Let’s discuss the most controversial substance of the past decade, and no it’s not cocaine although it might as well be! At the rate we are demonising sugar within the next few years I’m quite sure it will be viewed as a narcotic and you will be a convicted felon if found carrying anything other than a sugar-free drink.
We once thought the world was flat, so could it be possible that sugar is not solely to blame for the obesity epidemic?? While obesity has steadily increased over the last 20 years, sugar consumption has actually declined. In Australia over the period of 1980-2003 the total consumption of nutritive sweeteners fell 16% (9 kg, or 25 g per day), refined sucrose consumption dropped 23% (11 kg) and consumption of other sweeteners (glucose, dextrose, fructose, lactose, isoglucose, maltose, maple sugar or similar) increased from a small baseline to 3 kg per capita (8 g per day). The present analysis indicates the existence of an Australian Paradox, i.e., an inverse relationship between secular trends in the prevalence of obesity. Obesity has risen by 300% while consumption of refined sugar has decreased by 20% over the last two decades.
The findings challenge the implicit assumption that taxes and other measures to reduce intake of soft drinks will be an effective strategy in global efforts to reduce obesity.
So if sugar has been wrongly convicted who should we be investigating? What is behind this mystical weight gain? Let’s take a closer look at fat, specifically hydrogenated vegetable oils.
In 1958 an American scientist called Ancel Keys started a study called the “Seven Countries Study”. It was known as the “lipid hypothesis” in plain terms saturated fats raise cholesterol and cholesterol causes heart disease. What he didn’t tell us is that he cherry-picked the countries that supported his hypothesis and left out the countries that consume loads of saturated fat but had low heart disease statistics. This study gained huge media attention, influenced dietary guidelines and became the cornerstone of modern nutrition policy. So instead of eating saturated fat mainstream nutrition organisation’s recommended people eat refined vegetable oils like soybean oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil and safflower oil. Many studies are now proving these oils can cause serious harm.
A recent meta-analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition pooled together data from 21 unique studies that included almost 350,000 people, about 11,000 of whom developed cardiovascular disease (CVD), tracked for an average of 14 years, and concluded that there is no relationship between the intake of saturated fat and the incidence of heart disease or stroke. In fact, the “risk ratio” for the development of CVD as intake of saturated fat increased was 1.0, meaning that people who ate more saturated fat were no more or less likely to develop CVD.
Unlike traditional fats (butter, tallow, lard, olive oil, etc.) our industrial vegetable oils are a very new addition to the “food” world. In fact, they were practically non-existent until the early 1900s. But with the invention of certain chemical processes and a need for “cheap” fat substitutes, the world of fat hasn’t been the same since.
Consider that at the turn of the 20th century the amount of vegetable oils consumed was practically zero. Today the average consumption is 32kgs per person per year! (And since I know plenty of people who don’t touch the stuff, that means lots of people are consuming even more!). Not to mention that your body uses saturated fat to produce hormones, so limiting the intake of saturated fat directly limits hormone production.
Consumption of polyunsaturated fats directly block the creation of efficient energy production (ATP) by blocking the uptake of glucose into the cell by disrupting the natural effects of pyruvate.
Studies dating back nearly a century noted a striking finding if you take young healthy people and split them into two groups and feed one group a fat rich diet and the other group a carb rich diet within just 2 days the glucose intolerance skyrockets in the fat rich diet, they ended up with twice the blood sugar. Imagine insulin is like the key that unlocks the door so that glucose can enter. Insulin attaches to the insulin receptors, activates numerous enzymes, which then activates glucose transport. If there was no insulin the glucose could not get into the cell and the sugar would be stuck in the blood stream. This is what happens in type 1 diabetes; the cells in the pancreas that make insulin are destroyed and your body cannot make insulin.
There is a second way we can end up with high blood sugar. What if there is enough insulin but it doesn’t work, the key is there but something has blocked the lock, this is called insulin resistance. Fat in the blood stream blocks glucose and the signalling pathway process, so no matter how much insulin you have in your blood it cannot open the gate to let glucose in. Elevation of fat levels in the blood causes insulin resistance by the inhibition of glucose transport into the muscles. Lower the fat and the insulin resistance comes right down, clear the fat and your body can clear the sugar from your body.
In 1929 a husband and wife team George and Mildred Burr published an interesting study on fatty acids. They were trying to prove that linoleic acid was essential to prevent a particular disease involving dandruff, slowed growth, sterility and kidney degeneration. In 1929 most of the B-vitamins and essential trace minerals were unknown to nutritionists. Many of the symptoms the Burrs saw could have been produced by deficiencies of B vitamins and essential trace minerals. The rats were fed a diet of sucrose (sugar) and casein and what they found is, as they decreased the fat in their diet the rate at which their cells respired increased by 30-50%, they could eat more calories and drank more water so their metabolic rate increased.
Think back to your grandparents and what they would have eaten for breakfast, more often than not they would have had eggs with a glass of orange juice. ORANGE JUICE!? Are you crazy? No. Have you heard the saying “Sugar is more addictive than cocaine, and that it lights up your brain cells like a pinball machine?” There’s plenty of other “claims” mainstream media is making about sugar and how bad it is for the body, but once you take your focus a little deeper into the physiological and biological functions of the cell and how it reacts to sugar in the body the results become quite clear and you can disregard most of the mainstream information and start doing your own self-experiment instead of just doing what everyone else is doing.
Every single cell in your body requires sugar to create energy and respire efficiently. When you don’t eat enough glucose your body releases two stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol. Initially, adrenalin finds stored glucose in the muscles and liver and uses it then it releases fat from fat cells to be burned as fuel. When your body burns fat for fuel under the direction of adrenalin it uses three times as much oxygen and creates even less energy and less CO2. Carbon dioxide is a good thing. It is anti-inflammatory and helps to remove intracellular calcium from cells. This keeps the cells stable, happy and respiring efficiently. Then comes cortisol. Cortisol’s function is to release amino acids from your skin thymus and muscles to be taken back to the liver to be converted to glucose. This process is also very inefficient and stressful on the liver. Your body will always sacrifice long-term health for short-term survival.
It’s all about balance, I’m not saying go out and buy a bag of sugar and eat it by the bucket. What I’m trying to say is when you have that coffee don’t be fearful of putting a tsp of sugar in it. That sugar is not poison, it is just energy, but it is deficient in nutrients so it would be silly to go and get all of your carbohydrates from refined white sugar! Provided your diet is nutrient rich and you’re getting sugar from fruit, honey and OJ, having some white sugar in your diet is perfectly fine and won’t hurt you.
“Although plain sucrose can alleviate the metabolic suppression of an average diet, the effect of sugars in the diet is much more likely to be healthful in the long run when they are associated with an abundance of minerals, as in milk and fruit, which provide potassium and calcium and other protective nutrients.”
Next time you engage in a sugar debate ask the person if they understand the Randle cycle? The Randle cycle is competition between sugar (glucose) and fat use for cellular respiration. As glycogen levels decrease and blood sugar levels drop, the pituitary gland secretes cortisol to keep supplying the brain with adequate fuel to function, after this comes the gluconeogenesis process which is the breaking down of the thymus gland and muscle for adequate blood glucose management internally. Stress and starvation lead to a relative reliance on the fats stored in the tissues, and the mobilisation of these as circulating free fatty acids contributes to a slowing of metabolism and a shift away from the use of glucose for energy. This is adaptive in the short term, since relatively little glucose is stored in the tissues (as glycogen), and the proteins making up the body would be rapidly consumed for energy if it were not for the reduced energy demands resulting from the effects of the free fatty acids.
One of the points at which fatty acids suppress the use of glucose is at the point at which it is converted into fructose, in the process of glycolysis. When fructose is available, it can by-pass this barrier to use glucose, and continue to provide pyruvic acid for continuing oxidative metabolism. If the mitochondria themselves aren’t providing sufficient energy, it can leave the cell as lactate, allowing continuing glycolytic energy production. In the brain, this can sustain life in an emergency.
If sugar was really such a bad thing then why is it that bears depend on it so heavily. During hibernation in the winter periods bears sleep through periods of no food, burn their fat stores whilst in hibernation (Ketosis) and upon waking are full-blown diabetic. After hibernation periods are done the bears will source sugar-rich foods such as honey, fruits etc. Within weeks their diabetes is completely reversed. Stress and diabetes is closely linked to insulin resistance based on the ability of removing free fatty acids from the blood and away from the liver.
A lowered metabolic rate and energy production is a common feature of aging and most degenerative diseases. From the beginning of an animal’s life, sugars are the primary source of energy, and with maturation and aging there is a shift toward replacing sugar oxidation with fat oxidation. Old people are able to metabolise fat at the same rate as younger people, but their overall metabolic rate is lower, because they are unable to oxidize sugar at the same high rate as young people. Fat people have a similar selectively reduced ability to oxidize sugar. – “Ray Peat PhD.”
There are so many misconceptions out there based on faulty logic. Most people who eat a lot of sugar are also eating a lot of processed foods like takeaway, cakes, pastries and low-quality chocolate bars. These foods are also high in refined vegetable oils, preservatives, additives, digestive inhibitors and low in important nutrients like magnesium, calcium, potassium and vitamin C. It is not the sugar in these foods that is killing you, it’s the combination of a diet lacking in nutrients, starches and PUFA’s with the sugar. Get your sugars from nutrient dense foods like fruit, OJ, milk and honey. Then if you wish to have some white sugar, go ahead. The amount you can have will depend on many things like age, sex, metabolic health and activity level. A 100kg male who trains four days a week will be able to eat more sugar than a 55kg female who trains twice a week. Instead of going on these crazy diets where you completely cut sugar from your diet, use your brain! Educate yourself and cut out processed junk food. It’s all about balance, tracking, monitoring and then making changes. If your diet is full of nutrient rich food and you want to have one slice of cake a week that won’t kill you but having 10 slices of cake isn’t going to be that great.
Balance and moderation!
Performance Coach and lover of sugar!
Read more :
The Truth About Ancel Keys: We’ve All Got It Wrong