The current levels of sugar intake across the world is nothing less than substance abuse.
This is the opinion of Dr Robert Lustig who is on a crusade to ban sugar. He wants politicians to come to the party and institute laws as they have done with tobacco and alcohol.
He is the author of Fat Chance: The Hidden Truth About Sugar, Obesity and Disease, which contains insights from his 16 years treating childhood obesity and his meta-analysis of the cutting-edge research on the devastating effect of sugar on populations across the world.
Lustig doesn’t pull any punches in his fight against sugar:
“Sugar’s not dangerous because of its calories, or because it makes you fat. Sugar is dangerous because it’s sugar. It’s not nutrition. When consumed in excess, it’s a toxin. And it’s addictive.”
Sugar is a toxin that harms our organs and disrupts the body’s usual hormonal cycles and excessive consumption of sugar is one of the primary causes of obesity and metabolic disorders like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Two hormones, leptin and ghrelin play a role in how our bodies deal with sugar. Leptin is secreted primarily in fat cells, as well as the stomach, heart, placenta, and skeletal muscle and decreases hunger. Ghrelin is secreted primarily in the lining of the stomach. Ghrelin increases hunger. This system fails when we take in excessive amounts of sugar, putting the body on a rollercoaster ride that’s impossible to exit.
The body deals differently with fructose and glucose. In his now famous video, The Toxic Truth About Sugar, Lustig explains that chronic fructose exposure alone – nothing else – causes the so-called metabolic syndrome: obesity, type II diabetes, lipid problems, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
“Glucose is the energy of life. Fructose is poison. You are not what you eat; you are what you do with what you eat and what you do with fructose is particularly egregious and dangerous.
“The reason for that is that fructose is not metabolized by insulin, unlike glucose. Fructose goes to the liver where it is being deposited and the liver turns it into triglyceride, a form of fat storage making the liver fatty with intake of too much fructose.”
To explain it further: Fructose ingestion does not stimulate insulin, because there’s no receptor for fructose. So, your insulin doesn’t go up and if insulin doesn’t go up, then leptin doesn’t go up and if leptin doesn’t go up, your brain doesn’t realise that you ate something and therefore you eat more.
It’s a vicious cycle that you have no control over.
One thing that we can all take from this is the understanding that people who struggle with obesity are not gluttons; they are at the mercy of their body’s inability to deal with sugar, especially fructose.
The dilemma is that sugar is bad for us but ridding our diets of it is far from easy.
Sugar is now so ubiquitous, it has been added to virtually every processed food, making it practically impossible to make a better choice for our health. Approximately 80 % of the 6,000,000 consumer packaged foods in the United States have added caloric sweeteners, according to Lustig.
It looks like we’ll be forced to lobby the authorities to regulate the food industry more stringently.
Check out Lustig’s original video on the bitter truth of sugar.