Friday, June 6, 2014

The Truth About Sugar

Sugar is sweet, and sugar is toxic. Sugar is pure, and sugar is the Devil. As Americans continue to struggle with weight and health, the myriad of quick fixes to an unhealthy of diet only serve to complicate the issue. And when even the experts seem to change their mind, and the standard arguments don't provide clear solutions, it's difficult for a consumer to make a good decision. Certainly, we know that eating sugar and empty white carbs is not good for us. This was well argued by Dr. Lustig in his landmark speech:

And, the simple answer of everything in moderation is insufficient advice when it clearly doesn't work that way.  Add to that the Atkins diet with its emphasis on proteins and fats, and combine it with a healthy dose of Sugar Busters, topped off with news about the Big Fat Surprise, and the world of food seems so complicated.  So, what's the deal with sugar and carbohydrates? Well, for those interested in a great piece of work from a man with the credentials to know, check out thoughts on "BEING HAPPY WITH SUGAR" by James Hamblin, MD, a senior editor at The Atlantic. Hamblin runs through all the available information from the experts, exposing the back tracking of Dr. Oz:

“Over the past few months, I’ve become increasingly concerned about a sweetener that I’ve recommended on my show in the past,” Mehmet Oz lamented in an apology earlier this year. Oz, the practicing cardiac surgeon and professor at Columbia University who hosts an eponymous daytime-television extravaganza, is given to emphatic food recommendations. Either run and buy something, or throw it away. Throw it as far from you as possible. “After careful consideration of the available research, today I’m asking you to eliminate agave from your kitchen and your diet.” That’s a stark difference from 2011, when fans of Oz’s show listed their “all-time favorite tips” from Doctor Oz, and number one was “Agave Nectar as a Sugar Substitute.” Number one. Agave flooded “natural” food aisles. By 2012, agave nectar sales were projected to double within the decade, as they had the decade prior. America’s Doctor was at the helm.

And, he offers insight on Lustig, too.

The concern is that when a person consumes too much fructose, their liver gets overwhelmed and converts some of the fructose into fat that ends up in their blood as small dense LDL that lodges in blood vessels, causing atherosclerosis and, subsequently, heart attacks. Lustig is a gifted talker, and he has his points down. He has called sugar “the Professor Moriarty” of the obesity epidemic, before upping the metaphor and calling fructose “the Darth Vader of this sordid tale, beckoning you to the dark side.” It’s this narrative that emerged as the backbone of the documentary Fed Up, which premiered at Sundance in January and is now in widespread release. Produced and narrated by Katie Couric, the film takes us through interviews with more than 20 nutrition experts, basically a who’s who of New York Times Magazine nutrition articles in the last decade—Marion Nestle, Michael Pollan, Gary Taubes,Michael MossMichele SimonDavid Ludwig—and others who constitutewhat Times food columnist Mark Bittman calls “the professional sane eating brigade.”

There is no easy answer, but there are some pretty obvious truths about diet and health. Hamblin offers some nice perspective on those truths.

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