The Bitter Truth about Sugar

If you want to see and hear an excellent lecture that explains clearly how the steady increase of sugar in the American diet is responsible for wreaking havoc on our health, watch this.  If you want to feel okay, from a nutritional point of view, about the good fats in your diet – whether they come from animal or vegetable sources, Dr. Lustig will make your day. If you want to understand in detail how fructose (particularly high fructose corn syrup) is metabolized, this lecture lays it out.

I know.  It’s ninety minutes long and not everybody is nutrition nerdy enough to make it through.  Here is an article by Dr. Lustig that summarizes the major points but you won’t derive the passion and excitement that he brings to the topic in the video.

Robert H. Lustig, MD, is UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology.  He explores the damage caused by sugary foods and argues that fructose (too much) and fiber (not enough) appear to be cornerstones of the obesity epidemic through their effects on insulin.
In the video he clearly shows, down to a molecular level, how fructose(from all sources) metabolizes similarly to alcohol.  Both convert to fat quickly and both fail to give satiety signals causing us to eat more and want more.  Fructose consumption has incrementally increased 5-fold compared to a century ago while fat consumption decreased.  High intake of sugar is linked with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension.  Quit blaming butter!

But don’t take my word for it.  Watch this.  Loaded with startling facts and put into context with American food history and dietary trends.

I know. Cynthia why are you raining on sugar just before the sweets for sweetheart holiday? Problem is, there’s almost no time of year that we’re not about to have a holiday focused on sweets. Right? How do you keep your family’s sweet tooth in check???

20 thoughts on “The Bitter Truth about Sugar

  1. This is an excellent presentation by Dr. Lustig; I’ve been sending the link for the video to everyone I know who is concerned about this topic. And today’s Washington Post has an article about mercury in HFCS:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/26/AR2009012601831.html

    What I find frustrating about this entire debate is the number of people who don’t get that fructose is metabolized differently than other sugars by our bodies, and that excess calories from fructose get stored as fat; they can’t seem to follow the biology. Dr. Lustig makes it easy to understand.

    And yes, even though fruit contains fructose, it seems to be still poorly understood by the average consumer that all of the other things present in whole fruit (soluble fiber, antioxidants, and the thousands of other compounds whose function we just don’t understand yet) make whole fruit a far better choice than consuming HFCS.

    HFCS is in nearly every prepared food today—just read the ingredients labels. We’ve stopped consuming any prepared food (with the exception of Trader Joe’s Organic Mayonnaise, which is unsweetened); we’ve lost a combined 120 pounds over the past eight months. Equally important, our liver functioning has returned to the normal range. We’re convinced.

  2. Wow, it took two sittings but I made it through the whole thing. Now feeling pretty smug about my “only milk or water” policy for my kids. We do let them have a little watered-down orange juice when they’re sick, though. Thanks for sharing.

  3. my 13 year old son even listened to some of the presentation. He has been hearing me say this for a while now but hearing it from a doctor really made the message hit home. thanks for posting.

  4. I didn’t get thru more than 10 mins. of this, bc I have two young kids. But I do know how very negative sugar is, I don’t know all the detail, but I know it’s not good for you.
    Sugar is addicting, and we don’t realize how much it is in. I myself am a chocoholic.:) I try to limit myself and buy dark, organic but it is so hard to resist most of the time. I’m not sure where the balance is…?

  5. Great post. I think Dr Lustig points out the real problem with HFCS: it’s not nutritionally worse than sugar (despite all the misconception-fueled buzz suggesting otherwise), but the fact that it’s *so cheap* — due to corn industry subsidies — it finds its way into so many processed foods. People are wired to like sweet foods; when manufacturers can sweeten foods really cheap, why wouldn’t they?

    I just wish people would stop glorifying sugar. Replacing all the HFCS with sugar or agave syrup in processed food will not make anyone any healthier.

  6. Dr. Lustig’s presentation needs to be screened for the caregivers in child care centers across the country.
    That’s where the “fructose” intoxication starts. Not with HFCS in soda but with juice ( and even some baby formula).

  7. Gosh, I’m so happy that someone in the establishment is speaking up. This was very informative and insightful and I appreciate learning more of the in depth science behind why fructose is such a poison. Thank you, Dr. Lustig for being so brave to speak up.

  8. Great stuff! ANother reason that we avoid sugar and corn syrup and the like in our diet! Our baby boy will be 2 in March is he does NOT eat sugar. Thank God, what a great start on life he is getting! I really enjoyed listening to this is the background today whilst doing other things. It is very validating and goes right along with everything that the Blood Type Diet talks about! We try to eat according to our blood type and eliminating sugar is part of that for us! Thank YOU Dr. Lustig for a great presentation!!!

  9. Fascinating! I really like how Dr. Lustig makes the biochemistry accessible. He makes it easy to understand why certain sugars have certain effects on the body. I think I will continue to refer back to this lecture.

  10. Do, doctor, what is for lunch? I simply need three grocery shopping lists… what to eat, what to eat not much of, and what to avoid totally… please

  11. Please help, I am terribly addicted to sugar and don’t know what to do about it. I simply can’t stop eating it!!!

    1. Hi Paula,
      I would recommend that you make an appointment with a nutritionist. I don’t do private counseling but hopefully you can find someone in you area that does.
      For starters, make a rule that the only sweets you can eat are foods that you make in your kitchen with your own hands. No store bought cookies, candies, doughnuts, etc.

  12. I read an email that said that you use more calories while eating apples and celery than you take in from them, so you really lose more calories than you gain. Is that true?.

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