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xMenace

Is Sugar Toxic?

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Chaseg08

Your link takes me to a login page. I went to the home page, then to health near the bottom left, clicked the Q&A sugar link and there is a link in that article to your posted article.

 

As for the article, I disagree with the attempt to make sugar appear evil. Everything is toxic in certain amounts. Water can kill you, bacon can kill you, too much oxygen can kill you. Our society has a tendancy to look past common sense and forget about moderation. He does have good points, especially when placing the blame on parents for allowing children to consume too much sugar. It's a human caused epidemic that is completely within our control to change yet we fail to do so knowing the full and well the consequenses.

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SteamPoweredBoy

I disagree, sugars are very important to your health and well being. Refined sugars don't really serve much benefit, but saying "sugar is a food, the harm of which outweighs its benefit (sic)" because you're diabetic is like saying "water is evil" because you can't swim.

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samorgan

I'm not sure what you mean by "sugars". I was referring specifically to sucrose as well as HFCS or anything containing a mixture of glucose and fructose. And, I didn't mean just for diabetics. Sugar (and particularly the fructose component) is a food whose harm outweighs its benefits for everyone, not just diabetics. It is not one of the required human nutrients and one can thrive just fine without ever consuming it.

 

There is virtually no difference between "refined sugar" and unrefined sugar in this regard. Might I suggest you watch the video referred to in the article? It makes this issue very, very clear. Here's the link:

 

 

 

I disagree, sugars are very important to your health and well being. Refined sugars don't really serve much benefit, but saying "sugar is a food, the harm of which outweighs its benefit (sic)" because you're diabetic is like saying "water is evil" because you can't swim.

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NoraWI

I agree with Gary Taubs completely. Sugar (and high fructose corn syrup et al) is being used as an addicting additive by food manufacturers. It is not only detrimental to diabetics' health but to everyone's health and even more so to children. Manufactured foods are being used extensively by the so-called developed countries, especially in the U.S., because of the convenience and speed of preparation. I have found sugars included in the most unexpected foods. Manufacturers say they use it to "improve palatability." But I see the only reason for their use is to addict the consumer. Extreme view but I'll stand behind it...

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foxl

I kind of agree ... but for me, the bete noir was starch. So I hate to see an article like that detract from the hazards of carb-loading on starch ... pasta, potatoes, "healthy whole grains!" There is remarkable ignorance of that ... and people have a false sense of their healthiness.

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Chaseg08
I agree with Gary Taubs completely. Sugar (and high fructose corn syrup et al) is being used as an addicting additive by food manufacturers. It is not only detrimental to diabetics' health but to everyone's health and even more so to children. Manufactured foods are being used extensively by the so-called developed countries, especially in the U.S., because of the convenience and speed of preparation. I have found sugars included in the most unexpected foods. Manufacturers say they use it to "improve palatability." But I see the only reason for their use is to addict the consumer. Extreme view but I'll stand behind it...

 

Ultimately, it's the parents/adults responsibility. No one elses.

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stratcat67
I disagree, sugars are very important to your health and well being. Refined sugars don't really serve much benefit, but saying "sugar is a food, the harm of which outweighs its benefit (sic)" because you're diabetic is like saying "water is evil" because you can't swim.

 

You’ve probably seen the “Sweet Surprise” television commercials posted by the American Corn Grower’s Association. They challenge people to actually report what’s specifically wrong with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and say: “It’s made from corn, doesn’t have artificial ingredients, has the same amount of calories as sugar and its fine in moderation.”

 

The implication that HFCS is a “natural product” doesn’t really say much. And “they,” as in “You know what they say about it…” should have you questioning a thing or two.

 

Both of these implications are simply not true. They actually have a lot to say about why high fructose corn syrup is bad for you, and HFCS is anything but natural.

“Natural”

 

The FDA has challenged claims that HFCS is a natural sweetener since companies such as Pepsi are now boasting of the “real sugar” content in their sodas and companies like Cadbury and Kraft have been called out for labeling their products as “natural” when they contain HFCS.

 

The controversy between whether high-fructose corn syrup or sugar is natural is just a smokescreen, a distraction that attempts to blur the negative health consequences associated with both of them.

 

The Sugar Association and the Corn Growers and Refiners associations have been able to indulge in this controversy because the FDA had never created a standard for what is or isn’t “natural.” Although the standard still hasn’t been set, the FDA has decided that the synthetic fixing agents used to produce HFCS does prompt the agency to “object to the use of the term ‘natural’ on a product containing HFCS.”

Weight Gain

 

There’s another controversy blooming between the HFCS and sugar industries, and again, it’s just another moot point. A Princeton University study has claimed that HFCS causes more weight gain than refined sugar does.

 

Industry-sponsored scientists have been quick to criticize the methodology of the research but scientist Miriam Bocarsly points out that the work was designed to demonstrate the long-term effects of HFCS. This is so important, she says, “because you don’t eat high fructose corn syrup once; you eat it every day, probably since you were a child.”

Corn in Everything

 

HFCS contains more fructose than table sugar, a dangerous difference. Author Bill Sanda reports that in 1980, the average American ingested 39 pounds of fructose and 84 pounds of sucrose. In 1994, Sanda writes, it was up to 66 pounds of sucrose and 83 pounds of fructose. Today, approximately 25% of our caloric intake comes from sugars, the larger portion being fructose.

 

The high amount of HFCS is behind this. It’s cheap, soluble, and easy to store and transport. It’s used in bread, beer, health foods, “natural” sodas, salad dressing etc. and is fed to livestock.

 

In fact, “King Corn” documentary-makers Curt Ellis and Ian Cheney found that analysis of their hair samples determined the carbon in their bodies has come from corn. They posit that the extreme prevalence of HFCS in so many foodstuffs means that it’s difficult to avoid: if you took everything containing corn (and soy) off average supermarket shelves, you’d be left with only enough food to fill a small vegetable stand.

 

Ellis and Cheney purchased an acre of Iowan field and followed their corn from planting to harvest. They found that half of a harvest normally goes into animal feed: 60% of cattle feed is corn even though it doesn’t sustain the animals. If they weren’t pushed to slaughter quickly, most cattle would die within 6 months. Another third of corn, Ellis and Cheney found, goes to ethanol and exports.

 

Farmers used to be subsidized to let their fields go unplanted and un-harvested in order to boost agricultural economy. Today, instead, they’re paid to overproduce and that’s why HFCS and other corn-based products dominate the food market.

 

Most corn used to make HFCS is genetically modified and genetically modified enzymes are used to process it.

The Fructose Factor

 

Before the 1970’s, most of the sugar Americans imbibed came from sucrose derived from sugar cane or beets. Sucrose is 50% glucose and 50% fructose. When the industry began to make sweeteners from corn, they were able to create HFCS with 50/50 ratios of fructose and glucose or as much as 80% fructose compared to 20% glucose.

 

Dr. Meira Fields, of the US Department of Agriculture, has been studying the effects of dietary sugar for many years. She and her colleagues found that when rats are fed sugar as a carbohydrate (especially if their diets are deficient in copper, as most American diets are) they developed diseases in their vital organs: liver, heart, pancreas and testes, and died before they fully matured.

 

Fields decided to determine whether it was glucose or fructose that was behind the diseases. The rats that were given glucose were unaffected while the fructose group developed anemia, high cholesterol and enlarged hearts. Testicular development was affected, and female rats, although less affected than their male counterparts, were unable to produce live young.

 

Fructose was once thought to be beneficial to diabetics because it is absorbed less quickly than glucose. In fact, scientists know today that fructose is more disease-promoting than glucose.

 

Dr Fields explains that “The medical profession thinks fructose is better for diabetics than sugar but every cell in the body can metabolize glucose. However, all fructose must be metabolized in the liver. The livers of the rats on the high fructose diet looked like the livers of alcoholics, plugged with fat and cirrhotic.”

The Dangers of High Fructose Corn Syrup

 

The fructose in naturally occurring sugars binds to other sugars. HFCS contains “free” or unbound fructose that robs the body of copper, chromium and magnesium.

 

HFCS is linked to high cholesterol and blood clots.

 

It also reduces the action of white blood cells, compromising the immune system.

 

Fructose browns foods seven times faster than glucose, a process called the Maillard reaction. As food browns, it loses protein and contributes to toxicity in the body. This, in turn, reduces the absorption and use of essential nutrients such as free amino acids and zinc. Some foods with the Maillard reaction are carcinogenic and mutate DNA.

 

Nutritionist Nancy Appleton says that fructose increases uric acid concentrations, a possible indicator of heart disease.

 

Fructose increases lactic acid levels in the blood.

 

Fructose interacts with oral contraceptives.

 

Fructose increases kidney calcium levels and excretion of calcium, iron, phosphorous, magnesium and zinc much more so than sucrose.

 

Fructose may affect collagen and contribute to faster aging.

 

Fructose is metabolized by the liver, not all body cells, so it has a different effect on insulin than table sugar does. It reduces the affinity of insulin for insulin receptors so that higher levels of insulin are needed to process glucose.

 

Fructose is converted to fat more readily than other sugar.

 

Fructose raises triglyceride levels.

 

The liver’s energy sources are compromised by conversion of fructose.

 

Fructose interferes with copper metabolism, hampering the production of elastin and collagen. Copper deficiencies can lead to anemia, bone density problems, heart and liver problems, blood vessel weakness, high cholesterol levels and an inability to control blood sugar.

 

HFCS is a deadly part of the American diet and the rivalry between corn and sugar producers is a moot one.

 

Elizabeth Abbot, author of Sugar: A Bittersweet History, says “The debate about which one is better for you is a false debate, because neither of them is good for you. By having cane sugar, you’re not doing yourself a great big favor. Not so much sugar is what we should be striving for.”

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synger

I found the Taubes article very interesting. I was glad he mentioned starches (glucose) as well as table sugar and HFCS (glucose and fructose mixed). He also touched on a lot of the various studies over time that give rise to the concern about so much fructose in modern diets. And finally, I give him props for acknowledging that the research is still in the beginning stages, and that we aren't much closer to finding out what a "safe" amount of sugar in the diet is than we were 20 years ago.

 

Until more info comes in, I think I'll continue avoiding most sugar, most days.

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jenb

This discussion really exemplifies why we all need to shop the perimeter of grocery stores, frequent farmer's markets where you can get to know the purveyors, and make buying fresh and organic foods a priorty. I'd encourage people to befriend their stoves and ovens - a pair of the most important tools in healthful eating.

 

Jen

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foxl
This discussion really exemplifies why we all need to shop the perimeter of grocery stores, frequent farmer's markets where you can get to know the purveyors, and make buying fresh and organic foods a priorty. I'd encourage people to befriend their stoves and ovens - a pair of the most important tools in healthful eating.

 

Jen

 

Agreed -- but, also -- look into eating more raw, as well! There is some interesting stuff out there! Fresh greens for a beginning.

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jenb

You're right Linda - fresh veggies and fruits really don't need a lot of stove time!

 

A close friend of mine (a vegetarian) recently took a raw food class - she found it very interesting but extremely labor intensive, which was borne out by a raw foods recipe book I bought to support her efforts. We love to work in the kitchen together and have tried a few of the recipes, but the rest will have to wait 'til my retirement:D.

 

Jen

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foxl
You're right Linda - fresh veggies and fruits really don't need a lot of stove time!

 

A close friend of mine (a vegetarian) recently took a raw food class - she found it very interesting but extremely labor intensive, which was borne out by a raw foods recipe book I bought to support her efforts. We love to work in the kitchen together and have tried a few of the recipes, but the rest will have to wait 'til my retirement:D.

 

 

 

Jen

 

Yup, it sure CAN be! But if you look around online not all of it is.

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samorgan

It really seems like fructose is quite a villain. The difference between table sugar and HFCS seems pretty trivial. Table sugar is 50:50 while the HFCS mostly used is 55:42 - not a huge difference (I wonder what the missing 3% is?). They both give you lots of fructose.

 

But, focusing on fructose don't we also need to look at the extreme increase in consumption of fresh fruit and fruit juice of the last few decades? That is a major source of fructose after all and - it would seem - fructose is fructose your liver can't tell if it came from sucrose, HFCS, an apple or a date.

 

I was a fanatical drinker of fresh fruit juices pre-DX but never got much HFCS, relatively speaking - pretty hard to avoid it completely. But since I never liked processed foods and mostly eat/cook at home not really very much. I am now convinced that the huge quantities of fructose from all that fruit and fruit juice was the main cause of my T2 in spite of a complete lack of family history.

 

Now my only fruit is an occasional few blueberries, blackberries or strawberries.

 

I have seen recommendations to keep total fructose consumption below 15 grams per day. That's a SINGLE California Medjool date!

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Daytona

I have both read the article and watched the lecture on fructose. Both are very interesting and worth the time. The best part of the lecture is when he shows how the chemical reactions in the liver caused by metabolizing fructose are essentially the same as how we metabolize alcohol.

 

My only concern with the article and the lecture is that I feel that while fructose is toxic, starches/glucose have very bad effects on our bodies in the quantities that most people eat them. I worry that the emphasis on just fructose made them seem to be blameless.

 

If this bears out, it would explain the rise in nondrinkers like me with liver issues. For years, doctors have refused to believe that I don't drink... they should have asked how much fruit I eat! :D It's disheartening to think that maybe some of my health issues stem from following a "healthy" diet...

 

I cut out all fruit over a month ago and I'm actually looking forward to my monthly liver test next week. It may be unrealistic and silly to hope that just this will make a dent in the #'s but ... I can't help but hope.

 

Thanks again for linking the video, very interesting stuff!

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NickP
I disagree, sugars are very important to your health and well being. Refined sugars don't really serve much benefit, but saying "sugar is a food, the harm of which outweighs its benefit (sic)" because you're diabetic is like saying "water is evil" because you can't swim.

 

I am confused by your response. I am not sure what you mean by "sugar" - I would disagree that any sugars are important to your health. There are no vitamins or nutrients in sugar that are necessary to sustain your health. I try to eliminate sugars in my life.

 

Further, there are numerous examples of different cultures or ancient civilizations that managed to live a good existence without any sugars.

 

To the issue of HFCS, my personal opinion is that HFCS is no different than refined sugar. It is still poison. So, whether you eat refined sugar or HFCS, the end result is the same for your body. The big difference with HFCS is that most manufacturers are sticking this sugar in products that you would not expect to see them (like the chicken breast at McDonalds....). I don't think the intention of the food industry is sinister...but HFCS does improve taste, and to a certain degree, shelf life. So, I understand why they place it in foods. However, again, that does not change the end result.

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