Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How Sweet It Isn't

Don’t look for numbers here. Since I didn’t have the right ones for Mega Millions, I’m even less interested in “between the toes” BUT… The Great White Belly is definitely shrinking. Since this was a huge part of my motivation to work on this weight loss project, yeah for me. Can I get an “Amen”?
To three young ladies at the gym: Young lady #1 in the locker room: thank you for showing me what a perfect female ass is supposed to look like. I had been wondering. It wasn’t necessary to stick yours in my face to make the point (What are you? One of my cats? They were always standing on me to stick their butts in my face), but I do appreciate the education. 

Young ladies #2 and #3: Yeah, I’m the bitch who yelled at you in Pilates class yesterday because you were TALKING SO LOUDLY in the back of the room that it was distracting the rest of us from the teacher’s instructions. If you had no interest in what we were doing, why the fuck were you in there? And by the way, not only did the teacher turn away my apology, but she (and at least  7 other people) THANKED ME for saying something. Your behavior was something I’d expect from a 6 year old, not a couple of college aged women. Damned right you should feel ashamed. So should your parents for doing such a shitty job of raising you. You are a couple of spoiled brats.

Today is Monday, April 2, 2012. Last night, “60 Minutes” aired a segment on Dr. Robert Lustig and his campaign (I guess you’d call it a campaign) against sugar, specifically sucrose and fructose. Now, you guys had better show some appreciation because I did some serious (well…) research before writing this post. I took notes, even.

Link to the segment:


Link to a New York Times article about Dr. Lustig:

Obesity is a hot topic in the US: how it affects the health care issue, is the BMI really an accurate measure, whether it’s being exaggerated and demonized (certainly stigmatized). There are multi-billion dollar industries to sell products and services to fat people (or people who believe they are fat). There is the old saying of “You can never be too thin or too rich.” (I was willing to test the second half of that statement this past Friday night, but I didn’t draw the right numbers). Part of the discussion is “why”? Why have American waistlines expanded so much in the past 30 odd years?
Enter Dr. Lustig. The man has credentials (endocrinologist. He knows his way around a gland). Like I said, I took notes (4 pages) and I could go into a lengthy dissertation, but I won’t do that.
Let me give you Dr. Lustig’s bottom line: it’s fructose (and the first half of that word rhymes with the Queen Mother of Dirty Words, as Dr. Lustig pronounces it).

About 30, 35 years ago, high fructose corn syrup became a cheaper alternative to sugar in so many foods, it’s ridiculous. It has been vilified and the Corn Refiners Association has aired ads to convince you otherwise. The  “Corn sugar” ads and the ones where someone starts to badmouth High Fructose Corn Syrup and ends up putting foot in mouth. You’ve seen ‘em. By the way, Dr. Lustig isn’t too much of a fan of sucrose (table sugar), either.

Americans eat 141 lbs. of sugar per year. That’s more than the weight of your average supermodel. And it’s not just someone dumping 4-5 teaspoons of sugar in a cup of coffee or drinking multiple sodas per day. Like I said, HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) is in damned near everything. Breads, buns, salad dressing, mustard, salsa, ketchup, spaghetti sauce (check out the label on Prego sometime. It's an education) as well as the usual suspects. You could make a conscious decision to eliminate sugar, not have it in coffee, avoid desserts and Snickers bars, but still go over 100 lbs. per year just because HFCS is included in so many different items.

Sugar affects the same pleasure centers of the brain that cocaine does. Maybe it's a white powder thing...

We do NEED sugar for energy: glucose. But glucose, sucrose and fructose are all structurally different from each other and our bodies process them in different ways due to the different structures. Glucose is stored in the liver as glycogen; it’s what elite athletes use for energy and the body stores it with no problem. An annual tradition with the Boston Marathon is a pasta dinner the night before: carbo loading. When he was Mayor, Ray Flynn used to host and chow down (Ray used to run the Marathon. I don’t think Tom Mennino does). Glycogen in the liver is not a problem; there’s no upper maximum limit. And glucose consumption will trigger the leptin (“Okay, I’m full”) hormone.

Fructose, on the other hand…

This is a link to Dr. Lustig’s lecture, “Sugar: The Bitter Truth”. It’s an hour and a half, but worth watching.


In it, he explains how fructose, like ethanol (booze) can only be metabolized in the liver. And what isn’t used is stored as fat, not glycogen (!) in the liver. He had a Power Point presentation on how the various sugars are processed through the body, including the end results. The end result of fructose metabolism is uric acid. Notice how lately we’re seeing ads for medicine to treat GOUT (how 18th century)? And the ads talk about how high uric acid is a root cause of gout? Save yourself the prescription and co-pay: cut out the foods containing HFCS. Oh, and even if you’re saying, “Well, I don’t have gout, but I do have high blood pressure.” Uh huh: see previous comment. Excess uric acid is a factor in high blood pressure (hypertension).

You may be thinking, “Gee, if I go back over these blog posts and change my eating, this broad seems to think I can ditch a lot of meds.” And that's a bad thing?

Alec Baldwin, then and now. He got a diagnosis of pre-diabetes and eliminated sugar from his diet.

I’d say he’s damned close to his Jack Ryan (“Hunt for Red October”) hotness.

Like Gatorade? Notice a change in the flavor since Pepsi bought the brand? Yeah: they swapped in HFCS.  If you’ve just run the Boston Marathon, then guzzle it down. But if you’re just browsing in 7-11 for something to drink and you like that kind of unnatural, glowing shade of purple coming from the bottle…rethink your choice. And read the label on juice before consuming that.

Dr. Lusting speaks of a “perfect storm” (that term is overused) that occurred in the 1970s: 1) Nixon didn’t want food prices to become an election issue, so he ordered Earl Butz (Secretary of Agriculture. Never liked that guy. He was a HUGE jerk) to ensure that food prices (and food distributed through WIC –  Women, Infants & Children, a program to feed the poor) stayed cheap. 2) The Japanese invented HFCS and it was introduced to the US in 1975 and 3) the US Dept of Ag (The Food Pyramid guys), American Medical Association and American Heart Association called for Americans to reduce their dietary fat intake. LDL, low density lipoproteins (the Bad Cholesterol) had just been discovered and it was believed that dietary fat contributed to their increase, so food manufacturers began reducing the fat and replacing it with (you guessed it) HFCS because otherwise, it tasted like crap. Sure, this was healthy. After all, fat was the bad guy, right?

Not so fast, says Dr. Lustig. First of all, there are 2 types of LDL: Pattern A, which floats and does nothing harmful to us and Pattern B, which is dense and the building block of arterial plaque.

Want to guess what contributes the increase of Pattern B LDL?

And as for WIC and providing cheaper food, Dr. Lustig showed the label from Isomil, a brand of baby formula available in the program. I don’t have kids (and judging by the hot flashes, WON’T have kids), but I was floored by the baby formula being 43.2% corn syrup solids by weight and 10% sugar. That’s over 50% of what your baby is eating is sugar, and the majority of that is fructose. Dr. Lustig had completed a study on obesity in 6 month olds and we know what couch potatoes they are...

Oh, and by the way, we don’t get enough fiber, either. Mostly because we’re chowing down on processed foods. For the sake of shelf life, processed foods don’t have much, if any fiber. According to Dr. Lustig, “When God made the poison, He packaged it with the antidote”, which is fiber (Dr. Lustig is a little extreme in his view). Fiber inhibits carb absorption and increases satiety (the full feeling. Leptin). Instead of drinking juice, eat the fruit that it comes from.

If you’re saying to yourself, “Well, giving up sugar and carbs is just circling back to Atkins,” give yourself a cigar. Dr. Robert Atkins was onto something. The Arkansas endocrinologists behind Protein Power are onto something. Sugar Busters, South Beach and the Paleolithic (Caveman) Diet all circle back to cutting sugar, processed foods containing sugar (and omitting fiber) and refined carbohydrates out of your diet.

One of Dr. Lustig’s colleagues, Lewis Cantley (I hope I spelled his name correctly) has linked sugar to cancer (breast and colon) in that tumor cells have insulin receptors and they use blood glucose to grow.

Dr. Lustig wants to see sugar regulated the same as alcohol and tobacco. Like I said, the guy has an extreme view. I think education is a better action than legislation or litigation.

As for the sugar manufacturers, hey, there’s the alternative fuel market. A friend told me that enthanol burns hotter than gasoline and burns out engines. So, the Corn Refiners should fund a couple of Detroit engineers to develop an internal combustion engine that can handle it. How many miles can you get out of a bottle of Coke?

Okay, it’s Easter in a few days. If you’re in the US, you are familiar with the rows of pastel-wrapped candy in the stores destined for Easter baskets (if they make it that far). Cadbury Crème Eggs are only available this time of year, as are Hershey Eggs and big jelly beans. In America, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween and Christmas are sugar saturated holidays (If you don’t have a date for Valentine’s, there’s always the deeply discounted boxes of chocolates…). Go ahead, eat your jelly beans (unless the dog gets into your Easter basket behind your back. Stupid Max), bite the ears off of your chocolate bunny, but try this: once the candy is gone, 30 days without processed food, without sugar, without baked goods (which, I suppose, count as processed foods). You’ll be making and carrying your own lunches (saving money). You want spaghetti for dinner? Fine. Make sauce from scratch. It’s wicked easy. Make salad dressing from scratch. Get stevia (Truvia is a stevia and sucrose blend. Don’t bother.. Once again, read the label). Sweet Leaf makes liquid flavored stevia (English Toffee, Vanilla, Lemon, Grape, Chocolate Raspberry) for $13.99 per bottle (which will last a couple of months).

You’ve got nothing to lose, except maybe a few pounds, some high blood pressure points, expensive meds, maybe a diabetes diagnosis…


  1. Thanks for sharing, I'll be watching those youtube videos that you linked to.

    One question, I don't live in the states and was wondering if the order of ingredients on "food" there indicated how much of something is in the product?

  2. Hi,hm, thanks for reading! You ask a really good question and unfortunately, I can't give you a black and white answer. Ingredients are listed in descending order of most first. So, if the first ingredient on your label is wheat flour (for instance), there's more of that than anything else in the food. With regard to fats, protein, sodium and carbohydrates, it's more specific. The label tells you how much is a serving and of that serving, how many grams are fat/protein/carbohydrate (broken down into sugars)/fiber, what the percentage of your daily requirement is in that serving. Hope this was helpful.


Keep it civil.