Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Sticky Topic: Is Sugar Toxic?

My brother sent me this article in the which raises the question by scientist and speaker, Robert Lustig.

My brother asked me: "Do you think sugar is toxic?"

As a registered dietitian, I know for a fact that glucose and fructose are NOT toxic. God would not have made it so that 50% or so of our calories must come from carbohydrates if he did not intend for us to eat foods with glucose and fructose in them.

This speaker makes a very valid point in his You Tube video.

However, I would argue that both honey and sugar have been around since ancient times (refer to Wikipedia's article on sugar here). We know they are toxic.

But Lustig's argument has some validity as he argues that the amount of sugar, in both glucose and fructose form, when they hit the liver in great enough quantities, trigger the liver to make fat.

I like this part of the article, which quotes another noteable scientist on this topic:
What we have to keep in mind, says Walter Glinsmann, the F.D.A. administrator who was the primary author on the 1986 report and who now is an adviser to the Corn Refiners Association, is that sugar and high-fructose corn syrup might be toxic, as Lustig argues, but so might any substance if it’s consumed in ways or in quantities that are unnatural for humans. The question is always at what dose does a substance go from being harmless to harmful? How much do we have to consume before this happens?  (emphasis mine)
Lustig recognizes that his view on sugar as toxic is extreme by conceding that the question is whether they’re “chronic toxins,” which means “not toxic after one meal, but after 1,000 meals.” I think we can boil this sticky argument down to one principle:


The phrase I have coined over the years in my field is based on this Biblical principle:

Moderation, not elimination, without excess.

The application is that we need to take what we know from science and research seriously, but with grace. So that means having the occasional cookie. But it does not mean allowing a gracious view of a potential vice to become consistent and allowable, like a cookie every day.

No comments: