- Fact: Today the average American consumes more than 22 teaspoons of sugar a day.
- The problem: we evolved to get by on a tiny fraction of that.
- Upshot: whenever there is a mismatch of our genes and our environment, the result is mental and/or physcial degeneration. ie disease and illness follow.
- Some stats: today 1/3 of adults world wide have high blood pressure, in 1900 only 5% did. Today 347million people have diabetes, up from 153m in 1980. Obesity continues to rise even though saturated fat consumption has plummeted. Why? Sugar is one of the major culprits.
- Where we went wrong: in the 1960s the British nutrition expert John Yudkin conducted a series of experiments on animals and people showing that high amounts of sugar in the diet led to high levels of fat and insulin in the blood - risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. But Yudkin's message was drowned out by a chorus of other scientists blaming the rising rates of obesity and heart disease instead on cholesterol caused by too much saturated fat in the diet.
- Glucose vs Fructose: table sugar (sucrose) is 50% of each glucose and fructose. Glucose is metabolised all throughout the body, but fructose is processed primarily in the liver into fats (triglycerides) which can build up there and also enter the blood stream. The result risks are high blood pressure, obesity, hypertension, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
- The mutant gene: some 20 million years ago, well before mankind graced the planet, there was once a time of famine. At some point a mutation occurred in one ape making it a wildy efficient processor of fructose. Even small amounts were stored as fat, a huge survival advantage in months when food was scarce. The mutation was such a powerful survival factor that only animals that had it survived, including humans. Even though this gene got our ancestors through the lean years, when sugar hit the West in a big way, we had a big problem.
- The irony: the very thing that saved us could kill us in the end.
Nothing new in the article but another reminder that we need to think of sugar (especially when consumed in excess) not as just empty calories but as a poison, a toxin, and an addictive drug. Be wary of all of the hidden sources of sugar found in packaged goods, sauces, condiments, dips etc. Fruit juice is a big no no, especially for growing bodies. It all adds up. Read all the labels and better yet start making as much of your own food as possible so you know exactly what is in it. Take solace in knowing that once you start cutting out sugar your taste buds will change over time so that you wont crave sweet foods at all. Great to see National Geographic bringing the dangers of sugar squarely in the mainstream.