Sugar Toxicity

I’ve talked to many of you about avoiding added sugar.  In this past week’s 60 Minutes program, there was a segment on the dangers of sugar called Is Sugar Toxic?.  You can watch the 60 Minutes segment or read the transcript via the preceding link.  The interviewer, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, talked with a number of doctors and scientists about their recent findings on how dangerous sugar really is to our health.

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One doctor, endocrinologist Robert Lustig, describes sugar as a toxin and talks about how sugar contributes to many of the diseases you hear about in our current health care crisis, including diabetes, obesity and heart disease that are usually associated with adults but are now appearing in more and more young people.  He has become a prominent spokes person on the dangers of sugar.  You can watch Dr. Lustig’s YouTube video if you want to hear more from him.  It is an hour and a half long, but full of great and troubling information.  I highly recommend this to you.

Kimber Stanhope, a nutritional biologist is focusing on how sugar affects heart disease and stroke.  Their five year research study involves paid subjects who were kept in the hospital for weeks at a time where all food intake was carefully measured and monitored.  After a few days of a low sugar diet to get baseline measurements, 25% of their calories were replaced by a sugary drink and their blood was drawn every 1/2 hour.  After only two weeks on a sugary diet, there were increases of LDL cholesterol in their blood.  We’ve been told for years to avoid fatty foods because they increase our cholesterol and it is standard practice to have your cholesterol levels checked to give an indication of how healthy your cardiovascular system is.  In spite of all the low fat foods available, heart disease has not decreased.  According to Dr. Lustig, it is not fat consumption, but rather sugar consumption that is causing these health problems.  Dr. Lustig goes into detail on why this occurs in his talk linked above.

Lewis Cantley, a Harvard professor and the head of the Beth Israel Deaconess Cancer Center discusses how sugar increases insulin in our bloodstream and because of insulin receptors on tumor cells, actually encourages the growth of cancer cells in our bodies.  I’ve mentioned the book Anticancer, A New Way of Life by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber before, but if you haven’t read it, I encourage you to do so whether or not you personally have dealt with cancer.  I keep a copy at Forza! you may check out.

Finally, Eric Stice, a neuroscientist at the Oregon Research Institute talks about the addictiveness of sugar and how it lights up the same areas of the brain as cocaine does.  There is a reason we find it so difficult to avoid eating sugar.

I don’t expect most of you to give up sugar entirely, but I would advise you to be careful at least how much and when you eat it.  Try to keep sugar consumption to a minimum and when you do consume sugar, certainly don’t eat it without eating additional fiber and protein to slow your body’s insulin response.  Eat fruit rather than drink fruit juices.  Find the time to watch these videos.  Unless we change our toxic sugar environment, we are going to continue to pay the health and monetary consequences.  Things have to change!  Why not start with you and your family?