Sugar: Is it a Toxic Substance?


I don’t think it is a secret to anyone that the incidence of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer is higher than it has ever been and continues to rise. I hope at this point we can all agree that our diet and lifestyle directly correlate to these statistics. In the early 1980’s, about one in seven Americans were obese, and almost six million were diabetic. Fast forward to the early 2000s, when sugar consumption peaked due to the “low-fat” craze we went through, and one in every three Americans were obese—and14 million were diabetic.

“Sugar: The Bitter Truth”

On May 26, 2009, Robert Lustig gave a lecture called “Sugar: The Bitter Truth,” which was later posted to YouTube. The video has since received over 800,000 views. 

Lustig is a specialist on pediatric hormone disorders as well as a leading expert in childhood obesity at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine. Lustig takes a pretty hard stance against sugar, calling it a “toxin” or “poison.” In addition, he refers to sugar as “evil.” He is not only referring to the white granulated stuff but also high fructose corn syrup, which Lustig argues has become “the most demonized additive known to man.” 

He brings up a critical point in relationship to the calories in sugar. Lustig says, “It has nothing to do with the calories. It’s a poison by itself.” From his point of view, sugar should be thought of as something that is killing us, like cigarettes and alcohol. His argument implies that sugar is the likely dietary cause of several chronic diseases: heart disease, hypertension, and many common cancers. Based on Lustig’s information, our excessive consumption of sugar is the primary reason for the increase in numbers of obese and diabetic Americans in the last 30 years.

Lustig argues that refined sugar (sucrose) and high fructose corn syrup are equally bad. Both do not provide us with any protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, or fiber. 

Sugar’s Effect on the Body

Consuming sugar (fructose and glucose) has a large impact on our liver. Drinking sugar in a liquid form from fruit juice or soda will have a greater negative impact on the liver than if you eat an apple. The liver also controls much of our body’s natural detoxification system. Because of the way our bodies metabolize fructose and high fructose corn syrup, eating these “toxins” may lead to fat build up in our livers.

This fat accumulation could then lead to insulin resistance (type 2 diabetes). Insulin is the hormone secreted by the pancreas in response to the foods you eat (particularly carbohydrates) to keep blood sugar in control. Over time, your cells can become resistant to insulin causing the pancreas to pump out more and more insulin. At some point, the pancreas can no longer keep up and blood sugar becomes uncontrollable, which is then full-blown diabetes.

Move Towards Better Health

The first step in moving towards better health is to remove ALL high fructose corn syrup from your diet. Once you have done that, focus on eliminating calorie-filled, sugar-filled beverages. Instead, focus on eating nutrient-dense foods (protein, vegetables, and healthy fats) and drinking more water.

Look better, feel better, and remove the “toxic” substance sugar from your diet.

Dedicated to Your Health and Fitness Success,

Scott Newton, MS, CPT

Founder, Evolve Personalized Fitness 

Office:  (949) 661-1213 

scott@evolvefitnessdp.com

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