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Evidence Suggests Sugar is Poison

April 15, 2011

In Robert Lustig’s lecture, “Sugar: The Bitter Truth,” he presents a lot of science to prove that sugar is just as toxic as ethanol in our livers and bodies, and should be regulated as such. Lustig is a specialist on pediatric hormone disorders and the leading expert in childhood obesity at University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine.

It’s a common belief that the more calories you eat the more you have to burn in order to not build up fat, regardless of where the calories come from—sugars, fats, carbohydrates etc. What’s less well-known is that fructose (common cane or beet sugar and what makes up more than 50 percent of high fructose corn syrup) doesn’t just increase the calories in our food, it actually slips into your body without being noticed by any of the processes our gut has evolved to tell us when we’ve eaten and no longer need more food. Fructose does not activate insulin, and when insulin is not activated, the fat hormone leptin is not released, and when leptin is not released, our brain does not know we just took in, say…those 200 calories. Fructose also does not suppress the hunger hormone ghrelin. So, you eat more calories when you eat fructose.

In addition to deceiving our bodies mechanism for regulating how hungry we feel, there is another reason sugar makes us fatter than the same amount of calories from fat or carbohydrates.  Although glucose can be processed in any cell in the body (which means very little ends up in the liver), fructose has to be broken down in the liver, which has a very limited capacity for doing so. Anything left over is stored as fat.

On top of these two reasons for why sugar makes us fat, there is a whole bucket of other health implications for liver disease, diabetes, hypertension and more. Because our livers have to process 100 percent of fructose, and because there is so much fructose in U.S. diets, our livers are producing many more toxins than our bodies can handle.

Basically, eating and drinking foods with HFCS, fructose or sucrose is like eating foods that are foreign to the way our guts have evolved to work, and much of it turns directly to fat once it’s in your body.

The following video goes into much greater detail about what HFCS, fructose, sucrose, and glucose are; the political and statistical history of food, obesity and disease in the U.S.; and the biological processes involved in metabolizing sugar. I find his argument very compelling, and it’s not the first time I’ve heard it. But his video certainly provides more details than I’ve seen before. It’s well worth the watch.

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