Is Sugar the New Tobacco?
You already know that eating too much sugar causes your teeth to rot and can lead to diabetes and obesity. But could it also trigger high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, and possibly even cancer? That’s the theory of a group of progressive medical researchers, who argue that sugar acts as a toxin in the body and is responsible for not only our rising rates of diabetes and obesity but also increasing incidences of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illness. Because sugar is so prevalent in food today – in obvious items like ice cream, cookies, and soda, as well as in “healthy” foods like crackers, energy bars, and salad dressings – experts contend that most people are living in toxic overload.
“Sugar is the biggest public health crisis in the history of the world,” says Dr. Robert Lustig, an endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco, whose 2009 speech “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” has received more than 2.5 million hits on YouTube. In an opinion paper published earlier this year in the journal Nature, Lustig and colleagues provoked debate when they stated that sugar is so harmful, it should be regulated like alcohol and tobacco. “Every substance of abuse – cocaine, heroin, you name it – has required personal or social intervention,” says Lustig. “For sugar we have nothing, and my prediction is that we will need both.”
SUGAR TRIGGERS A TOXIC CHAIN OF REACTIONS IN THE BODY THAT PRODUCE HARMFUL FATS, HORMONES, AND OTHER METABOLIC BY-PRODUCTS.
At first blush, this antisugar advocacy may seem alarmist. But Lustig and his University of California colleagues argue that sugar is harmful in significant amounts – not necessarily because it’s high in calories but rather because it triggers a toxic chain of reactions in the body that produce harmful fats, hormones, and other metabolic by-products.
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Sugar is found in nearly every food except meat, oil, and butter. But there’s a big difference between the sugar that occurs naturally in raw, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, milk, and whole grains and the type added to prepared or processed foods. Added sugars include every sweetener imaginable: white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, honey, agave nectar. It’s these added sugars that experts say are the root cause of our sugar problem because high amounts of them are found in almost every food we eat, most of which are also high in calories and devoid of nutrients. “Nature made sugar hard to get,” Lustig and his colleagues wrote in Nature. “Man made it easy.”
Among all the different types of sugar, fructose may be the most harmful, many experts believe. Fructose is found naturally in small amounts in fruit, but is also combined with glucose (the other basic sugar molecule) to make nearly every type of commercial sweetener, including table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. Why is fructose so harmful? “It’s unique,” says Dr. Miriam Vos, a gastroenterologist at Emory University. “It’s primarily metabolized by the liver,” so when you eat it, it’s processed and then stays in your liver and starts producing harmful blood fats called triglycerides.
“THE CANCER STORY IS VERY EARLY,” SAYS LUSTIG. “BUT WE KNOW THAT SUGAR DRIVES INSULIN RESISTANCE, AND INSULIN RESISTANCE DRIVES CANCER.”
Sugars that don’t contain fructose, on the other hand, like pure glucose and corn syrup, are processed by the liver and then sent out into the bloodstream, whether you need the fuel or not. Eat enough fructose and build enough triglycerides, and the result can be a fatty liver and insulin resistance – when the body can’t produce enough insulin to break down the sugar you eat.
Read more: http://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/health/is-sugar-the-new-tobacco-20140723#ixzz3B36KriUc
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