Sugar Industry Attempts to Manipulate the Science

Sugar Industry Attempts to Manipulate the Science
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How the food industry responds to “health food faddists.”

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Corporations are legally required to maximise shareholder profits and therefore have to oppose public health policies that could threaten profits.” It’s just how the system is set up. “Unequivocal, longstanding evidence shows that to achieve this, diverse industries with products that can damage health have worked systematically to subvert the scientific process.”

Take the sugar industry, for example. Internal documents showed they were concerned that health food “faddists” were becoming “an active menace to the…industry.” Sugar was under attack, “and many of the poor unfortunate public swallow the misinformation broadcast by the propagandists.” What were books like Yudkin’s Pure, White and Deadly saying? “All of the propaganda [is] to the effect that sugar is a non-essential food.” Gasp! No! How dare they say sugar is a non-essential food? Next, they’ll be saying it’s not really food at all. And, that was the sugar industry’s line: “sugar is a cheap safe food”—and this coming from the founder and chair of Harvard’s nutrition department, Fredrick Stare, long known as “Harvard’s sugar-pushing nutritionist.”

Not only did the sugar industry try to influence the direction of dental research, but heart disease research as well, paying Stare and colleagues to write this review to help downplay any risk from sugar. Now, to be fair, this was five years before we even realized triglycerides were also an independent risk factor beyond just cholesterol. The main reason attention stayed focused on saturated fat is not because of the might of the sugar industry; there was just not as much data to support it.

In fact, “the [even] more powerful meat and dairy industries” loved the anti-sugar message. Who do you think sponsored Yudkin? In fact, on like the first page of Pure, White and Deadly, he thanks all the food and drug companies that had provided him with such “constant generous support.” Who paid for Yudkin’s speaking tour? The egg industry, of course—to try to take some heat off cholesterol.

Hegsted, one of the co-authors of the funded review, wasn’t exactly an industry cheerleader. He recommended people cut down on all the risky stuff: “less meat, less saturated fat, less cholesterol, [and] less sugar, less salt.” It wasn’t the sugar industry that got him fired for speaking truth to power; it was the beef industry.

The sugar industry was able to conceal its funding, because the New England Journal of Medicine didn’t require disclosure of conflicts of interest until 17 years later. These muckraking researchers suggest policymakers “should consider giving less weight to food industry-funded studies.” But why is the food industry funding studies at all? When it comes to the “corporate manipulation of research,” ultimately conflicts of interest don’t just need to be disclosed and “managed,” but ideally “eliminated.”

Things may not change until public health researchers start “refus[ing] to take money from the [junk food] industry,” period. “It worked for tobacco.” Many prestigious medical and public health institutions “have…instituted bans on tobacco industry funding.”

But wait; can’t scientists remain “objective [and] impartial” even in the face of all that cash? Apparently not, as “[i]ndustry funded research” has been shown to be up to 88 times more likely to produce funder-favorable outcomes. What, do we think corporations are in the business of just handing out money for free?

The classic example is the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, who “accepted $1 million [grant] from Coca-Cola.” Before the grant, their official position was that “frequent consumption of [sugary beverages] can be a significant factor in the…initiation and progression of dental [cavities],” which—after the grant—changed to “scientific evidence is certainly not clear on the exact role that soft drinks play.” As CSPI’s Integrity in Science Project put it, “What a difference a million dollars makes!”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Corporations are legally required to maximise shareholder profits and therefore have to oppose public health policies that could threaten profits.” It’s just how the system is set up. “Unequivocal, longstanding evidence shows that to achieve this, diverse industries with products that can damage health have worked systematically to subvert the scientific process.”

Take the sugar industry, for example. Internal documents showed they were concerned that health food “faddists” were becoming “an active menace to the…industry.” Sugar was under attack, “and many of the poor unfortunate public swallow the misinformation broadcast by the propagandists.” What were books like Yudkin’s Pure, White and Deadly saying? “All of the propaganda [is] to the effect that sugar is a non-essential food.” Gasp! No! How dare they say sugar is a non-essential food? Next, they’ll be saying it’s not really food at all. And, that was the sugar industry’s line: “sugar is a cheap safe food”—and this coming from the founder and chair of Harvard’s nutrition department, Fredrick Stare, long known as “Harvard’s sugar-pushing nutritionist.”

Not only did the sugar industry try to influence the direction of dental research, but heart disease research as well, paying Stare and colleagues to write this review to help downplay any risk from sugar. Now, to be fair, this was five years before we even realized triglycerides were also an independent risk factor beyond just cholesterol. The main reason attention stayed focused on saturated fat is not because of the might of the sugar industry; there was just not as much data to support it.

In fact, “the [even] more powerful meat and dairy industries” loved the anti-sugar message. Who do you think sponsored Yudkin? In fact, on like the first page of Pure, White and Deadly, he thanks all the food and drug companies that had provided him with such “constant generous support.” Who paid for Yudkin’s speaking tour? The egg industry, of course—to try to take some heat off cholesterol.

Hegsted, one of the co-authors of the funded review, wasn’t exactly an industry cheerleader. He recommended people cut down on all the risky stuff: “less meat, less saturated fat, less cholesterol, [and] less sugar, less salt.” It wasn’t the sugar industry that got him fired for speaking truth to power; it was the beef industry.

The sugar industry was able to conceal its funding, because the New England Journal of Medicine didn’t require disclosure of conflicts of interest until 17 years later. These muckraking researchers suggest policymakers “should consider giving less weight to food industry-funded studies.” But why is the food industry funding studies at all? When it comes to the “corporate manipulation of research,” ultimately conflicts of interest don’t just need to be disclosed and “managed,” but ideally “eliminated.”

Things may not change until public health researchers start “refus[ing] to take money from the [junk food] industry,” period. “It worked for tobacco.” Many prestigious medical and public health institutions “have…instituted bans on tobacco industry funding.”

But wait; can’t scientists remain “objective [and] impartial” even in the face of all that cash? Apparently not, as “[i]ndustry funded research” has been shown to be up to 88 times more likely to produce funder-favorable outcomes. What, do we think corporations are in the business of just handing out money for free?

The classic example is the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, who “accepted $1 million [grant] from Coca-Cola.” Before the grant, their official position was that “frequent consumption of [sugary beverages] can be a significant factor in the…initiation and progression of dental [cavities],” which—after the grant—changed to “scientific evidence is certainly not clear on the exact role that soft drinks play.” As CSPI’s Integrity in Science Project put it, “What a difference a million dollars makes!”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

67 responses to “Sugar Industry Attempts to Manipulate the Science

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    1. Yes, Marion Nestle a PhD nutritionist, wrote a number of books on this topic.
      ‘Food Politics’, 2013 (paperback), ‘Soda Politics’ 2017, latest is ‘Unsavory Truth’, How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat, 2018.

    1. Sydney,

      It is certainly not good for us.

      Not sure about your sentence though.

      Dr. Barnard showed that sugar isn’t what caused the obesity crisis, for instance. Though it doesn’t help.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xeHDqBB6X0

      Dr. Barnard still does have people go off of animal products and sugar and oils in his diet, but sugar is only part of the equation with things like Diabetes.

      Dr. Kempner actually gave a spoonful of sugar as part of The Rice Diet and was still so successful. (He gave the sugar to bring their calories up high enough.)

      Sugar is not good for people, but there is a reason the animal industry was trying to deflect the focus off of them.

      1. Deb:

        Sugar raises cholesterol, yet my impression is that large numbers of vegetarians eat honey (etc).
        My concern is that meat is most often tested in a vacuum, rather than with sugar.

        1. Sydney,

          I understand that the studies make things more confusing.

          When I look at ways of eating like Whole Food Plant Based, lessening animal products to 5% or less of the calories reverses so many diseases that those studies are the ones I look at.

          Dr. Ornish reverses heart disease to the point that people no longer need heart transplants. He reverses DNA damage to the point where telomeres lengthen. He reverses cancer to the point it shrinks. I already spoke about the vegan doctors reversing Diabetes and Pritikin reverses high blood pressure in as few as 3 days. 95% of MS gets reversed. Blindness sometimes gets reversed.

          The disease reversals going off of meat or lowering it to 5% of the diet speaks for itself.

          1. Neuropathy going away in 3 days. People getting off the kidney transplant list.

            Dr. Ornish did a highly successful depression study.

            His success lowering depression with diet was over twice as successful as one of the studies I was reading of how successful TMS is.

            The list of diseases being reversed is extensive.

            That is what “How Not To Die” is about. Watch the longer videos in the center.

          2. 95% of MS gets reversed? I would just love to see the science on that one! Even Roy Swank did not reverse MS. He only stopped it from progressing. Let’s see the published science on the reversal of MS – I have some MS afflicted friends who would love to see the published research. Thank you!

            1. Please take a look at Dr. John McDougall’s MS study with OHSU (Oregon Health & Science University).WFPB SOS showed some amazin
              results.

        2. Nowhere here have I ever seen honey promoted. (Vegans do not eat bee products) Dates are the sweetener of choice, and also a whole food.

          1. Dried fruit is waaaaaay too sweet for me — especially dates.

            I do put 1/2 teaspoon of either raw honey or molasses on my morning hot gruel. That and a banana (previously frozen) and blueberries are plenty enuf sweeteners for me.

    2. Sydney

      This is the standard argument used by the low carb/paleo/keto crowd and the self-styled cholesterol and saturated fat sceptics. There is never any good evidence offerd to prove this but it’s an article of faith that all too often morphs into

      1.. sugar is unhealthy therefore animal protein must be healthy

      Just like the argument that

      2. inflammation plays a major role in disease therefore high blood cholesterol levels are harmless/irrelevant

      These sorts of arguments wouldn’t fool a bright 8 year old but low carbers seem to alp them up. I’ve never understood it.

  1. Quick clarification: Corporations are not required by law to maximize shareholder profit. Corporations are supposed to be focused on their long term health, which includes both short turn profits and staying in existence for the long term. But with the rise of stock options given to board members and upper management, short term profits have been the focus of most corporations because it puts the most money in the pockets of upper management and board members.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Jeff. My own reading on the question matches yours– corporations are not bound by statute to maximize profit for shareholders, but are guided by case law. And that is so varied, it would be almost a mistake to ask any corporate attorney for an opinion.

      That said, one attorney argues the point in a New York Times editorial (https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/04/16/what-are-corporations-obligations-to-shareholders/corporations-dont-have-to-maximize-profits) that, “serving shareholders’ ‘best interests’” is not the same thing as either maximizing profits, or maximizing shareholder value. ‘Shareholder value,’ for one thing, is a vague objective: No single ‘shareholder value’ can exist, because different shareholders have different values. Some are long-term investors planning to hold stock for years or decades; others are short-term speculators.”

      Accordingly, courts more often rely on the principle of “business judgment” to assess the behavior of corporate management. That is, a CEO and the board of directors can refuse to sell a company, despite a handsome profit for shareholders, if courts find management had sound reasons for its refusal. Put differently, the idea of shareholder value need not revolve around financial value, but can include other concepts, including ethical value and social benefit.

    2. It isn’t stock options these days,it is stock grants that make up most executive compensation. The stock grants vest in a year so they have every reason to boost stock price short term. Then you have the high yield investors,hedge funds and private equity funds, who promise their uber wealthy investors 20% returns, they take large stake in companies and then pressure them to boost stock price. It is why companies end up getting slammed,look at the pharm company that may go bankrupt bc they peddled opiod pain killers as safe,when they knew they were highly addictive at the recommended levels.

  2. apart from soft drinks, I don’t see too many people eating pure sugar or straight from the sugar bowl. While not a fan of sugar per se, I do think part of the problem is the company it keeps. Most sugar comes packaged in high fat, cholesterol laden foods, ice cream, cake, cookies, other desserts…

    1. Sharon,

      That is what makes soda studies useful.

      Soda is linked to T2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome and specifically things like blood pressure being elevated.

  3. Dear honest and perseverant beautiful Doctor Michael Greger,

    Thank you for this once again truthful video on the harmful and illegal practices and collusion between industrial multinationals and the science corporations. It is in deed a matter of honesty and truth.

    And these crooks, scams and prescriptive dealers, corrupters and killers, are continuously making enormous profit on the health of the public for one reason only: they are not punished nor declared for their wrong doings, they spread confusions, doubts and uncertainties into the general public and into the official science. Why this scandals of hundreds of thousands of deaths in America alone each year, is continuing.

    Because people are not aware of the money and influence manipulations, who, what, when, where and how much… When people in their majority will know that these ways are harmful, unjust and illegal, then the people will reconsider their spendings and trusts, then the researchers will be able to refuse a fake donation or under the table corruption with the confidence that the people know and understand why, and with the public encouragement, they will bw strong enough to say NO to the lies, the biais, and the risks for their careers.

    The real of truth of capitalism, and the bare truth of medical sciences need to become mainstream. As it is through the social moral and standard recognition of what is good and what is wrong, that things will change. Only the dark and hidden secrets and shadows upon the common grounds and public interest is making the scam alive. Only the well established truth with the support of the institutions and honest independent experts will be able to stop the money to flow in the pockets of abusers…

    With peace and gratefulness
    With love and hope for better relationships
    PatH from France

  4. The bottom line of this video seems to be that human nature has some serious flaws when it come to morals and ethics ;-) Yes, it seems to be that the lust for money, power, and notoriety is ingrained in human nature, at least in quite a few people.

    But this human nature flaw is not limited to corporations. Politicians and government workers are also afflicted with this flaw. In fact, my observations are that people who lust for money and power fall into two categories: the introverts seek to become corporation CEO’s because they want to avoid the public limelight, whereas the extroverts seek to be politicians because they love to be the center of attention! But a lot of them both have flawed characters.

    At least, where corporations exist, there is competition and thus, the customers have some freedom of choice. We, as individuals, can choose to not eat sugar. But when the politicians and government control everything, they can tell you what you can and cannot do and what you can and cannot eat. When one thinks about it, this is the ultimate monopoly!

    The real solution seems to be educating the people so they can make wise choices, like Dr Greger is doing with this website and all of his other hard work. When people stop buying meat, eggs, dairy, salt, oil, and sugar, then these companies will go out of business.

    So, to me, corporations are not really the only “bad” guys and gals. The bad ones are all over the place, and have been since the beginning of civilization.

    1. In American society, corporations ARE the bad guys and becomeing more so as they gain ever more power. Who is it that pays politicians and manipulates the legislation? Corporations. WHo manipulates nearly every aspect of what we buy, what we view, what we wear, what we drive and so on and so on? Corporations! We are oppressed and controlled by the growing corporatocracy and we are doomed as a civilization if we don’t turn this around.

      1. Roger, re: “Who is it that pays politicians and manipulates the legislation? Corporations.”

        Simple solution: Elect politicians that are honest and won’t take bribes!

        Get involved in the public school system so that the younger generation are taught good nutrition and won’t buy junk food products.

        No one is forcing you to buy anything. When I go grocery shopping, I buy only the “Daily Dozen” type foods that Dr Greger recommends. And I teach my young children to do the same.

        I love freedom of choice!

  5. “But when the politicians and government control everything, they can tell you what you can and cannot do and what you can and cannot eat…” Holy Toledo! I had no idea that we had actually sunk to such depths; what will the poor corporations do, under such strict governmental scrutiny? Whither Ayn Rand?

    1. Steve, Sounds like you are a good candidate for moving to Venezuela or Cuba. No big evil corporations in either of those countries ;-)

      1. No corporations in Venezuela? You don’t have to look beyond a basic understanding to see multinational corporations in just about every tragedy, including Western countries such as US. They are far from a benign influence. But to suggest someone goes live elsewhere when they are pointing to corporate power is a huge part of the problem.

  6. The very first statement is wrong
    (it doesn’t matter that someone included it in some research paper).

    Corporations are NOT legally required to maximise shareholder profit.
    – This is a commonly held misbelief. Under US law the corporation (a limited liability company) has no legal responsibility to the shareholders [a legal concept a lot of people find difficult to understand]. However if the Board of Directors wants to retain their position come the next shareholder election (a vote) they would be advised to maximise shareholder ROI. It is true that there have been, in recent years, some legal opinions that corporations “should” maximise shareholder ROI, however a legal opinion (irrespective of the publishing house) is a very long way from overturning hundreds of years of law.

    Legally speaking the Board of Directors can [in theory anyway, I’m not sure whether there have been any recent cases] actually be sued by the beneficiaries of the company [which may extend beyond the shareholders] for not placing the interests of the company above the interests of the shareholders [after all the shareholders are ONLY investors – they are not the company] (although this is considered to be an unlikely turn of events, and therefore most Directors continue to pander to shareholder desires so as ensure future employment on the BOD).

    1. While true that there is no law requiring corporations to maximize profits, a LLC is not the same thing as an INC which large sugar companies are. Most LLC’s do not even have a board. All corporations, regardless of the state, must have a shareholder-elected Board of Directors. An LLC is not required to have a Board of Directors, but can adopt this form of management if the members (the owners of the LLC) choose to do so.

  7. keeping in mind my belief that politics is the shadow of commerce,
    and in consideration of our times,
    the following phrasing comes to mind.

    whorish, warish…bound, legion of self-deception:
    assault by superindividual ‘corpora-bod’ expressions.
    bully-grinding ethics, politics to their needs.
    ignoring repercussions of own propaganda and products,
    on a ‘free’, media-infused, trusting, – often outlived, entirely outnumbered – human consumer.
    thereby, one by one, vectoring our slide into a nightmarish ‘zombie-ocracy’ ….

    or … acting with ‘stand-up heroes, voices listened’…not.

    1. Two statements leap out

      ‘the gut microbiome from CRC patients was enriched in metabolic pathways involved in the degradation of amino acids, mucins and organic acids. That is indicative of a metabolic shift towards amino acid metabolism secondary to a fat- and meat-rich diet. In contrast, genes for carbohydrate metabolism were depleted.’

      and

      ‘At a functional level, Maltez Thomas and colleagues showed an enrichment of gluconeogenesis and amino acid putrefaction and fermentation pathways associated with CRC. In contrast, complex carbohydrates, stachyose and galactose metabolism pathways were enriched in controls.’

      My layperson’s interpretation is that microbiomes reflective of diets high in meat, fat and simple carbohydrates appear to be associated with greater cancer risk. Microbiomes reflective of diets high in complex carbohydrates appear to indicate lower cancer risk.

      1. Thanks for taking the time to do that!

        Your answer would have been my guess, but I found it interesting that it was very specific bacteria.

        I guess, when I mentally do meat as a factor, I already have the IGF-1 and the carnitine and choline and I have the AGES.

        I am not sure if these specific bacteria shows anything new or not. I guess I am also wondering if this would be where things like fermented foods might show up or probiotics.

        It is just a new study and I want to be able to be a fecal donor, but even better would be if I could just leave some good bacteria on their door handles or pet their dog.

      2. Reading it again, the putrefaction of amino acids is a concept I can come away with.

        I am trying to understand what happened to the genes involved in carb metabolism.

        Genes are involved in metabolism.
        Genes get depleted.

        I can hold onto that much for now.

        1. I know that genes also get turned on and shut off but I don’t understand the mechanism.

          I am imagining the gut microbiome bad guys stealing the genes or something.

          Or acid from the meat melting them or something.

          Where did the genes go?

          1. Is it that the telomeres get eaten away so much that the genes for metabolism aren’t there anymore?

            Do they get depleted to the point where people can’t ever digest carbs again?

            Or is it the language for turning the genes on and off and depleted means there are more off than on?

            1. Of all the information they got from the study, it was the specific gut bacteria, which they saw as significant.

              Does that mean that someone could do a gut microbiome test (if they ever make an accurate enough one) and see whether they have the specific gut bacteria involved in the cancer and maybe know their risks without needing colonoscopies or something?

  8. Is there ANY part of the history of sugar that has been positive? Slavery, stealing from an active monarchy and funding the US congress representatives to help them, displacing native cultures, destroying rain-forest and animal habitats. It is an industry built on some of the worst atrocities mankind has ever committed. To think the industry will suddenly develop morals (especially in the current political climate) would take some sort of miracle and perhaps human consciences not controlled by cash.

    1. Thanks Jimbo.

      And I agree with you about not expecting the moral people to suddenly take over the sugar industry.

      What would they do with it if they suddenly did take over.

  9. As Cindy Lauper once sang, “Money changes everything.” It is there throughout our society. The scientific world is a fractal of the greater world. If we could go to Star Trek’s vaunted moneyless society, would we be in better shape? Or is it humanity’s fate to build self-destructive systems in way that will ultimately destroy our environment and world? We are voices crying in the wilderness, but will we be enough?

    1. The star trek society is based on individual merits so I would think crooked ‘scientists’ who skew studies for cash would be pretty poor.

  10. My heart sank when I heard that last line about the AAPD. Is there anyone left in the world that can’t be paid to harm children?

  11. Hi Dr. Greger,

    Could you do a video on the risks of excess vitamin A consumption? As is it quite easy to consume several times the RDA on a whole food plant based diet.

    Thanks!

    1. Joe, you don’t have to worry about overdoing vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene from whole plant foods. It’s the preformed vitamin A from animal products and supplements that you need to watch out for. I believe this was referenced in some videos and in his book, but not sure of a specific video to the subject.

    2. Hello Joe,

      You’re correct that it’s easy to consume high amounts of “Vitamin A Equivalents” on a whole foods, plant based diet; however, it is not Vitamin A. What we get from plants is called beta-carotene, which is a precursor that gets converted into active Vitamin A. Vitamin A toxicity would only occur through animal consumption, supplements, or the use of certain medications, which you can read more about in the links below.

      I hope this helps,

      Matt, Health Support

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3276716/
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4452429/

  12. Some sixty years ago an Irish friend told me she asked her doctor if it would be all right for her to take her tea without sugar. He told her that it would – as long as she puts jam on her toast!

  13. Un autra brilliant exposé! Dr. Greger, you’re a revolutionary as far as I’m concerned.

    Thanks to Dr. Greger and his team for all this brilliant and very important work!!

  14. I remember reading some years ago a quote that read something like “The person who invented the process for making sugar should be tried for murder.”

    The implication was that sugar crystals were responsible for untold death.

    I quit using table sugar after that and only bought it for hummingbird feeders. I haven’t even put that out this year as rain has brought ample spring flowers.

    Let them eat nectar.

  15. Do you have any information to offer regarding sourdough? As a fermented grain product, it seems it would be more gut-friendly. But I’m wondering if it has any nutritional benefit, probiotic benefit, or otherwise. Is it a healthy addition to our diet?

  16. I am torn on using sweeteners like maple syrup or coconut sugar in treats for my family because on one hand, they are a form of sugar which is bad, but on the other hand they allow me to make treats with healthy ingredients that we otherwise may not eat like hemp seed bars, buckwheat pancakes etc. Is it ok to have some of those sweeteners in our diet for these “healthier types of treats”?

    1. All I have to offer is a best guess, but I personally am alright using molasses or true maple syrup as a sweetener.

      Some things are just not palatable without a little sweetening and these two don’t give you that sugar-bomb rush that so-called refined (refined doesn’t sound evil enough in this case) sugar does. Turbinado sugar could be less harmful as it is not as highly refined, and I think coconut sugar also falls in this category.

      But for me, molasses or pure maple syrup is the best as they have more than just sweetness to them. I also think it takes less of the syrup to provide palatability for a dish.

    2. Hi Kayleigh – Thanks for your great question! The #1 healthiest sweetener I’d encourage you to try is date sugar/syrup (https://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-healthiest-sweetener/)! There are several ways to make it but one simple method is by adding equal parts of dates and water to a high speed blender (1 cup dates + 1 cup water) and blending until you get a smooth paste. Alternatively, just pulverizing whole dates in a blender will give you a more dry powder product. Dates are naturally very sweet, which makes them a great whole food sweetener option that allow you to still make deliciously sweet treats for your family!

      Blackstrap molasses is one of the other healthiest sweetener options to consider using. It is best to limit use of all other sweeteners, including maple syrup and coconut sugar, to as little as possible in our overall diet (aim for less than 10% of your daily total calories to come from added sugars). I hope this helps answer your question and give you some healthier alternatives to think about!

      -Janelle RD – Registered Dietitian & NutritionFacts.org Health Support Volunteer

  17. I’m having a (?) moment about sugar. Our bodies and brain run on sugar. Sugar increases insulin sensitivity (is this good?, I would think so). Fat in cells blocks insulin uptake and is the real baddie (the real cause of diabetes) I knew a woman that ate mostly cake and lived to 101. She was skinny (sugar does not get turned into fat easily) and had good teeth, which I’m sure she brushed. “Sugar is empty calories!” Sounds bad; but, what if you do not want to gain weight. That is what the Kempner rice / sugar diet is about, and it cures lots of disease like nobody’s business. But it is not really food and those on it reputedly go off it to gain excess weight back–and then go back on the rice / sugar diet to loose weight again. So is sugar good, bad, in-between, or misunderstood?

  18. Many things like sugar have an optimal form and amount. Not enough oxygen and you die. Too much oxygen (breathing pure oxygen while scuba diving) will kill you from “oxygen toxicity”. Not enough sun exposure and you’re at increased risk for many autoimmune diseases and cancers while excessive sun exposure can kill immediately or over time (melanoma). Then there are things like cigarettes, cholesterol and plutonium that need to be avoided completely. As far as sugar goes, you have little factories in your body called enzymes. These process everything, but that can only handle so much at one time. When you eat fruit, like watermelon, that has 9 calories per ounce of sugar, you are eating a tiny amount of sugar, that is slowly absorbed because of the fiber in the watermelon, and you are being protected from certain cellular damage by the antioxidants in the fruit. On the other hand if you eat a piece of candy or sugar cube, there is no antioxidants, no fiber and there is a high concentration of sugar, so you absorb large amounts very rapidly. Your little enzyme factories can’t handle the load. It’s like trying to get a sip of water from a fire hydrant. The problem is that your body must deal with the sugar you have consumed somehow. The body’s “rescue” mechanism is to transport all that extra sugar to your liver to be turned into fat. That fat then clogs your muscle cells and prevents insulin signaling from working. Insulin is the signal to let sugar into cells so it can be used as energy, but that does not happen correctly when you are overloaded with fat, either from eating fat or too much processed carbohydrates (like table sugar). Since your muscle cells are not letting sugar into the cells, the sugar builds up where it is, which is the blood stream. This increased concentration of sugar then starts to attach to everything and prevents many important physiologic functions from occurring. Think of the excess sugar is a wrench being thrown into the machinery. Moral of the story: eat unprocessed whole food plant based which will not clog your muscle cells with fat, will not overload you with sugar, will not cause insulin resistance but will allow you to function like you were designed to. Sure there are people that eat plutonium and inhale asbestos their whole lives and live to a rip old age, just like there are people that win the 500M lotto, but hope and luck are not recommended strategies for success or longevity.

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