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Is Sugar Toxic?

If you are what you eat, then what does it say that the average American consumes 130 pounds of sugar a year? In an April, 2012 report on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Dr. Sanjay Gupta explored new research showing that beyond weight gain, sugar can take a serious toll on your health, worsening conditions ranging from heart disease to cancer. Some physicians go so far as to call sugar a toxin. So, what’s the truth? Is sugar toxic? What are the effects of sugar on your health?

Sugar and your health
While much of the “60 Minutes” sugar report contained many truths about the negative effects of sugar on health, some holistic medical doctors, like Dr. Michael E. Rothman of Michael Rothman MD in New Jersey, are quick to point out one big problem the report neglected to discuss – “The Big Fat Lie” – the fact that saturated fat provides essential health-giving properties.  Here, from a holistic nutrition standpoint, we take a look at the points of agreement and disagreement on CBS’s segment on the effects of sugar on health.

Sugar causes health problems
Sugar is amongst the most health-sapping substances consumed by the majority of people on a daily basis.

Sugar is extremely addictive
Numerous studies have shown sugar to be MORE addictive than cocaine or heroin.

Sugar causes metabolic syndrome
Especially in the form of high fructose corn syrup, sugar is one of the leading causes of metabolic syndrome – which can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

Cancer cells love sugar.
Sugar will contribute to the initiation and growth of cancer.

“Sugar is all the same – bad.”

While this statement by Dr. Lustwig in the report was true, what he failed to mention is that fructose is the worst sugar for causing metabolic syndrome. Regular table sugar is sucrose, which is 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose, whereas fruit-derived sugar is 100 percent fructose, and high fructose corn syrup is concentrated fructose. Surely as an expert, Dr. Lustwig knows this.  Holistic doctors like Dr. Rothman are left to wonder if Dr. Lustwig is simply concerned that by revealing the truth about fructose and the fact that all fruit contains fructose, he’ll alienate those in the beverage and fruit industry.

Fat is bad.
This is a fallacy. The truth is that saturated fat is essential in a healthy diet. The report suggested that because fat is tasty and satiating, reducing it in your diet will require you to add something else (like sugar) to make food more palatable. The sneaky message being sent to viewers was that “fat is bad” and should be avoided but not replaced by sugar. This fallacy has been proven over and over in many studies. Saturated fat consumption increases HDL (the “good” cholesterol) and has many other beneficial properties. A diet consisting of healthy, hormone-building, tissue-enhancing, life-giving saturated fat is essential for proper functioning, growth and repair of all the systems in your body. In fact, numerous studies have shown that saturated fat should comprise fifty percent of your caloric intake!

The doctors in the “60 Minutes” report are pioneers

This is untrue.  This information on sugar and your health has been known, studied, documented (and ignored) for decades. In fact, Dr. Michael Rothman’s new book, Edibolic Stress – How the Lies you are Being Fed are Making you Sick, is filled with references from the 1980s and 1990s illustrating this information. Furthermore, there have been countless books, articles and scientific investigations dating back more than 100 years which reveal the same results. Holistic nutritionists like Dr. Rothman believe that perhaps these people are claiming this is new information because they’re embarrassed to admit misinformation has been spouted for decades.

Clearly, the doctors featured in the “60 Minutes” and holistic nutrition doctors agree on one thing – Is sugar toxic?  Yes. It’s addictive and should not be part of your daily routine if you want to life a healthy lifestyle.  Therefore, eliminating sugar is a major step in the right direction. But, a major piece of the puzzle, the fact that saturated fat provides essential health-giving properties, is completely ignored.

To find out more about the effects of sugar on health, and what many believe are myths about fat, pick up a copy of Edibolic Stress – How the Lies You are Being Fed are Making You Sick! by Michael E. Rothman, M.D., FACEP (and co-writer Ken Bruck).  In this clear, logical, informative yet entertaining publication, Dr. Rothman will help you fully understand how the food choices you make each day impact your health. 

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