The Case Against Sugar: A Book by Gary Taubes

January 12, 2017

The Case Against Sugar, By Gary Taubes 

 Reference: The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes 

 It has been worth the wait. It was my Christmas present and didn't come till this last week. What a treasure. Gary Taube's new book has a different tone. He's mad. We want to know why sugar fell off the stage of scientific inquiry in the 1960s and 70s with fat becoming the enemy for the next forty years. That's what he details in this book. 

First of all, the curious addictive quality of sugar that we all demonstrate. Of course, we act that way. It has served us well as long as we were living in the jungle and sweet only occurred just before the 6 month starvation season. Sugar makes you eat more so you put on weight, store calories, and have enough to make it through the next dry patch. 

 But there is much much more. Did you know, for example, that the American cigarette industry really took off because they started soaking their tobacco leaves in sugar?  That allowed smokers to inhale much deeper, and get more seriously addicted? That was great for tobacco sales. Not so good for smokers. That's still how cigarettes are being made today. 

 But the most troubling part that Gary details is the clear historical record of populations being exposed to sugar, and then becoming fat, then obese, then diabetic, then cancerous, then heart attacks and kidney failure. Population after population showed this all around the world. 

 And our American scientific community blamed it on us. We were lazy and we ate too much. It could all be easily cured by better Puritan values of "eat less and exercise more". We know that is what our health care system has said to us for years. 

Where did that come from? That's the indictment. The sugar industry has funded critical players on the American nutrition scene for decades, never insisting that they tell outright lies, (well, maybe) but more that they focused the spotlight on fat and just ignored sugar, letting it slide out of sight. Because American medicine has not invested in its physicians' understanding of nutrition, there really hasn't been the ability of American medicine to really understand adult human nutrition. We just learn by rote, memorize some convenient rules, and tell folks to get out there and eat less and exercise more. 

 As readers of this column, you should know that it is not the calories you eat that make you fat, it is the hormonal effects of those calories that affects the amount that you eat for the next 12-24 hours. For example, teens at a summer camp given identical calorie content of either high fat or high sugar breakfasts, are proven to eat more, later in the day, when they eat the sugar. It is the insulin response to carbs, and sugar, that sets us off down the path of gaining weight and eating more. Insulin is your storage hormone, not your blood sugar-controlling hormone. 

 Gary even has a nice section on the really dangerous chemical called fructose. It is half of table sugar (sucrose is a glucose molecule hooked to a fructose molecule). Fructose immediately damages your liver, forcing you to make small, dense, dangerous LDLs, making fatting liver, raising insulin, and starting the path to hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol........ Humans appear to tolerate fructose well enough when it comes in the package of an apple with fiber attached. But in table sugar, and in every form of added sugar (70% of all prepared foods have sugar added to them: bread, pasta sauce, ketchup, peanut butter etc) we get too much, to our peril. 

 The verdict is in. This is a brilliant book. He's mad. There's more in it about cancer, about kidney failure..the prosecutor is talking to the jury, and he's mad. It's a good thing some of those wicked food scientists who shaped American nutrition back in the 60s-80s are dead. Because they would have to hang their heads in deep shame. They harmed us so much, for a few pieces of silver. 

 WWW. What Will Work for Me. I just finished reading the book. It's actually just as good as his others. The case is made for us to cut it out. Then I read today the study showing that our food stamp program has 10% of it spent on sugared sodas. And the food industry lobbies heavily to not let us restrict that. So our poor folks get sicker. So, let's punish them and take their health care away now. 

 Pop Quiz:

1. Sugar is a natural food, but not so terrible other than its empty calories. T or F                Answer:  False, false, false. It's as dangerous as alcohol. Causes as many metabolic damaging effects. And probably just as addictive ‪

2. About 20 years after starting to eat sugar, folks start getting sick. T or F                   Answer:  That's what hundreds of studies have detailed. ‪

3. Cancer rates in societies without sugar are just the same as ours. T or F                  Answer:  False, false, false. Cancer rates rise in proportion to populations eating sugar. Insulin is one of cancer's most potent growth factors. 

 ‪4. I'll be ok if I cut down and only have sugar on weekends. T or F                      Answer:  It may be true. If your fat cells are small enough, the human body has lots of resilience in it. You likely need to cleanse it out of you with good behavior for the next week. ‪

5. If I eat a food with sugar secretly inserted in it, what happens next?               Answer: I eat more.