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Conquering Diabetes

with Michael Dansinger, MD

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Sugar: Addictive Poison?

Is sugar even worse than we’ve thought? I urge you to watch Sugar: The Bitter Truth,” an engaging, informative and entertaining video of Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology.

In this 90-minute lecture, you will see a superb speaker present the case against sugar- a case that would make a trial lawyer swoon with admiration. I’ve always been concerned about the negative health effects of sucrose in all its forms (table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, etc.), but Dr. Lustig’s presentation on the scientific evidence, as well as the extent of our societal dependence on sugar, has profoundly changed my viewpoint.

He points out that sugar is not just “empty calories” or “high glycemic” (as if that wasn’t bad enough). He correctly points out that the fructose molecules contained in sucrose (table sugar), high fructose corn syrup and other forms of added sugar in processed foods acts as a toxin to the liver when consumed in excess.

Similar to alcohol toxicity, sugar toxicity causes liver damage. The liver toxicity, in turn, fuels the cholesterol abnormalities, insulin resistance, inflammation, high blood pressure and other heart disease risk factors that drive the heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes epidemics that have skyrocketed during the past few decades.

If the health effects of sugar are equivalent in so many ways to those of chronic alcohol addiction, then how can we justify the daily average intake of 1/3 pound of sugar per man, woman and child in this country?

I admire what Dr. Lustig has accomplished in this presentation. Unfortunately, the societal dependence on sugar is so far advanced that reversing it seems improbable in the near term. Nevertheless, you can protect yourselves from excess sugar in modern processed foods by learning to carefully follow one of the many popular eating strategies that root out added sugars, including my own favorite eating strategy (that I use with most patients) discussed in detail in an earlier series of blog posts.

Thank you, Dr. Lustig for your leadership and a great lecture!

- Michael Dansinger, MD

Could you be addicted to sugar? Share your thoughts on the Diabetes Exchange.

Posted by: Michael Dansinger, MD at 3:30 pm

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