Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Sugar: Natures deadliest drug?

5 Comments

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Researchers (aka Robert Lustig) have been pointing to sugar as the root of many modern diseases in recent years. The CBC recently wrote this article about the toxicity of sugar as well as devoting an episode of the Fifth Estate to the subject.

While I do think that there may be some merit to the research, particularly in regard to fructose, I am reluctant to wholeheartedly support the stance that sugar is toxic. I’m not convinced that, in and of itself, it is in fact a poison. Think about all of the nutritious fruits and vegetables that contain sugar. Should we purge them from our diets because we’re eating too many cookies? It’s a bit like throwing the baby out with the bath water, I think.

Any time that one specific nutrient is vilified (or exalted) it always tends to lead to us making things even worse. We decided that butter was bad for us so we replaced it with block margarine. We decided that fat was bad for us so we loaded our foods with sugar and salt instead. We decided that salt was bad for us and are only just now starting to learn that, in some cases, restricting our sodium intake may actually be more damaging than not. And then look at antioxidants like vitamin E which we thought were so wonderful and then turned out to increase the risk of prostate cancer in men when taken as a synthetic supplement.

Yes, it’s quite likely that the majority of us are consuming excessive amounts of sugar. Too much of anything is bad for you. Instead of cutting out all sources of sugar, try to consume fewer packaged and highly processed foods. Eat fewer baked goods, don’t drink pop or juice, and avoid adding sugar to your coffee, tea, and cereal. No need to toss that juicy honeycrisp.

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Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people relearn how to have a healthy relationship with food.

5 thoughts on “Sugar: Natures deadliest drug?

  1. You claim to ‘dispel myths’ but do nothing of the sort. I will applaud your effort to promotes nutritional balance and moderation. The term ‘sugar’ as you use it, refers to white, refined sugar; an unnatural, unhealthy food additive heavily produced and marketed since the early 14th century. As Dr. Lustig commented, this refined, unnatural version has been proven to be associated with many chronic diseases, hence it’s alternative label ‘the great white thief’. Comparing sugar in whole foods to refined white sugar is comparing apples to artificially flavored orange Tang! Sugars occurring naturally in fruit, vegetables and dairy are NOT toxic because they come balanced with the proper mineral and enzyme counterparts. This allows our body to utilize, metabolize, or excrete what it needs or doesn’t need. If I were you, I would use caution in trying to promote sugar as ‘non-toxic’.

    “Refined sugar is actually concentrated, crystallized acid which has spawned a long list of serious diseases. The natural sugar that is found in fresh vegetables and fruits should be our only choice if we value our health. Sugar is an enemy to our pancreas and is one of the direct causes of killer diseases. It should be recognized as an addictive drug, and a relentless health destroyer.”

    (hippocratesinst.org)

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    • While I appreciate your comment, a link to scientific evidence for the harm of sugar would be much more useful than a link (and quote from) an organization promoting quackery.

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      • The quote was only supplement, my comment stands as do the facts against refined toxic white sugar. Go ahead, keep promoting white sugar to your readers, your loved ones, yourself. It’s to be expected from a ‘DIE-titian’.

        “Neither infants nor children should have cane sugar in their diet, as it is now made, although honest, old-fashioned cane sugar was a natural and a nutritious food. The sugar-bowl on the table of the twentieth century home is one of the most deadly curses laid by ignorance upon child-life. The child’s stomach makes its own sugar. Every ounce of starch he consumes must be converted into sugar before digestion. Mothers of children must be made to realize that artificial sweets sap the child’s body of its most indispensable substances and bring about disorder of the bones and teeth. The child’s love for sweets is to be satisfied with the sweets organized for him by all-generous nature plus human intelligence. He gets these sweets not only in a harmless, but in a beneficial form, in the fruits of the earth and at two and a half years of age there* is not one ripe fruit which the child cannot digest and assimilate in moderate quantities. Even the date will impose no tax upon the digestion after the third year unless he over-eats. Honey, sap maple syrup and old-fashioned molasses, with unrefined cane sugar, contain the tissue salts of the cane, tree and flower, the iron and calcium, that nature put there. Such forms of sweets are natural and good. Candy prepared from them is good candy for the child. Yes, this advocates the use of “impure” sugar for there is no such thing as pure sugar in nature. The sugar found in vegetables, fruits, reeds, trees, etc., is unrefined, just as the starch in these things is unrefined. This is as it should be, and we should not allow any industry, however powerful or privileged, to take anything out of our food which nature intended to be there. Chemically pure sugar, C6H12O6, is not found in nature. It is the product of the laboratory, not of God.”

        – McCann (Starving of America, 1912)

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      • I can only assume that you haven’t actually read this post, or any other I’ve written about sugar, as I do not “promote” white (or brown) sugar.

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  2. Read Dufty “Sugar Blues” (1970) for some real facts, science & knowledge

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