Sugar is a toxin


In a previous post “Sugar: Hiding in Plain Sight” I shared a TEDed video that explains how sugar is everywhere. It is found where you never expect to find it but is hiding under other names.

In this post I attempt to summarize some key points from a talk (starting at 40:37) by Robert H. Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at University of California San Francisco titled “Sugar: The Bitter Truth”. I also add some extra points or links. You can watch the one hour and thirty minutes talk at the end of this post.

At 13:50 the professor explains to the audience that coke [and pepsi] contains salt, a lot of it but you cannot taste it because the sweet taste of sugar is hiding it. Why salt? It makes you thirsty! And this makes you “consume” more.

At 40:37 he says that fructose was added for

  • palatability (of low-fat processed food)
  • as a browning agent

Fructose was added because when food was fat reduced, it tasted like cardboard (carbohydrates!).

it works on your stake on your grill it works in your arteries the same way

Fructose is not glucose

  • Fructose is 7 times more likely than glucose to [do that browning reaction (see quote above]
    Fructose does not suppress “ghrelin”, the hunger hormone
  • Acute fructose does not stimulate insulin (and hence “leptin”) hence your brain doesn’t see that you ate something hence you eat more
  • Chronic fructose expose promotes the Metabolic syndrome

What is the metabolic syndrome you say?
Metabolic syndrome (WebMD, Wikipedia), also known as metabolic syndrome X is a collection of diseases and symptoms. It consists of the combination of obsesity (particularly central obsesity, that is abdominal fat), diabetes, lipid problems, hypertension, cardiovascular disease.

In other words

Fructose -> uric acid -> gout (CDC, Wikipedia) + hypertension (high bp)

Moreover, at at 1:05:02 he says:

a sugar diet is a high fat diet 

fructose -> lipid droplet of nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis -> higher insulin

Add to this

JNK1 -> pSer-IRS-1 (which is inactive) -> liver insulin resistance -> pancreas generates more insulin -> higher bp -> more fat making -> more energy goes to fat cell (obesity) -> less well brain can see leptin -> more consumption

and the cycle continues.

Chronic fructose exposure shares 8 symptoms with chronic ethanol (ie; alcohol) exposure (because sugar & ethanol are the same)! (1:09:14)

Why is exercise good?

  • it improves skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity
  • it reduces stress, and resultant cortisol release
  • it makes the TCA cycle run faster, and detoxifies fructose, improving hepatic insulin sensitivity  (ie; higher metabolism)

At 1:15:22 he mentions the paleolithic diet and says that it cures diabetes II (in 1 week) because they’re getting 300-500g of fiber from raw food.

Even baby food contains a high percent of sugar and corn syrup! (1:19:27)

a huge amount of literature that’s now coming of age that shows that the earlier you expose kids too sweet the more they’re going to crave it later
plus there’s a new literature that shows the more sugar the pregnant woman drinks or eats during the pregnancy the more that gets across the placenta and actually causes what we call developmental programming changing the kids at a possibly even before the kid is born and driving this whole [obesity] epidemic even further

Fructose is a chronic hepatotoxin (it’s “alcohol without the buzz”)

The full talk by Robert H. Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at University of California San Francisco followed by the slides:

I book referenced by Professor Robert and that I highly recommend is Pure, White and Deadly by John Yudkin. Hopefully, I will write a post on the book in the future.

Additional reading -The Facts about High Fructose Corn Syrup
Toward a Unifying Hypothesis of Metabolic Syndrome, PEDIATRICS Vol. 129 No. 3 March 1, 2012, pp. 557 -570, doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-2912


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