The case against sugar

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Just read an interesting article about a new book by the author of the 2010 book “Why We Get Fat” by Gary Taubes. His newest book, entitled “The Case Against Sugar,” should be mandatory reading by anyone concerned not just with their overall health, but the health of our nation as a whole.

A lot has been written and read about the epidemic of obesity overtaking not just America but the world. But somehow we are just not getting it.

And I have to confess that I often wondered why so many people (35 percent) of Americans didn’t understand what was happening to them. I thought that just taking a good look in the mirror should have been enough. Vanity alone drives me to curb my bad habits. Just in the last two years I’ve given up Caffeine-Free Diet Coke, most fast food and almost all processed foods.

Of course my diet is mainly vegetable based, and because I eat such a small amount of meat, I tell myself this alone should save me. But after reading the review of Mr. Taubes’s latest book I believe that I just didn’t understand the issue with sugar well enough.

I am not a nutritionist or a chemist, and at one time I had about the worst “sweet tooth” of anyone I knew, but I’ll still give it a go and try to explain what all the hoopla is about concerning sugar and why we must stop consuming so much of the stuff.

Sugar is a simple carbohydrate. Carbohydrates in food are the source of glucose in your blood, and glucose powers your cells. Insulin is a hormone that transports glucose from your bloodstream into your cells and signals the fat cells to take up and hold on to it. Under normal conditions, a cell has sufficient receptors for insulin and has no problem processing the glucose. But if you consume high, constant volumes of maple sugar, corn syrup, agave, honey, raw or refined sugar, your pancreas responds by producing more insulin, and cells adapt by reducing their responsiveness to it. This is also true when we eat refined starches like white bread, white rice and potatoes; they are digested so rapidly they flood the bloodstream with glucose.

So basically the cells stop listening to the insulin — this is insulin resistance. When the cells start refusing to take glucose from the blood, glucose builds up in the bloodstream causing the pancreas to make even more insulin, which results in your cells holding on to more fat.

Mr. Taubes describes this as a feedback loop that causes obesity and culminates in Type 2 diabetes. This link between obesity and Type 2 diabetes has come to be known as “diabesity.”

We all know that the food industry is a powerful lobbying group. Powerful enough to influence the language of FDA reports, which over the last 60 years have tended to shift the blame of why our kids are all fat onto ourselves; it is just our own bad behavior that is making us fat. And some of this is true. The choices we make do have an impact, but we have had help.

For instance just last year Coca-Cola started a nonprofit called the Global Energy Balance Network that suggested that, “Americans were overly fixated on calories and not paying enough attention to exercise.” According to Mr. Taubes, as a whole the soda companies have spent more than $106 million between 2009 and 2015, opposing local and federal public-health initiatives.

So what’s a person supposed to take away from this science? The food industry was correct after all, the choice is in our hands.

(Source:The Wall Street Journal)

Susan Woody has been a food writer for more than 20 years and is a member of the Association of Food Journalists. 

By |February 1st, 2017|

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