Monday, July 26, 2010

Sugar: The Bitter Truth

Are you interested in sugar and fructose metabolism and what it does to your body on a cellular level?  Check out this amazing video lecture by Dr. Robert Lustig, professor of pediatric endocrinology at UCSF.

Dr. Lustig presents an educational and entertaining lecture, citing epidemiological statistics before moving into a brief biochemical lecture.  In the lecture, Dr. Lustig goes over metabolism of white bread (glucose), ethanol, and fructose.  This comparison of chronic ethanol and fructose exposure symptomology is demonstrative of what points he will make during the lecture:

Chronic Ethanol Exposure                                                 Chronic Fructose Exposure
Hematologic disorders
Electrolyte abnormalities
Hypertension                                                                          Hypertension
Cardiac dilation
Cardiomyopathy                                                                     Myocardial infarction
Dyslipidemia                                                                           Dyslipidemia
Obesity                                                                                    Obesity
Hepatic dysfunction                                                                 Hepatic dysfunction
Fetal alcohol syndrome                                                            Fetal insulin resistance
Addiction                                                                                 Habituation

Dr. Lustig also makes some excellent pediatric nutritional recommendations that I believe apply to adults as well:
1) Get rid of sugary liquids, including soda and juice.  Drink only milk and water.
2) Always eat fiber with carbohydrate.  Ex. Choose whole grain bread over white bread
3) Wait 20 minutes after finishing your first serving at meals to eat a second serving
4) Buy your screen time, meaning for every hour spent in front of the TV/computer, spend an hour moving around

One point Dr. Lustig makes during his lecture that I want to highlight is that though fruit has a high fructose content, fruit is not bad!  Fruit has a limited amount of fructose, unlike food containing white sugar, and fruit comes prepackaged with lots of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

The take-away from this lecture is very simple: reduce consumption of desserts, mochas, sodas, bakery items, etc., keep eating fruit and eat complex carbohydrates such as whole grain breads and grains.  I advocate moderation and therefore do not support giving up dessert entirely but it should be relegated back to the status of treat instead of daily occurrence.

Good luck!

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