Saturday, February 23, 2013

Is Sugar Toxic? -

An interesting read:

"[S]ugar has unique characteristics, specifically in the way the human body metabolizes the fructose in it, that may make it singularly harmful, at least if consumed in sufficient quantities.
. . . .
The fructose component of sugar and H.F.C.S. is metabolized primarily by the liver, while the glucose from sugar and starches is metabolized by every cell in the body. Consuming sugar (fructose and glucose) means more work for the liver than if you consumed the same number of calories of starch (glucose). And if you take that sugar in liquid form — soda or fruit juices — the fructose and glucose will hit the liver more quickly than if you consume them, say, in an apple (or several apples, to get what researchers would call the equivalent dose of sugar). The speed with which the liver has to do its work will also affect how it metabolizes the fructose and glucose.

In animals, or at least in laboratory rats and mice, it's clear that if the fructose hits the liver in sufficient quantity and with sufficient speed, the liver will convert much of it to fat. This apparently induces a condition known as insulin resistance, which is now considered the fundamental problem in obesity, and the underlying defect in heart disease and in the type of diabetes, type 2, that is common to obese and overweight individuals. It might also be the underlying defect in many cancers."

When I was growing up … wow, did I have a crappy diet.*  The fridge was always stocked with sodas: orange, grape, black cherry, root beer, Vintage cola and the juice-like sugar concoctions known as Hi-C and Hawaiian Punch and we always had a ton of junk food: Yodels, Ring Dings, Doritos, potato chips, Cheez-its, pecan twirls, cookies, poptarts, toaster strudels, sugar cereals and so on.

My wife's childhood experience was the polar opposite.  Now we have a pretty good balance in our household: mostly healthy food, with a smattering of processed crap.  I still eat too much sugar - my love of pie and pastry is legend. But on the plus side, I almost never drink soda, and we rarely have it in the house.

* We also usually had some kind of fruit - bananas, oranges, apples, pears, peaches, grapes, plums and/or strawberries as well as OJ, apple juice and/or grape juice.  And typically canned vegetables, plus fresh corn and tomatoes in the summer.  Whatever was in season or on sale. Mom and dad were neither epicures nor nutritionists, but they weren't monsters.  

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