The Case Against Sugar
If only eating was as simple as calories in and calories out. Although, that’s what many scientists and nutrition experts would have us believe. If this was sound advice, we’d all be thin and healthy and there wouldn’t be an obesity epidemic around the world.
The idea that all calories are created equal has been one of the most pervasive and damaging food lies in history. Of course, we know this isn’t true. A thousand calories from broccoli are going to have a vastly different impact on your body than a thousand calories from gummy bears.
There are, in fact, good calories and bad calories, even a ten-year-old can tell you that. The idea of good calories and bad calories, what they are, and what they do to our bodies is the subject of the week’s episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy. My guest Gary Taubes is co-founder and President of the non-profit Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI). He’s an investigative science and health journalist, the author of The Case Against Sugar, Why We Get Fat and Good Calories, Bad Calories. Gary is a former staff writer for Discover and correspondent for the journal Science. His writing has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and Esquire, and has been included in numerous “Best of” anthologies, including The Best of the Best American Science Writing.
Gary has been an integral part of busting some of the biggest myths around nutrition science. In 2002, he wrote a groundbreaking article for The New York Times titled, “What if It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie?” which really questioned the low-fat movement and the idea that fat, not sugar, was the cause of many of our health woes.
In this episode, we dive into nutrition science as Gary teaches us how to think like a researcher and a scientist. We also talk about sugar and its damaging effects on our body. It all comes down to this—food is more than calories; food is information, and the information in sugar and processed foods send harmful messages to your body. For example, Gary and I discuss sugar-sweetened beverages. Let’s say, for example, you drink a can of soda. Your gut quickly absorbs the fiber-free sugar in the soda, which includes fructose and glucose. The glucose spikes your blood sugar, which sets off a cascade of hormonal responses that stores belly fat, increases inflammation, and raises triglycerides and blood pressure. The fructose goes right to your liver, where it starts manufacturing fat, which triggers more insulin resistance and causes chronically elevated blood insulin levels. It can also cause fatty liver, which generates more inflammation.
If you have a friend who is a sugar addict or still drinks soda, send them this conversation!
And if you think that a calorie is just a calorie, this fascinating episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy will make you think again. Be sure to tune in on iTunes, Google Play, or anywhere else you access podcasts. You can also watch our conversation on YouTube.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD