The following is an article about Dr. Robert Lustig’s primal yell regarding the “toxicity of sugar”…comparing it to adding morphine to our food.
Very dramatic, very eye catching, very good marketing for his books and talks….but very untrue. Sugar is just one “granule” of the dietary problem regarding obesity and type 2 diabetes. Singling it out is doing a great disservice to readers…and stops people from really correcting the flaw in their daily intake…overconsumption of carbohydrates of all kinds.
Next is the actual article written about Dr. Lustig’s presentation in Aspen. Following is my commentary to this Linked In post.
ASPEN, Colo. — Robert Lustig, the physician and YouTube sensation who once wrote that sugar should be regulated like alcohol, is on a new crusade to kill the sweetener.
In a packed, standing-room-only discussion at the Aspen Ideas Festival Friday, Lustig called sugar an addictive, toxic substance that has no place in consumers’ diets. He also hinted that he’s ready to step up his fight to push for legislation to cut sugar consumption. (He recently completed his degree at Hastings College of the Law.)
Lustig’s basic argument is simple: Calories are not created equal. He posits that the calories from a can of sugary soda are not the same as those that come from eating a bag of almonds. That’s because “sugar calories” affect the body differently.
Not all physicians agree with this thinking, of course; some say a calorie burned is a calorie burned. But few critics have a platform like Lustig’s. He is omnipresent in the media, making frequent appearances on radio programs and TV shows. His 90-minute anti-sugar lecture has been viewed more than three million times on YouTube.
“They knew when they added more sugar, we bought more of their products because of the addiction phenomenon,” he said. “What if you had an unscrupulous cereal manufacturer who laced your Cheerios with morphine? Would that be OK? This is the legal equivalent.”
Solving the problem gets tricky, though. Consumers need to do their part to eat more healthy “real foods” and less pre-packaged items. But Lustig acknowledges that may not be possible for people with low budgets or limited access to better food.
Government efforts to limit substances have also had mixed results. A 2010 recommendation by the Food and Drug Administration to reduce the amount of salt in processed foods has largely been ignored by food manufacturers. The Center for Science in the Public Interest reported earlier this month that sodium levels in many foods remain higher today than in 2005.
Then there’s the issue of taste: Consumers crave sweets. Lustig’s own wife is an avid baker, yet she’s managed to cut sugar by a third in all of her recipes. Lustig says pastries are better that way — it’s easier to distinguish the oats, raisins and other ingredients.
In the past, Lustig has advocated for taxes and age limits to prevent people from buying sugary products. He said Friday he considered regulation “a last resort,” but “unfortunately, we’re at that last resort.”
“Medicare will be broke by 2026 if we do nothing,” he said. “You know what? I want my freaking Medicare.”
Among them: How do you detox from sugar? (Exercise to work it out.) Are artificial sweeteners like Equal safe? (It’s unclear.) Is juicing a good idea? (It’s fine for vegetables, but not recommended for fruits, because juicing removes fiber, making the sugars easier to absorb in the body.)
Lustig’s final piece of advice? When shopping for pre-packaged foods, never buy anything labeled “light” or fat free.
“That is truly poison,” he said.
Commentary by Diane Kress, RD CDE… NY Times Best Selling author of The Metabolism Miracle and The Diabetes Miracle, Named to Top 10 RD’s Making a Difference for 2013, medical nutrition specialist for 36 years, person with type 2 diabetes.
Let’s be totally honest, Dr. Lustig. One hundred percent of carbohydrate grams convert directly to blood sugar. Sugar is just one part of the problem. Table sugar is a high glycemic index carbohydrate and quickly raises blood sugar. But Dr. Lustig, 15 grams of carbohydrate from sugar converts to blood sugar as does 15 grams of carbohydrate from fruit, crackers (even whole grain), yogurt (even non fat Greek yogurt) , milk ( even organic non fat milk), potatoes (even sweet potatoes), and those healthy legumes like lentils. Yes, sugar’s conversion to blood sugar is fast and furious, but carbohydrate grams from fruit, grain, yogurt, milk, and legumes all end up as sugar in the blood.
What’s the point? It’s not just sugar, but ALL carbohydrate grams that cause blood sugar to rise. And the fact is, over 60% of American adults have carbohydrate intolerance due to insulin imbalance. When these millions consume excess carbohydrate, they over-release insulin; a FAT GAIN HORMONE. Over consumption of all carbohydrates (even the healthy ones) causes excess insulin release and increased fat around the middle and in the blood (cholesterol and triglycerides).
It’s true that sugar does not contribute vitamins, minerals, or fiber, but this is not what makes sugar “toxic”. If you classify sugar as toxic, then fruit, yogurt, crackers, legumes, milk are toxic, too. All these foods, in excess, are causing obesity and diabetes.
The US diet is filled with “carbage”…over-consumption of carbohydrate foods of all kinds.
A “healthy” breakfast of whole grain cereal with nonfat milk, a piece of fruit, and a glass of fresh squeezed juice is almost all carbohydrate.
When carbohydrate is consumed, blood sugar rises, and insulin is released to usher the sugar into muscle and fat cells.
But, over 68% of US citizens have a hormonal imbalance of the fat gain hormone; insulin.
When high amounts of carb are consumed, over-release of the fat gain hormone occurs and excess fat is stored on the body (excess body fat, visceral fat, even liver fat) AND in the blood (cholesterol and triglycerides).
The “healthy” breakfast illustrated above has no “added” sugar…but can easily contain over 100 grams of carbohydrate. A high concentration of carbohydrates at any time IS toxic to over 150 million American adults..
It’s time to stop the tunnel vision with this focus on toxic sugar and be honest with the American public. We need to be re-educated about what a healthy diet means….BALANCE of carbohydrate, lean protein, heart healthy fat, and lots of vegetables. Drink water, take a multi-vitamin, exercise, and we will be healthy again. It may not be a “sexy” message, not so dramatic, won’t sell books….but at least it is the truth.