Do you want one cube or two? It’s time to start watching your sugar intake.

Once again the question of whether or not to reduce sugar intake is making the rounds in popular media. Some sort of sugar is now found in everything from breads to sauces and yogurt to peanut butter. Americans consume 133 pounds of sugar per person per year. That’s one-third of a pound every day. On April 1, the TV show 60 minutes devoted a segment to resurrecting the question that makes the sugar industry nervous: Is sugar toxic? Just one year ago, The New York Times published an article of the same name. According to Robert Lustig, MD, a pediatric endocrinologist from the University of California, San Francisco, over 75 percent of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and hypertension cases could be preventable if we lowered our sugar consumption. In a 2009 YouTube-posted lecture, Dr. Lustig states that, “sugar is a public health crisis”, and explains that researchers are increasingly finding that all sugar is addictive and toxic, whether it be high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or cane sugar. The sweet stuff actually activates our brains in a way similar to cocaine. Researchers are now hypothesizing that the more sugar we consume, the less we feel the reward because our bodies are building a tolerance to the substance, just as they do toward certain drugs. Sugar is also identified as the food of cancer cells. Nearly one-third of common cancers, including breast and colon, have insulin receptors on the surface of their cells. Insulin binds to these receptors and signals the body to start consuming glucose. While our cells need glucose to survive, the cancer cells hijack the glucose and the tumor-the cancer-grows.

So if sugar consumption is potentially toxic, how much of the sweet stuff can we eat without harming ourselves? Dr. Lustig co-authored a report with the American Heart Association recommending that men should consume no more than 150 calories of sugar a day, while women should consume on more than 100 calories. That’s less than the amount in a can of soda!

Tue, 2012-04-10 15:05
Caren Baginski

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