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.

Sugar Blues: Chapter 1

by William Dufty

Introduction

Seven years ago, we published our review and digest of Chapter 1 of William Dufty’s legendary book, Sugar Blues in our annual paper newsletter that we mail out in January. Being that we’re dissecting another book dealing with the subject of sugar addiction, Fat Heals-Sugar Kills, The Cause and Cure for Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, Obesity, and Other Metabolic Diseases, it seems appropriate that we re-publish Dufty’s story.

Additionally, many new clients have come onboard with us in the past seven years. Also, many people have added email addresses during this period.

Lastly, in light of other books that we have done reviews and digests, we’ll make some additional comments that we hope will shed light on the issue of sugar addiction and how it can destroy one’s health. For those of you that are struggling with sugar addiction, we hope that you will do as Dufty did, have an epiphany and kick the habit.

Sugar Blues: Multiple physical and mental miseries caused by human consumption of refined sucrose—commonly called sugar.

Chapter 1: It Is Necessary to be Personal. 

Dufty grew up in a small Mid-western town during Prohibition.  When Dufty was eight, a visitor introduced to him the idea of floating a scoop of ice cream in a glass of Canada Dry ginger ale.  That was the spark that started his sugar addiction.  His access to grape soda pop kicked his addiction into high gear.  He writes, “When my summer grape pop habit got out of control, I had to lie, cheat, and steal to support it.”

He discovered malted milks in high school.  Rather than smoking, he got a better high off of a banana split.  He writes that the tobacco companies hired pretty girls to hook others on cigarettes.  Dufty smoked a few of the free ones, but he preferred a sweet treat.  He recounts summer hitch-hiking and living off Pepsi-Cola sold in a nickel bottle.

Dufty was drafted in 1942 and described his dislike of Army chow.  He writes, “I haunted the Post Exchange.  It was a two-year orgy of malted milks, sugared coffee, pastry, candy, chocolate, and Coca-Cola.”  He recounts that he was scared to death when he developed bleeding hemorrhoids.  Then he was hospitalized with pneumonia.

He finally became well enough and was shipped off to Algeria.  He remembered living off the land with a diet of “horsemeat, rabbit, squirrel, dark French peasant bread and whatever could be scrounged.”  He recalled never being sick or having a sniffle during those eighteen months.

He returned stateside after the war and reminisces…

Was I bright enough to understand the controlled experiment in nutrition I’d been unwittingly involved in?  I might have saved myself years of total waste, but I was a total idiot, without half the brain or instinct for survival…  On my return to the States, I went on a glorious bender; Pie à la mode, cake and whipped cream, malted milks by the dozen, chocolate and Pepsi.  Sugar…sugar…sugar.

He was flat on his back and had one malady after another.  His hemorrhoids returned, and he experienced infectious mononucleosis, atypical malaria, hepatitis, shingles, exotic skin conditions, ear infections, and eye diseases.  He says that he ran out of money and “discovered the wonders of socialized medicine at the VA… “

Dufty continues:

For over fifteen years I subjected myself to an endless whirligig of doctors, hospitals, diagnosis, treatment, tests, and more tests, drugs and more drugs.  During all that rigamarole, I cannot recall a single doctor (out of the dozens that treated me) who ever displayed the slightest curiosity about what I ate or drank.

One night in one sitting I read a little book that said if you’re sick, it’s your own damn fault.  Pain is the final warning.  You know better than anyone else how you’ve abusing your body, so stop it.  Sugar is poison, it said, more lethal than opium and more dangerous than atomic fallout. Ed: My emphasis.

He recalled a warning that a woman gave to him about sugar cubes as a child. “Everyone has to find out for themselves—the hard way.”

His epiphany hit him like a lightning bolt.  Dufty continues his account:

I threw all the sugar out of my kitchen. Then I threw out everything that had sugar in it, cereals and canned fruit, soups and bread.  Since I had never really read any labels carefully, I was shocked to find the shelves were soon empty; so was the refrigerator.  I began eating nothing but whole grains and vegetables.

The worst was yet to come.

In about forty-eight hours I was in total agony, overcome with nausea, with a crashing migraine.

Dufty compares refined sugar to heroin, a refined chemical that is highly addictive.

I was kicking all kinds of chemicals cold turkey—sugar, aspirin, cocaine, caffeine, chlorine, fluorine, sodium, monosodium glutamate etc.

Things started to improve.

The next few days brought a succession of wonders.  My rear stopped bleeding, and so did my gums.  My skin began to clear up and had a totally different texture when I washed.  I discovered bones in my hands and feet that had been buried under bloat.  I bounced out of bed at strange hours in the early morning, raring to go.  …My shirts and shoes were too big…I discovered my jaw while shaving…I dropped from 205 pounds to a neat 135 in five months and ended up with a new body, a new head, a new life.”  He continues.  “I burned my Blue Cross card.”  He wrote the woman that warned him about the sugar cubes, “Wow, were you ever right.  I didn’t get your message then, but I’ve got it now.

Since then [the 1960’s] I have been sugar free.  I haven’t seen a doctor, a pill, or a shot in all that time.  I haven’t even touched so much as an aspirin.

My Comments: Dufty is ever so right; sugar is a highly addictive substance. Sometime in the future, I (Lance) will write an article about my own history of sugar addiction. However, for now I’ll share with you a very recent experience.

As I went over to the photocopier shop to pickup my copies of our 2021 paper newsletters, I noticed a plate of mostly eaten Christmas cookies sitting on a counter. The one that was left was one of those white flour jobs, sweetened with sugar, of held together with butter. I couldn’t avoid taking in a whiff of the aroma coming off that cookie. It reminded me of the pleasures of eating such sweet treasures, the wonderful taste in my mouth, and the smooth feeling when going down my throat.

I think the sensation was remarkably similar to the former smoker that feels a craving and taste for a cigarette when he/she is around someone smoking. The same could said for the reformed alcoholic that gets a whiff of booze and relives the wonderful feeling of the drink trickling down his throat.

Sugar is addictive! End

Fat Heals—Sugar Kills: Chapter 4 – Part 2, Sugar Isn’t Always Sweet

by Dr. Bruce Fife

Chapter 4, Part 2

Glucose—Blood Sugar and Insulin Resistance: continued

Where we left off is Dr. Fife explaining to us that insulin resistance is the hallmark feature and first step towards developing diabetes. We’ll concern ourselves here only with type 2 diabetes and not juvenile diabetes.

In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas may be able to produce enough insulin, but the cells of the body have become unresponsive to the hormone insulin. This is called insulin resistance. Over 90% of diabetics are of this type.

In the initial course of this disease, the pancreas usually can produce enough insulin to overcome the insulin resistance of the cells. However, the demand placed on the pancreas takes its toll, and insulin production eventually begins to decline. Eventually the pancreas can burn itself out and stop producing the insulin needed.

When this happens, type 2 diabetics will require supplemental insulin.

More than half of all those with type 2 diabetes eventually require insulin to control their blood sugar levels as they get older.

My Comments: I hope Dr. Fife’s words will serve as a dire warning to those who consume lots of refined carbs but have yet to be diagnosed as having pre-diabetes. I would hope that it also serves as a wake-up call to those that have been diagnosed as pre-diabetic and have been prescribed metformin. I also hope that the readers that are diabetic and taking metformin and/or other diabetic pills will hear the alarm bells going on as to the path they are headed on if they insist on continuing to abuse their bodies by consuming too many refined carbohydrates.

Dr. Fife warns that half of those will end up requiring insulin if the disease continues to progress. The progression continues with assorted diabetic complications:

  • Skin complications
  • Eye complications: Retinopathy, glaucoma, cataracts
  • Neuropathy: Nerve damage from diabetes is called diabetic neuropathy
  • Foot complications
  • DKA (ketoacidosis) & ketones
  • Kidney disease (nephropathy)
  • High blood pressure—also called hypertension—raises your risk for heart attack, stroke, eye problems and kidney disease.
  • Stroke

Folks, this is serious stuff. The obvious answer is to quit consuming or severely reduce “foods” made from refined carbohydrates. The problem, of course, just as with other addictive substances, refined carbs and particularly sugar in its various forms, are highly addictive.

William Dufty in Chapter 1 of his book, Sugar Blues, had this to say when he quit sugar cold turkey:

In about forty-eight hours I was in total agony, overcome with nausea, with a crashing migraine.

Continuing: Dr. Fife explains that diabetes is diagnosed when fasting blood sugar is 126mg/dL or higher. As insulin resistance increases, so do blood sugar levels. Fife also warns that you are not in the clear if you are at 125mg/dL. He explains that insulin resistance begins when fasting levels rise over 90 mg/dL.

Fife points out the correlations between increased sugar consumption and the increase of diabetes. He also states the reverse:

Eating a low-sugar or low-carb diet significantly reduces the risk [of developing diabetes].

He says that the scientific evidence linking excess sugar consumption with an increased risk of diabetes is strong.

My Comments: The problem here is what is “low” and what is “excess?” In Part 1 of Chapter 4, I quoted some dietary experts’ recommendations of consuming no more than 100 calories of sugar per day. If you are a regular consumer of processed foods, you’ll likely exceed this many times over. Keep in mind that 100 calories worth of sugar is 25 grams or slightly under an ounce or about six teaspoons.

Continuing:

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly certain foods raise blood sugar levels. The GI is on a scale of 0 to 100. Glucose is given a GI of 100, and all other foods are rated in comparison.

A banana has a rating of 51, but a slice of white bread, by comparison, has a GI rating of 75. While the banana tastes sweeter, its fiber slows down the absorption process. The white bread is pure starch and quickly dumps a high load of glucose into the bloodstream once it’s digested.

Chronic Inflammation

Dr. Fife explains that high glycemic foods tend to increase inflammation.

When blood sugar levels rise, the sugar in your bloodstream tends to latch onto certain proteins in the blood vessel wall, causing injury and inflammation. When you eat high glycemic index foods repeatedly, your blood glucose levels are continually elevated, leading to chronic injury and inflammation.

It is inflammation that causes cholesterol to become trapped in the artery wall. Without inflammation being present in the body, there is no way that cholesterol would accumulate in the wall of the blood vessel. Without inflammation, cholesterol would move freely throughout the body as nature intended.

This chronic inflammation of the arteries is one of the distinguishing features of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. In fact, chronic inflammation is associated with diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and just about every other chronic degenerative disease. Ed: My emphasis

My Comments: When certain events happen, the cause-and-effect relationship can be immediate and painful. Accidentally placing your hand on a hot burner will give you immediate and painful feedback to the degree that you minimize your injury and avoid such behavior in the future. The effects of a bee or wasp sting is immediate and painful, and deadly for some. Those that have suffered painful stings take precautions to avoid getting stung again.

If I eat a candy bar, woof down half a bag of Oreos, or splurge on three bowls of my favorite chocolate chip ice cream, do I have a heart attack, have kidney failure, or go into a diabetic coma? Not yet and maybe not for decades. Nothing happens in the immediacy to the toxic load that I have subjected my body to. However, if I persist in this behavior, the effects will accumulate and eventually catch up with me.

The dilemma here for any addiction is that the pleasure derived by tickling the dopamine part of our brain outweighs any concerns of potential long term side effects. And just think, the psycho-physicists that Dr. Fife referenced earlier in this chapter understand this physiological response to pleasure and addiction better than we do. It is their job to ensure that we will really like the manufactured food or beverage they create to the point where we become lifetime consumers. That is their bliss point.

Continuing: Dr Fife states that inflammation can be determined by measuring a marker in the blood called C-reactive protein (CRP); the higher the CRP the more inflammation is present.

He succinctly explains the problem:

In the absence of infection, a primary cause of inflammation is eating excessive amounts of sugar. Sugar causes inflammation and exponentially* increases your chances of developing chronic diseases. Ed: My emphasis

My Comments: What if you made a nicely printed sign that you prominently posted in your kitchen that reads as follows.

EATING TOO MUCH SUGAR IS THE MAIN CAUSE OF INFLAMMATION IN MY BODY AND DRAMATICALLY INCREASES MY CHANCE OF DEVELOPING A MYRIAD OF CHRONIC ILLNESSES.

We can assume that the processed food industry will not be handing such signs out.

*Why does Dr. Fife use the word “exponentially” in his text?  Exponentially means more rapidly and that the speed of the rapidness keeps increasing.

Let’s say Person A consumes no sugar and no refined carbs and has a virtually zero percent chance of developing diabetes.

Person B consumes 500 calories per day of sugar/refined carbs and has 10 times more likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes compared to Person A.

Person C consumes 1,000 calories per day of refined carbs and has 10 times more chance of developing type 2 diabetes compared to Person B or 100 times more chance compared to Person A.

The above figures are hypothetical only, but Dr. Fife’s point by using the word exponentially is that the chances of contracting a chronic illness becomes increasingly higher with the increased consumption of sugar.

Continuing: Dr Fife further discusses chronic inflammation and arterial disease. He makes this key point:

The relationship between chronic arterial inflammation and heart disease is a much better indicator of heart disease risk then blood cholesterol levels.

My Comments: Assuming that Dr. Fife’s above comment is medically correct, then why are so many doctors pre-occupied with blood cholesterol levels? Over the years I have heard many, many people tell me that their doctor said that they have to get their cholesterol levels lower. The remedy is usually to prescribe a statin drug. With one possible exception, I have never heard anyone report to me that their doctor was just as hell-bent to get their blood sugar levels lowered by restricting their consumption of sugar and other refined carbs.

Continuing: Dr. Fife further explains the correlation of C-reactive protein and inflammation to heart disease.

Dr. Paul Ridker of Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston evaluated blood samples from more than 28,000 healthy nurses. Those with the highest levels of C-reactive protein had more than four times the risk of having heart trouble. “We were able to find that the C-reactive protein is a stronger predictor of risk than were the regular cholesterol levels, and that’s very important because almost half of all heart attacks occur among people who have normal cholesterol levels,” he said.

Dr. Fife suggests that inflammation may explain why people have heart disease without other known risk factors. These are people with normal cholesterol, who are not diabetic, and appear to be in good physical condition. They make up about a third of all heart attack cases.

My comments: To learn more about C-reactive protein (CRP) here is what the Mayo Clinic has to say:

The level of C-reactive protein (CRP), which can be measured in your blood, increases when there’s inflammation in your body. Your doctor might check your C-reactive protein level for infections or for other medical conditions.

Healthline has this to say:

High CRP levels can also indicate that there’s inflammation in the arteries of the heart, which can mean a higher risk of heart attack. However, the CRP test is an extremely nonspecific test, and CRP levels can be elevated in any inflammatory condition.

I looked at other websites, and the information they offered about the link to diet, nutrition, and particularly sugar was scant. One suggested that a Mediterranean diet was beneficial. Another suggested that an unhealthy diet was one contributory factor towards CRP.

Dr. Fife cuts to the chase and lays the blame on high-glycemic foods. And what are high-glycemic foods? Yep, it’s refined carbohydrates which includes white flour and sugar in its various forms. End

 

Something New for Those Using Insulin: Part D Senior Savings Model

Starting in 2021 there is a new program for Medicare beneficiaries that use insulin. I have pulled this information from CMS.gov.

CMS’s Part D Senior Savings Model is designed to address President Trump’s promise to lower prescription drug costs and provide Medicare patients with new choices of Part D plans that offer insulin at an affordable and predictable cost where a month’s supply of a broad set of plan-formulary insulins costs no more than $35 each.

The idea here is that the user of insulin would pay no more than $35 per month for each insulin that he/she uses. Costs such as the deductible and the coverage gap (doughnut hole) will not apply

CMS is testing a change to the Medicare Coverage Gap Discount Program (the “discount program”) to allow Part D sponsors, through eligible enhanced alternative plans, to offer a Part D benefit design that includes predictable copays in the deductible, initial coverage, and coverage gap phases by offering supplemental benefits that apply after manufacturers provide a discounted price for a broad range of insulins included in the Model.

The Model aims to reduce Medicare expenditures while preserving or enhancing quality of care for beneficiaries, and to provide beneficiaries with additional Part D plan choices, both for beneficiaries who receive Part D coverage through standalone Prescription Drug plans (PDPs) and those who receive Part D coverage through Medicare Advantage, Prescription Drug plans (MA-PDs). These Model-participating plan benefit packages (PBPs) will provide stable, predictable copays for certain insulins that beneficiaries need throughout the different phases of the Part D benefit.

The article lists the participating pharmaceutical manufacturers.

  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Novo Nordisk, Inc. and Novo Nordisk Pharma, Inc.
  • Sanofi-Aventis U.S. LLC

Please click here to bring up a list of the insulin brands available for the Senior Savings model.

The CMS article also recommends the use of Medicare.gov for finding plans that are participating in the program.

To pull up a 50-state, complete list of participating prescription drug plans (PDPs) and Medicare advantage (MA) plans, please click here.

The upshot of all of this is that you should have us shop your prescriptions on Medicare.gov, especially if you are using insulin, pens or vials. To do this, please use PDPHelper.com to send us a list of your prescriptions, and we’ll take it from there. End

Important Part D Prescription Plan News

In early October you should have received your Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) from either your Part D prescription (PDP) plan provider or your Medicare advantage plan company. If you didn’t receive your ANOC, be sure to contact your plan and ask for one. They should also be available online.

Yes, we understand that you are overloaded with information, and who wants to read more boring info. A year ago, Humana announced in their ANOC that they were discontinuing their existing PDPs and coming out with new plans for 2020.

They also announced that the people on the 2019 Humana Walmart plan—if they did nothing—would be placed on the new ~$52 Humana Premier PDP for 2020. Fortunately, many of you contacted us and we were able to find a more cost-effective plan for you for 2020.

We also alerted people about this situation in two issues of our e-letter, Northwest Senior News. Unfortunately, some folks missed the notices and were stuck on the more expensive plan for 2020. If you currently have the Humana Premier plan, be sure to contact us this fall if you have not already done so.

History Repeats

We have a similar situation this fall. Mutual of Omaha (MoO) has offered two PDPs the past couple of years. We have signed up many of you for the MoO Value plan. Unfortunately, MoO is discontinuing that plan going into 2021. If you do nothing, you will automatically be placed on the Mutual of Omaha Plus PDP with a premium of around $70 per month.

If you have the Mutual of Omaha Value PDP, be sure to contact us. We also will also be contacting you as time permits during the fall Annual Election Period (AEP). Be sure to review your ANOC.

PDP Basics

It’s important to understand how most of the lower premium PDPs under $50 per month are structured.

Typically, tiers 1 and 2 (generics), are not subject to the $445 (in 2021) deductible. Tiers 3, 4, and 5 are subject to the annual $445 deductible. Usually, tiers 3, 4 and 5 are name brand drugs. However, there are many generics sprinkled throughout these three tiers.

A plan sponsor, at its discretion, can opt for a lower deductible. For example, a plan could set the deductible at $300 instead of the maximum $445.

More expensive plans in the $70 and up monthly premium range usually do not have a deductible. That’s one reason why their premiums are substantially higher. They also have more drugs on their formulary, particularly expensive brands. Because so many popular prescriptions have gone generic, very few people need these higher-octane plans.

To sum this up, most of us have a PDP where the deductible is waived for generic tiers 1 and 2. Knowing the above is very helpful in understanding what’s next.

The new kid on the block

There is a major company that has come out with a new, low priced PDP for 2021. The premium will range from about $6.10 to $7.50 per month depending on your state. That’s right, the premium is less than $10!

Okay, what the catch? There are two of them. First, you really want to use a preferred pharmacy from their list, as your copays will be substantially higher at a standard pharmacy. Note: Walmart is a standard pharmacy with this plan.

Second, only tier 1 generics are excluded from the $445 deductible. That means any tier 2 generics are subject to the deductible as well as tiers 3, 4, and 5. However, this plan seems to have a wide range of tier 1 generics, and they are available for a low or even no copays.

Who are good candidates for this plan?

1) Those who take no prescriptions. The name of the game is usually to have the lowest premium.

2) Those whose prescriptions are all tier 1 generics on this plan and are willing to use one of their preferred pharmacies.

Please use PDPhelper.com to submit to us a list of your current prescriptions, and we will shop it for you for the upcoming 2021 season. We’ll let you know your most cost-effective choice of the available plans.

The biggest mistake that some people make.

When discussing the upcoming new PDPs with some people, we hear, “But my plan [meaning the existing one] is this or does that…” Yes, we understand that this thought process is based on what you know and understand. The problem is that it’s like driving forward, with your eyes glued to the rearview mirror.

The reason that this is a problem is because the prescription drug plans change every year. Companies discontinue older plans and create new ones. Drugs can be added or deleted from the plan’s formulary. Pharmaceutical companies bring new drugs to the market, and they are usually expensive. Just one of them can throw you into the coverage gap.

Additionally, the status of any given pharmacy can change with the plan. We have noticed that this is especially true with the smaller, independent pharmacies.

Drive with your eyes looking forward!

The Coverage Gap

And speaking of the coverage gap, also known as the doughnut hole, your cost sharing while in the gap is 25% of the cost for generics and name brands. Some plans may have lower cost sharing for tier 1 and 2 generics while in the gap.

Once the retail cost of your prescriptions hits $4,130 in 2021, you will be in the gap. Once your TrooP (true out-of-pocket) hits $6,550, you go into the catastrophic stage with drastically lowered copays. Please keep in mind that you will not actually be paying out $6,550, because the manufacturer’s 50% discount counts toward your TrooP costs.

Conclusion

As stated above, we strongly encourage you to use our PDPHelper.com 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 2021 season. End.

Medicare Advantage and MSA Plan News

Medicare Advantage (HMO & PPO) Plans

In general, we have noticed that the premiums have remained about the same. Be sure to look over your Annual Notice of Change (ANOC). Most companies will give you a side by side comparison of 2020 and 2021 benefits. Some plans have increased a few dollars and others have had minimal decreases.

Various plans have increased their offerings of dental, so be sure to see what benefits your plan offers. Some plans offer an optional supplemental benefits package in the $25-30 monthly premium range. These packages usually include dental, vision, and hearing benefits.

One company had a $50 copay for joining Silver and Fit. They have dropped that for 2021. Some plans now include a meals benefit after a hospital discharge. Again, be sure to consult your ANOC for specifics.

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.

Medicare.gov 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. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8853.pdf

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.

FAQ’s

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 2021 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.

Conclusion

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. He 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

Arming the Elderly: A Self-Defense Guide for Senior Citizens

Introduction

For several years we have discussed important health issues in Northwest Senior News. Without question, maintaining optimum physical health in the later years, or the 4th quarter as I like to say, can lend to a more enjoyable retirement.

With the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent violence of the riots and protests, I think it’s relevant to look at another critically important issue, and that is our personal safety.

I sure many of you saw the ugly video of an unprovoked attack on a 92-year-old New York City woman by a man with a rap sheet a mile long. His strike knocked the woman down, and she hit her head on a fire hydrant as she fell. If you care to review this tragic incident, you can click here for a YouTube video of it. Caution: The scene is disturbing.

I came across an article authored by Molly Carter on ammo.com titled Arming the Elderly: A Self-Defense Guide for Senior Citizens. Please click on the link to view the complete write-up. I have summarized her key points.

Carter explains that 14 percent of seniors in the past year have experienced either physical, psychological, or sexual abuse; neglect; or financial exploitation. That’s alarming!

I know of two or our clients that were scammed by email or phony business venture schemes. They were financially exploited. Do NOT open any emails requesting personal information such as your phone number, date of birth, Social Security number, or any passwords. If in doubt, still do NOT open it. Have a knowledgeable person look it first! Don’t let them tease your curiosity!

The author lists twelve tips to avoid becoming an easy target.

  • Walk with purpose.
  • Keep your eyes up.
  • Know where the exits are.
  • Watch for suspicious people.
  • Avoid places that are known to be unsafe.
  • Don’t go places alone.
  • Run errands during the day.
  • Don’t linger in isolated places.
  • Don’t be distracted.
  • Stay in well-lit areas.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings.
  • Keep your keys in your hand, ready to go.

I think these tips could summed up as situational awareness. Know what’s going on around you and be observant.

Carter encourages you not to be overly trusting. For example, you don’t want to open your door for someone that needs to “borrow” your phone.

She provides several other safety tips. This one deserves special attention: Improve your chances of evading criminals by staying active and fit. Seniors who live active lifestyles are faster, stronger, and have quicker reaction times than their peers. I’ll add that those who conduct themselves in this manner will be much less of a target for the bad guys.

That’s another reason to stay in robust health, keeping your weight at normal levels, and to stay physically fit. Evading danger is much easier for those that are.

The author discusses personal protection. She suggests walking with your fist wrapped around your keys with one key sticking out between your knuckles. This gives you a solid, makeshift weapon that can be used as a knife to slice or puncture. [This is more directed to people living in larger urban areas.]

A person can carry items such as a police whistle, a flashlight, mace [pepper spray] and a personal alarm.

She next discusses fighting or martial arts tips. Evading the confrontation is the first strategy. If the attacker demands your bag, don’t hand it to him. Throw it at his feet. That way he can’t grab your arm as easily. If you do end up in a fight, fight “as dirty as you can” Carter suggests. Poke his eyes, hit him in the balls, and punch him in the nose. If you are attacked from behind, throw your head backwards to throw the perp off his balance.

Carry a Concealed Weapon

Concealed carry is obviously a personal decision. Carter states three important considerations if you decide to carry.

  1. Have the right weapon.
  2. Be comfortable with it.
  3. Be willing to do what it takes.

Her main caution for semi-automatic pistols is that some seniors may not have the manual dexterity or strength to operate the slide. Her caution for revolvers is the finger strength required for the long pull. If you carry or decide to have a handgun at home, you will need to determine which one is best for you.

She next lists some recommended pistols and revolvers. She cautions against small-caliber hand guns for self-defense such as .22s because they don’t have enough stopping power. However, she stresses that “carrying a small gun is better than no gun at all.

I’ll comment that .22s have still killed lots of people. I have a former student that accidentally shot his 10 year-old brother in the back with a .22. It killed him.

Overcoming Obstacles and Limitations

The author emphasizes that it’s a smart idea to know your limitations when choosing a firearm to carry. A few issues that she mentions are arthritis, limited range of motion, poor eyesight, and any type of chronic pain.

One handy option for those dealing with vision issues is the consideration of having a laser light on your handgun. Carter offers the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard .38 with the built-in laser light as an example.

If Something Bad Does Happen

If something does happen, be sure to report it to the proper authorities. She refers to an article on the FBI’s website titled Scams And Safety. Carter states that seniors can and should protect themselves. End

How do I sign up for Medicare Part B if I already have Part A?

Most readers here have already been on Medicare Part B either recently or for several years. However, maybe you have a spouse/partner, or know someone else who has Medicare Part A (Hospital) but not Part B (Medical). Please pass this information on to those that are needing help to sign up for Medicare Part B. This is especially applicable during this COVID lockdown time when in-person visitation to your local Social Security Administration office has either been difficult or impossible.

The following paragraphs are from the FAQ section on the Social Security Administration’s website:

How do I sign up for Medicare Part B if I already have Part A?

If you are already enrolled in Medicare Part A and you would like to enroll in Part B, please complete form CMS-40B, Application for Enrollment in Medicare – Part B (Medical Insurance). If you are applying for Medicare Part B due to a loss of employment or group health coverage, you will also need to complete form CMS-L564 (Request for Employment Information).

You may complete the forms online by visiting the Apply for Medicare Part B Online During a Special Enrollment Period webpage; fax them to 1-833-914-2016; or return the forms by mail to your local Social Security office. If you have questions, please contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Note: When completing the forms CMS 40B and CMS L564:

  • State “I want Part B coverage to begin (MM/YY)” in the remarks section of the CMS 40B form or online application.
  • If your employer is unable to complete Section B, please complete that portion as best as you can on behalf of your employer without your employer’s signature.
  • Also submit one of the following forms of secondary evidence:
  • Income tax returns that show health insurance premiums paid.
  • W-2s reflecting pre-tax medical contributions.
  • Pay stubs that reflect health insurance premium deductions.
  • Health insurance cards with a policy effective date.
  • Explanations of benefits paid by the GHP or LGHP.
  • Statements or receipts that reflect payment of health insurance premiums.

Are Hand Sanitizers Safe to Use?

by Lance D. Reedy

Because of the COVID-19 virus, hand sanitizers have been flying off the store shelves. However, just how safe are they? For a while, antibacterial hand soaps were all the rage. When the news came out that the triclosan, the active ingredient, was helping to create antibiotic-resistant bacteria, smart shoppers discontinued purchasing these products. Are there similar issues with hand-sanitizers?

Several months ago, I was at my local optician’s shop, and I noticed a bottle of Purell sitting on the counter. I had never used the product before. Wanting to try it, I squirted a dob into my hands and started rubbing it all over. I thought maybe it was a gel that you would wipe on and wipe off. The gal said, “No, you just rub it in.” To my amazement the thick liquid just disappeared.

That triggered my thinking…besides alcohol, what’s in these products? Are the ingredients safe, or are there some downsides?

Of the good, the bad and the ugly concerning hand sanitizers, let’s looks at the ugly first. This headline appeared on Foxnews.com:

FDA issues warning over certain hand sanitizers due to potentially toxic chemicals

The article explains that products made by Mexican-based Eskbiochem may contain methanol. Methanol (wood alcohol) was sold as moonshine and is toxic if taken orally. The article says the following about methanol:

Significant exposure to the chemical can cause nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death, the FDA’s warning reads.

That’s ugly for sure. The article lists the various brand names marketed by Eskbiochem. Hmm, names like CleanCare NOGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer sounds innocent enough. Buyer beware. Let’s move on to another article.

FDA tells hand sanitizer producers to make it unpalatable after surge in poison control calls

It looks like people are drinking the stuff because it has alcohol in it. Yuck! Because of that, the FDA is encouraging the manufacturers to add ingredients to the sanitizer that would make it unpalatable. You’d think it’s unpalatable already. We’ll move on as I don’t think any of our readers are foolish enough to drink hand sanitizer.

Here’s another article: Get coronavirus-fighting hand sanitizer from these unexpected brands

Due to the demand for hand sanitizer, other manufacturers have jumped into the fray. Please refer to the above article for a rundown on the 16 brands listed.

Before using any of those products, a smart idea is to check out the ingredients to ascertain if they are safe to apply on your skin. Are there any hormone disrupters buried in the list of ingredients? Some of these may be relatively safe, and others may have questionable ingredients.

What about the Ingredients in Purell and other sanitizers?

From DailyMed, Purell’s hand sanitizer’s ingredients are as follows:

Water, Isopropyl alcohol, Caprylyl Glycol, Glycerin, Isopropyl Myristate, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Aminomethyl Propanol, Fragrance (Parfum)

When you rub Purell or other similar products into your hands as if you were washing them with soap and water, you coat both sides of your hands, and whatever these ingredients are, they soak into your skin. Just how safe are they?

Concern #1: An article from Newsweek is titled, Hand Sanitizer Speeds Absorption of BPA From Receipts. Whoops, BPA is a known hormone disrupter. The freshly applied hand sanitizer serves as a vehicle to better enable the BPA on the electronic cash register receipts to be absorbed into your body.

You walk into the store and slather hand sanitizer on your hands thinking you’re safer. As you complete your purchase, you handle the register receipt. You may have unwittingly enabled some BPA to soak into your skin.

Concern #2: An article on TheStreet.com is titled– 5 Hidden Dangers of Hand Sanitizers. The introduction reads as follows: Hand sanitizer has been used during the coronavirus outbreak to battle the spread. Like anything, use in moderation.

It sounds pretty simple as an alternative to washing your hands with soap and water. It’s quick, portable, and convenient, especially when you don’t have running water nearby. Hand sanitizer or hand antiseptic is a supplement that comes in gel, foam, or liquid solutions.”

Easy-peasy and simple, right? Maybe. Here are 5 hidden dangers.

#1: Toxic chemicals: “If your hand sanitizer is scented, then it’s likely loaded with toxic chemicals. Companies aren’t required to disclose the ingredients that make up their secret scents, and therefore generally are made from dozens of chemicals.”

Synthetic fragrances contain phthalates, which are endocrine disrupters that mimic hormones and could alter genital development.”

#2: Weaker Immune System: “Studies have shown that triclosan can also harm the immune system, which protects your body against disease.”

#3: Hormone Disruption: Another effect of triclosan is interfering with your body’s hormones.

#4: Alcohol Poisoning: “Just because it doesn’t have triclosan, doesn’t mean it’s completely safe.

#5: Antibiotic Resistance: While the COVID-19 virus is not bacterial, creating more antibiotic resistant bacteria is a bad idea. If you contract a bacterial infection, now your immune system may be more compromised, which could make you more susceptible to contracting the virus.

Purell rated by EWG.org.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) rates hundreds of products with a graphic consisting of four categories:

  • Cancer
  • Developmental & Reproductive Toxicity
  • Allergies & Immunotoxicity
  • Use Restrictions

The overall rating for Original Purell Hand Sanitizer is 4, with 1 being the best and 10 being the worst.

The concern for Cancer and Developmental & Reproductive Toxicity is low. Allergies & Immunotoxicity is rated high. Use Restrictions is rated as moderate.

It appears that Purell is one of the least bad of the hand sanitizers.

What’s good? Of course, it’s going to be something homemade where you know what going into it meaning no questionable chemicals

Coronavirus hand sanitizer you can make at home — and it’s doctor-approved

The recipe is pretty basic: However, it didn’t say how much distilled water to add.

  • 2/3 of rubbing alcohol
  • 1/3 of Aloe Vera Gel
  • 5 drops of essential oil
  • Distilled Water

One hand sanitizer that I have seen, and find to be less objectionable, is Dr. Bronner’s – Organic Hand Sanitizer Spray. They have the following verbiage on their website:

Our Organic Hand Sanitizer kills germs with a simple formula: organic ethyl alcohol, water, organic lavender oil, and organic glycerin—that’s it! None of the nasty chemicals you find in conventional sanitizers, but just as effective…

This looks to be safer compared to some of the above-listed hand-sanitizers. One concern, however, is the link between hand sanitizers and BPA absorption. If it’s the use of ethyl alcohol, Dr. Bronner’s could still cause a problem if you handle cash register receipts.

A hand sanitizer-less solution or soap on the go.

I have carried a one-ounce, small plastic bottle filled with Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Pure-Castile Soap. I can use is in a public restroom. It’s incredible how well a few drops of this liquid soap will lather-up.

I have also used it while traveling. I can step out of my car, lather up with Dr. Bronner’s, rinse off with a water bottle, and dry off with a small hand towel. If you have someone with you, he/she can dribble the rinse water on your hands. You can also use a spray bottle filled with water only, for rinsing. This is a terrific way to wash you hands while on the go when there is no running water available.

Note: I have no affiliation with and nor do I have any financial stake in any of the products mentioned in this article.

Conclusion: There is no question that good hand sanitation is a smart idea, not just because of the COVID-19 virus but for preventing other cold or flu bugs. Good hand hygiene is also a wise idea before eating, especially if you will be touching food.

We have heard the admonitions, “Don’t touch your face.” Sometimes that’s hard to avoid when you have an itch, need to rub your nose, or need to rub out some dried tear junk from the corner of your eye. Keeping your hands clean certainly will lessen to chance of getting a bug when you do touch your face.

Soap and water is the consensus as the optimal way to clean your hands. Hand sanitizers come in second place. You’ll have to decide the risk verses benefit of using these products. If you do use a hand sanitizer, for sure, do your due diligence and choose the safest (or least bad) products. End

Fat Heals—Sugar Kills: Chapter 3, The War on Fat

by Dr. Bruce Fife

 

Recap of Chapter 2:

Dr. Fife enumerated the importance of fat in our diets. He also explained that if we do not get enough cholesterol in our diets, our livers will produce what our bodies need. He detailed how our ancestors ate real food, but when they started to transition to refined, Western diets, degenerative diseases set in.

Chapter 3

The Heart Disease Epidemic

My Comments: This chapter details one of the greatest health-related tragedies in American history. This is the promulgation of the diet-heart-hypothesis, also known as the lipid or cholesterol hypothesis. The adoption of this misguided hypothesis has only led to increased heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, strokes, and thousands upon thousands of pre-mature deaths.

Starting: In colder climates hunter-gatherers subsisted primarily on meat and fat. Those in warmer climates ate less meat as they had more access to plant food. The human body was well adjusted to eating and thriving on diets rich in saturated fats and cholesterol.

Not only was heart disease extremely rare in these societies, the first documented case of heart disease was in Britain in 1878. Dr. Paul Dudley, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s personal physician, graduated from medical school in 1910. He commented about heart disease being a rare, new disease. Consider these statistics:

1910-1920: 10 deaths per 100,000 per year were due to heart disease.

By 1930: 46 deaths per 100,000 per year due to heart disease.

By 1970 the death rate had increased to 331 per 100,000.

That means that the death rate had increased 30-fold over a 60-year span! By 1950, heart disease had become the number one killer in the US. Fife suggests that the change was due to diet. Researchers in the 1950s noted that wealthier people had more access to fat in their diets, so they thought that fat might be a contributing factor to heart disease.

In 1953 Ancel Keys wrote a paper that gave credence to the connection between fat and heart disease. Keys later refined the idea and came up with the diet-heart-hypothesis. By 1957 he came up with his (in)famous Seven Countries Studies. The gist of it suggested that as the diets in countries had an increased intake of fat, their heart disease rates also went up. Keys had seemingly linked fat intake to heart disease rates.

Keys actually studied 22 countries, but he deceptively threw out results that didn’t conform to his theory. For example, he did not include France and Germany as they had high fat intake but how heart disease rates. Other researchers questioned Keys’ results, but by this time Keys had become a media darling.

The cholesterol hypothesis was immediately hailed as the long-sought cause of heart disease. Many doctors were quick to accept the new hypothesis, as it provided a seemingly logical and convenient answer to the heart disease mystery.

What’s also interesting about Ancel Keys is another study that he did in 1953. He measured the cholesterol levels in men. Twenty-year-old men had a cholesterol level of 190. Seventy-year-old men had a cholesterol level around 265. He discovered that cholesterol levels increased with age. However, this did not fit his cholesterol-heart-disease hypothesis, so he quietly discarded this study.

My Comments: One of the major takeaways I remember from Dr. Stephen Sinatra’s The Great Cholesterol Myth is the meta study (studies of several studies) of the connection between cholesterol levels and all-cause mortality. All-cause mortality means causes of ALL deaths and not just deaths due to heart disease.

The researchers looked at four cholesterol levels. (1) 250+, (2) 200-249, (3) 160-199, and (4) below 160. Those in group (1) had the lowest all-cause mortality while those in group (4) had the highest all-cause mortality. If this is true and if Keys’ discarded study is true, then why are so many doctors still trying to lower the cholesterol levels of their otherwise healthy patients?

Continuing: Keys’ fame from finding what was believed to be the key to heart disease rolled on. He appeared on Time magazine’s front cover. He published his first book, Eat Well and Stay Well, in 1959.

Keys had one problem, however. There was a British research professor, John Yudkin, who was also studying the causes of heart disease. In a nutshell, Yudkin’s studies pointed the finger at sugar, refined sugar, of course.

One way that Keys brushed off Yudkin’s counter claims was by suggesting that sugar was just carbs.

The effects of the different types of carbs wasn’t generally recognized at the time, so sugar wasn’t seriously considered.

Sugar intake doubled from 1909 to 1999, and the type of fats people were eating also changed. Vegetable oil (really seed oil) consumption increased while the consumption of animal fat decreased. Yudkin saw the connection between the increase in sugar consumption and heart disease in modern civilization.

Keys won the battle with Yudkin as Keys vilified him and referred to his studies as a “mountain of nonsense.” He accused Yudkin of issuing “propaganda from the meat and dairy industry.” Never mind the fact that Keys’ main financial backer was the sugar industry. Meanwhile, Yudkin was a mild-mannered university professor simply trying to get the truth out. He was not combative as was Keys. In the end, Yudkin’s scientific reputation was ruined, and he had now become an embarrassment to the University of London.

Keys discarded later studies that showed inconclusive or unfavorable results to his diet-heart-hypothesis. The Minnesota Coronary study found that the greater the drop in cholesterol, the higher the risk of death during the trial. For complete details of the Ancel Keys’ saga, please read pages 33-45.

My Comments: Keys claimed in essence that “science” said his diet-heart-hypothesis was true. First off, science, doesn’t say anything. Scientists, mortal human beings, make claims or assertions, based on conclusions they draw from studying any particular topic.

The lesson to be learned here is that when anyone doggedly asserts that “science says” or “the science behind it  says,” we should ask ourselves, What is, if any, the agenda behind what said person is promoting. Keys’ agenda was obviously fame and fortune. He retired a wealthy man. Yudkins’ agenda was seeking out the truth. Generally speaking, the agendas behind the phony science-reliance are either financial, political or both.

Another point to be learned here is to observe how the accuser is actually projecting his own dirty secrets when attacking someone else’s credibility. Keys accused Yudkin of “propaganda” and being supported by the meat and dairy industry. In fact, it was Keys promoting the propaganda, and it was Keys that was secretly being supported by an industrial (the sugar industry) lobbying group.

Continuing: Dr. Fife continues by explaining that the Keys-Yudkin rivalry was far more than just a professional one. It was a carefully orchestrated scheme to discredit Yudkin and his theory. Through Keys, the sugar industry succeeded in diverting suspicion away from sugar as a possible cause of heart disease and placing the blame squarely on saturated fat.

The sugar villains formed their “research” councils and they sponsored conferences. In one conference, Lipton’s Brisk tea, containing 11 teaspoons of sugar per serving, was recommended for diabetes! No kidding!

Yes, the plot was to influence medical research, government agencies, and public opinion. A hidden, re-discovered sugar industry memo acknowledging that sugar is fattening, causes cavities, and causes diabetes outlined the following propaganda campaign: Destroy those “fallacies” and at the same time convince the people of the wholesome qualities of sugar. Among their other villainous deeds, the sugar industry also eviscerated John Yudkin.

Here’s where it went political. Keys got his allies (cronies?) on boards of various governmental and medical organizations to promote the sugar industry’s interests. Among these were:

  • American Heart Association (AHA)
  • National Institute of Health (NIH)
  • S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others

My Comment: This lesson serves as a good example that it behooves us to perk up our ears when some association, organization, or governmental agency is stridently advocating a certain diet or health position. Again, we should ask, “What’s their agenda?”

The member information mailers from my own Medicare company still parrots the following about diet and nutrition. “Watch your cholesterol and fat intake. Eat lean meats and use sugar moderately.” Cholesterol and fat are still baddies, while some sugar is okay. Why can’t they say, “Avoid all refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup products.” The writers of such publications still have their heads buried in the false sugar industry propaganda from over 50 years ago. Looks like falsehoods don’t die out too quickly.

Continuing: The sugar industry formed (and still does) lofty sounding organization names such as the Food and Nutrition Advisory Council. This council wasted little time in printing up 25,000 copies of an 88-page booklet titled Sugar in the Diet of Man, Theses were distributed to media and other opinion makers. Accompanying those booklets was the headline, “Scientists Dispel Sugar Fears.”

Sugar Propaganda

Dr. Fife quotes some of the verbiage used by sugar promoters in magazine advertisements.

Example 1: 1954 The headline on the ad reads What makes people fat? It then answers the question: People get fat simply because they overeat. Why do they overeat? Because they are hungry. Why are they hungry? One of the reasons…is because their blood sugar level is low. What is the fastest way to raise the blood sugar level and help keep them from overeating? Sugar and the good things containing it.

My Comment: This is as bad as the old 1950s magazine ads that read, “More doctors recommend Camel cigarettes.”

Continuing: Well, duh, a person eats more sugar to raise a falling blood sugar level only to have it crash again due to spiking his blood sugar. Have another doughnut to get your blood sugar up again!

Example 2: 1959 The ad headline reads, “Are you getting enough sugar to keep your weight down?” Then the verbiage says, “Sounds strange until you consider the necessity for appetite control when dieting. How do you curb a king-sized appetite? The easiest way is sugar. No other food satisfies your appetite so fast with so few calories. That’s why you’ll find sugar in many modern reducing diets.”

“Why today’s active women need more sugar…The strenuous life requires energy—the kind sugar provides. That’s why active people who know their energy needs include sugar in their diets.”

Sugar makes peaches taste peachier! All of us talk about tasting food, but now science tells us that your sense of smell is also very important to your recognition of flavors…”    

Fife’s comment, “There you have it. Science proves sugar is better.”

Example 3: 1971  An ice cream a day…Sugar can be the willpower you need to undereat…When you’re hungry, it usually means your energy is down. By eating something with sugar in it, you can get your energy up fast. In fact, sugar is the fastest energy food around. The ad goes on with similar blather.

The Federal Trade Commission would never allow such verbiage today. In fact, the sugar industry’s propaganda is so bad that it’s almost comical. The sad truth, however, is that the country bought into it.

1980 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Cut back on the consumption of fat, saturated fats, and cholesterol. Avoid excess consumption of sugar, primarily in the form of candy to prevent cavities.

There it is. Saturated fat and cholesterol were demonized while sugar in processed foods got a pass. For sure, this horrible dietary advice was at the hands of Ancel Keys and the Sugar Industry’s minions. And this was all done on the latest scientific evidence!

Sadly, the public as a whole, instead of becoming thinner and healthier, grew fatter and sicker.