Savvy Senior Services
Anne Goldberg Motivational Speaker for Seniors

Irrespective of the changing laws surrounding medical marijuana, there is still a preponderance of people who don’t now, and never will, use these drugs.  The idea of using drugs is simply out of the question.  The irony is that these same people are likely to fall into the median group of Americans who consume about 175 pounds of sugar per year.  And now, research is beginning to show an alarming connection between the effects of added sweeteners and sugars on our brains and bodies.  And the stunning conclusion is that sugar is as addictive as cocaine!

In 2007 Australian researchers gave rats a choice between water sweetened with saccharine/glucose, or cocaine.  The rats showed a distinct preference for the sweetened water!  In prior tests, they chose cocaine over plain water.  The findings were further confirmed in a 2013 study from Connecticut College in which rats were given the choice of Oreos, morphine or cocaine. The study was designed to measure expression of a protein called c-Fos, a known marker of neuronal activation in the part of the brain that controls the feeling of pleasure. The result was alarming: Oreos beat out both drugs by a significant margin! Now I understand why peanut M&Ms are so annoyingly irresistible to me!

Like illegal drugs, large amounts of sugar can be very bad for you. In addition to obesity and diabetes, sugar can deeply affect your metabolism, impair brain function and make you more susceptible to heart disease and cancer. It can even form premature wrinkles.

In 2013, the New England Journal of Medicine published a Harvard study showing that above-normal blood sugar is associated with an increased risk of developing dementia – with or without diabetes. Research has also proved that there are many similarities in the brains of people with diabetes and the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. The good news here is that diabetes only remains a risk factor and not a sentence. A risk factor because we Savvy Seniors understand that lifestyle choices are responsible for 80-95% of all disease.

We know from the Blue Zones research that there is statistically less dementia, heart attacks, diabetes, strokes and cancer in those areas than in the United States. It always gets back to lifestyle.  Sugar is not the enemy.  Added sugar is the enemy.   Our bodies require sugar to function normally.

Rather than be discouraged, take this information as power. Now you know just how important it is to say no to excess sugar and even artificial sweeteners.  Enjoy sweet treats such as dried fruit, or fresh fruit in season.  Flavor your water with fresh fruit.  Move your body – walk, garden, do yoga. And most importantly, connect with others… get involved… for the true sweetness in life lies not in pie and cookies, but in our personal relationships and the connections we make with each other.


Anne Goldberg, The Savvy Senior, has a mission to help seniors know they are old enough to have a past and young enough to have a future. Her vision is to create an army of senior volunteers bringing their wisdom and experience back to the community. She helps seniors live into their future with vitality by teaching them how to use computers; with conferences & workshops on The Art of Living Longer ; with decluttering & organizing; and with “Tell Your Story Videos”, preserving the stories & wisdom of your life for future  • (954) 536-8008

The new norm with regards to nutrition seems to be the ages-old wisdom of Hippocrates: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

The Harvard Medical school newsletter, in “Nutrition 101: Good Eating for Good Health”, makes the clear connection between diet and health. Within all the specifics they discussed, the one point they made is that “…good eating should not be considered a punishment, but an opportunity.” I couldn’t agree more.

By saying no to foods with green peppers, eggplant, white potatoes, pumpkin and tomatoes (so, pretty much good-bye Italian food L) my indigestion rarely raises its fiery head any more. And when it does, I can always trace it to something I’ve eaten. Given that OTC brands like Prevacid and Xantac inhibit the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, taking them only contributes to a lack of well-being.

So what do you do if you have indigestion? My sure-fire recipe is to chew three or four papaya enzyme pills (widely available at nutrition stores and on-line) with a chaser of 2 ounces of aloe vera juice. (I like OKC brand available at Wal-Mart and some Asian markets.) This combo’s like swallowing a fire extinguisher – without any negative side-effects. An added bonus with Aloe Vera is that it can work wonders for IBS sufferers.

Eating well yields huge rewards in the form of more energy, better sleep, nicer skin and an overall feeling of well-being. The people in the world who live the longest eat 75-80% vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, legumes, some grains and just 0-20% animal protein. And they drink lots of green tea. How does your eating stand up to that?

When you pay attention to your body, during and after eating, you’ll become aware of signals it sends about the food you eat. Heartburn suggests intolerance to something you’ve eaten. Rather than medicating yourself, try and determine which food caused it and then eliminate this food from your repertoire and see if that makes a difference. Some foods cause inflammation and you may suddenly notice that one or more joints begin to ache. Some foods can cause a headache, or bloating, belching and other digestive issues. Sometimes you might wake up and your eyes and extremities are swollen. What did you eat the night before?

When you start to notice any tightening, bloating, swelling with 24 hours of eating something, you begin the process of understanding and mastering food’s powerful effects on how you feel. Then you become in control… and that is the opportunity.

Be a Savvy Senior. Start to notice a connection between certain foods and discomfort anywhere in your body and make decisions about what to eat based on foods that make you feel good.