Is all the sugar the same?

A myth resurrected remains a myth. Dr. Russell Jaffe answers the question: Is sugar, just sugar?

In the 1960s the nutrition world was told that a ‘miracle’ had been discovered in the form of fructose and particularly high fructose corn syrup. The miracles depended upon two premises:

First, that fructose was able to fool the body because it did not increase blood glucose nor did it increase insulin… and something too good to be true turned out to be too good to be true. Once inside the cell, fructose converts to glucose. In whole fruit, the fructose is moderated by pectin and other fibers so the uptake is slow. In juices, beverages and processed foods it can be a major source of calories that get converted into fat. Yes, the fastest way to add fat is the make it from fructose and other sugar sources.

Second, the Harvard School of Public Health and particularly Professor Fredrick Stare asserted that ‘all calories are the same in the end; that they are all units of energy thus the proportion of simple sugar, fructose in particular, was unimportant. The epidemic of metabolic syndrome, expanding obesity, diabetes and all its cardiovascular and systemic complications was set in motion by these two myths.

Today, a new round of support for this old, fatally flawed idea is being aired throughout the media. Feel good ads today proclaim from father to child that ‘sugar is just sugar and its all the same, so rest assure and enjoy your sugar rich diet.

Well, is it true that sugar is just sugar? Well, no, it is not true. Sugar in whole food, particularly fruit, comes with complex carbs (fibers) that slow the sugar uptake and provide a useful source of energy to the cells.

In addition, nutrients that help metabolize the sugar are contained in the food. Nature is wise in packaging the nutrients needed with the foods to be metabolized.  The brain for example, gets almost all its energy from glucose. Processed sugar is empty of nutrients and can bring in too much sugar too fast leading to storage of energy as fat and making the body more at risk of deficiencies in essential nutrients that lead to increased suffering, chronic disease, and expensive ill health.

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