slavery, genocide, and organized crime.

My comments:  Yes, the forbidden fruit: I had a paper route, and in those days the paperboy collected for the monthly subscription. I had change jingling in my pocket, and there were little mom and pop markets all around me.  I could easily sneak a soda pop or a Snickers bar. It was easy to get hooked on the sweet stuff.

I recall my son’s morbidly obese Cub Scout leaders acting as drug pushers in tantalizing their charges with CAKE!! after the evening’s activities.  I remember fighting with my brother over splitting a leftover piece of cake, pie, or candy as to who got the biggest piece.  Funny thing, we never fought over who got how much of the leftover vegetables!  So yeah, it’s easy to understand how these people of hundreds of years ago went berserk over sugar.  I was no different.

Continuing: Dufty quotes the British historian, Noel Deerr: “It will be no exaggeration to put the tale and toll of the slave trade at 20 million Africans, of which two thirds are to be charges against sugar.”  He then spends the next couple of pages describing the growth of the Portuguese and Spanish slave trade and sugar cultivation.  Then the Dutch got into the act by 1500.

No other product has so profoundly influenced the political history of the Western world as has sugar. . .The Portuguese and Spanish empires rose swiftly in opulence and power.  As the Arabs before them had crumbled, so they too fell rapidly into a decline.  To what extent that decline was biological—occasioned by sugar bingeing at the royal level—we can only guess.  However, the British empire stood by waiting to pick up the pieces.

He tells us that Queen Elizabeth initially called the slave trade, “detestable”, but she soon capitulated.  The Queen sanctioned the Company of Royal Adventurers of England, which gave them a state monopoly of the West African slave trade.  In the West Indies the Spaniards had exterminated the natives and brought African slaves to tend their fields of cane.

Comment: What is a 20th century parallel to the 15th and 16th century European sugar craze?  I would think that one parallel is the oil rush.  Just like the machinations of the governments back then, I think of the 1953 U.S. CIA sponsored overthrow of the democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh.  He nationalized the Iranian oil industry, and the Western powers [Standard Oil and BP] didn’t like that.  Weren’t Gulf Wars I and II primarily about oil? Sugar then, oil now.

Continuing: The sugar trade in the West Indies grew in another way.  Fermented cane juice was turned into rum.  The first rum runner imported their precious tonic to New England where a “pennies worth” of rum was traded with the Indians for furs.  That latter were sold in Europe for a fortune.  On the return voyage back to the New World, the ships of the Queen’s Company of Royal Adventurers visited the West African coast to pick up more slaves, who in turn would tend the sugar cane fields to produce more sugar, molasses and rum.

It was rum for the American Indians, molasses for the American colonists, and sugar and furs for Europe.  It was quite a neat deal until the land in Barbados and other British islands was worn out and exhausted.

Britain’s Navigation Acts of 1660 required that the trade of all British colonies had to be with England, Ireland, and British possessions.  Mother England wanted to protect her revenues and maintain the priceless shipping monopoly.  Dufty explains that by the 1860’s sugar became a synonym for “money” in the English language.

He explains that the Molasses Act of 1733 did as much or more to precipitate the American War of Independence as did the Boston Tea Party.  The act levied a heavy tax on sugar or molasses coming from anywhere other than the British sugar islands in the Caribbean.  The ship owners of New England cut themselves in.  They delivered rum to West Africa in exchange for more slaves, who were then sold to the British plantation owners.  Then they shipped molasses back to the colonies which was to be distilled into rum.  Dufty explains that the per capita consumption of rum in the colonies was an annual four gallons per person.

Dufty quotes the French philosopher Claude Adrien Helvetius: “No cask of sugar arrives in Europe to which blood is not sticking.  In view of the misery of these slaves anyone with feelings should renounce these wares and refuse the enjoyment of what is only to be bought with tears and death of countless unhappy creatures.”

Helvetius was forced to recant [in part to save his skin], as the French were cutting themselves in on the sugar trade.  The Sorbonne [University of Paris] condemned him and his books were burned.  Nevertheless, the genie was out of the bottle.

The stigma of slavery was on sugar everywhere, but most particularly in Britain.  Everywhere sugar had become a source of public wealth and national importance.  Through taxes and tariffs on sugar, government had remained a partner in organized crime.  Fabulous fortunes were being amassed by plantation owners, planters, traders and shippers; and the sole concern of European royalty was how they would take their cut.

My comments:  Are things much different today?  President Nixon was paranoid about the 1972 election, and one of his concerns was rising food prices.  He teamed up with the then Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz, to start massive government subsidies for the growing of corn in an effort to keep food prices low.  Japanese scientists figured out in the early 1970’s how to make high fructose corn syrup [HFCS] from that cheap corn.  Therefore, we now have the price HFCS being kept artificially low through government subsidies and the price of imported sugar kept artificially higher because of tariffs.  Sound familiar?

Meanwhile, large multi-national corporations are making a fortune by selling, cheap, low quality, disease-facilitating food [if you can call it food] and beverages to the unsuspecting public all laced with HFCS.  And on the farm we now have herbicide-resistant genetically modified organisms [GMO’s] being doused with herbicides.  The lobbyists in the corn producing states push to keep the cash cow flowing. And the politicians are bribed [through campaign contributions] to continue to vote the status quo, and the tax-payers are pick-pocketed to finance the entire scheme.

Future generations have to be properly trained to keep the show rolling along.  Schools have gotten in on the act by allowing soda-pop vending machines on campus, although due to protests, some have since been removed.  At least one elementary school in Lewiston, ID has a Pepsi logo on its outdoor info sign.  Our local skateboard park is called “Mountain Dew Skateboard Park”. The objective is to burn the logos of these sugary drinks into the minds of new consumers.

The craze for sugar certainly continues.  What about the slaves?  We don’t have them anymore, or do we?  If we do, who are they?

Continuing: Dufty explains the British Empire was totally hooked on the issue of sugar.  Gluttony had produced necessity.  Sugar and slavery were indivisible.  Therefore, they were defended together.  When sugar was originally introduced in England, a pound cost an entire year’s salary for the average working man.  As the sugar trade increased, the price fell precipitously.  By 1700 the British Isles were accounting for 20 million pounds of sugar per year.  By 1800 it was 160 million pounds per year.  The consumption had gone up eight-fold.  A hundred years later the British were spending as much on sugar as they were on bread.  The consumption had increased to 73 pounds per person per year.

The French didn’t sit idly by.  By 1700 refined sugar was France’s most important export.  The British struck back with naval blockades, cutting off their source of sugar cane.  A German scientist, Franz Carl Achard, was experimenting with a “type of parsnip” from Italy, originally believed to be from Babylonia.  Under pressure from the blockade, French scientists found a way to process the beet into a new kind of sugar “loaf”.  Napoleon ordered beets to be planted everywhere in France.  [Sound familiar?]

After Napoleon had beaten Britain’s naval blockade, the Quakers in Britain took up the cultivation of sugar beets as an anti-slavery gesture.  The status quo producers of sugar from sugar cane saw that as a serious threat and demanded that the “Quakers be uprooted”.  Most of their beets were fed to cows, and it wasn’t until a shipping shortage spawned by WW-I that Britain resumed the growing of sugar beets. [

The French abolished the slave trade in 1807, and the British did so 26 years later.  The British indemnified slaveholders in Barbados and Jamaica $75 to $399 a head.  Before then, there were plenty of slave revolts threatening those that ran the plantations.  After the abolition of slavery, East Indian immigrants were imported to man what was left of the powerful sugar business.

Up until this time, refined sugar was a raw, light brown-like sugar.  New American inventions were about to change that forever.  James Watt perfected the steam engine, Figuier developed a method for making charcoal out of animal bones, and Howard produced the vacuum pan.  Now the Americans could produce white, crystalline sugar.  Cuba became the new, back door colony for the U.S.  Import duties of $0.02 per pound provided for 20% of federal revenues.

Americans soon outdistanced the British and virtually every other nation in sugar bingeing.  The U.S. had consumed one-fifth of the world’s production of sugar every year but one since the Civil War.  By 1893 America was consuming more sugar than the whole world had produced in 1865.  By 1920…that figure for sugar production had doubled….It is doubtful there has ever been more of a challenge to the human body in the entire history of man.

Dufty draws several parallels of opium trade and production of the “mark of cane”.  They both began as medicines and ended up being used for habit forming sensory pleasures.  The opium traffic, as with sugar, seems to have originated in Persia.  Fortunes were made in their trade.  Opium was refined into morphine which was injected into those with sugar-induced diabetes, as the hypodermic needle had been invented by then.  Taxes were collected from both of them.  Many Union soldiers came home that were completely addicted to morphine.  Morphine was further refined into heroin, and the latter was also used to treat sugar diabetes.

Dufty quotes Dr. Robert Boesler’s [a dentist] 1912 comments:

Modern manufacturing of sugar has brought about entirely new diseases.  The sugar of commerce is nothing else but concentrated crystalized acid. If, in former times sugar was so costly that only the wealthy could afford to use it, it was, from the national economic standpoint, of no consequence. Today…because of its low cost, sugar has caused a degeneration of the people….The loss of energy through the consumption of sugar in the last century and the first decade of this century can never be made good, as it has left its mark on the race….

 Dufty concludes “The Mark of Cane” with a quote from Mark Twain’s autobiography.  His uncle ran a general store in Florida, Missouri around 1840.

It was a small establishment…a few barrels of salt mackerel, coffee, and New Orleans sugar behind the counter.  [They had the usual hardware items.] and…a barrel of two of New Orleans molasses and native corn whiskey on tap.  If a boy bought five or ten cents’ worth of anything, he was entitled to half a handful of sugar from the barrel…Everything was cheap…sugar, five cents a pound; whiskey ten cents a gallon.

The author explains that sugar was more expensive than whiskey, but they were pushing free samples on the kids.

By 1840 the sugar pushers and disease-establishment* were solid partners. Washington raked in two cents in federal taxes on every five-cent pound bag of sugar for another fifty years. Addicts supported the government—rather than vice versa—once upon a time. *That part of the establishment—once minor, now major—which profits directly and indirectly, legally and illegally, from human misery and malaise.


Fat Heals—Sugar Kills: Chapter 4 – Part 3, Sugar Isn’t Always Sweet

by Dr. Bruce Fife

Chapter 4, Part 3

Advanced Glycation End-Products (AGEs)

My Initial Comments: I wish I had known in my younger years just how potentially destructive sugar is on one’s health. Hopefully my sugar addiction from decades ago didn’t do any permanent damage. As I continue to read and understand from several experts who have researched this subject, it’s clear that the average person’s consumption of sugar is unhealthy.

Understanding the destructiveness of Advanced Glycation End-Products (AGEs) is really important if you consume refined sugars and are concerned about your health.

Sadly, I have spoken with too many people that preferred to continue with their sugar addiction and their resulting prescription addiction. Why do so many insist to continue with this insanity? I think much of it has to do with the same reasons that people are addicted to caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, mind altering drugs, and behaviors such as gambling. It teases our dopamine part of our brains. It’s pleasurable.

However, what we eat or drink, are behaviors, and we can choose what we will and what we won’t eat. We can choose to pass up the sweets when everyone around us is indulging. We can tell ourselves that the momentary pleasure I get from eating that doughnut or other sweet treat isn’t worth the damage it does to my health. We can choose to be the captain of our own ship.

At a recent family reunion everyone else was partaking of the pie and ice cream dessert except for my wife and I. She refrained due to food allergies, and I passed up the dessert as I didn’t want to fall off the wagon. I’d rather just “say no” to the high sugar eats and treats. Yes, it’s hard to do, initially, but once you get in the habit of doing so, it becomes much easier.


Dr. Fife begins this section by stating that sugar accelerates the aging process making you look and feel much older than you really are. He explains that elevated blood glucose levels increase molecular entities known as advanced glycation end-products or AGEs for short. The sticky glucose in your bloodstream could stick to fats, but it’s especially attracted to proteins.

He points out that aging is the accumulation of damaged cells.

The more AGEs you have in your body, the “older” you become functionally regardless of how many years you’ve lived. AGEs adversely affect other molecules generating free radicals, oxidizing LDL cholesterol (thus creating the type of cholesterol that collects in arteries and promotes atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes), degrading collagen (the major supporting structure in our organs and skin), damaging nerve tissue (including the brain), and wreaking havoc on just about every organ in the body. AGEs are known to play an important role in the chronic complications of [type 2] diabetes and in the development of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases. [Ed: My emphasis]

My comments: Many people will read the above paragraph and will say, yeah, yeah, I know all of that only to continue to indulge in what’s causing these various degenerative illnesses. When they see their doctor next, the doc is concerned because their A-1C is up, their blood pressure reading is up, and/or their “bad” LDL cholesterol is up. Solution? You guessed it: Up the dose of the meds and maybe a new one.

The doctor might give lip service about better nutrition, but that’s about it. The doc might even comment that you need to get your weight down by 15 or 20 pounds, but that about as far as it goes.

You the patient do not have to agonize by quitting your sugar addiction; the doc doesn’t have to fight to get a reluctant patient to change his/her lifestyle; the pharmacist will dutifully fill your prescriptions; and everyone is happy, or so they think.

Continuing: Dr. Fife explains that the AGE’s process is understood simply by observation. AGEs are involved in a vicious cycle of inflammation, generation of free radicals, amplified production of AGEs, more inflammation, and so on.

He goes on to say that everyone experiences the effects of AGEs to some extent and that it’s a part of getting older. The effects are the loss of skin tone, decreased organ function, reduction of motor skills, reduced ability to fight off infections, and other aging issues.

The problem is that insulin resistance raises blood glucose levels. Chronically elevated blood glucose levels can remain high even with the use of medications. The longer glucose is in contact with proteins, the greater the opportunity they have of forming AGEs. High blood sugar accelerates AGEing. [Ed: My emphasis]

Fortunately, we are not totally defenseless against the formation of AGEs. Our white blood cells have receptors to latch on to the AGEs and remove them. However, not all of them are easily removable, as this process sets off an inflammatory response. This, in turn, can lead to chronic inflammation.

Fife continues by explaining that heart disease is the leading cause of death in diabetics, and that heart disease is caused by diseased arteries. Studies have shown that the destructive effects of AGEs on blood vessels accounts for the rapidly progressive atherosclerosis experienced by diabetes.

It is this chronic high blood sugar characteristic of diabetics that leads to deterioration of the arteries that causes peripheral vascular disease, diabetic retinopathy, kidney disease, and other diabetic complications. …Elevated blood sugar itself, whether diabetes is diagnosed or not, is considered a risk factor for heart disease. [Ed: My emphasis] Elevated blood sugar is referred to as hyperglycemia.

Fife continues by explaining that AGEs have been identified as the primary mechanism that initiates the steps the lead to the development of atherosclerosis.

AGEs are highly damaging to the integrity and function of the blood vessel walls. They easily attach themselves to artery walls, generating free radicals and chronic inflammation. As tissues break down, proinflammatory cytokines, growth factors, and adhesion molecules are generated. Blood proteins, immune cells, LDL cholesterol, and fats infiltrate the damaged artery tissue where they are trapped. Cholesterol and fats are oxidized, and more inflammation is generated.

And now the process of occluded (partially, plugged, blocked, or restricted) artery vessels in your heart is in full swing.

My Comments: I have a father and brother that both had a coronary bypass surgery due to mostly blocked coronary arteries. A few years later they both died from heart illness. My paternal grandfather never made it to the surgeon’s table. He died from a massive stroke at 69.

The wife of my deceased brother Alan warned me about how heart disease was running in the males in our family. She urged me to see a specialist and have all sorts of tests done Her perspective was that she had seen three generations of men die from artery related disease. I responded with the following explanation:

I pointed out to her that the common factor was that all three were once very overweight and consumed way, way too many sugar-laden foods. I also reminded her that the potato chips Alan ate contained unhealthy fats which likely were a contributory factor towards his heart illness.

The real irony is that the wives were unwitting enablers to their husbands’ illnesses. My paternal grandmother lived in Yuba City, CA, the peach tree capital of at least California. She baked plenty of peach pies. After all, who could turn down her tasty culinary efforts? Sadly, Grandpa was at least 40 pounds overweight. He was warned about his high blood pressure, but it was too late.

My mother, although a dietician by training, also did plenty of baking. There were the cookies, pies and cakes for special occasions and rich Christmas candies of various sorts. I would be woefully guilty of omitting important details if I failed to mention the fact that the household of my upbringing laid the seedbed for my sugar addiction. My sister-in-law wasn’t a baker, but she purchased plenty of unhealthy processed and sugary foods.

Isn’t it ironic that the wives who care about and love their husbands bake their husbands on their way to diabetes, heart disease, strokes, and a premature death? What are two most common ingredients of most baked goods? Yep, you guessed it, sugar and white, relined flour. And then you throw in unhealthy fats made from seed oils (aka vegetable oils) such as soybean and canola oil. To add insult to injury, you use the hydrogenated forms of these oils which are margarine and shortening.

I have been in households where the wives’ love of baking has contributed to their husbands being overweight, spiked their blood sugar, and been a factor in their diagnosis of adult onset diabetes.


Advanced Glycation End-Products (AGEs) have the following characteristics:

  • They serve no useful purpose whereas cholesterol is needed for cellular function.
  • They are toxic by-products of non-enzymatic reactions between sugar and body tissues and are highly destructive.
  • They tend to increase with age.
  • In addition to diabetes and heart disease, elevated levels of AGEs are often associated with kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other maladies.

Dr. Fife explains that various studies show the connection between diets with high levels of refined carbohydrates and the acceleration of the aging process. The research also found that indicators of inflammation, oxidative stress, and insulin resistance increased with age regardless of the subject’s [actual] age.

It’s not how old you are but how much accumulated damage you have sustained that really determines you level of health. Dr Fife concludes this section by saying that the formation of AGEs is an ongoing process but that we can minimize the problem my reducing our sugar and refined carbohydrate consumption.

My comments: I think to speak in terms of “reducing our sugar and refined carbohydrate consumption” is like telling a smoker to reduce the number of cigarettes he/she smokes. While reducing the number of cigarettes is an improvement, kicking the habit far more beneficial.

How much are you going to reduce your consumption of sugar and other refined carbs? If you drink two cans of pop per day, do you reduce it to one? Do you cut in half the number of times you have pie and ice cream? If you normally have four cookies, do you only have two?

My take is that if you know you are addicted to sweets and refined carbs, the very best thing to do is to kick the addiction. Which is better for an alcoholic, cut a two or three per day beer habit to one six pack per week or to eliminate the consumption of all alcoholic beverages?

Maybe you the reader might be different, but I know what can happen to me. If I have just one cookie, then I want a second and so on. For me, it’s better and easier to abstain.

Another big bonus of avoiding refined carbohydrates is that it’s much easier to either lose weight or to maintain your desired weight. Needless to say, absolutely avoid putting toxic chemicals such as artificial sweeteners into your body. That’s a discussion for another time, but I’d hope for now that everyone would understand the nature never intended for you to ingest laboratory concocted chemicals into your body.

To be continued…

Fat Heals—Sugar Kills: Chapter 4 – Part 1, Sugar Isn’t Always Sweet

by Dr. Bruce Fife

Review of Chapter 3

Dr. Fife outlined the sordid history of Ancel Keys’ fraudulent research which attempted to pin the blame for the increasing rates of heart illness on dietary fat, particularly saturated fat. A British researcher, Dr. John Yudkin, pointed the blame for heart disease on the dramatically increased amount of sugar in Western diets. Ancel Keys along with his sugar industry promoters vilified Yudkin to the point that Keys’ diet-heart-hypothesis, also known as the lipid or cholesterol hypothesis, linking dietary saturated fat to heart disease, gained traction and was generally accepted as true for over a half of a century.

Chapter 4, Part 1

Carbohydrate is Sugar

The primary purpose of carbohydrates is to produce energy. Fats and protein serve as building blocks in our bodies, although they can be used to provide energy. Carbs are mainly derived from plant foods, diary being the exception.

The carbs we’ll look at are glucose, fructose, and galactose (aka lactose). Fiber is also a carb, but humans do not have the enzymes to digest it.  Plants with the highest amount of carbs are legumes, grains, and tubers. The latter are carrots, potatoes, parsnips, etc. Refined carbs such as white flour have been stripped of most of their fiber, fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals. When digested, these refined carbs, also known as starch, are broken down into glucose.

Our blood sugar refers to the amount of glucose in our blood. For our bodies to operate efficiently, we need to have the proper level of blood sugar. From WebMD:

Normal blood sugar levels are less than 100 mg/dL after not eating (fasting) for at least eight hours. And they’re less than 140 mg/dL two hours after eating.

During the day, levels tend to be at their lowest just before meals. For most people without diabetes, blood sugar levels before meals hover around 70 to 80 mg/dL. For some people, 60 is normal; for others, 90 is the norm.

Blood sugar is not the problem; it is the over consumption of sugar that is the problem.

My Comment: What is over consumption? Some dietary experts hold the line at about 100 calories of sugar per day.  Considering that a 12-ounce can of sugar-sweetened soda pop runs around 140-150 calories, it’s really easy to exceed those limits. For sugar addicts, those limits are hopelessly too low and are usually ignored.

Continuing: Fife points out that just as alcohol can be addictive, sugar can likewise be addictive. The problem with refined carbs is that the milling process, which has stripped everything away but the starch, concentrates the starch. This in turn, allows the starch to be digested much more quickly, and that results in a too rapid of an increase in blood sugar levels.

Me Comments: So you try to be a smart shopper and purchase bread labeled as “Whole Wheat.” Unfortunately, just as there are so many other “Fake” things in life, there is also fake whole wheat bread. Let’s look at some ingredients lists from several so-called “whole grain” breads. As you will see, many of these so-called whole grain breads list unbleached, enriched flour as their first ingredient.


Wow, that list has problem sirens are going off all over the place.

1) This is primarily white bread, but they throw in some whole wheat flour to make their claim to fame…whole grain. Notice the label: “Baked with Whole Wheat

2) There are two sugar listings: sugar and high fructose corn syrup.

3) They also use two of the unhealthiest oils on the planet, soybean oil and partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil.

4) This is a classic SORF product made from three cheap ingredients.

  • Sugar
  • Oils (Highly processed oils derived from seeds
  • Refined Flour

The food industry manufactures hundreds and hundreds of “foods” made from these three, cheap ingredients.


That’s quite a contract to the above fake, whole wheat bread. Here is a worthwhile quote from the article:

According to Food For Life, the glycemic index of Ezekiel bread is only 36. That’s half the reading for normal white bread, which is 70. Not even 100% whole grain [bread] can compare, as its GI is 62

Not only is the lower glycemic number better for diabetics, it’s better for everyone.

Sugar Overload

Continuing: Fife points out that the food industry puts an immense effort in putting just the right amount of sugar into their products to make them either sweet or savory.

The reason sugar is so pervasive in processed foods is due to the work or Howard Moskowitz, PhD, an American marketing researcher and psycho-physicist.* In the 1970s he was assigned the task of maximizing the appeal or Dr. Pepper. He tested 61 levels of sweetness to find the optimum level of sweetness to guarantee the new soda would fly off the shelf. This level is called the bliss point. It is at this point at which the sweetness is the most desirable, sweet enough but not too sweet.

The bliss point was first used in the formulation of soda, but is now used in all types of products—pasta sauce, cereals, tomato soup, bread, and so on. An unfortunate consequence of putting sugar in everything is that people to expect everything to have a slightly sweet taste. A generation of children has grown up eating foods sweetened to the bliss point. By comparison, foods such as vegetables, have become unappealing. *The branch of psychology that deals with the relationship between physical stimuli and sensory response.

Sugar in foods, sweets, and snack foods has created a nation of sugar addicts. Sugar is so addictive that some people admit they can’t live without it. Ed: My emphasis.

My comments: Volumes and volumes could be written concerning the above paragraphs. Dr. Fife said it in a minimum of words:  …a nation of sugar addicts. A result of this addiction is that we now have a national pandemic of adult-onset, type 2 diabetes. Sadly, this isn’t just occurring in adults, either.

Primitive peoples who don’t have the luxury of our modern, processed foods have an absence of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. There surely must be a cause-and-effect relationship!

Continuing: Dr. Fife reminds us that the sugar culture is a modern phenomenon. Prior to the 1960s, sugar was used in desserts and sweets. Nowadays, it’s a staple. Sugar consumption worldwide has tripled in the last 50 years, and most of this is in the form of hidden sugar.

Sugar is found in hundreds of processed foods such as bread and most baked goods, breakfast cereals, catsup and barbecue sauce, peanut butter, spaghetti sauce, canned goods, and frozen foods.

My comment: Years ago, a cook at a school cafeteria told me that when she started adding corn syrup to the peanut butter, the kids liked it better than unsweetened peanut butter. She was contributing to training the kids to like things sweet.

Continuing: Fife lists various sources of sugar founds in processed foods: agave, barley malt, brown rice syrup, brown sugar, coconut sugar, corn syrup, date sugar, dextrin, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, levulose, maltodextrin, maltose, maple syrup, molasses, nonfat dry milk, palm sugar, saccharose, skimmed milk powder, sorghum, sucrose, treacle, and turbinado.

The ingredients list on food packaging lists the ingredients most predominant by weight. Some labels can list multiple sugars as you go through the list of ingredients.

My comments: Have you noticed that the ingredient lists on food packaging are usually spelled out in upper case letters? Additionally, they are often scrunched together in a condensed font. Worse, in many instances the contrast between the font color and the background is indistinct. An example is black letters on a red background. Elsewhere on the packaging, such as the nutrition information, things are much more readable. I think the most logical answer is to make it more difficult for the consumer to read the lists. Apparently, the manufacturers do not have the same requirements for the ingredient listings as they do elsewhere on the labeling. Please click here for a more complete explanation of food labeling requirements.

Continuing: Fife says the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture recommends limiting your daily sugar intake to no more than 8 teaspoons for the average adult. That’s about 128 calories. One 12 ounce can of sugar soda pop will put a person over the limit.

He reminds the reader that “natural sugars” such as fruit juice concentrate and agave nectar are no better than refined sucrose. Dr. Fife next segues into a discussion of the various types of sugars.


Sucrose is better known as white, table sugar. It is highly processed. Dr. Fife states that the only advantage of so-called “natural sugars” is that they might retain some nutritional value, but it isn’t much. He makes the point that so-called natural sugars such as Agave nectar or syrup are still sugar.


Blood Sugar and Insulin Resistance

Digestible carbs are broken down and converted into glucose. The glucose is picked up by our bodies’ cells and transformed into energy. But first, the hormone insulin unlocks the doors to the cells and allows the glucose in. If the insulin was not present, glucose could not pass into our cells.

If cells don’t get enough glucose on a steady basis, they degenerate and die. On the other hand, too much glucose is toxic and can lead to mental confusion, coma, and death. Aren’t we fortunate that our bodies have a feed back mechanism to maintain our blood sugar (glucose) within a narrow range?

The way our bodies self-regulate is quite remarkable. The pancreas secretes insulin as blood sugar rises. As insulin shuttles glucose into the cells, blood sugar levels drop. Another signal tells the pancreas to stop producing insulin.

If blood sugar levels fall too low, then another signal triggers the pancreas to release another hormone, glucagon. Glucagon helps to release stored glucose from the liver. Our bodies have the ability to maintain blood sugar levels in a fairly tight range.

Refined carbohydrates whether they be some form of sugar or refined starches such as white flour, will quickly elevate blood sugar levels. The bran, fat, and protein in whole grains slows down the digestive process, which mitigates this problem.

If you eat high carb meals, snack on high carb foods such as donuts or cookies, and/or use a sweetener in your coffee, you will keep your insulin levels elevated throughout the day. That’s bad.

Dr. Fife reminds us that we can become desensitized to a variety of stimuli. For example, if we are in a room with an odor, after a while we don’t notice the odor anymore.

Chronic exposure to high insulin levels desensitizes the cells, and they become unresponsive or resistant to the action of insulin. This is referred to as insulin resistance. In order to move insulin into the cells, a higher-than-normal concentration of insulin is needed, which puts more strain on the pancreas to produce more of the hormone. Insulin resistance is the hallmark feature and first step toward developing diabetes.

End of Part 1. Please continue with Part 2 in this issue.

Gary Taubes ‘The Case Against Sugar’ Part 1

a Gary Taubes YouTube video transcribed by Liz Reedy

Note: We originally ran this transcription in our February 2017 edition of Northwest Senior News. Being that we’re reviewing Dr. Fife’s book, Fat Heals Sugar Kills, it seems appropriate to review information from other sources the deals with the issues caused by the over consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates

This is Part 1 of the transcription of the 1 hour 22 minute YouTube video, “The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes. He is a well-known science and nutrition writer.

The book that put Taubes on the map was his 2007 Good Calories, Bad Calories. His associatess came to him and said, “Gary, you need to write the concepts in Good Calories, Bad Calories in laymen’s language.” Heeding the call, Taubes wrote Why We Get Fat: And What to do About It in 2010.

Why take the time and trouble to convert the spoken word from a video into the printed text? Some people learn better if the information is in a visual format rather than in an auditory form. The reader can read at his/her own pace and go back to review any information. For those with visual impairments, we certainly encourage you to listen to the video.

Part 1: The transcriptions begins:

Let me tell you a little bit about myself. Since my latest book is called The Case Against Sugar, the first thing you have to know is that I’m not a doctor, I’m not a nutritionist, I don’t have a PhD. I am a journalist. I started my career as an investigative science journalist. I wrote my first two books about physicists and nuclear physicists who discovered nonexistent phenomenon and lived to regret it.

As such, I was obsessed with how hard it is to do science right and how hard it is to get the right answer. One line I quote in three of my books is from the Nobel physicist, Richard Feynman, who said, “The first principle of science is you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

In the early 90’s after my first two books, I had a lot of fans in the physics communities. They said to me, “If you’re interested in bad science or people who do it wrong, you should look at some of the stuff in public health, because it’s terrible.”

So I moved into public health reporting in the early 90’s and I found that my physicist friends had, if anything, underestimated the problem. By the late 90’s I was moving into nutrition, almost purely by chance. I stumbled into the nutrition field.

I did two investigations: one for the Journal of Science on salt and high blood pressure. You know, this idea that salt causes our blood pressure to go up and hypertension. I spent nine months on a single magazine article. I interviewed over eighty subjects and I concluded that the evidence behind this idea that salt causes high blood pressure is terrible. You would only really believe it if your preconception was so strong that you were convinced it was true before any of the studies were done.

While I was doing that story, one of the worst scientists I’d ever had the pleasure to interview took credit for not just getting Americans to eat less salt but also to eat less fat. One of my lessons from my early research was that bad scientists never get the right answer.

When I got off the phone with this guy I called my editor at Science and I said, “When I’m done doing this salt story I’m going to do a fat story. I’ve no idea what the story is.” I was eating a low-fat diet like everyone else in America. But I knew if this guy was involved in any substantive way, there’s a great story there.

I spent a year working on a single magazine article for Science [magazine], a single investigative piece called The Soft Science of Fat. I interviewed about a hundred and forty subjects for one magazine article. I concluded that the evidence behind the low-fat dogma was as bad as it was for the low-salt dogma and that nutritionists didn’t have a clue what they were doing.

This was followed about a year later with an infamous cover story for the New York Times magazine called What if Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat [This title is slightly modified compared to the actual article], in which I started looking at the science of obesity and what makes us accumulate excess fat.

That piece is probably the most controversial magazine article the New York Times ever ran. The cover was a porterhouse steak with a piece of butter on it. The implication was that Robert Atkins’ Diet Revolution was right all along, which was completely unacceptable to the medical community, but was what the evidence seemed to support.

Cover stories like that tend to get the authors large advances. This one did and it paid for four years of my life so I could write the book I always wanted to do about nutrition science. The book of course took five years.

It’s an interesting thing in writing. You do research till you run out of money and then you start borrowing and start writing so you can hand in the manuscripts so they can give you some money; by the time you hand in the manuscript, the money you get pays back the money you borrowed and now you’re broke again. Anyway, I digress. The book that came out of this was Good Calories, Bad Calories.

When I went into this field I thought was going to let the food police have it for giving us all this bad advice about what makes us sick and who make us eat these horribly boring, low-fat, low-salt diets. In the midst of doing more research on the subject than any other human being had done until that time, I realized that there was a very compelling alternative hypothesis.

The problem isn’t the fat in the diet; it’s the carbohydrates, that is, the grains, the starches, and the sugars. And suddenly, in my new books I am even more of the food police than the other food police, and now I can’t go out to eat with anyone in my life. We’re at a restaurant…..they’ll want to order French fries and they’re looking at me like, “Do you mind?”

So, I wrote this book, Good Calories, Bad Calories. It’s five hundred pages and has a hundred and sixty pages of end notes and bibliography. It’s a dense read. After I wrote it, I got emails and letters from people saying, “This book changed my life. Could you please write one that’s readable?” Could you write one that my father could read, my son could read. I got emails from doctors saying, “Could you write one that my patients could read.” And I got emails from patients saying, “Could you write one that my doctor could read.”

The result was in 2011 when I published a book called Why Do We Get Fat? and what to do about it. If I had my say it would have just been Why Do We Get Fat because I don’t like to give diet advice, but my editors insisted that if they were going to publish this book I had to give some advice.

I knew this book had succeeded when I got an email from a family friend saying, “I was on a flight to the Caribbean and I read your book. I haven’t had a carbohydrate in three months, I’ve lost thirty pounds, my blood pressure has dropped and I’ve never felt so healthy.”

The problem is I’m blaming obesity and heart disease and the chronic diseases that associate with it on sugar and refined grains. People would say to me, “Well, what about southeast Asia? There’s a continent of billions of people who consume a lot of refined grains and don’t have high levels of obesity and diabetes.”

The obvious answer to that is this is a population that doesn’t eat a lot of sugar, even though sugar refining was pioneered in China two thousand years ago. Because of the communist era, they never modernized their sugar refining processes. By the middle or late twentieth century they were consuming the amount of sugar we were consuming two hundred years earlier.

In Japan, which is always raised as an example, even back in the 1920’s when there were public health authorities arguing that sugar caused diabetes, the counter-argument from Elliot Joslin, who was the leading diabetes clinician in America, was “Well the Japanese eat a high carb diet, and they have very little of diabetes.” Joslin didn’t realize that sugar and other carbohydrates were different.

As I learned in my research, in the 1960s the Japanese consumed about as much sugar as we did in the 1860s. They had diabetes rates similar to what ours were in the 1860s.

Along the way in this research I’ve written some more articles for the Journal of Science about the mechanism of the condition called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is when the cells of your body become resistant to the hormone insulin. It’s the fundamental defect in type 2 diabetes, which is the common form that associates with obesity.

Insulin resistance is believed by the researchers who study it to actually begin in the liver, in part with fat accumulation. It associates with what is now called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease which is also epidemic in America just like diabetes is.

As it turns out, the sugar molecule or high-fructose corn syrup is half a molecule of glucose and half a molecule of fructose. It’s fructose that makes it sweet. Fructose is fruit sugar; it is what makes fruit sweet, but in fruit you get it in very low doses. When we refine sugar cane or sugar beets or corn into high-fructose corn syrup we basically take out everything but the glucose and the fructose. Then we put it into sugary beverages and so on, making it very easy to consume.

The idea is that this fructose gets dumped on your liver and a lot of it gets converted to fat. If it gets converted to fat, it’s going to cause insulin resistance. You basically have this scenario that I described in the book, where there’s a mechanism with sugar that you’d expect it to cause insulin resistance. If it causes insulin resistance, then you would expect it to cause diabetes and obesity. And if it increases those, then you would expect it to increase the risk of these chronic diseases that are associated with obesity and diabetes.

There’s this whole cluster of chronic diseases that are often referred to as diseases of western life styles. These include heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, Alzheimer’s, gout, arthritis and half a dozen others. Even cavities. Cavities are crucial. Dental care is crucial. Back in the 1960s people were saying since all these diseases cluster together and the first signs were cavities.

If you took a native population eating its traditional diet and you give them a western diet, on the way to becoming obese and diabetic, the first thing you’ll see is cavities occurring in the children. Doesn’t it make sense that whatever it is that causes the cavities also causes the obesity and diabetes. It’s a simple hypothesis, what is causing the cavities is sugar and white flour.

What I wanted to do with this book was to lay out this train of possible cause and effect. We have this conventional thinking in the field that the worst that can be said about sugar is its empty calories. It’s absent of vitamins and minerals and it just adds calories to the diet.

When you consume sugary beverages maybe you consume it over and above from what you would need from the rest of the diet and that’s what makes you fat. And to me that’s an excruciatingly naïve way to look at some extraordinarily complex physiological phenomenon. I wanted to lay this out in the book, and that’s what I’m doing.

There’s one underlying theme in all my books. It’s one of the things I realized in doing my research that I had no idea about. My books, including my first two on physics and nuclear physics, were about good science and bad science.

One of the things I learned in writing my first book on nutrition is that prior to World War II, the very best scientific research in the world was done in Europe. Science was in effect a European invention and all the fields of medical science that relate to obesity and diabetes were pioneered in Europe, in Germany and Austria. [Taubes names the various fields.] Genetics, metabolism, nutrition, endocrinology, the science of hormones and hormone related diseases… Stop at 12:51.