by Richard J. Johnson, MD
Scientific book about the survival switch, a set of responses triggered in our body when we eat sugar (especially fructose). It is there from millennia ago to keep us from starving. It causes our body to store fat and lower our metabolism. The switch turns on when we eat salty foods and umami (savory) foods also. We can prevent the switch from turning on by not eating high glycemic foods, by drinking 8 glasses of water a day, by exercising 3-4 days a week for 1 hour each time, and by intermittent fasting (16:8 one to two days/week). Eating fruit is okay but limit it to 1/2 a serving at a time. Umami foods that we should avoid that trigger the survival switch are beer and red meat. We should start eating more chicken. Dairy foods (lactose) are okay and do not trigger the switch. Fish Oil (Omega-3 fatty acids) block many of fructose’s effects. He recommends exercising before breakfast. High-Glycemic carbohydrates to avoid are potatoes, instant oatmeal, cornflakes, watermelon, white rice, white bread, pancakes, bagels, sweet corn, and spaghetti. He okays the use of Stevia and Sucralose (Splenda); in fact, he and his family use them. They do not trigger the survival switch. Also, Monk Fruit, Invert sugar, Xylitol, Maltitol, and Erythritol are okay. He does not recommend these artificial sweeteners: Aspartame, saccharin, Yacon syrup, Tagatose, and sorbitol. Sorbitol, which is in most sugar-free gums, is an artificial sweetener that the body turns into frucose, so Wayne needs to find a sugar-free gum that does not contain sorbitol.
The Switch Diet to lose weight is to go on a low-carb diet for about a month, or the Switch Diet but limit high-glycemic carbs, salty foods, and umami foods), drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, reduce salt intake to 5-6 grams daily, intermittently fast (16:8) one or two days a week (optional), and minimize or avoid alcohol, take a daily vitamin C supplement of 500 mg or less, exercise one hour, 3-4 times a week, eat dark chocolate or take epicatechin, and drink green tea.
The fruits to avoid are ones with high fructose content: Dried figs, Dried apricot, Mango, Green or Red Grapes, Raisins, Pear, Watermelon, Persimmon, Apple.
Medium Fructose Content Fruits are okay if you eat a 1/2 serving only: Medjool date, Blueberries, Banana, Honeydew melon, Papaya, Orange, Peach, Nectarine, Tangerine, Boysenberries, Grapefruit, Pineapple.
Low Fructose Content Fruits: Strawberries, Cherries, Star fruit, Blackberries, Kiwi, Clementine, Raspberries, Cantaloupe, Plum, Deglet noor date, Apricot, Guava, Prune, Cranberries, Lemon, Lime.
One of the studies they did was with two groups of overweight and obese women. One group was allowed to eat whole fruits. The other group was not. Both groups were not allowed any soft drinks, fruit juices or sugary foods and were put on a mild calorie restriction diet. The group that lost the most weight was the group allowed some whole fruit.
Here are the types of sugars:
Fructose: a simple sugar (single molecule) found in fruits and honey.
Glucose: a simple sugar found also in grains, beans, and vegetables; the main sugar in our blood–the main fuel of the body.
Sucrose: Table sugar formed from a fructose and a glucose molecule bonded together. They must be separated in the small intestine before they can be absorbed.
High-fructose corn syrup: Fructose and glucose mixed together, unbonded, to form a liquid. This is the absolute worst kind of sugar.
Uric Acid is a problem. When we eat sugar, uric acid levels in the blood go up.
Obese people are often dehydrated. Salt can create dehydration which triggers the survival switch. Drinking water (8 glasses a day) can prevent further weight gain even when continuing to eat a junk diet.
The survival switch is indicated in gout, which is when high blood levels of uric acid cause crystals to form which get deposited in the joints and cause painful arthritis.
Diabetes, hypertension, heart failure, stroke, dementia, NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease), kidney disease, atherosclerosis, heart attacks, sudden death, cancer, alcoholism, behavioral disorders like ADHD and bipolar, Alzheimer’s – all can be caused by persistent activation of the survival switch. Fortunately, we can turn it off with the Switch Diet.
“The Switch Diet:
Sugar: Reduce sugar intake to 10 percent of daily calories (with 5 percent as a long-term goal), eliminate sugary drinks entirely.
Carbohydrates: Reduce high-glycemic carboyhydrates. Emphasize whole grains, low-glycemic vegetables, and high-fiber foods. Limit fruit to 3-4 servings daily, separated, with half servings for high-glycemic varieties. Avoid dried fruit, fruit juices, fruit syrups, and fruit concentrates.
Protein: Limit high-umami proteins (red meats, organ meats, and shellfish). Emphasize, fish, poultry, dairy, and vegetable proteins.
Fat: Emphasize monounsaturated and omega-3 fats. Saturated fats can account for up to 10 percent of total caloric intake.
Salt: Reduce salt intake to 5-6 grams daily. Limit processed foods, as they are often high in salt (as well as sugar).
Water: Drink 8 ounces of water 6-8 times a day.
Dairy: Dairy is generally recommended, especially milk. Butter and cheese are fine if LDL cholesterol levels are controlled. High-umami cheese (blue, roquefort, gorgonzola, parmesan) should be limited.
Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate: Coffee and tea are recommended, Dark chocolate is encouraged.
Alcohol: Reduce or eliminate alcohol. If you must drink, sip rather than drinking quickly, and alternate with water.
Vitamin C: Take a Vitamin C supplement daily.”
Also, incorporate intermittent fasting, 16:8 at least 2 days a week (I think), or 5:2 which is fasting 2 days (500 calories/day) and eating normal for 5 days.
If we have activated the survival switch, exercising while it is activated is counter-productive. It actually reduces our metabolism and dooms our weight-loss goals. He recommends going on a low carb diet first to turn off the survival switch, and then incorporating exercise programs of 3-4 days per week, one hour each time. It is best to get 8 hours of sleep and to exercise prior to eating breakfast. That will burn fat.
Here are Wayne’s notes from the book (he scanned it in one afternoon):
“Some thoughts on gut management (excessive fructose bad, glucose needed)…
-Fish oil – full dose
-C – 500 mg (pees out uric acid, more risks stones)
-16/8 fast 2/wk—include 2-3 mile walk before eating
-Jeanne tea at lunch at latest
-evening hydration: one beer, one tonic, one licorice tea
-limit: “added” sugars, white rice, potato, other high glycemic
-moderate: spaghetti (use: pre-water and big side dish) and big red meat to once/wk
-Balance (week): spaghetti/chicken (2)/tuna/eat out/red meat/egg sandwich w/beans, cauliflower
-sugar less than 8 g per serving: Fruits: orange 6g, pineapple (dessert, 4 g/slice), cherries or raspberries 4g/cup, prune 1 g, grapes 12g/cup)
-pulses definitely have a place here
-whole grain bread ok, and nuts
-all veggies ok
-umami (moderate these: beers, beef/pork, V8, broccoli/spinach
-Pur gum (sorbitol a proven problem for me)
-stevia and sucralose good (beware sweet tooth), saccharin/aspertame ok’ish
-sodium calculation: 1g table salt = 400 mg sodium, 3000 mg max
-dark chocolate (85%) a good thing! as is olive oil.”