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Brain Health Expert And Lakers Fan Dr. Daniel Amen Says Lamar Odom Needs To Beat His Sugar Addiction

Posted Jun 04 2009 11:28pm 1 Comment


Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom and Dr. Daniel Amen

Fans of professional basketball know that tonight is the beginning of the 2009 NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Orlando Magic. Superstars like Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, and all the rest will be putting their playing talents on full display for all the world to see them do what they get paid to do. And most of us who will be watching these games will automatically assume that the players are some of the healthiest people on the planet, right? Well, looks can be deceiving as one medical professional who happens to be a Lakers fan noted this week about Los Angeles forward Lamar Odom.

Dr. Daniel Amen is a Newport Beach, CA-based psychiatrist who has written a series of books on brain health over the past ten years. He is also rooting for the Los Angeles Lakers to beat the Orlando Magic starting tonight, but is concerned about Odom’s obvious love for anything and everything that contains sugar in it. And this isn’t just some passing adoration for sugary foods–you could quite accurately calls this obsession with the sweet stuff a bona fide addiction that must be dealt with. Watch this shocking story about how much sugar-loaded food Odom requires each day, the reaction (and justification) from his coach Phil Jackson, and then Odom himself attempting to rationalize why he eats this way now that Dr. Amen has called him out on it.

Did you notice how Lamar Odom treated this like one big joke? The one quote that he said during the original story that got Dr. Amen to comment about this is as revealing and honest as it is stunning: “You only live once, so eat as much candy as you can.” What a nice role model for our kids, huh? Forget about what you’re doing to your body, kiddos, just eat up all that sugary stuff and don’t worry about obesity, diabetes, and all the other potentially harmful consequences of consuming this stuff! Sheez! And they just blow it off by saying that Odom doesn’t really eat THAT much sugar. If that’s true, then why flaunt it like he did in that news story? Did he LIE to embellish the story or is it true and this is just a way to deflect attention from it?

“It’s funny because the games I played well were the games where I ate candy for breakfast,” Odom, who is averaging 12 points and 9.5 rebounds in the playoffs, told reporters. “It’s the reason why I got double digits in points and rebounds. I guess I’m going to have to eat candy for breakfast in order to play well.”

Breakfast of champions, eh? Hey Lamar, how about eating some good quality eggs and a steak for breakfast, it’ll give your body all the energy you need to power through your games and have a clear head to boot! Good grief, what is this world coming to? And he’s passing on these bad habits of his to his children who he’d rather have the approval of than to show them the difference between right and wrong on the subject of healthy nutrition.

“If your dad always has candy, how cool is he?” Odom said. “Coolest dude in the world. My kids think I’m cool.”

Is that the goal of being a father–to be “cool” to them? WOW! This whole situation concerned Dr. Amen so much that he decided to write a blog post about it entitled “The Lakers’ Lamar Odom, Sweet Tooth, and Erratic Play” where he explains his theory behind why Odom lacks the concentration to perform at his highest level of basketball abilities–the excessive sugar is draining his brain and causing him to “space out” at times during games. Dr. Amen accurately described sugar in his post by saying it “acts like a drug in the brain.”

It causes blood sugar levels to spike and then crash, leaving you feeling tired, irritable, foggy, and stupid,” Dr. Amen noted in his post. “Eating too much sugar impairs cognitive function, which may explain why Odom doesn’t always make the smartest decisions on the court.

Those are some harsh words from Dr. Amen, but they are grounded in reality. While the 30-year old nine-year veteran of the NBA may not be worried about the negative impact on his health from consuming all that sugar now because he thinks he NEEDS it to perform well, the truth is that constant flow of sugar is spiking blood sugar and insulin levels to the point that his pancreas will have no choice but to begin inhibiting and substantially slowing down the natural insulin production which will put him on a one-way street to Type 2 diabetes. No amount of jovial wisecracks about this very real addiction will be able to stop the inevitability of such a fate from happening and Odom will have nobody but himself to blame for that.

Dr. Amen went on to say that while Odom may not have a weight problem from his sugar addiction yet because he is using those sugary carbohydrates to fuel his playing time on the basketball court, there are some inescapable effects on his health that are no doubt already happening to him and laying the groundwork for future health problems that he will be unable to avoid.

“Excessive sugar consumption also promotes inflammation, which can make your joints ache, and that’s definitely a bad thing for a professional athlete,” he added. “It is also linked to headaches, mood swings, and weight gain…for the average person who isn’t playing full-court basketball for hours each day.”

This is a direct result of the low-fat diet health scam we’ve all been led to believe is accurate because that’s what we’ve always been told. Avoid the fat because it will clog your arteries and give you a heart attack, those so-called health “experts” have said. And yet, the truth of the matter is it is the sugar and the foods that turn to sugar in the body (starchy carbs) that are leading to inflammation behind the arterial walls that Dr. Amen is talking about. The symptoms from consuming the level of sugary foods that Odom is allegedly eating each day are virtually endless (by the way, all of those sugary foods he’s consuming just happen to be “naturally low-fat”). Cut out the sugar and all of those negative health issues clear up. Why wouldn’t somebody like Lamar Odom want to do this to enhance and even extend his career in the NBA?

You’d have to say it’s arrogance, a feeling of invincibility, and a position that it’s “my body and I can do with it as I please.” That’s true and Odom can certainly make the choices that he sees fit for himself. The consequences of his actions may not manifest themselves today, tomorrow, next year, or even until his NBA career is over. But if he keeps on downing those Gummi Bears, Honey Buns, Lifesavers, Hershey’s white chocolate cookies and creme, Snickers bars, cookies, and other sugar-infested foods on a regular basis, it will come as no surprise to anyone when his health will be in jeopardy. Maybe Dr. Amen has given Odom something to think about now and hopefully he will give pause before stuffing his pie hole with more of that carbage! For his sake and for all those impressionable kids out there (including his own!) watching him do this to himself, we can only hope.

Offering his own bit of advice to people like Odom who are severely addicted to sugar, Dr. Amen said it’s best to “get your sugar consumption under control.”

“You’ll feel so much better and your brain will function better, too,” Dr. Amen concluded. “And, maybe the Lakers can get their 15th championship and Odom can get his first.”

If Type 2 diabetes doesn’t get Lamar Odom, then Type 3 diabetes of the brain might. Odom should DEFINITELY listen to people like Dr. Amen and The Brain Trust Program author Dr. Larry McCleary who know what they are talking about. Sugar is not an innocuous substance–it is a very real detriment to weight and health. And the sooner people like Odom realize that and do something about it, the better.

Comments (1)
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The article offers no insight on how to stop sugar addiction or what may be going on in Lamar's body and brain to trigger such behavior in the first place. Sugar addiction doesn't just happen. There is an underlying physiological/psychological cause that must first be addressed.  You'd think someone with Dr. Amen's credentials could offer some input on what brain biology contributes to addiction and how best to treat that. Otherwise, telling someone they should just stop, as with any addiction, is well meaning but pointless.

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