Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sugar doesn't make you fat

FOOD scientists claim that new federal draft dietary guidelines reflect nutritional "dogma" and perpetuate the "myth" that sugar is as dangerous as fats and salt.

"Sugar has been unfairly demonised in the national dietary guidelines," said consultant dietitian Bill Shrapnel, deputy chairman of the Sydney University Nutrition Research Foundation. Along with Sydney University nutritionist Jennie Brand-Miller, Mr Shrapnel is highly critical of the newly released draft Australian Dietary Guidelines prepared by a National Health & Medical Research Council working group.

A list of the key recommendations, but without their scientific justification, was posted recently on the NH&MRC website and discussed by the council last week.

Reflecting existing guidelines, the draft document recommends people limit their intake of foods and drinks containing fats, salt, alcohol and sugar.

"Unlike saturated fats, trans fats, salt and alcohol, sugar doesn't actually do any direct harm to the human body," said Professor Brand-Miller, author of The Low GI Diet and recipient this month of an Order of Australia.

Mr Shrapnel and Professor Brand-Miller argue a sweet touch at the end of a meal isn't a dietary sin. Sydney restaurateur Lucio Galletto couldn't agree more. "A beautiful dessert with different types of sugar makes you feel good. Sugar is not why you get fat."

Professor Brand-Miller says he's correct. Studies show that Australians are eating less sugar, but gaining more weight.


"Alternative" therapies can be very dangerous

A self-help guru has been found guilty of three counts of negligent homicide after a deadly "sweat lodge" ceremony resulted in the death of three participants.

Jurors reached their verdict with remarkable swiftness: they took less than 10 hours to convict James Arthur Ray on Wednesday following a four-month trial.

The eight men and four women were given the option of convicting Ray of manslaughter, but decided on the lesser charge instead. He faces a maximum of nearly 12 years in prison.

More than 50 people participated in the October 2009 sweat lodge that was meant to be the highlight of Ray's five-day "Spiritual Warrior" seminar near Sedona.

Three people died following the sauna-like ceremony aimed at providing spiritual cleansing. Eighteen people were taken to hospitalised, while several others were given water to cool down at the scene.

Prosecutors and defence lawyers disagreed over whether the deaths and illnesses were caused by heat or toxins. Ray's lawyers have maintained they were a tragic accident. Prosecutors argued Ray recklessly caused the fatalities.

Ray used the sweat lodge as a way for participants to break through whatever was holding them back in life.

He warned participants in a recording of the event played during the trial that the sweat lodge would be "hellacious" and that participants were guaranteed to feel like they were dying, but would do so only metaphorically.

"The true spiritual warrior has conquered death and therefore has no fear or enemies in this lifetime or the next, because the greatest fear you'll ever experience is the fear of what? Death," Ray said in the recording. "You will have to get a point to where you surrender and it's OK to die."

Witnesses have described the scene following the two-hour sweat lodge ceremony as alarming and chaotic, with people vomiting and others dragging "lifeless" and "barely breathing" participants outside. Volunteers performed CPR.

More than 20 people were transported to hospitals. Kirby Brown, 38, and James Shore, 40, died upon arrival. Liz Neuman, 49, slipped into a coma and died more than a week later.

In court on Wednesday, members of Neuman's family and a friend of Brown held hands and smiled when the verdict was read. "Justice was served in there," Neuman's ex-husband, Randy Neuman, said later.

Ray quickly left the courtroom with his parents and brother after the hearing.

Sweat lodges typically are used by American Indians to rid the body of toxins by pouring water over heated rocks in the structure.

Ray became a self-help superstar by using his charismatic personality and convincing people his words would lead them to spiritual and financial wealth. He used free talks to recruit people to expensive seminars like the Sedona retreat that led to the sweat lodge tragedy. Participants paid up to $US10,000 ($9500) for the five-day program intended to push people beyond their physical and emotional limits.

Ray's popularity soared after appearing in the 2006 Rhonda Byrne documentary The Secret, and Ray promoted it on The Oprah Winfrey Show and Larry King Live.

But his multimillion-dollar self-help empire was thrown into turmoil with the sweat lodge deaths. Ray ended his seminars shortly after but has continued to offer advice throughout his trial via the internet and social networking sites.


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