With great surprise and excitement I watched the 60 minutes segment CBS aired April 1, 2012 with Dr. Robert Lustig. Months prior, Dr. Mercola posted a video from UCT TV’s, The Skinny on Obesity where Lustig, author of Sugar: The Bitter Truth, spoke about the white stuff many are saying is toxic.
For those of you who personally know me, you also know that I’m a big fan of Dr. Mercola who is brave enough to post the truth, day after day on his website about so many health issues and politically-driven health-related issues. He’s had a great influence on the choices I make regarding my health and my children’s health.He’s an expert in his field, so anyone that he interviews or the videos he shares, I’m likely to listen to. So here are my thoughts regarding the video, the CBS segment, and sugar.
Going against the standard medical belief that too much fat and too many calories are to blame for what’s causing our waist bands to expand. Lustig explains in his video, that sugar is the culprit to blame for obesity and many illnesses, not fat. “Fructose is a poison…it has nothing to do with the calories. It’s a poison by itself.”
I commend CBS for airing the segment. Most likely CBS will incite an enormous stir amongst the sugar and beet growers and corn refiners industry, as well as the processed snack food giants. But I have a problem with the reporter calling this information “new” when it is quite the opposite. Sugar Blues was published in 1986 and Pure, White and Deadly in 1972. Both warned us about the dangers of sugar.
In 2007, Connie Bennett, certified life and health coach and best-selling author of the book, Sugar Shock explains in her book why she personally avoids all sugars. Bennett, completely sugar-free for several years, says sugar also affects mental health as well as physical well-being, calling herself a former, “sugar-shrew.” Bennett’s book is loaded with a plethera of information on sugar, what it does to the body and to the mind, why it should be avoided and how sugar addicts can break free from addiction. So no, this is not new news guys. Nevertheless, I’m grateful to CBS for reporting on the subject which helps send the truth out to so many.
If you believe mainstream medicine and the FDA, you are probably still eating a low-fat or fat-free diet. Several decades ago, Ansel Keys did an analysis (without a computer) to find the outcome he was looking for, which was that fat was the cause of overweight and heart disease. The infamous study called “The Seven Countries Study,” was not quite accurate. The study said that where there was fat, there was heart disease, leaving out the part that where there was fat, there was also sugar (doughnuts). There was an indirect correlation, but not a direct one. Fat alone does not cause obesity or heart disease.
In the 1980s, we had based our nutrition and government health policies on Key’s findings, drastically cutting back our consumption of fat. For over 30 years we villainized fats like coconut oil and butter and replaced them with man-made transfats like margarine. And for several decades now, our nation has only gotten fatter. Anything in excess can be harmful—we can drown in too much water, we can even over-dose on too many healthy vitamins. But the problem does not lay with fat.
Many have come to understand that fat is not the enemy and have debunked the once prevalent theory as outdated and flat out wrong. What causes obesity and disease are doughnuts, cakes, cookies, sodas and candies, or rather the sugar in them and other sweet treats as well. Sugar makes us fat.
Some may argue that we can’t just single out sugar, even if it’s not all that good for us. Processed/refined carbs, even whole grains all convert to sugar in the body. Sugar affects insulin and causes weight gain and health issues such as diabetes, even cancer. I believe many have a serious addiction to sugar and should avoid it as well as grains. I also believe that more than half of the population should probably eat a low carb/high fat diet; however, I also know that eating this way is not for everyone. We all have different metabolic types. We have different backgrounds, different cultures, different genetics which affect our body size and the way we process fats and sugars. I am no doctor or science buff, but I get it.
Still, as bad as sugar is, I believe High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is worse! Even healthy individuals who can tolerate small amounts of raw sugar cannot process HFC efficiently. HFCS goes straight to fat cells. I personally believe everyone should avoid HFCS like the plague.
Dr. Lustig says HFCS is not just evil because it’s bad for our bodies, but because its “economically evil….we are being poisoned by this…added to every processed food.” It’s a cheap sweetener that’s in everything from soda to bread to protein bars and sports drinks and it is not only making people fat, it’s been linked to diabetes, hyper tension, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cardio vascular disease and cancer.
Young children are getting Type 2 Diabetes, which used to only show up in adults, hence the former name, “Adult Onset Diabetes.” Children are drinking sports drinks designed for high-intense athletes, and are drinking way too many sodas. Pure water is always the best choice, even over juice. Although the sugar in juice is naturally occurring, it is still sugar. We are better off eating the piece of fruit with the fiber intact, as opposed to drinking the juice of several fruits without any fiber content.
The government is not helping when it comes to sugar awareness. In Dr. Lustig’s studies, he found that inner-city Harlem juice-drinking toddlers are also becoming fatter. So who is supplying the juice? WIC—a low-income government program that hands out free foods like juice, whole grain cereals and bread—all carbohydrates—to women, infants and children. These same breads and cereals are cheap foods with very little nutrition quality and most brands that WIC allow contain harmful sugars like HFCS and rate high on the glycemic index. WIC recently cut back on the amount of cheese and eggs they approve of, advocating a low-fat, and a high grain diet as a healthy one. WIC will not allow participants to purchase whole fat milk after a participating child has reached a certain age (usually age 2) but allows low-fat and fat-free choices instead they defend as healthy choices, following the FDA’s food pyramid, which is contrary to Lustig’s findings.
So is sugar that bad for us? Well, if you ask Coke or Pepsi they would probably tell you the same as the corn refiners bost in their commercials, that it’s “fine in moderation.” But I don’t buy it. Neither does Dr. Joseph Mercola, best-selling author and holistic health practitioner who agrees with Lustig and Bennett on the harmful affects of sugar. Mercola advises cutting out fructose from all sources, including fruit and grain completely if you are trying to lose weight. For healthy individuals without weight problems, he recommends consuming no more than 25 grams of fructose daily and says Stevia and small amounts of organic, raw honey is fine.
I personally credit Connie Bennett for discovering my passion for health and wellness. After I read Sugar Shock over five years ago, I was sold. I was convinced more than ever that sugar was the root cause of so many health issues, especially obesity and that by avoiding sugar, one could defeat diabetes and even avoid cancer.
Bennett uses Stevia (green leaf form) but no other sugar sweeteners including honey. Both Mercola and Bennett advise against consuming popular sweeteners like Agave and crystalline fructose and especially artificial sweeteners which have been linked to migraine headaches, weight-gain and cancer. Connie Bennett’s new book, Beyond Sugar Shock, will be released in June 2012, and I can’t wait to read it!
So for those of you looking to clear your head, lift the fog, reverse your diabetes, lose weight and ward off cancer, check out these wonderful books on sugar: Pure White and Deadly, by John Yudkin; Lick the Sugar Habit and Suicide by Sugar by Nancy Appleton; and Sugar Blues by William Dufty. Also check out The No Grain Diet, by Doctor Mercola.