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fri - sugar and Feeling Good posted: Fri 2018-03-23 08:11:53 tags: books, movies
Watched "That Sugar Film" a couple nights ago. The single most important take-away, for me, was that "all sugar calories are not the same". Specifically, fructose does NOT metabolize the same as glucose. Fructose is primarily metabolized IN the liver, for glycogen supply IN the liver and triglyceride synthesis. High triglyceride level is linked to arteriosclerosis.

Glucose, on the other hand, is forwarded largely intact from the liver to the bloodstream, and ends up as ATP, the energy storage medium of skeletal muscle. Whatever glucose reaches fat cells is used in glycerol phosphate synthesis, which in turn is used for energy and (again) triglyceride synthesis. The pathway from glucose to triglyceride is longer and has more safety exits than the fructose-triglyceride pathway.

Extending that lesson, I read up more about the various other sugar metabolism pathways. Sucrose (cane sugar) is a "disaccharide" (literally "two sugar") molecule, composed of 1:1 glucose and fructose units. It is split by enzymes produced in the duodenum, which is the section of small intestine just past the stomach. The glucose and fructose released there are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. Glucose can be used anywhere in the body. Fructose absorbed into the bloodstream from the duodenum has to be carried back to the liver. It can do harmful things by binding to protein and fat in the bloodstream without enzyme mediation to control WHERE it bonds to those molecules.

Lactose, in lactose-tolerant humans, is also metabolized in the small intestine, splitting into glucose and galactose. Galactose metabolism is pretty complicated but when all the right enzymes are available, it also ends up as a glucose compound. Galactose is more prone than glucose to dodge enzyme mediation and bond harmfully to protein and fat molecules. In lactose-intolerant humans, lactose tends to overfeed fermentation bacteria in the gut, perhaps causing gas and irritation and diarrhea and immune system overreactions. Lactose intolerance is a spectrum, not an on/off switch, and the ability to easily digest lactose can fade with age.

In closing, just like dogs can synthesize vitamin C and hence do not need it in their food, the human body can synthesize glucose from non-carbohydrate sources when needed. Sugar is NOT an essential nutrient for humans. We only crave it because evolution favored the ancestors who were more sensitized to concentrated easy-energy foods in lean times. Now that we can cultivate "healthy fat" foods in reliable surplus, our attunement to sugar is a liability.

* * *

Over the past month or so I've made a lot of investment decisions. I know that the real estate and securities markets are overdue for correction, I know that the dismantling of Glass-Steagall and Volker Rule protections puts the world at risk of another 2007-style economic meltdown, and I know the 3-ring circus in the Oval Office undermines faith, credit and hence stability.

Between compulsive helicoptering over my portfolio, trying to zero my inbox and process "saved" FB/Reddit/browser bookmarks, tidy up and continuity-plan my files (old and new, journals, financials, etc.), job hunt, feed my mind constructively with books/news/culture rather than get lost and inward-turned in another time-sink game, and process it all as I do, in writing ... I have been doing a lot of computer time. I do multitask and often I do get sucked into the Facebook or Reddit rabbit-holes, but I am not crying for help and I most definitely don't want or need a "supervisor" or "accountability partner" to check in or keep me on task. I am making palpable progress and I feel fine about what I'm getting done.

The amount of time I'm spending at the keyboard, and striving to reach a break-point rather than drop everything at a moment's notice, has become a point of contention. This and other ongoing conflicts inspired me to prioritize a particular book in my Kindle reading list: Burns's "Feeling Good Together: The Secret to Making Troubled Relationships Work".

Like Gottman's Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, there are some exercises to identify toxic attitudes and build communication skills, but unlike Gottman's book, Feeling Good Together has one unambiguously paramount take-away. Burns's studies showed that factors like age difference, sexual orientation, economic security, conflict avoidance - NONE of these significantly predicted relationship satisfaction or endurance. The key factor was a tendency to blame. People who blamed their partners for relationship dissatisfaction were the most dissatisfied, AND most likely to be even more dissatisfied in a three-month follow-up study. To put it bluntly, blaming others is a failure attitude. Burns didn't mention it but of course this resonated with the Al-Anon principle that ultimately we don't have the power or authority to fix the addict in our lives - serenity comes from fixing what's broken about ourselves.

* * *

Probably between 1999~2003, I created a "Progress Quest" account. Progress Quest was a "zero player game" - the software generated a stream of random encounters, each followed by loot and XP accumulation, for the player's passive amusement. The character I chose was a "sentient motorcycle", which I named "Motor NanJill" - a pun on "Modern Angel", an energetic Front 242 song which happened to pop (Nov 1993) around the same time I was breaking onto the Internet via AOL, and hence figured into a lot of my screen names. I was reminded of this by an example vignette in Burns's book featuring a mother (Nan) and daughter (Jill) conflict. As of today, Google bore no record of the phrase "Motor Nanjill" so I guess this will become some kind of a googlewhack.