Is Sugar Toxic?
Children grow up on sugar – who doesn’t remember the joys of a big chocolate cake or an ice cream? And even as adults we continue consuming sugar as a big part of our diets. But while we know it’s not very healthy, because it is highly processed, and we also know that it causes weight gain, we’ve never stopped to think about how bad sugar really is for us. Lately there has been a lot of talk about sugar and experts have likened it to poison for our bodies. Here’s why.
A video called 'Sugar - the Bitter Truth’ by Robert Lustig, an expert on pediatric hormone disorders, has been viewed over 14,00,000 times. That is a remarkable number of views for a 90-minute talk on the nuances of fructose biochemistry and human physiology. He uses the word toxins or poison no less than 13 times during the lecture in addition to the 5 references of sugar as ‘evil’.
By ‘Sugar’ Lustig means not only the granulated white stuff we add to our coffee and desserts but but also high-fructose corn syrup, which has already become without Lustig’s help, what he calls “the most demonized additive known to man.” If Lustig is right, it would mean that sugar is also the likely dietary cause of several other chronic ailments widely considered to be diseases of Western lifestyles — heart disease, hypertension and many common cancers among them.
While most nutritionists will tell you that you should stay away from fat, excess salt, excess sugar, and your diet should comprise of fresh fruits and vegetables, the claim that an ingredient as beloved as sugar could be harming us and our children sounds absurd.
This brings us to the next question – Is sugar as bad as Lustig says it is?
It very well may be true that sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, because of the unique way in which we metabolize fructose and at the levels we now consume it, cause fat to accumulate in our livers followed by insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. This in turn, triggers the processes that lead to heart disease, diabetes and obesity. They could indeed be toxic, but they take years to do their damage. It doesn’t happen overnight. Until long-term studies are done, we won’t know for sure.
Though research is inconclusive on this, it maybe that what Robert Lustig says about Sugar and high fructose corn syrup in his lecture could be true. Sugar maybe even worse than what Lustig makes it out to be.
Whatever the truth about sugar, we know that it does us more harm than good and if we make a conscious effort in cutting down its intake in its highly processed form and instead consume it in more natural forms like in fruits, we will be leading far healthier lifestyles.
*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images
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