WHY SUGAR IS POISON

Definitions
Let’s start with 3 definitions.

Dictionary defines (1) poison as a substance that causes injury, illness, or death, especially by chemical means.

(2) Table sugar is sucrose. Sucrose is made of a glucose, which is a six-atom ring, linked to a fructose, which is a five-member ring. So, graphically, a pentagon bridged to a hexagon.

And (3) calorie. Or cal, as it’s commonly abbreviated on food packaging, is actually a KILOcalorie or one thousand (1000) calories. And it’s a unit of energy. More precisely, energy required to heat 1000 grams of water 1 degree Celsius higher. Thousand grams of water is very roughly a quart or 2.2 pounds, take your pick. And a degree Celsius is almost 2°F.
There you go: a calorie is energy needed to heat up a quart of water from, say, 38°F to 40°F.

So, why is sugar poison?

The quick answer is that sugar is poison because our bodies treat half of it (the fructose half) as it would any [other] ingested poison. What happens when we eat something poisonous? Because no other organ can deal with the ingested poison, it winds up down in the liver, the great detox of the homo sapiens. What happens if the liver cannot deal with the toxin? Cannot process it and cleanse and detoxify the organism? That’s simple: you die. Your liver is your last resort when other organs cannot deal with something you ate.

Guess which organs in your body can process fructose?
The answer is none, save for your liver, which can process fructose, but only for a while and only while self-destructing in the process. Among other things. Because while self-destructing cleansing you of fructose, the liver processing of fructose creates a cascade of parallel harmful events. Like what, you ask? Like storing all the fructose as fat, immediately and all while increasing your appetite. But more on that later.

So, how does a calorie which is not really a calorie enter into this?
A calorie is a unit of energy. It is energy we consume. And just like in the outside world, where the energy comes from matters. If our energy comes from Iran in the form of oil, that carries different consequences than the electricity produced by solar panels in your back yard. Different energy sources in food similarly have different consequences in how our bodies process them.

For example, proteins and fiber are broken down and metabolized by the body in different ways. Some fibers are not attacked and broken down in the intestines and come out of our colons virtually intact. Others pass through the stomach and small intestine to be broken down partially in the colon of the large intestine. That roughage is the rotor-rooter for our bodies.

Glucose is absorbed and processed by virtually every organ it encounters after you swallow a mouthful. Only 20% reaches the liver where of that fifth essentially all of it (up to ½% does get ultimately stored as fat, in the interest of complete disclosure) is used to charge up your body’s internal battery pack called glycogen. That is the essence of carb loading by runners and other endurance athletes: they eat lots of pasta (or glucose), a fifth of which is then stored as glycogen in the liver to be discharged as cheap source of energy as the run progresses. The body can store unlimited amount of glycogen, but the elite runner cannot run with more than a few ounces, right? Because the size ultimately does get in a way. That’s why commercial jets carry only so much “extra” or excess fuel – it is expensive to carry extra fuel.

So, by mile, say 5 in the marathon, all the cheapo energy stores (glycogen) are depleted and the energy can no longer come from there. So the body starts chewing up fat for a part of it and muscle for another part. But that’s beyond the toxic sugar we’re discussing. The point is, if you eat nothing but pasta or rice, eventually, if nothing else gets you first, you will get fat – ½ % of the total calories consumed. So, if you’re a healthy American male eating your daily dosage of 2500 calories and packing an extra 20% on top to round up at even 3000 calories per day while doing nothing but watching The Biggest Loser all day, and you eat nothing but pasta, you’re putting away half an ounce of fat a day.
That’s 12 pounds a year fat gain under, you’ll admit, pretty damn extreme dietary and sedimentary circumstances.

But back to fructose.

Remember, as soon as sucrose (table sugar) is ingested, our body breaks it down into its two components. The glucose part, as we saw, is fine in moderation; it is the “energy of life” to quote Dr. Lustig. Glucose is processed as energy by every living organism on the planet, fructose half of table sugar can only be processed by the liver. And processed as it would a poison at that. It is fructose in its many guises (high fructose corn syrup, table sugar, agave, honey and so on) that is slowly killing us. And actually, not so slowly. Actually, pretty damn efficiently.

How?
Again, the liver treats fructose as it does every other toxin it encounters. It expels it. And it expels all of it as fat.

Compare that – as we remember from only half a page ago – to when glucose enters the body, only 20% of it gets to the liver because the other 4/5 are utilized by all the organs encountered along the way. And of the fifth that gets to the liver most get stored as glycogen, a sort of rechargeable battery of the human body. And ultimately, only less than half percent of glucose gets converted to fat by the liver.

Compare that to nearly all of fructose ingested getting stored as fat.

There was a study conducted a dozen and a half years ago at UC/Berkley. (Hellerstein et al., Regulation of Hepatic De Nobo Lipogenesis in Humans, Annual Reviews of Nutrition, 1996. 16:523-57) Scientists labeled glucose, fat (stearate) and fructose molecules with deuterium. Deuterium is a heavier isotope of hydrogen that allows researchers to directly track where the deuterium tagged molecule winds up. Think of it as painting a bright pink ribbon on the molecule. The scientists then fed groups of young men of steady weight several diets. The three key ones we are interested in are
(1)High fat diet
(2) High glucose diet and
(3) Elevated fructose diet.
In the first two studies, the high fat and higher glucose ones, there was virtually no new fat deposits found in these men. And remember, this was not a caliper test or a body mass index measurement. This was a rigorous spectroscopic evidence obtained directly by monitoring and adding up where that bring pink ribbon ended up. Less than 3% of any new fat (“Absolute DNL [new fat] was less than 1 g synthesized per day – a very small number compared with dietary intake of fat, which is typically 100-200 g/day”. So, these young men ate up to essentially half a pound of fat per day, yet less than a gram (1/28 th of an ounce) was found depositing itself as fat.
The other group got 7-10 mg of fructose per kg of lean body mass. That translates roughly to half a gram of fructose for a 200 pound man with a 15% body fat (85% lean body mass). Within 8 hours after ingesting the fructose, nearly a third of it was found depositing as fat:

But it’s worse than that.
Fat deposits are not even the worst of it. While being processed by the liver, fructose wreaks havoc on our bodies in a few other insidious ways causing hypertension, increased hunger, messing up insulin levels and more. Let’s take these up one at a time.

One of the remarkable features of human organism is the feedback loop between its various parts. Should you burn your finger, the nervous system sends a pain signal that causes the muscles to retract and remove the finger from the source of pain before the brain even has a chance to react. When we are hungry, the stomach sends appropriate signals to the brain. And when we are full a similar signal is sent to the brain telling the stomach to send the signal to the mouth to stop eating. Leptins do that.

That’s what the Nature intended.

That’s how we’ve survived as a species and not burned, starved or overstuffed ourselves to death. But in the end, humans proved too clever for Mother Nature. We’ve learned to block pain with chemicals, often for good, but not always, and we have similarly outwitted Nature when it comes to something as basic as eating. And yes, this is all about sugar. Sugar suppresses the function of leptins, so even when you are full thanks to real nutrients, fructose continues to promote the hungry signals.

Let me explain.
How much steak can you eat?
I am a big guy. I love red meat. I can comfortably eat about a pound. Then, even as I am gulping it down (not recommended; do not try this at home; I’m a professional), eventually, 15 to 20 minutes later, my brain gets the signal from the stomach that it’s full. “No more!” it cries. Enough! I am stuffed. Eventually the brain listens, even if beneath it on the plate is another pound of prime rib.

That’s what’s supposed to happen.
But it doesn’t happen with sugar.

What’s this, you ask? Why? What happens with sugar? Why is sugar different?

I thought sugar was natural?

All good questions.

What happens with sugar is different because even though sugar might be natural, we are not consuming it naturally. Why? Because we not are consuming it as it is found in nature. In nature, sugar is surrounded by fiber. Lots and lots of fiber, which, you will recall, acts as the unclogging rotor-rooter of our metabolic system. Fiber, as in fruit. Which is where the word “fructose” comes from.

Our bodies, as versatile and wonderful as they are, have no shut off mechanism for fructose. Unlike with steak or just about any other food we eat, the stomach will never send the brain the signal that it’s full. In fact, fructose has been shown to suppresses the “I am full” signals. Nature never built that in.

How come?!
Sugar is natural!
What is wrong with our bodies? What is wrong with Nature? Is she a mother or a Mother?

Relax.
Nature is not to blame.
Nature engineered fructose to be part of fruits. Fructose in nature comes with a ton of fiber.
Let me ask you, how many bananas can you eat? How many oranges?
Can you eat more than a couple of pounds of apples?

Didn’t think so. I mean, without taking a “natural” break.
I mean, even if you could, you’d be running to the bathroom before you can ingest anywhere close to the amounts of fructose we now consume in soda, ketchup, bread, – you name it. Sugar in its fructose form has permeated every conceivable processed food, and a few totally inconceivable ones as well.

Yeah, it’s high fructose corn syrup that you’ve heard about.
And in its defense, it’s no worse than table sugar, nutrition and body harm-wise.
Which is to say, sugar is just as deadly – and not that high fructose corn syrup is “as safe”. It is as safe as poison. But what makes HFCS worse is that it is insidious. It is ubiquitous. It is carefully hidden and disguised under dozens of different names. Those ain’t pen names and poetic licenses. Those are fake identities intended to steal your health so that Big Sugar can make a buck off your addiction. But we digress.

The point is, yes, sugar is natural. But it’s natural only when it’s shrouded with so much fiber that you can’t eat more than a few grams a day. As soon as we as humans learned to refine sugar, to extract it from its natural fruit form into the white poison form the last century has come to consume it as, the volumes, waistlines, blood pressures, diabetes, heart disease – have all gone through the roof.

Look at the graph below.

(Source: http://www.sugar-and-sweetener-guide.com)

This is your annual sugar consumption in the industrialized countries per capita.

We went from virtually nada – 4 lbs per year a couple centuries ago to over 120 in 2000 and, according to more recent reports, to over 160. As we will see, that’s close to a 50 lbs of new fat per person per year. At 4 pounds that accounted for only 1% of our caloric intake to its present 20% and climbing. Think about it, developed world gets a fifth of its sustenance from empty poisonous calories devoid of any nutrition. This is suicide.

You keep saying sugar is poison.

How else is sugar poison?

It is the way it’s processed by our bodies. It is no different than grain alcohol. It is processed by the liver and at the amounts consumed leads to cirrhosis of the liver just like alcohol does. But you can control your sugar, right? Of course you can. You can eat it in moderation, right?
It’s hard to control an addictive substance for which our bodies have no safety or shut off switch. Some people can somehow manage. Most cannot.

Some people cannot control their ethanol intake. And we have a safety shut off switch when it comes to booze. Yet some people still cannot. They are alcoholics. We treat it as a disease.

We are sugarholics. We cannot control its intake: we never know when it’s enough. We’re hooked. There was a now famous study in which French scientists addicted mice to cocaine. Then they gave those coke addicted mice a choice between sugar and cocaine. Guess what they chose?

Yep, you guessed it.
We love our sweets. We crave sugar. We too will pick sugar as our poison every time.

Sugar is more addictive than cocaine. And Food, Inc. knows it too. That’s why they formulate all the fast food meals to elevated salt, so that you crave a drink, and then load up the drinks with fructose so that you stay hungry no matter how much you eat. And then they remove all fiber from fast food so that you don’t ever fill up on “other” stuff. And you don’t even have to chew: they’ve formulated fast food to be a bite, two chews, swallow and sip.
So, let’s sum up:
We are hooked on a highly addictive substance for which our bodies have no natural satiety or shut-off response. That substance is more addictive than cocaine. Our body knows it’s a poison and treats it as such. Not only is this substance a poison, but it makes us fat like nothing else makes us fat. And in the process of fattening us up for slaughter, it makes us feel hungry, raises our blood pressure, causes heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and a long list of other miseries. And over the years, we’ve ramped up the amount of total caloric intake from this poison from virtually nothing to over a quarter of total energy we consume. And it’s still not sweet enough.

We have become lab rats addicted to sugar, choosing poison over real food because fake food it’s cleverly branded, ingeniously advertised, scientifically formulated and ultimately subsidized by own tax money. We are doomed, lest we kick the habit of processed food.

We are here to help.
And it starts with kicking the sugar habit. So, how are you guys gonna help, you’re probably asking? And you’re probably somewhat skeptical of this whole thing, still. That, despite Alec Baldwin losing a ton of weight simply by dropping the simple carbohydrate pleasures from his diet. You might not even be swayed that the author of this page dropped from not fitting into size 40 jeans on Valentine’s Day of 2012 and gaining all that fat from size 36 despite running 20-30 miles a week for over two years to being comfortable in size 36 by quitting both simple “fun” carbs and running. Yeah, some people love running. I hate it. I hated every single step. That runner’s high never came to me despite running two half-marathons and countless practice miles inbetween. As far as I am concerned, runner’s high is a fig newton of imagination of some runner who was already high. But we digress.

For one thing, we are here to try to help by putting together this resource on the web for all to use. For another, we realize how addictive sugar is. We too crave our ice cream and our chocolate. In 2009 Rudd Center at Yale University (Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity) conducted a study of addictive foods. Ashley Gearhardt and colleagues asked over 1000 respondents, all college undergrads, a series of 27 questions regarding foods they eat and crave. I would love to say that the results were shocking and eye-opening. I suppose, in a way, they were: these were college undergrads and beer didn’t rank as #1. But in a very real and palpable way to those of us struggling with food addictions and sugar addictions in particular, the results sort of reveal what we already knew:

Yep, ice cream and chocolate, followed by cookies and candy. The high-sugar foods even beat out the high fat analogues like French fries and chips. In fact, were I to delve deeper into this graph, I’d submit to you that the order of ice cream closely followed by chocolate, followed by cookies, followed by candy reflects the dropping amount of fat content while preserving the sugar concentration. Yeah, given the choice of plain sugar or sugar plus fat, we pick the latter, but not by all that much. We do not need fat masking our sugar, but we will take it.

So here at LUV, we’ve come up with a way to attack the top 3 out of 4. We have developed a one-to-one sugar substitute that is all natural. It doesn’t have aspartame or Splenda or Equal or anything artificial. Nor do we use maltitol, but more on that later. And we use that unique blend of all-natural, plant-derived sweeteners to substitute for the sugar in the ice creams, Nice Creams TM and chocolates we make. We are making them as fast as we can, and they are selling out in all the retailers in the Twin Cities who carry us. They sell really well online. Because there is nothing else like it in the ice cream world, nor in the chocolate world. We also make chocolate chips (100% vegan, 80% cacao, soy-free) for baking that we cannot keep in stock. This is a shameless plug, but we are damn proud. Our sweetener blend is unique. How? Read on about natural alternatives to sugar.