I am not sure how many of your read the NY Times or are fans of Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories, but recently Taubes did a review of Robert Lustig’s lecture on sugar, called “Sugar: The Bitter Truth.”
The 90-minute lecture discusses the effects of sugar, high fructose corn syrup and epidemic of obesity plaguing us today. The lecture shown on YouTube has over 800,000 views and is gain popularity at 50,000 views a month. What makes this more exciting, as if chemistry lecture needs any help, is Lustig is a specialist on pediatric hormone disorders and is the leading expert on childhood obesity. In layman’s tems, he is an expert on the topic of obesity in kids. 800,000 views are not bad for a biochemistry lecture.
Taubes states…“The viral success of his lecture, though, has little to do with Lustig’s impressive credentials and far more with the persuasive case he makes that sugar is a ‘toxin’ or a ‘poison,’ terms he uses together 13 times through the course of the lecture, in addition to the five references to sugar as merely ‘evil.’ And by ‘sugar,’ Lustig means not only the white granulated stuff that we put in coffee and sprinkle on cereal — technically known as sucrose — but also high-fructose corn syrup, which has already become without Lustig’s help what he calls ‘the most demonized additive known to man’…”
The lecture boils down to our excessive consumption of sugar is the primary reason obesity and diabetes has skyrocketed in the past 30 years.
Taubes begs the question “Can sugar possibly be as bad as Lustig says it is?”
Lets make a few things clear; when Lustig refers to sugar he means sucrose (white, brown and cane) and high fructose corn syrup. These sweeteners are identical in terms of their biological effect and as Lustig puts it “…equally bad, equally poisonous.”
The article goes on to discuss the effects of sucrose vs high fructose corn syrup and if one is really more dangerous than the other.
“…In simpler language, how much of this stuff do we have to eat or drink, and for how long, before it does to us what it does to laboratory rats? And is that amount more than we’re already consuming? Unfortunately, we’re unlikely to learn anything conclusive in the near future. As Lustig points out, sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are certainly not ‘acute toxins’ of the kind the F.D.A. typically regulates and the effects of which can be studied over the course of days or months. The question is whether they’re ‘chronic toxins,’ which means ‘not toxic after one meal, but after 1,000 meals.’ This means that what Tappy calls ‘intervention studies’ have to go on for significantly longer than 1,000 meals to be meaningful…”
At the end, the studies and findings are inconclusive as they studies in rats don’t correlate to humans and it is impossible to isolate the factors of obesity and diabetes to sugar alone. High sugar consumption is just one of many makers, in a list of many like lack of exercise, that can lead to cancer and diabetes.
While studies are inconclusive for leading to an “all sugar could be harmful” stance, we do know that people who’s diet consist of loads of processed sugar, high fructose corn syrup are fatter. You don’t have to do a 90 minute lecture or write a book to walk the streets of find this out.
So…what do we do know for sure?
One – Taubes does a great job of laying out the problem and reviewing Lustig’s lecture.
Two – Lustig’s lecture is thought provoking and worth watching if you are attention span allows you to watch a 90 minute lecture on YouTube.
Three – As I got to the end of the article, I noticed a Google ad at the bottom of the page advertising High Fructose Corn Syrup. Stating, “What Does Scientific Research Really Say About HFCS?” I love the irony of life, you just get done reading a 9 page article written by Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories, about Robert Lustig’s lecture on sugar and obesity. And there is an ad paid for by the Corn Refiners Association hoping you won’t read the article and will continue to buy products they are pretty sure will kill you.
Four – Diabetes is a disease of carbohydrates and sugar spikes insulin levels faster than the price of viagra at the AVN awards. There is a undeniable connection between diabetes, metabolic derangement, obesity and cancer.
Sugar has always scared me. In the last 3 years, gluten has scared me more. In 1999, I had a doctor friend who told me if I wanted to stay lean, I should get a blood glucose meter and check my blood sugar levels 1-2 hours post meal. He told me if I could keep my BS under 80 mg/dl, I would never pack on an ounce of fat. I was able to do it pretty easily as long as I stuck to certain foods. Recently, I went back to the blood glucose meter and I find it impossible to stay under 80 mg/dl if I eat sugar, sucrose or HFCS, any gluten or dairy products.
We know a diet that controls bloods sugar and keeping it low will help us stay clear of diabetes. Since obesity, diabetes and cancer are all linked it might make for a good practice to keep blood sugar in check and train your ass of to stay lean.
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