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A taste of fructose is worse than none at all?
April 15, 2011 5:49 AM   Subscribe

Is Sugar Toxic? 9 pages, plus 90 minutes of extra science. [Previously]
posted by rusty (95 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
...from my cold sticky hands.
posted by furtive at 5:57 AM on April 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


I don't know if sugar is toxic, but that NY Times log-in page certainly is.
posted by three blind mice at 6:03 AM on April 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


How much sugar are we talking about here?
posted by demiurge at 6:05 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I nearly posted this myself. Great article. I also highly recommend both of Taubes's books to anyone interested in nutrition.
posted by Nattie at 6:06 AM on April 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


demiurge: The NYT article is sort of an overview of nutritional research on sugar. Robert Lustig's contention is that sugar is a chronic toxin -- not the sort of thing that will kill you right off, but that any amount is toxic over time.
posted by rusty at 6:10 AM on April 15, 2011


Next they are going to say coffee is toxic, then I'll have nothing to live for.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:13 AM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


cjorgensen: Have I ever got great news for you!
posted by rusty at 6:15 AM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


About this paragraph:
You secrete insulin in response to the foods you eat — particularly the carbohydrates — to keep blood sugar in control after a meal. When your cells are resistant to insulin, your body (your pancreas, to be precise) responds to rising blood sugar by pumping out more and more insulin. Eventually the pancreas can no longer keep up with the demand or it gives in to what diabetologists call “pancreatic exhaustion.” Now your blood sugar will rise out of control, and you’ve got diabetes.
the article should have been clearer that it was referring to type 2 diabetes, not type 1. The causation of type 1 is nothing like this.
posted by chinston at 6:21 AM on April 15, 2011


Want a no-fail way to cure the hiccups? (Unless, I guess, you're one of those freaks who hiccups for several decades, because surely they've tried everything.) It involves sugar!

Prepare a spoonful of sugar and a glass of water. Don't mix the two in the glass, but as quickly as you can manage, put the sugar in your mouth and chug it down. Don't let the sugar dissolve on your tongue.

Evidently (what I was told) is that this resets the vagus nerve, which is misfiring when you have the hiccups. When you swallow the sugar, your stomach sends an immediate holy-shit-sugar-let's-start-breaking-this-down signal to the brain, via the vagus nerve, and the nerve forgets all about causing hiccups. If you let it sit on your tongue too long, your tongue nerves send the signal to your brain, and that's not as big a deal. Or something.

Regardless of whether or not the science is right, this method has never failed to cure my hiccups.


And even as an avid baker of unhealthy things and someone who occasionally has to cure really awful bouts of hiccups, I don't think I go through as much of the "daily sugar" amount they have in that infographic in even two weeks. Yechhh.
posted by phunniemee at 6:22 AM on April 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


cjorgensen: Have I ever got great news for you!

That article was written five days ago. It probably causes cancer by now.
posted by phunniemee at 6:23 AM on April 15, 2011 [18 favorites]


I nearly posted this myself.

When I read it I remembered your really good summaries of Taube's previous work, and I was hoping you had seen this.

I found it interesting and thought-provoking. It made me wonder about fake sugar -- are diet sodas fine, because they don't have (toxic) sugar, or is there some comparable mechanism involved in how your body handles them that makes them not the panacea they are often presented as? (I don't drink diet soda, but everyone I work with does, and we argue in our uninformed ways all the time about it.)
posted by Forktine at 6:25 AM on April 15, 2011


Can't wait for the HFCS lobby to see this and start pumping out the "OMG!!! Sugar is deadly!!!!" commercials
posted by Thorzdad at 6:26 AM on April 15, 2011


And to be honest I worry a lot more about all the research about how deadly sitting is, because I can easily adjust how much sugar I eat by making choices about what I eat, but I am tied into sitting by my office furniture, long car and plane trips, and so on, that are all much harder to change.
posted by Forktine at 6:29 AM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think I'm developing this-is-what's-killing-you-this-week-article resistance.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:36 AM on April 15, 2011 [14 favorites]


I'm generally pretty skeptical of "the sky is falling" articles about any kind of nutritional hazard because I've lived long enough now that we've cycled completely around on a lot of issues. I've concluded that, current science notwithstanding, moderation in everything is probably best.

Having said that, as a reasonably regular label-reader (not everything, but a lot of things) the amount of sugar/HFCS/sugary carbs of all types in processed and prepared foods regularly boggles me. If sugar is toxic in high doses, which wouldn't surprise me, the problem is that we get high doses in everything. To limit sugar significantly requires a huge lifestyle effort if you eat prepared or processed foods. To the extent that that's what people have time/energy to eat, no wonder they're up to their ears in sugar.
posted by immlass at 6:45 AM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


the article should have been clearer that it was referring to type 2 diabetes, not type 1. The causation of type 1 is nothing like this.

He addresses this point in one of his replies to reader comments:
An excellent point and I am guilty as charged. This is an inherent problem, though, in writing science for the lay public. The science invariably has to be simplified considerably to make the articles flow and to prevent readers from getting bogged down early in technical details -- the difference, in this case, between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. So the detail is delayed for later in the article, by which time, as you point out, readers could have already come to mistaken conclusions about which diabetes we're discussing. This is always a judgment call, but it's a hard problem to avoid and there are no easy solutions. Or if there are, I haven't mastered them.
posted by stopgap at 6:46 AM on April 15, 2011


immlass: It's worth noting that Lustig distinguishes between refined sugar and HFCS on the one hand, which he claims are the same and both toxic, and complex carbs on the other hand, which he claims are metabolized differently and not toxic. In the video he equates the traditional Japanese diet (lots of carbs, no sugar) and the Atkins diet (no carbs, no sugar) and says they work the same.
posted by rusty at 6:49 AM on April 15, 2011


If the paywall is an issue, here is the money quote from the article:
Lustig’s argument, however, is not about the consumption of empty calories — and biochemists have made the same case previously, though not so publicly. It is that sugar has unique characteristics, specifically in the way the human body metabolizes the fructose in it, that may make it singularly harmful, at least if consumed in sufficient quantities.

The phrase Lustig uses when he describes this concept is “isocaloric but not isometabolic.” This means we can eat 100 calories of glucose (from a potato or bread or other starch) or 100 calories of sugar (half glucose and half fructose), and they will be metabolized differently and have a different effect on the body. The calories are the same, but the metabolic consequences are quite different.

The fructose component of sugar and H.F.C.S. is metabolized primarily by the liver, while the glucose from sugar and starches is metabolized by every cell in the body. Consuming sugar (fructose and glucose) means more work for the liver than if you consumed the same number of calories of starch (glucose). And if you take that sugar in liquid form — soda or fruit juices — the fructose and glucose will hit the liver more quickly than if you consume them, say, in an apple (or several apples, to get what researchers would call the equivalent dose of sugar). The speed with which the liver has to do its work will also affect how it metabolizes the fructose and glucose.

In animals, or at least in laboratory rats and mice, it’s clear that if the fructose hits the liver in sufficient quantity and with sufficient speed, the liver will convert much of it to fat. This apparently induces a condition known as insulin resistance, which is now considered the fundamental problem in obesity, and the underlying defect in heart disease and in the type of diabetes, type 2, that is common to obese and overweight individuals. It might also be the underlying defect in many cancers.
posted by caddis at 6:51 AM on April 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


It's worth noting that Lustig distinguishes between refined sugar and HFCS on the one hand, which he claims are the same and both toxic, and complex carbs on the other hand, which he claims are metabolized differently and not toxic.

I understand the difference between simple and complex carbs (I have a type II diabetic in my family). But it's the simple sugars in prepared and processed foods that are boggling me, not complex carbs. As in, how much sugar do you need in ketchup? It's supposed to be tangy, not sweet. How much sugar should there be in frozen pizza? You expect carbs from the crust, but not simple sugars. Etc.
posted by immlass at 7:00 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm a bit of a sugar addict, and am one of those people who doesn't get fat from lots and lots of sugar, but I don't doubt that it's largely true that sugar is toxic (over time). I think it might be time to start paying a little closer attention to the refined sugar content of what I eat.
posted by statolith at 7:01 AM on April 15, 2011


it sounds a bit like the larger takeaway could be 'life is toxic', since it's extrely hard to avoid sugar in a healthy diet.

I don't say that to denigrate the research -- it squares with stuff I've been reading for years, and stuff my wife shows me that's coming out of addiction research -- just saying that this seems like a valid interpretation.

I'm also not saying it's a damning one, not in the least. Life is toxic - we age, etc. so an appropriate response to someone raising the concern might be "[shrug /]".
posted by lodurr at 7:13 AM on April 15, 2011


As in, how much sugar do you need in ketchup? It's supposed to be tangy, not sweet. How much sugar should there be in frozen pizza? You expect carbs from the crust, but not simple sugars. Etc.

This is the nature of processed foods, also with salt. It has to do with trying to make a product made with cheap ingredients be palatable, and it has to do with processed food companies and chain restaurants learning that jacking up fat, salt and sugar levels produces something akin to an addiction response in the brain. Fresh ketchup and pizza recipes usually aren't nearly as sugar-heavy.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:16 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Latest news! Following nutrition research is bad for your health.

More details later, but first, here's Joe Sleets with the weather. What have you got for us for the weekend, Joe?
posted by benito.strauss at 7:19 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


it sounds a bit like the larger takeaway could be 'life is toxic', since it's extrely hard to avoid sugar in a healthy diet.

Uh, is it? Where does added sugar creep into your healthy diet, when you're consuming your RDA of Poptarts?

Vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, maybe some dairy if you can tolerate it well, fruit in moderation... where is the added sugar that can't be avoided?
posted by telegraph at 7:20 AM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm sure they mean consuming more than a certain level of sugar is bad for you, over time. Saying "sugar is toxic" is meaningless. Sugar is in most of we eat, and fruit is full of it. Even saying "refined sugar is toxic" is unhelpful. What the article says is that consuming refined sugars can lead to insulin resistance, which can potentially lead to cancer. I think there is some useful information in this article, but it seems a little overblown.
posted by demiurge at 7:24 AM on April 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


As someone who's changed her eating habits over the last few months, I can say that it's pretty easy to avoid unnecessary sugars, and I wasn't eating a lot of processed foods to begin with. I've lost more than 20 pounds, don't feel deprived, and I never get the OMG STARVING feeling any more. It's been pretty easy and pretty great.
posted by rtha at 7:25 AM on April 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


Holy crap. I accidentally clicked on the "[previously]" link, because I saw the brackets and my brain edited it to "[more inside]".

The sense of deja vu was extremely unsettling. I kept seeing posts that were favorited by me that I didn't remember clicking. This was topped off by a comment with my user name on it. It took me a good 30 seconds after seeing that to figure out what was going on.

No, I haven't had my coffee yet.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 7:30 AM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Where does added sugar creep into your healthy diet...?

I'm not sure where the "added" comes from. If sugar is sugar but fructose is worse, you're going to get a lot of sugar eating a healthy diet.

Apples are fucking loaded with it, for example. To a person with Type 2 diabetes, an Empire is a sugar bomb.

I really don't think the claim here is "added sugar" -- I think the claim is any sugar. As I said, I'm not ridiculing the claim or claiming that this puts us in an untenable position. I suppose I'm phrasing it in a negative way, but that's probably because I'm depressed this morning. [insert your own sugar joke here if you're of a mind...]
posted by lodurr at 7:32 AM on April 15, 2011


The main challenge in avoiding sugar is eating out or eating on the go. No more 550 calorie sugarbomb scones at Starbucks for a quick breakfast. If you're on the o3/o6, avoiding seed oils, for example, is practically impossible when eating out. In this way, it's not so different from being gluten free, or having a peanut allergy, or whatever.
posted by rr at 7:33 AM on April 15, 2011


demiurge: I didn't really get that reading from the article. It seemed to me to be addressing specifically added sugars (whether refined or HFCS), and there's a mention in particular of how sugar that's naturally occurring in carb-heavy foods and suchlike is metabolized differently -- it doesn't all come pounding down on your liver at once.

The phrase Lustig uses when he describes this concept is “isocaloric but not isometabolic.” This means we can eat 100 calories of glucose (from a potato or bread or other starch) or 100 calories of sugar (half glucose and half fructose), and they will be metabolized differently and have a different effect on the body. The calories are the same, but the metabolic consequences are quite different

Fructose in fruits would presumably have the same effect as "added sugars," but there's relatively little of it (is the contention). And compared to the added sugar in processed foods, fruit consumption is a drop in the ocean.

I don't really have any idea whether this viewpoint is right or not. I found the article interesting, but I'm not completely sold. I just wanted to clarify because I think your summary of it doesn't capture the nuance of what he's trying to say.
posted by rusty at 7:33 AM on April 15, 2011


Single page version here; or was there an attempt at weightyness that I am missing?
posted by AndrewKemendo at 7:36 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


A single apple may be quite high in sugar, but put things in perspective -- it's a can of coke. People don't down a six pack of apples in a sitting* but that's not so true for sugar (or apple *juice*).

Getting into the practice of regularly looking at ingredients and nutritional information is a good habit; it's really amazing how much sugar has been added to many foods where you would (naively) not expect it.
posted by rr at 7:38 AM on April 15, 2011


My reading was also that the suspected problem is added sugars, not naturally occurring ones, because apples don't have as much concentrated sugar as soda or fruit juice, and it takes the body longer to process it, so it's not overloading your liver so rapidly:

The fructose component of sugar and H.F.C.S. is metabolized primarily by the liver, while the glucose from sugar and starches is metabolized by every cell in the body. Consuming sugar (fructose and glucose) means more work for the liver than if you consumed the same number of calories of starch (glucose). And if you take that sugar in liquid form — soda or fruit juices — the fructose and glucose will hit the liver more quickly than if you consume them, say, in an apple (or several apples, to get what researchers would call the equivalent dose of sugar). The speed with which the liver has to do its work will also affect how it metabolizes the fructose and glucose.
posted by radiomayonnaise at 7:41 AM on April 15, 2011


Fruits as opposed to fruit juice have a bit of fiber to slow the absorption. Speaking as a Type I diabetic who watches his blood sugar after eating, fruit spikes my sugars, but fruit juice is crazy spiky. I avoid fruit juice unless I'm hypoglycemic.

As for diet soda, there's a contention that the taste receptors in the gut produce an insulin spike in reaction (in non T1 diabetics) to the sweetness which kind of throws you off metabolically. I'm not sure if the science is in on that yet.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:43 AM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


point taken, rr. as i said, i'm making my points in downer terms today. Don't know why -- I had two whole bowls of Double Frosted Sugar Bombs for breakfast.
posted by lodurr at 7:44 AM on April 15, 2011


Yes, the attention-grabbing title is of course misleading. His larger point, which is made by talking about the consumption of sugar throughout history and across cultures, is that high amounts of added, refined sugars are what's doing so much damage to our systems.
posted by statolith at 7:44 AM on April 15, 2011


Where does added sugar creep into your healthy diet...?

In the brownies, mostly.
posted by haricotvert at 7:45 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're supposed to eat the greens, haricotvert.
posted by lodurr at 7:45 AM on April 15, 2011


They're in the brownies, too.
posted by haricotvert at 7:46 AM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I read somewhere a couple of years ago that more than 40g of added sugar per day for an adult was unhealthy so I decided I was going to try to limit my children to 20g of sugar per day. Basically that meant they were half-way there after their morning cereal - and I'm only talking about added sugar, not the natural stuff from fruits/milk etc. I played this game with them for a couple of weeks until my wife decided I was basically torturing them. Added sugar is so fucking ingrained in the American diet your child would have to be an outcast to keep their intake within a healthy range. Nothing is going to change until we do something about Charlie Sheen and these skyrocketing teacher salaries.
posted by any major dude at 7:46 AM on April 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


the scientific advance I want to see would explain why that was funny, any major dude. but it was, it really was.
posted by lodurr at 7:51 AM on April 15, 2011


Here's how my grandmother used to deal with ants. She'd fill a cup with vervain tea and lots of sugar, and put the cup outside the house, close to the doorstep. Soon, ants would line up, climb over the rim of the cup and start drinking. And drinking. And drinking. After a while, their little bellies would look like miniature, amber lightbulbs and the ants would find themselves too heavy, too addicted and too drunk to be able to get out. One by one, they'd lose their grip, slip into the liquid and die a sweet sugary death. Once the surface was full of dead ants, my grandmother would empty the cup and fill it again so that a next batch of ants could commit suicide. So yes, sugar kills.
posted by elgilito at 7:57 AM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


If, like me, you're sitting there going "ok great, now what am I supposed to do to prevent myself from dying of sugar?" I found this useful, from Taubes' answers to readers' questions:
Assuming sugar is toxic, as Dr. Lustig says, then it's always possible to cut back on consumption significantly. As you say, avoiding it entirely pretty much requires that we cook everyone of our meals from scratch. Sucrose and HFCS have a lot of qualities other than sweetness, as the sugar industry and corn refiners are always pointing out, that make them very valuable in food production. But a large proportion of the sugars we consume come in the form of sweets and sweetened-beverages (including fruit juices) and cutting back on those would go a long way to reducing sugar consumption to whatever safe levels might happen to be. It's also conceivable that the fundamental problem is consuming these sugars in liquid form which forces the body (liver and pancreas) to deal with the sugars quickly, and so avoiding juices and sodas would help here, as well.
posted by statolith at 7:57 AM on April 15, 2011


My wife and I have adapted to a low-sugar diet, and while we haven't cut out all sugar, we have reduced our intake of refined sugar greatly. We use honey and agave syrup in cooking, and avoid frozen and processed foods.

It's also a great way to diet; it's easy to rationalize rating something sweet on a calorie counting diet ("Oh I'll make up the calories later"), but not so much when one it's an absolute "if the label says sugar, then no way", rule. As a result, I've lost twenty pounds in the last six months.
posted by happyroach at 7:58 AM on April 15, 2011


my brother used to make cockroach traps with sugar, milk and plaster of paris. they'd drink the sugary milk, the plaster would solidify in their gut, and they'd die.

the tea is probably a lot easier to clean up.
posted by lodurr at 7:59 AM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Agave syrup is fructose+glucose (more fructose than glucose), happyroach, which, according to the linked article, is the the stuff that really gets ya.
posted by notyou at 8:02 AM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I get all my nutrition guidance from this helpful view of the future.
posted by twsf at 8:13 AM on April 15, 2011


happyroach, you may want to read this. The tl;dr version: agave syrup is essentially HFCS.
posted by Dr. Eigenvariable at 8:22 AM on April 15, 2011


It made me wonder about fake sugar -- are diet sodas fine, because they don't have (toxic) sugar, or is there some comparable mechanism involved in how your body handles them that makes them not the panacea they are often presented as? (I don't drink diet soda, but everyone I work with does, and we argue in our uninformed ways all the time about it.)

I have no idea about the actual science here, but anecdotally I pretty much can't consume aspartame or sucralose (Splenda) because they set off insane cravings in me. Oddly, erythritol and stevia (Truvia is a blend of the two) does not have this effect on me -- nor do I get the little happy rush associated with eating/drinking something sugary that's been sweetened with Truvia, unfortunately, but I do get those feelings with aspartame and sucralose. As a consequence, I will make desserts with a blend of erythritol and stevia, and they taste just like the real thing, but I don't get much enjoyment from them so I wonder why I made them in the first place. Mostly I use it to sweeten tea now, and that's about it.

This would seem to suggest that aspartame and sucralose have some effect on my insulin secretion or blood sugar levels, whereas erythritol/stevia don't, but I have absolutely nothing else to back this up except the feelings of hunger and enjoyment associated with them. I hope one day Taubes will look at it more closely; I don't have the time or patience, so I just avoid aspartame and sucralose. (Well, and saccharin, because it tastes disgusting.) I do wonder about this, though, because in theory it wouldn't matter that fake sugars don't themselves have any calories if they encourage the release of insulin, because that insulin would encourage more fat storage of whatever else you ate than you would otherwise store. It's known that simply tasting something sweet, or even just thinking about something sweet, will encourage the release of some insulin, so there's always that... but what's weird to me is that erythritol and stevia have a different effect on me. I don't know if that's psychological or something more, but I don't know any reason why I would mentally separate erythritol and stevia from aspartame and sucralose. Anyway, like I said, it's curious to me but I don't know much about it.
posted by Nattie at 8:22 AM on April 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wouldn't a diabetic checking their sugar after consuming each sweetener be a valid test?

I really want to know this.
posted by lodurr at 8:29 AM on April 15, 2011


Wouldn't a diabetic checking their sugar after consuming each sweetener be a valid test?


Pedantic note: It's not "sugar" it's blood glucose level or BG level or levels for short.

Wouldn't a diabetic checking their sugar after consuming each sweetener be a valid test?


It really depends on what else they've eaten, whether they've recently exercised etc etc. Youd have to do a pretty strict control of numerous diabetics and still the results might be individualized to an extent.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:35 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


i mean just for anecdotal reporting, not controlled research.

has anybody reading done this?
posted by lodurr at 8:45 AM on April 15, 2011


I eat hardly any processed sugar any more, though I do eat lots of fruits. And I limit my processed carbs as well -- just potatoes, sweet potatoes and white rice on occasion. I very rarely eat any desserts and bread. Over the past year and a few months I've lost 55 lbs, and it honestly hasn't been that hard.

I'm not trying to rationalize here -- kicking sugar is like kicking an addiction -- once you're not dosing yourself with sugar any more it's hard to remember why it had such a profound hold on you at one point. My blood sugar levels feel stable, I no longer feel like I'm constantly in search of my next meal. My last meal yesterday was at 5 pm and it's almost noon today, and my body still feels fine on two cups of tea. Please note, I'm not starving myself, this is not a diet, I'm not exercising some superhuman willpower -- I just literally do not feel like eating! If you've been riding the processed carb rollercoaster for a while, do try getting off for a while and see how you feel.
posted by peacheater at 8:49 AM on April 15, 2011 [13 favorites]


We use honey and agave syrup...

Wouldn't a diabetic checking their sugar after consuming each sweetener be a valid test? ...


One of the main points of the article seems to be that, more relevant than spikes in blood sugar, might be how the sugar is processed. Agave is mostly fructose and fructose does not spike your blood sugar. However, Lustig says that fructose is the real poison due to how it is processed by the liver which leads to spikes in triglycerides, fat deposition and whole list of other horribles. If he is right then all those pushing Agave for its low glycemic index are causing more harm than good.
posted by caddis at 8:54 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]




Truvia

... is the worst thing ever invented. I picked up a can of "0g sugar" or whatever Steaz iced tea the other week without checking the label and started drinking it in the car. It's about as pleasant as chewing 10 Altoids after getting shot up with novocaine by the dentist. I don't understand how "mouth feels numb/tingly and unusually cool" = "sweet".

/sweetened beverages on the 'beetus side of Honest Tea are an abomination anyway
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:00 AM on April 15, 2011


I'm pretty sure you'll only develop Diabetes if you consistently absorb unhealthy amounts of sugar in a small time frame on a frequent basis. Go ahead. Have a donut.
posted by Evernix at 9:08 AM on April 15, 2011


I did not eat sugar for a period of 13 months - from January 2010 until last month. I read labels of everything I ate for over a year, and what I quickly learned is that sugar is in EVERYTHING. Ketsup. Salad dressing. Dried fruit - no, the the sugar naturally occurring in fruit, but sugar added to dried fruit. Soup. Doritos. Yogurt of any flavor other than plain. Bread. Indian food. Chinese food.

It was such a pain in the balls, but once I went through what felt like a drug detox - and everyone says the sugar withdrawal lasts for 3 days and then you feel amazing, which completely did not happen for me, I felt like chewing my arm off and kicking strangers in the shins for about six weeks - anyway, once I was off of it my blood sugar stabilized. I did not experience any depression for the record breaking period of a year. I didn't feel like I was starving all of the time. I lost some weight- not a lot, but some.

As I slowly started to let myself try out things like palm sugar and agave about 7,8 months into the experiment I gained the 10 pounds back. After 13 months of no processed sugar I allowed myself to have a pack of peanut butter m&m's and some of those god-where-have-you-been-how-I-have-missed-you cadbury mini-eggs. I have eaten about 10 candy bars/single serving bags of candy over the last 2 months. This is a fraction of what I would eat back in the old days, I used to eat a daily bag of Skittles or some such pre-2010.

And I find that I can't stop thinking about candy now. Once I went through the sugar detox I stopped craving it - I missed it in theory, but I didn't sit at my desk fantasizing about going down to the CVS at lunch and getting Reese's Pieces. I have spent my morning today thinking about Reese's, and I know that the only way to get myself back off of the sugar train is to cold turkey it again. I think it sucks, and I can blame the food industry or my metabolism or Dr Atkins or whoever, but it looks like this is how I am wired. Moderation apparently is not an option for me.
posted by 8dot3 at 9:10 AM on April 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


We admitted we were powerless over sugar—that our lives had become unmanageable.
posted by caddis at 9:14 AM on April 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Caddis - you jest, but I swear to god that is exactly how I feel about it. It made me appreciate people in recovery in a new light. And I swear to god, I said to my self last night: Just For Today I am not going to pick up m&m's on the way home from work. It worked, too.
posted by 8dot3 at 9:17 AM on April 15, 2011


I stopped eating anything with sugar or artificial sweeteners in it so long ago I can't even remember. It was easy. I feel great. Do it.
posted by Faze at 9:21 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Y'all are saying there's a reason there's those overpriced cans of flavoured sugar water in every single store in the world and people with otherwise perfectly developed common sense buying them?
posted by yoHighness at 9:23 AM on April 15, 2011


I may not be jesting, I may be laughing at my own attraction to sugar - shots of maple syrup all around; I am not sure about anything anymore.....
posted by caddis at 9:25 AM on April 15, 2011


I'm another one who doesn't eat sugar, candy or sweet stuff in general. I don't feel anything.

Does the writer of this article know what the word "toxic" means? It does have a standard definition, although maybe this is the metaphorical usage.
posted by sneebler at 9:45 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


i mean just for anecdotal reporting, not controlled research.

has anybody reading done this?


Type II here, I've done this and I like I said, it depends. Having an artificial sweetener in my coffee in the morning doesn't seem to matter much gone to exercise in the morning, particularly if it's something strenuous like lots of burpees.

Having artificial sweetener in my coffee in the morning doesn't seem to have an immediate effect no blood glucose levels if I'm under a certain weight, no matter if I've exercised in the morning or not.

I thought having Splenda in my coffee in the morning had a huge affect at one point, until I had tried it the afternoon. Big difference, probably due to the dawn effect in diabetics, where the body just automatically dumps glucose into your system in the morning, probably because it figures you need after not having eaten for so long.

If i've been sick, like with the flu or a cold and still under a certain weight, glucose levels and sensitivity to food is more pronounced.

So, it depends.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:46 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I deliberately started avoiding sugar a couple of years ago, thanks in part to Taubes' book. It's not that hard as long as you avoid a lot of processed food in stores and fast food in restaurants. I think it's helped me stop gaining weight, but not really to lose weight. The thing I tried recently that really helped lose weight was stopping drinking alcohol. Significant, immediate weight loss. That could just be simple calories; alcohol is metabolized differently from sugar.

The easiest way to eliminate a lot of sugar from your diet is to stop drinking it. Drink nothing sweet. No soda, no juice, no sweet coffee drinks. Drink water, coffee, tea, iced tea. Artificially sweetened 1 calorie stuff if you must have the taste of sweetness. A single 12oz can of coke has 40g of sugar. Coincidentally, that's about what the USDA recommends for daily sugar consumption. For a normal diet, not a low-carb or anti-sugar diet. One can of coke. That doesn't account for the sugar that sneaks in via bread, sauces, preserving agents in meat (WTF?), etc.

Refined sugar is in absolutely all processed foods, it's hideous.
posted by Nelson at 9:49 AM on April 15, 2011


Honey, too, is fructose (and glucose). I'm not mentioning that to, I dunno, imply you need to absolutely give up the honey or agave, because if you're reducing your sugar consumption and losing weight that's good, and probably none of us want to completely give up sugar or anything. But using honey or agave isn't much of an improvement over using HFCS or table sugar or other sugars, except for possibly being a bit less nutritionally empty (though probably not in a significant way). I do like using honey as a sweetener my one day a week I just eat whatever, but mostly for the more complex flavors different types of honey offer and for the moisture and texture it offers in some applications; health-wise, it's pretty much as bad as the rest.

Wouldn't a diabetic checking their sugar after consuming each sweetener be a valid test?

(If you're responding to my comment about artificial sweeteners) Not necessarily; they would be checking their blood glucose levels, not their insulin levels. Your insulin levels can rise without a rise in blood glucose. Since the artificial sweeteners don't have glucose in them (in pure form anyway -- more on this in a moment), they wouldn't show up as a rise in glucose. There could be an indirect effect on glucose levels -- i.e. they do something else that has the effect of slowing how quickly glucose is cleared from the bloodstream so the levels spike higher even though the raw amount consumed doesn't change, like how some diabetics begin to have elevated glucose levels from consuming fructose because of the processes involved in fructose metabolism -- but there wouldn't necessarily have to be one either.

i mean just for anecdotal reporting, not controlled research. has anybody reading done this?

A while back on a low carb forum, there were some folks who would check their blood sugar after consuming sugar alcohols, inulin, and some other things typically used to replace sugar -- but not things like aspartame or sucralose or saccharin, or at least not that I saw. (Some noted big rises in blood sugar for some of these things, and others none or little -- neither of which is all that surprising, since sugar alcohols do contain sugars, inulin has fructose in it and some get to the point where ingesting fructose will indirectly increase their blood glucose levels, etc, and people have different levels of insulin resistance.) They were pretty careful in their tests not to eat anything else that would influence their blood sugar, and to eat the same meal minus the sweetener on another day as a comparison.

There is probably something like that out there somewhere for things like aspartame, I would imagine. An indirect effect on glucose levels, if there is one, would be interesting information. But, as caddis mentions above, the absence of a rise in blood glucose doesn't necessarily mean other harmful things aren't going on. It would just mean it doesn't raise blood glucose levels.

One big complicating factor that occurs to me: most granulated forms of artificial sweeteners include actual sugars, like 'dextrose' -- which is just another name for glucose, to provide bulk, thus any rise in blood glucose could be attributed to the filler and not the artificial sweetener itself. In fact, this would be a reasonable assumption. One would have to test the pure artificial sweetener without any fillers. I would think this is why sucralose and aspartame effect me the way they do, except that they only have fillers in granulated form, i.e. the boxes and packets marketed to consumers; makers of say, diet soda, use pure versions of the sweeteners. So you could drink an artificially sweetened drink for the test, which would be imperfect too, but alright for anecdotes...

Truvia... is the worst thing ever invented. I picked up a can of "0g sugar" or whatever Steaz iced tea the other week without checking the label and started drinking it in the car.

I can't find anything on their site that says it's sweetened with Truvia, only stevia. Are you sure it had erythritol in it? Stevia-only sweetened beverages are always pretty disgusting in my experience; to get the expected level of sweetness from stevia alone, you have to use enough of it that it's has this nasty bitter aftertaste. If you mix the two, though, you get most of the sweetness from the erythritol and maybe 30% of it from stevia to round it out. Truvia doesn't have so much an aftertaste as something missing in the flavor as compared to sugar -- or at least that's my experience, and these things vary a lot; I can't stand the aftertaste of Splenda, but a lot of people don't detect any aftertaste in Splenda.

Moderation apparently is not an option for me.

This experience is pretty common. If you're interested in learning the mechanics behind it, Taubes has a whole section of Why We Get Fat devoted to precisely the situation you describe, right down to why you'll think constantly about carbohydrate-laden food and how it takes much longer for some people to get to the stable blood sugar levels where this is no longer a problem. Knowing the mechanics doesn't really help much, I just mean if you're curious.

If it helps any, in the past (about five years ago, maybe?) I had that same problem and recently I found that I can eat sugar one to two days a week if I don't have artificial sweeteners during the week. Saturdays I basically eat whatever I want, so anything I get a craving for during the week gets postponed until Saturday -- many bodybuilders do something similar where they have one day a week off, and it's theorized that something about that actually accelerates weight loss though I've never heard a coherent explanation as for why. (Not saying there isn't one, just that I haven't heard it.) Personally, I lose about the same amount of weight as I would otherwise if I do it only one day a week, and I maintain my weight or lose significantly less if I do it two days -- with muscle gain, though, it's hard to know I didn't lose more fat than it looks like by incorporating the day off. Anyway, I know now it doesn't make me fatter, and that's what matters, basically. If I have diet soda during the week, though, I go fucking crazy wanting sugar nownownow and I'd give in too often. It took me a long time to realize that was the issue, and not necessarily that I couldn't just eat real sugar every now and then. It's also psychologically helpful, because if you get a craving and think you're never supposed to eat it, then it's easier to justify giving in right then instead of putting it off because "never" isn't that feasible for most people. Might be worth trying out? It may not work, of course, but if it does, hey!
posted by Nattie at 10:00 AM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Does the writer of this article know what the word "toxic" means? It does have a standard definition, although maybe this is the metaphorical usage.

How is the definition different from the way in which the author uses it? The definition reads
Toxicity is the degree to which a substance can damage an organism. Toxicity can refer to the effect on a whole organism, such as an animal, bacterium, or plant, as well as the effect on a substructure of the organism, such as a cell (cytotoxicity) or an organ (organotoxicity), such as the liver (hepatotoxicity). [snip] A central concept of toxicology is that effects are dose-dependent;
This is what he argues sugar does: it damages an organism and its substructures, and in higher doses, it does more damage.
posted by rtha at 10:05 AM on April 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


rtha: "I've lost more than 20 pounds, don't feel deprived, and I never get the OMG STARVING feeling any more. It's been pretty easy and pretty great."

Seconded. Finding replacements for sugar is less of a problem than knowing what needs replacing. You can find low-sugar versions of many recipes (including restaurant meals) on most of the major cooking sites. The bigger problem is how ingrained the added sugar has become (do we really want or need soups with added sugar? Why is there so much in crackers?) I wouldn't have thought to check many of the foods that turned out to have high sugar content, until it became easy to do online.

It's amazing how many 'aha' moments I've had since tracking food on SparkPeople ("There is more sugar in one soda than in 1 bag of M&M's?" "10 Ritz Crackers have as much fat as the single ounce of cheese I eat them with? Really?") Nice to have all the nutritional info to hand, combined with the ability to note the days and times when your energy is low; they often coincide with increased sugar intake. Tracking makes it easy to see the relationship.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 10:33 AM on April 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


We admitted we were powerless over sugar—that our lives had become unmanageable.

Seriously though -- I do have pretty bad sugar cravings. It seems to be a by-product of alcoholism, and has really gotten bad in the last few years. I don't go to meetings over it because, really, it's only sugar. So far, a piece of pie hasn't caused me to lose control of my car, cheat on my wife, lose my job, or made me stay out all night on Friday night and blow my whole paycheck at the bakery, shoving 5 dollar bills into the waitess' aprons. (yet)

I think it's important to concentrate on what matters in the scheme of things - I've quit everything else, and if I want to have a goddam bowl of Frosted Flakes for dessert, I'm really not going to sweat it at this point.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:34 AM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I saw a horrifying ad on TV the other day. It was for cookbooks for diabetics, and most of the visuals were focused on cakes! and cookies! and other desserts, and then brief shots of fried chicken and other non-dessert foods. The ad said there was some way in which you could order these cookbooks and Medicare. Presumably, all the cakes and cookies were sweetened with artificial sweeteners, and presumably, like regular-sugar desserts, they contain almost no nutrients, but still lots of calories. Yay.
posted by rtha at 10:48 AM on April 15, 2011


While I suspect there is an element of truth to the overall point that sugar can be toxic this article includes a whole bunch of whaffle sentences where they make it very briefly clear they are engaging with the speculative parts of the discussion sections of research papers by including all the key denial phrases that scientists use when speculating and then the article builds an entire argument right on top of these tentative and extremely qualified speculations as if they were proven facts and universally applicable.

I had to mainline some sugar to make up for all the fuel burned by the non-stop ringing of my bullshit detector.
posted by srboisvert at 10:52 AM on April 15, 2011


Does the writer of this article know what the word "toxic" means? It does have a standard definition, although maybe this is the metaphorical usage.

It's not metaphorical, but neither is it technical in any way that matters. It terms of regualtions and international standards, "toxic" is definied to a fare-thee-well. I can stand in court and call something toxic in an agreed technical sense, but that has nothing to do with anything as far as public discourse is concerned.

Outside of specific technical contexts, academic journal articles, regulations, the courts, words get used for all kinds of loosly-defined meanings. It's a bit jarring for those of us who are used to LD50 at a concentration-type definitions, but common speach is very different from the technical or legal. It's our issue, not the publics'.
posted by bonehead at 11:10 AM on April 15, 2011


"Fiber is good. Fiber is supposed to be an essential nutrient. And we can talk later if you want, after the cameras turn off, as to why fiber is not an essential nutrient, because the government doesn't want it to be. Because then they couldn't sell food abroad."
What's the background on this? How does the status of fiber as a nutrient affect food purchase abroad?
posted by odinsdream at 11:30 AM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


this article includes a whole bunch of whaffle sentences where they make it very briefly clear they are engaging with the speculative parts of the discussion sections of research papers by including all the key denial phrases that scientists use when speculating

Despite the whaffling in the papers I thought it was telling that two of the leading researchers in this area Thompson and Cantley have taken decisive action about sugar in their own diets:

For just this reason, neither of these men will eat sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, if they can avoid it.

“I have eliminated refined sugar from my diet and eat as little as I possibly can,” Thompson told me, “because I believe ultimately it’s something I can do to decrease my risk of cancer.” Cantley put it this way: “Sugar scares me.”

posted by peacheater at 11:34 AM on April 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm just reading through this thread after having watched the hour and a half video lecture. Just so you know, a lot of the questions you're asking are addressed in the video. It's good stuff.
posted by odinsdream at 11:44 AM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sugar also raised insulin levels in Yudkin’s experiments, which linked sugar directly to type 2 diabetes.

And here's where the train went off the tracks. If your insulin level does not go up in response to sugar you have type 1 diabetes. If your blood sugar levels don't fall in response to an increased level of insulin, that's type 2 diabetes.

Unless he's ignoring at least two signifigant components of Yudkin's work*, saying that this links sugar to type 2 diabetes (other than in the "if you have type 2 diabetes you don't do a good job of processing sugars" sense) is so far off base that I can't help but feel like he's lying to me rather than simplifying the science for the rubes readers.

And again, based on Lustig's reasoning for why fructose is "a poison", why is hemoglobin not a poison?

*Hint: V ∙ T = D
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:54 AM on April 15, 2011


Kid Charlemagne, Oxygen can be toxic by the definition cited. I don't personally find that idea really problematic, except if you start throwing around the term in public with a sensationalistic goal. So, I think it's useful to distinguish between whether it's strictly true, and whether it makes sense to care very much about it. (and if so, in what way.)
posted by lodurr at 12:06 PM on April 15, 2011


8dot3 - I went through a similar process getting off sugar. My roommate was a cupcake baker, so it was like living in a crack den trying to kick the habit, but after a miserable 2 weeks I finally stopped waking up in the middle of the night dreaming about coca cola and being the grumpiest fucker in the world. I immediately dropped 10 lbs (considerable because I was at around 10% body fat). My energy levels throughout the day stayed much more constant and I didn't HAVE to take a 3 pm nap anymore. I was drinking a soda or two with each meal, eating a candy bar or other snack and a couple cupcakes a day. I was And am highly active but would CRaSH after meals. Like seriously pass out after eating and wake up feeling like complete garbage an hour later. I would recommend everybody try quitting sugar for 30 days just to see what a difference it can make in your day to day life. If it works for you, and you feel like really changing your life look into giving up gluten/grains, and legumes.
posted by youthenrage at 12:12 PM on April 15, 2011


Lodurr, AFAIK aspartame, stevia, acesulfame-K, and saccharine have no effect on my blood glucose (Type I diabetic). My pancreas produces neither insulin nor amylin however, so YMMV. Also, although I monitor my blood sugar with both finger stick glucose tests and a continuous glucose monitoring system, there are a lot of other factors going on all the time (caffeine ups blood glucose for instance).
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:37 PM on April 15, 2011


If it works for you, and you feel like really changing your life look into giving up gluten/grains, and legumes.

Legumes? You've gone too far. Why even bother living anymore, without legumes?
posted by rusty at 12:43 PM on April 15, 2011


what is actually left to eat if you give up glutinous grains and legumes?

I suppose there are some plant seeds and tree nuts you could still eat, but that's expensive and narrow subsistence...
posted by lodurr at 12:45 PM on April 15, 2011


I watched this lecture yesterday, and this is what I walked with (caution: layperson interpretation ahead):
Our liver processes sugar and alcohol similarly. Both are toxins. The reason we don't get drunk is because the brain isn't effected by the stuff in sugar like it is in alcohol. However, long term excessive consumption of both leads to major health issues.

HFCS is much worse than fructose found in fruit, because in fruit you are also eating the fiber necessary to help your body process the fructose, whereas in most proessed foods, the fiber has been greatly reduced/removed by the manufacturer because it's the fiber in foods that make it spoil, and processors need good shelf life.

Refined sugars and HFCS kick in a cycle of craving, as opposed to fiber filled foods, which satiate, another reason why refined sugars lead to obesity more than sugars in fruits and complex carbs.

Sugar filled drinks, whether soda or juice, are the source of much dietary evil.

Nixon is to blame for everything.
posted by newpotato at 12:54 PM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Earl Butz, actually. He has a great bit in King Corn -- the film makers go to visit him in his retirement home, he puts on a tie (looks like he hasn't worn one in a while) and sits there with a straight back and tells the camera in no uncertain terms that he thinks he did what he was ordered to do very well, thank you -- that you have the system he devised to thank for cheap agriculturally-derived food.
posted by lodurr at 1:04 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


that's not fair to processed foods newpotato, my daughter's pop tarts proudly claim they provide 20% OF YOUR DAILY REQUIREMENT OF FIBER!!!! (even though the nutrition facts panel says only 10% of your daily dose of fiber. sneaky, you've got to eat both of the tarts in the foil pack to get the 20% which also gives you 2x the calories, sugar and carbs!)
posted by vespabelle at 1:11 PM on April 15, 2011


Oxygen is not processed by the liver. He makes a big deal out of the fact that fructose is. As is bilirubin, the breakdown product of hemoglobin. This really got to me when I watched the video becaue he acts like the criterion he rattles off are the scientific gold standard for what is a poison and what isn't.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:30 PM on April 15, 2011


I'm finding Taubes' answers to readers' questions here to be very interesting.
posted by peacheater at 2:50 PM on April 15, 2011


Want a no-fail way to cure the hiccups? (Unless, I guess, you're one of those freaks who hiccups for several decades, because surely they've tried everything.) It involves sugar!

Prepare a spoonful of sugar and a glass of water. Don't mix the two in the glass, but as quickly as you can manage, put the sugar in your mouth and chug it down. Don't let the sugar dissolve on your tongue.

Evidently (what I was told) is that this resets the vagus nerve, which is misfiring when you have the hiccups. When you swallow the sugar, your stomach sends an immediate holy-shit-sugar-let's-start-breaking-this-down signal to the brain, via the vagus nerve, and the nerve forgets all about causing hiccups. If you let it sit on your tongue too long, your tongue nerves send the signal to your brain, and that's not as big a deal. Or something.


Wonderful. I've been following the same tactic ever since I was a small child and I had no idea there was an actual explanation. I thought it was certainly a placebo. It has always worked for me as well.

I have no idea whether you are bullshitting or not, but I don't want to look it up. I'll pass along your claim as unvarnished truth!
posted by mrgrimm at 3:01 PM on April 15, 2011


I really liked Taubes' answer to this question:
Question: I can run from sugar but I can't hide!?! I have been/am addicted to sugar. Sometimes I can't handle the craving, and I succumb, eating a whole bag of gummie bears in one sitting. I know all the while that it is not good for me, and of course I feel sick afterwards. Other times I am in control and a opt for natural sweets like dates. I think my self control is linked to my hormonal cycles. Sometimes I NEED (bad) sugar. I must learn to consume a tiny bit, not a whole bag of something in one sitting. Suggestions? Does anyone know how to beat sugar cravings, or will this be a lifetime battle? Thank God I never took up smoking.
Answer:I did smoke as a young man (and a middle aged man) and sometimes I think that one of the problems with nutrition research is that it attracts healthy individuals who don't have personal experience with addiction to inform their understanding. Personal experience can also be misleading, but I would argue that understanding addiction without having once had them is like trying to understand parenting without ever having children. You might think you get it, but then you realize that you had no idea.
I think this is an extremely important point.
posted by peacheater at 3:03 PM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


He makes the same point again here even better:
As for restraint, again, it does a disservice to every overweight and obese person in the world to assume that they don't try to eat with restraint. They do. It doesn't work. One problem here is that it's easy for someone who's lean to think that if the obese just did what they did – eat in moderation, show restraint, work our regularly, run marathons – they, too, would be lean. And it's not only not true, but it very dangerous way to think. It's never a good idea to assume that two thirds of the American public simply don't have the will power or moral fortitude of the other third.

(Ok, I'll stop being a Taubes fangirl now.)
posted by peacheater at 3:19 PM on April 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I picked a hell of a week to discover an awesome new gelato/pastry/dessert place a block and a half from my house.
posted by lisa g at 12:21 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's never a good idea to assume that two thirds of the American public simply don't have the will power or moral fortitude of the other third.

Why not? Why is it never a good idea?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:53 AM on April 16, 2011


wow this is stupid. Diabetics know, because they need to, that HFCS follows the same path as starches. liver->glycogen->glucosamine. It all becomes stored the same basic chemical except for pure glucose which is a special case, and still gets sent down the liver path dependant on current blood sugar levels.

This is really well understood. All the fad diet gurus would have you think it isn't, and that there is some super secret metabolic pathway they are exploiting, but diabetics research has had this nailed down for half a century.

Salt is dangerous in high amounts too, but noone talks about it like it is actually a toxin, that would be an oversimplification of an important issue.

This is typical news science. Dumb something down until you have obscured the issue enough to cause panic in people who don't know any better. Rinse repeat.
posted by darkfred at 12:31 PM on April 16, 2011


Why not? Why is it never a good idea?

Because making a generalization about 200,000,000 doesn't give you any useful information, even if the information can be assumed to be accurate. The number of variables - age, economic status, race/ethnicity, gender, parental status, family history, etc - is enormous. What evidence is there that the main problem is people lack willpower and moral fortitude when it comes to losing weight?

We know that shaming people doesn't work - we've shamed fat people for decades and we have more fat people than we used to. That seems like a counterproductive strategy.
posted by rtha at 2:14 PM on April 16, 2011


NewPotato, I'm afraid you've been sold a bill of goods.

Fructose really is processed in the liver. Dietary fiber is indigestible. Ergo it's not really involved in the digestion of fructose. What it does do (besides keeping you regular) is modulate the uptake of sugars and the like, so it does keep you on an even keel metabolism wise.

Since fiber isn't digestible, you get nothing out of it. If it triggered a sense of satiation you could literally starve to death and never feel hungry. All the evolutionary pressure is against that.

Fiber has no relation to spoilage. Spoilage is cause by moisture issues (things going stale), reactions with oxygen (rancidity) or things growing in your food (mold, pathogenic bacteria, etc.).

We know exactly how your body metabolizes things. Saying that it metabolized sugars and ethanol in the same way is true only at the vaguest end of the spectrum and implies a whole hell of a lot that isn't true at all. Here's a pretty good page on what your body does with food at the level where it matters. The magic phrase is "the Krebs Cycle.

Glucose does have a major effect on the brain. We call it cognition. (First sentence, first paragraph.)

Obligatory what this does not imply statement: If your lifestyle consists of relaxing the muscles in your throat and pouring a two liter of Mountain Dew down your neck every two hours while watching TV and sleeping for the remainder of the day, you are going to die. Soon.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:52 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


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