Evil Sugar: Both Sides of the Debate
“It rots your teeth” “It makes you crabby” “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”
Yes, today I am talking about sugar. I recently watched a lecture by Dr. Robert Lustig who discusses sugar and how evil it really is, referring to it as a toxin. He provides a clear and concise description of how sugar effects hepatocytes (your liver cells) comparing it with ethanol to demonstrate its similarities to a well-known toxin. He is specifically referring to fructose. You may have heard of it in a little something called high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) which is in just about everything we eat (slight exaggeration, but seriously, read the ingredients of your bread). HFCS is one of the main ingredients in soda/pop/fizzy garbage and juice. He pulls together a number of illustrative studies that show the deleterious effects of HFCS on weight, obesity, and health risk. All in all, a great lecture that I encourage all of you to watch.
The debut of this lecture and the article by Gary Taubes (which referenced the lecture) was met with slight resistance from other medical professionals. I just read the rebuttal by Dr. David Katz. It was well-written with a number of excellent points about natural selection, the importance of sugar, etc., etc. Yet, I was disappointed. I understand why Katz discusses natural selection/evolution – because those who had a palate for sweet were more likely to survive. Thus, our survival is largely predicated on the like/dislike of sugar. But, discussing evolution really didn’t change my view on Lustig, in fact it frustrated me because it seemed like Katz was using points that Lustig wasn’t debating at all. Lustig wasn’t arguing against the importance/role of sugar in our evolution as a species. He was merely presenting the facts, showing the difference between sugars (lactose, glucose, sucrose, fructose), and touching on the dangers of it due to the changes in quality (HFCS) and quantity consumed.
Katz goes on to state that “Lustig seems to be tossing out the strawberries with the soda”. If you watch the lecture, I want you to listen for this. Does he say to stop eating fruit? Nope. Well, if he did I missed it. In fact Lustig states that fructose found naturally (such as in fruit) is always accompanied by fibre. Fibre helps to counteract some of the negative effects of large doses of fructose as it helps with gastric motility (reducing the amount of time for absorption in the intestine). I believe Lustig actually comments on how fruit are good things.
Both physicians have some good points. But I think it is important for you to watch the lecture and read the article and make your own assessment. I know where I stand on this one, but I don’t know where you do. Only you can make that call. Knowing and understanding how different foods (a.k.a sugars) affect your body both acutely and chronically is important. If you click on the links above they will take you to both the lecture and the rebuttal article.
Happy reading and happy Monday.