Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sugar = Death?

Ok, so now that I have your attention, I would love to draw your attention to two horrible inventions of the 20th century: sucrose (simple table sugar) and high fructose corn syrup (H.F.C.S.) as well as one of the best thing mother nature has given us: fruit! Today the New York Times published an article today saying that Sugar is Poison. It goes on to say that because H.F.C.S. and sucrose, which both break down into glucose and fructose in our bodies, are metabolized the same way that our bodies react to them the same way, with glucose feeding your cells and fructose going to your liver to be metabolized into either glycogen replenishment or sometimes into the Palmtic fatty acid which in turn can become adipose tissue. This is, I guess, where the whole ‘sugar is toxic’ argument comes from as it passes through our liver and turns into fat. The article actually barely gets into this:

'But marketing aside, the two sweeteners are effectively identical in their biological effects. “High-fructose corn syrup, sugar — no difference,” is how Lustig put it in a lecture that I attended in San Francisco last December. “The point is they’re each bad — equally bad, equally poisonous.”

Refined sugar (that is, sucrose) is made up of a molecule of the carbohydrate glucose, bonded to a molecule of the carbohydrate fructose — a 50-50 mixture of the two. The fructose, which is almost twice as sweet as glucose, is what distinguishes sugar from other carbohydrate-rich foods like bread or potatoes that break down upon digestion to glucose alone. The more fructose in a substance, the sweeter it will be. High-fructose corn syrup, as it is most commonly consumed, is 55 percent fructose, and the remaining 45 percent is nearly all glucose. It was first marketed in the late 1970s and was created to be indistinguishable from refined sugar when used in soft drinks. Because each of these sugars ends up as glucose and fructose in our guts, our bodies react the same way to both, and the physiological effects are identical. In a 2010 review of the relevant science, Luc Tappy, a researcher at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland who is considered by biochemists who study fructose to be the world’s foremost authority on the subject, said there was “not the single hint” that H.F.C.S. was more deleterious than other sources of sugar.'

This is where I have a problem with the article. Do I think that table sugar and high fructose corn syrup are bad for us? Yes. Mostly because we may become addicted to the effects it has on our body (spike in sugar is called a sugar ‘high’ for a reason – some say it mimics the high we get on illicit drugs) and because we eat way too much of it. Nowhere in the article does it explain WHY either of these sugars are poisonous, it just says they are with no data to back it up. The even BIGGER problem I have with this article is that it doesn’t differentiate from the fructose in High Fructose Corn Syrup and the fructose found in fruit. The sugar in fruit is also fructose so my biggest fear is that this article, along with the whole ‘low-carb’ revolution, will demonize fruit. They say one thing about fruit in the articles, which neither supports nor rejects eating them or that the fructose in fruit is ok to eat. Fruit differs from High Fructose Corn Syrup because H.F.C.S. are empty calories – it doesn’t come with any vitamins, minerals, fibre or water yet all of the aforementioned things are present in fruit (though bananas have a low amount of fibre). Fibre just doesn’t keep you regular (which is what insoluble fibre does) but soluble fibre slows down sugar absorption in the blood stream not only stopping you from getting that ‘sugar high’. This also keeps you more full for longer (which the water helps with as well) because when your blood sugar spikes it is always followed with a crash, leaving you craving something else. This is why eating anything with sucrose or H.F.C.S. has a cyclic effect on the body by having your blood sugar spike, then crash, then you eat something horrible again having it spike, crash… you get the picture. Thank you New York Times for telling the general public that crap food is crap, scaring them even. I just wish you would have put a disclaimer somewhere saying that fruit is still awesome as a possum!! FIBRE IS KING!


  1. Is this the talk by Lustig that you're talking about:

    It's a good watch.

  2. Also, do you have any info on cane sugar? For people that might like to have the odd soda every now and then, a cane sugar pop might be a better alternative to pop sweetened by HFCS (which is the standard).

    I have a feeling it may not be so much that HFCS is "poison" for you, per se, but it's just that we eat so MUCH of it. It's in almost every food at the market. I was trying to by sausages the other day and noticed the big brands like Johnsonville Brats and the store brand both had high-fructose corn syrup in it. I had to dig for a more "exotic" brand of sausages to find one without it.

    It could be that we just exceeded our moderate levels of sugar that would've been fine in the past. On the most part, people are eating way more sugar than they even realize. Otherwise, I think you're absolutely right.

  3. I go to a place in Toronto called "The Healthy Butcher" (on Queen West) for all my meat now.

    As for the cane sugar it isn't necessarily 'bad' for you if you drink say a pop with it in it once a month, but without soluble fibre to regulate the sugar absorption in your blood stream it will spike and crash your blood sugar levels just the same.