Between 1989 and 1995, there was a 41% increase in soft drink intake, and 35% increase in fruit drink intake. Dr. Lustig said one can of soda per day can lead to 15.5 pounds of weight gain per year! And let me repeat, that is only one can per day. Think about how many of us drink 1 to 3 fruit or soft drinks per day. It was very interesting when he demonstrated how the difference in the size of the can, cup, or bottle of soda, specifically Coca-Cola, can affect the pounds gained per year. It is astonishing that a 20oz bottle per day can lead to a 26 pound weight gain per year! The combination of caffeine, sodium, and sugar in soda is detrimental to our health. Of course, it is no surprise that a Scientist from the National Soft Drink Association is quoted as saying, “There is no association between sugar consumption and obesity.” It is also no surprise that studies funded by the beverage industry demonstrated smaller effects than independent studies. There are in fact studies to show that there is a link between soft drink consumption and Type 2 diabetes.
Scientifically speaking, high fructose corn syrup is one fructose, one glucose. We use it because it is sweeter and cheaper than sugar. The average American consumes over 60 pounds a year. I have visited the Web site that was discussed in this lecture, www.sweetsuprise.com, and boy was I surprised, more like shocked by their claims. Dr. Lustig opposes those claims by saying fructose is dangerous and bad. He said it is poison to our system. High fructose corn syrup was invented in 1966 in Japan and was introduced to the American market in 1975. It has sneakily found its way into almost every processed food on the market, including anything from hamburger buns to pretzels to Bbq sauce.
Ghrelin is a hunger hormone, but fructose does not suppress this hormone. So let’s say a person is to consume a can of soda that has 150 calories, when they eat a meal, say at a fast food place, even though they have consumed that soda, they will eat more. Dr. Lustig says this is because acute fructose ingestion does not stimulate insulin so the insulin doesn’t go up, and if it doesn’t go up, then leptin doesn’t go up, and if leptin doesn’t go up, then our brain doesn’t recognize that we ate something, therefore, we eat more. Leptin is a hormone that comes from our fat cells, and it tells our brain when we are full. It also allows us to burn energy properly.
I learned that when fructose is compared to ethanol, ethanol has a variety of harmful symptoms due to acute exposure, but there is no acute fructose exposure because the brain does not metabolize it. Based on these findings, we now understand fructose is not an acute toxin, however, it is still detrimental to our system. It was a shock to find out that not only does fructose cause obesity and diabetes, but hypertension too. Chronic fructose exposure can also cause myocardial infarction, dyslipidemia, pancreatitis, hepatic dysfunction, fetal insulin resistance, and habituation, or in other words, addiction. UCSF WATCH Clinic recommends the following to kids and parents: Get rid of all sugared liquids except for water and milk, eat your carbohydrate with water, wait 20 minutes for second portions, and buy your screen time minute-for-minute with physical activity. For example, if you want to watch TV for an hour, play for an hour.
Another part of the lecture that I found interesting was the Fructosification of America. I was shocked that there are literally only 7 ingredients at McDonald’s that don’t have high fructose corn syrup or Sucrose. Those include the french fries, hash browns, chicken mcnuggets (without the dipping sauce), sausage, diet coke (surprisingly), and coffee and iced tea (without sugar added). I was also surprised to find that even some brands of chocolate milk have high fructose corn syrup. I suppose what is actually more unbelievable is when the nutrition department at FSUSD said, “Well, we have to get our kids to drink milk somehow.” Dr. Lustig sarcastically says, “Now is that brilliant or what?” I agree because dousing milk with high fructose corn syrup is counterproductive. What’s the point of drinking the milk for nutrition if it’s just going to be counteracted by all the poisonous effects of high fructose corn syrup, especially to the growing body of a young child. It just doesn’t make sense.
Furthermore, I cannot believe we have an epidemic of obese 6 month olds! This is sad. What is more sad is that the obesity can possibly be linked to formula from a government regulated program called WIC. Isomil, a soy based formula has 43.2% corn syrup solids, and 10.3% sugar (sucrose)! That is outrageous! What was also shocking to find out about is the developmental programming that can happen if a pregnant woman eats a lot of sugar during pregnancy, but not only that, what about the physical effects? Before now, I never thought about how much sugar could affect a child even before birth. It made me think of children born addicted to crack. Same concept, but less extreme. Or is it?
I love Dr. Lustig’s statement, “When God made the poison, he packaged it with the anecdote.” He says, whenever there is fructose in nature, there is way more fiber. This is why it is okay to eat fruit. Fruit limits how much fructose we take in, while at the same time providing fiber, which is an essential nutrient. Fiber has many health benefits. It reduces the weight of intestinal carbohydrate absorption thereby reducing insulin response, increases speed of transit of intestinal contents, and inhibits some absorption of free fatty acids to the colon. In addition, it is amazing that you can literally reverse the effects of diabetes simply by eating fibrous foods, the way they were intended to be eaten, uncooked and straight from the ground.
From watching this lecture, I’ve absorbed a lot of information about the harmful effects of sugar, specifically in relation to soda and juice drinks, but there is something positive and new I have learned too, and that is that there are benefits to exercising, and losing calories is not one of them. Exercise improves skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity because it reduces stress and resultant cortisol release, it makes the TCA cycle run faster, and it detoxifies fructose thereby improving hepatic insulin sensitivity.
I will definitely be making changes in my lifestyle due to what I learned. I just finished an assignment in my Life Coaching class that included sugar intake. We had to make 3 SMART goals. Because of my excessive sugar intake (and when I say excessive, I mean ridiculously excessive) my 3rd goal is as follows: I will reduce my intake of refined sugar to the recommended 25 grams per day by reading every nutrition label after every meal, and recording in a food journal, the time, date, type of food, and how many grams of sugar are in that meal or drink.