Friday, April 15, 2011

New York Times Article Suggests That Sugar Is Toxic

This weekend's New York Times Magazine contains an article by Gary Taubes entitled Is Sugar Toxic?

Taubes, author of the best-selling Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat, starts by citing a lecture given by UCSF professor Robert Lustig arguing that sugar is toxic in the amounts that we are consuming today in the United States, and that sugar consumption is implicated in heart disease, diabetes, and cancer—the "diseases of civilization". He goes farther, saying it's not even clear that there's a "safe" level of sugar consumption, per se. Sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup are similarly risky, as far as he's concerned, due to their fructose content, and because of the way the body metabolizes fructose. This also means that fruit juice is no better than soda, from a metabolic point of view at least.

It's not a new argument, but it's one that has been consistently shouted down by folks with a commercial interest in the sugar industry, or with some other sort of bias.

Let's hope the "sugar is toxic" theory gets a fair hearing this time around. Maybe, just maybe, the times are desperate enough that truth might trump profits and entrenched interests.

8 comments:

Mrs. Ed said...

Thanks for posting this. Have you ever read "Sugar Blues"? I doubt sugar is entirely to blame for everything in that book, but it sure makes it entertaining.

M.E. said...

Glad to hear that Taubes is getting even more publicity since his latest appearance on Oprah.

Alex Lewin said...

Mrs. Ed: I haven't read Sugar Blues. I just ordered a copy--it seems like one I should have on my bookshelf. Thanks for the tip. Sounds quite sensational and quotable. And the more I hear, the more I hear that fructose in particular is the cause of many of our modern problems...

Alex Lewin said...

M.E.: Yes. The more attention issues like this get, the more folks will question their long-held assumptions...

Kelly said...

I love coming across articles like that...to make people think.
Loved the ending to your post...."just maybe, the times are desperate enough that truth might trump profits and entrenched interests."....hopefully so.

-Kelly
www.wholesomegal.com

Alex Lewin said...

Kelly, glad you liked it! Stay tuned for my next post--about antibiotic-resistant staph on CAFO meat. Yum, yum!

Carla said...

If I put organic cane sugar in my tea to make kombucha will I get cancer just like everyone else?

Alex Lewin said...

When you make kombucha, the SCOBY breaks down the sugar into various other kinds of compounds (a number of acids, for example). The longer you brew your kombucha and the more sour it gets, the less sugar it has in it.

If you drink your kombucha when it's still on the sweeter side, then yes, you are consuming sugar.

Having said that, I'm guessing that the beneficial properties of kombucha outweigh the harmful properties of sugar under many (most?) circumstances.