We’ve all heard time and time again that high levels of sugar is detrimental to your health... But is sugar a toxin that's fuelling the global obesity epidemic?
According to studies undertaken by American endocrinologist Dr Robert Lustig of the University of California, sugar has replaced fat as the new dietary evil.
Lustig rose to fame in 2009 when he posted a video on YouTube “The Skinny on Obesity” exposing sugar as being chronically poisonous and the main contributor to health problems such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease and dementia.
“Sugar is not good for us in any way, shape or form. You know, we need fats. We need fats for brain growth. Fats are essential and we have essential fatty acids that we must take in but sugar is a way bigger problem than fat ever was, that I can tell you”.
On average, individual Australian’s consume close to 45kg of sugar every year contributing to the prevalence of obesity in Australia. In the past twenty years, obesity rates have doubled making us one of the fattest nations in the world, and as a result obesity has now overtaken smoking as the leading cause of premature death in illness nationally. At this rate, by 2020, 80% of all Australian’s adults will be overweight or obese (Monash Obesity and Diabetes Institute, 2012).
Lustig’s studies show that sucrose (commonly known as granulated or table sugar) is “isocaloric but not isometabolic”. In basic English, that means that your body can have the same amount of calories from fructose and protein or even fructose and fat, but the metabolic effect will be entirely different (despite the identical calorie count). This is because different nutrients provoke different hormonal responses, and those responses, among other things determine how much fat your body accumulates.
So Dr. Lustig - what does this all mean?
The more sucrose we incorporate into our diet, the more we trick our bodies into gaining weight. Our bodies have trouble metabolizing this type of sugar compared to naturally occurring sugars apparent in fresh fruit and vegetables (glucose) meaning:
- The majority of sucrose turns into fat;
- It doesn’t appropriately stimulate insulin, which means our bodies don’t sense the “hunger hormone” or the “satiety hormone”, so we don’t feel like we’re full and usually end up overeating.
- Overtime can lead to insulin resistance which is an underlying factor in Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease and many other cancers.
Lustig’s studies don’t tell us that we need to completely abolish refined sugar from our diets, but instead we should take the time to evaluate our food intake and decrease the consumption to a healthier level, recommending no more than 25gm a day.
Nevertheless, we should always remember how important it is to have a balance of carbohydrates, protein, fat, fibre, vitamins and minerals to sustain a healthy body. Fruits and vegetables are the foundation of a healthy diet and are nutrient dense providing great health benefits for our bodies. We should also opt for healthy carbohydrate and fibre sources such as whole grains which are rich in antioxidants giving us long lasting energy and a healthier heart.
So, besides a few empty calories, sugar really has NO nutritional value. What it does do is give you a short burst of energy, a quick dose of “feel good” as it hits your pleasure receptors and an unfortunate addiction if consumed too regularly. So curb your sugar habit and take care of your body by unlocking a healthier lifestyle for your future.
Obesity in Australia (2012) Monash Obesity and Diabetes Institute, WWW.MODI.MONASH.EDU.AU
Mercola (2012) The hidden reason you get flabby, HTTP://ARTICLES.MERCOLA.COM