By Suzanne Ridley | with Steve Eggleston
Welcome to the Pura Nutrients Blog for our ground-breaking book, The Fast Diabetes Solution, a Holistic Formula for Reversing Diabetes and Living a Healthy, Happy Life, by Suzanne Ridley | with Steve Eggleston and our life changing Diabetes Recovery Program available inside our Diabetes Recovery Membership. Today we focus on a deadly combination: fructose and fatty liver (combined with a misguided health policy). Here we explore sugar and HFCS how they have devastated world health, …as we travel the road toward preventing or reversing type 2 diabetes…while endeavoring to lead a healthy, happy life.
Commenting on the then-new Constitution of the United States, founding father Benjamin Franklin once wrote a phrase that has become known world round: “Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” If he lived today, Old Ben might amend his popular adage to read, except death, taxes and sugar… because in our lifetime, we will consume enough sugar and corn syrup to fill a swimming pool…unless we make deliberate lifestyle choices to keep away from the sickly sweet pool of sugar (including in the US an average of fifty-five pounds of corn syrup per person per year).
Let’s start with the basic question: What is high fructose corn syrup?
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) a chemically-manufactured flavor-enhancer and sweetener for the foods we eat and on which we depend for energy, health, and happiness. We all know it because ever since we were children we’ve been enjoying it addictively in sugary cereal, soda pops of all kinds, canned fruits, ketchups, and oh so many more sweetened little things that occupy the grocery store shelves. Like sugar (sucrose), HFCS is made up of two sugar molecules glucose and fructose. Sounds harmless enough but the excessive consumption of these two sweeteners is wreaking havoc on peoples’ health worldwide.
“I’ve heard of fructose before,” you may say. “Isn’t it in fruits and vegetables, which are supposed to be good for us?
Because the word fructose is used in a variety of contexts, a great many mal-assumptions and misunderstanding have resulted. For starters, no, the fructose in fruits and vegetables does not cause a problem . Fructose is the naturally occurring simple sugar (as in simple molecule of sugar) that Mother Nature and evolution originally put in all of our yummy fruits, bee’s honey, and vegetables. There is little fructose in vegetables and eating a couple of pieces of fruit is not going to cause any problems.
“But hold on,” you say, “let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Can you explain why sugar and HFCS are not good for me in the first place?”
Of course. Let’s go back to the early 1970s when British nutritionist John Yudkin released a simple little book about sugar called “Pure, White & Deadly,” in which he explained that sugar is toxic and should (as far as being a food additive is concerned) be treated as poison. The establishment (medical, scientific, and sugar interests) vehemently pushed back, saying it wasn’t so. Then nearly forty years later, after discovering the Yudkin book, a child obesity expert at the University of Southern California, Dr. Robert Lustig, gave a recorded school lecture called “Sugar: The Bitter Truth.” Under the auspices of the school’s medical education series, the video was released via YouTube, and to everyone’s amazement went viral at a time when few things did.
The video was eye-opening because sugar is in everything we eat. We are fed sugar from infancy forward, not because it is good for us, but because it is sweet and addictive and sells processed food that otherwise tastes like cardboard. That’s in part because, in 1986, the United States Food and Drug Administration declared (after an alleged comprehensive review of the literature), that “there is no conclusive evidence on sugars that demonstrates a hazard.” And to this day, both the American Diabetes Association and vaunted American Mayo Clinic tow the false line about sugar, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
The truth is that the increase in use of sugar and high fructose corn syrup in foods since the 1970s and 1980s, respectively, has closely paralleled the skyrocketing increase in human obesity and type 2 diabetes, spiking sharping beginning in the mid-1970s. However, as Dr Fung explains, “Obesity alone…cannot explain the entire upsurge in diabetes. Many obese people have no evidence of insulin resistance, diabetes or metabolic syndrome. On the other hand, there are also the skinny type 2 diabetics…[But] sugar consumption may well explain much of this discrepancy.”
“What makes sugar and HFCS so toxic?” you may ask.
The Chinese may have inadvertently given us the answer in the largest and most telling data collection on sugar in human history. In the early ‘90s, INTERMAP (the international dietary study) revealed that the traditional Chinese diet heavy on white rice (a refined carbohydrate) and generated very few victims of obesity or type 2 diabetes, contradicting strong evidence that carbs were behind the obesity and type 2 diabetes pandemic. But it turned out the explanation lied in the rest of the diet: it was very low on sugar.
Unlike sugar, which is equally glucose and fructose, white rice consists of long chains of only glucose. It was thought that this didn’t matter, but it obviously did. All carbs were not the same when it came to type 2 diabetes. By thereafter tracking the increase in Chinese sugar consumption, the study revealed that type 2 diabetes rates in China started to rise in direct relation to the increase in sugar consumption. By 2018, half of all Chinese have now become prediabetic or suffer from type 2 diabetes.
The explanation found roots in the increased consumption of sugar and therefore fructose, mimicking the same trend that gripped America, England and Australia. A review of data from nearly 200 nations across the world show a profound correlation between three things: sugar intake, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. To put these statistics in shocking perspective, if we go back as recently as the 1970s we find only one percent of the Chinese population suffering from type two diabetes (similar to the U.S.)
Dr. Jason Fung, the Canadian nephrologist we often cite, explains: “Since 2007, 22 million Chinese were newly diagnosed with diabetes — a number close to the population of Australia….In a single generation, the diabetes rate [in China] rose by a horrifying 1160 percent. Sugar, more than any other refined carbohydrate, seems to be particularly fattening and leads specifically to type 2 diabetes. Yet the Chinese were being diagnosed with diabetes with an average body mass index of only 23.7, which is considered in the ideal range. By contrast, American diabetics averaged a BMI of 28.7, well within the overweight category…”
Clearly, sugar and fructose are dangerous. But why?
“The dose makes the poison,” the father of modern toxicology, Swiss-German physician Paracelsus proclaimed a half century ago. Water, fundamental to life, is toxic and even fatal if overconsumed. The phenomena is called hyponatremia. Oxygen, also fundamental to life, can be toxic and fatal at high levels. Why then would sugar and fructose be any different. And they’re not. The only question is how much sugar does it take to become toxic.
Before the second World War, most Americans consumed fifteen to twenty grams of fructose (in whatever form) per year, i.e., over a 365-day period. By the end of the war, however, that amount jumped to twenty-four grams per day. With HFCS entering the market in 1994, the number leaped even further to fifty-five grams of fructose per day. Today, Americans consumer 156 pounds of sweeteners grounded in fructose per year. As Yudkin suggested, at that dosage, sugar is poisonous.
Unfortunately, fructose is a sneaky little devil. As a substance, its adverse affect is difficult to detect because no matter what dosage is taken, our blood glucose and insulin level can remain more or less the same. But the underbelly of fructose is hardly benign. That’s because the toxicity of fructose cannot be measured with an A1c rating, i.e., the average amount of unabsorbed glucose floating around in our blood over previous few weeks. The toxicity can only be ascertained by examining the amount of fat gathering in the liver and making the liver fat.
Is a fatty liver dangerous then?
Yes, it will kill you. Highly misunderstood, fatty liver disease affects about 30% of Americans this figure jumps to between 80-90% in the obese. Alarmingly up to 38% of obese children have fatty livers tripling the figures since 1980. Dr. Mark Hyman, work renowned family doctor and expert on obesity and diabetes, explains the phenomenon by reference to the delicacy foie gras, which is a liver pate created for French kitchens by force-feeding foul with corn and starch. When we do the same thing to our bodies, we experience the same result, opening the doorway to chronic disease, inflammation, and all that it begets. But the cause is not eating fat. The cause is eating tons of carbs that turns into glucose and then into fat in the liver suffocating our liver in a process called de novo lipogenesis which literally means “creation of new fat”. This process is accelerated with fructose. Whereas 80% of glucose is handled by the body the liver only has to deal with 20%. Fructose, however heads straight to our liver, the whole 100% of it thereby creating a fatty liver, over time it can be deadly. The stage is being set for the development of diabetes. A fatty liver is at the very core of insulin resistance. We know that over 80% of Type 2 Diabetics have a fatty liver.
In the old days, fatty liver was most often associated with alcoholism because alcohol had to be primarily metabolised by the liver and was easily converted to fat. Today teenagers are presenting with fatty, non-functioning livers long before they are old enough to drink. This is because they’ve been downing a half dozen soda pops a day for half of their lives, in effect poisoning their systems every day. There’s even a name for it: non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD. And with NAFLD, there is the constellation of other symptoms that come together to cause metabolic syndrome (affecting them later as adults): high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
But let’s be clear about something, in the event more confusion has arisen. Isn’t it eating fat, not eating sugar and HFCS, that causes a fatty liver and belly fat?
No, dietary fat does not bring about a fatty liver or fat stomach. It does just the opposite. Dietary fat, according to Dr. Hyman, “actually turns off the fat production factory in your liver.” That’s because “unlike carbohydrates and protein, dietary fat does not trigger your pancreas to secrete insulin or stress out your liver…[Our] “body prefers to burn rather than store dietary fat, unless you combine it with carbs. When you eat the right fats, you increase your metabolism, stimulate fat burning and decrease hunger.”
The mix of sugar and HFCS creating a fatty liver is disease-causing and can be deadly. What we must do to be healthy, is get rid of the fat that is clogging our liver and return it to normal. A healthy liver is strong enough to combat toxicity by removing it from our body; a diseased liver will cannot. In the end, a healthy liver can often be achieved best through a combination of fasting, eating the right foods, controlling stress through such means as meditation, and getting a good night’s sleep and above all limiting fructose in our diet. Most of these changes don’t cost us a dime. It’s just a matter of making a commitment to live a happy, healthy, disease-free life.
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