Sugar is consumed by most Americans to the tune of 130lbs a year. That actually breaks down to more than a third of a pound per person per day, a staggering number to say the least. This is one of the reasons that I believe our health continues to decline despite advancements in the medical science.
I am not alone in my presumption. There are scientific facts and studies that actually back up this hypothesis. Dr. Lustig M.D., a pediatric endocrinologist at The University of California, San Francisco, is one of the health professionals leading the charge to educate the American public on the dangers of sugar consumption.
When Dr. Sanjay Gupta interviewed Dr. Lustig last year in a “60 Minutes Interview” concerning this matter, Dr. Gupta asked of him “What are all these various diseases that you say are linked to sugar?” Dr. Lustig replied “Obesity, Type2 Diabetes, Hypertension and Heart Disease itself, … and 75% of it is preventable”.
We often consume more sugar than we are aware of, because it is often hidden in many processed foods we eat every day like bread, sauces, cereals, salad dressings, yogurts and many others. (Just read the ingredients label of the foods you buy to confirm.)
Dr. Gupta then asked Dr. Lustig about High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). “Is it worse than table sugar?” to which Dr. Lustig replied “No, because it’s the exact same … the problem is, they are both bad.”
I totally agree with Dr. Lustig in the presumption that they are both bad, but I disagree that they are equal. In a 2010 Study by Princeton University, two groups of Lab Rats were given sweetened water. One group was given water sweetened with sugar and the other group was given water sweetened with HFCS. Researchers noted that the rats given the HFCS sweetened water gained a lot more weight than the rats that were given water sweetened with sugar despite the fact that the calories were kept equal for both groups.
The Princeton researchers further noted “In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of HFCS also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating triglycerides”.
Nutritional biologist, Kimber Stanhope, is now finding evidence that backs up these theories. She is doing a five year study which is linking excess HFCS consumption to an increase in risk factors for Heart Disease which implies that calories from HFCS are different than calories obtained from other foods. The study found that consumption of HFCS led to increased levels of LDL Cholesterol (aka bad cholesterol) and other factors for cardiovascular disease.
Most Nutritionists will have us believe that a calorie is a calorie despite the form in which it is consumed, but the outcome of these studies proves that this is clearly not the case.
What about cancer? Does excess sugar increase your chances for getting cancer? Louis Cantley, a Harvard Professor and the head of The Beth-Israel Cancer Center is researching the association between the two, and he has found that you absolutely limit your chances of getting cancer if you limit your sugar and HFCS intake.
In Conclusion, what are the best ways to limit sugar and HCFS, given added sugar is so prevalent in so many of the foods we eat every day.
1) Limit sugar as much as possible. (Dr. Lustig’s recommended amount of sugar for an entire day is less than what is in one soda.)
2) Avoid processed foods. Many foods have a lot of added sugar and HFCS. Choose instead whole foods in their natural state.
3) Avoid Soda’s. (Diet Sodas with artificial sweeteners may actually be worse for you) Choose unsweetened teas instead and if you have to sweeten it, sweeten it with Stevia or Honey.
4) Avoid Fruit Juices. (Yes this includes Orange Juice) Fruit juices have natural sugars which your body needs, but the fiber which helps to slow absorption has been stripped in juices. Fruit is a great source of something sweet if the whole fruit is consumed. When you drink straight Orange Juice, you may drink the juice of 5 Oranges with none to very little of the fiber. You wouldn’t usually consume that many Oranges if you were eating the whole fruit.
5) Always Read the Ingredients of any foods you purchase and not just the Nutrition Label. If it has added HFCS it will state it in the ingredients. (Also sometimes listed as Corn Syrup) The ingredients are also listed in descending order. In other words if Sugar or HFCS is among the first few ingredients, it means that product is loaded with it.