Sunday evening I was watching 60 Minutes…
Ok, let me stop there. In the spirit of full disclosure, I was getting ready to watch the ACM awards and 60 minutes happen to be on.
I was busy getting dinner ready and fully prepared not to even glance at the TV until Reba and Blake took the stage, but something caught my attention.
Sugar is TOXIC.
60 Minutes dedicated a full segment to researching a claim that sugar is behind much of America’s health epidemic. Dr. Lustig, featured on the segment, is a pediatric endocrinologist at The University of California, San Francisco. He highlights the fact that the movement in the early 1980’s to get Americans to cut out fat was an epic failure. When companies took fat out of food, they replaced in with sugar and now Americans are fatter and unhealthier than ever.
Lustig goes on to argue that, despite what many nutritionists say, a calorie is not a calorie because different nutrients have different roles within the body and that they evoke different responses in our brains.
The full segment (which is worth watching in its entirety HERE if you have the time) vilifies sugar. It shows research that cancer feeds on sugar and that too much sugar overwhelms the liver, which converts it into fat (LDL) and releases it into the blood stream bringing about heart disease and a plethora of other related health issues.
Though I certainly believe in and support the message (I’d say I drink the kool-aid, but that would be all wrong in this discussion), my only problem with the segment lies in the absolute that all sugar is evil.
Personally, I believe Americans are getting WAY too much sugar, especially in the form of HFCS, processed foods and sugary drinks.
However, I tend to shy away from extremes. No sugar, ever, is unrealistic. Even if you said no to desserts for the rest of your life, sugars would find their way into your diet through sauces, soups, dressings, etc. In fact, I think it’s the “sneaky” sugars that are causing most of the problems. People know they can say no to a brownie and reduce their sugar intake, but not many people realize the marinara sauce on their whole wheat pasta could be comprised of mostly sugar.
My thoughts on the matter can be summed up by my favorite mantra by Michael Pollan: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. To me, the secret to changing the direction of our nation’s health future is not to vilify a single substance, but to start a movement towards eating whole, unprocessed foods. We need to retrain our taste buds to know and enjoy real foods, not science experiments designed to make us crave more junk.
So, that’s my plan. I will continue making my family’s meals from whole foods and avoiding as many processed foods as possible. However, I will also continue to have foods on hand for situations when I need something quick to eat. I won’t be tossing out my favorite soup because sugar is an ingredient. In fact, I love this soup because I recognize every ingredient listed, and if sugar happens to be one of them, well, then that’s why it’s only an occasional food around these parts
Did you see the segment?
What did you think?
Is sugar to blame for obesity?