By Dr. Mercola
If you haven’t viewed the video at the top, please schedule 20 minutes and do so as you will thoroughly enjoy this 60 Minutes vindication of sugar’s dangers.
In a ground-breaking news story, 60 Minutes reports that new research coming out of some of America’s most respected institutions is finding that sugar is a toxin that can lead to major chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and cancer.
This is jolting to people who don’t realize that even if they don’t add it to their foods, hidden sugar, including high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), is in virtually all processed foods, from yogurts and sauces to breads and sodas.
Although some experts argue that “sugar is sugar,” test subjects in strict clinical trials who were monitored 24 hours a day, who consumed HFCS, developed higher risk factors for cardiovascular disease within two weeks.
Other studies indicate that if you limit your sugar, no matter what form you get it in, you decrease your chances of developing cancer—including breast and colon cancers.
What’s even more startling is that a growing number of studies are also showing that the more sugar you eat, the less satisfied you are.
It Pays to Listen to Alternative Health Experts…
This is another perfect example of how it can take the conventional medical establishment YEARS to catch up to the truth.
I’ve been writing about the dangers of high sugar consumption for over 15 years, ever since I started this web site back in 1997, as this is (or at least should be) part of the very basics of “proper nutrition.”
So if you’re a longtime subscriber to this newsletter (or other alternative health news), you’ve had a tremendous head start.
As time went on, it first became increasingly clear that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) was more problematic than regular sugar (sucrose), and later, that whichever form of sugar you consume, it can act as a literal toxin in your body when consumed in excess.
Back in the year 2000, I published the work of Bill Misner, Ph.D. in an article that was aptly named Killer Sugar—Suicide With a Spoon. Then, about two years ago, I came across one of Dr. Robert Lustig‘s lectures, and I immediately knew he was right—sugar is a toxin; at least in the high amounts most American’s are getting it in.
As Dr. Lustig states in his article on the website Diet Doctori :
“The problem with sugar isn’t just weight gain … A growing body of scientific evidence is showing that fructose can trigger processes that lead to liver toxicity and a host of other chronic diseases. A little is not a problem, but a lot kills — slowly.”
That same year, the brilliant work of Dr. Richard Johnson also convinced me that fructose is the worst of the two (although it’s really like choosing between two evils.) Now, finally, 60 Minutes, which is one of my favorite TV shows, has revealed the truth to the masses, and yes, some people are absolutely shocked by it. Interestingly, as I have gotten to know Dr. Johnson, I learned that I actually inspired him to pursue this topic further. Very shortly, we plan to be publishing his new book, The Fat Switch, which promises to turn the health world on its head with his exciting discoveries.
How High Fructose Corn Syrup has Decimated Human Health
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) entered the American market in 1975. Food and beverage manufacturers quickly began switching their sweeteners from sucrose (table sugar) to corn syrup when they discovered that it could save them a lot of money. Sucrose costs about three times as much as HFCS. HFCS is also about 20 percent sweeter than table sugar, so you need less to achieve the same amount of sweetness.
Around that same time, dietary fats were blamed for heart disease, giving rise to the “low-fat craze,” which resulted in an explosion of processed nonfat and low fat convenience foods—most of which tasted like sawdust unless sugar was added. Fructose was then added to make all these fat-free products more palatable. Yet as the low-fat craze spread, rates of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity skyrocketed…
Clearly, this plan was seriously flawed from the get-go, and it’s not difficult to see that trading fat for sugar is not a wise move.
We now know, without a doubt, that it’s the excessive fructose content in the modern diet that is taking such a devastating toll on people’s health.
At the heart of it all is the fact that excessive fructose consumption leads to insulin resistance, and insulin resistance appears to be the root of many if not most chronic disease. Insulin resistance has even been found to be an underlying factor of cancer. Fructose also raises your uric acid levels—it typically generates uric acid within minutes of ingestion, which in turn can wreak havoc on your blood pressure, insulin production, and kidney function. So far, scientific studies have linked fructose to about 78 different diseases and health problemsii . For example, fructose may:
Raise your blood pressureiii , and cause nocturnal hypertensioniv Insulin resistance / Type 2 diabetesv Non-alcoholic fatty liver diseasevi (NAFLD) Raise your uric acid levelsvii, which can result in gout and/or metabolic syndromeviii Accelerate the progression of chronic kidney diseaseix Intracranial atherosclerosisx(narrowing and hardening of the arteries in your skull) Exacerbate cardiac abnormalities if you’re deficient in copper Have a genotoxic effect on the colon Promote metastasis in breast cancer patientsxi Cause tubulointerstitial injuryxii (injury to the tubules and interstitial tissue of your kidney) Promote obesityxiii and related health problems and diseases Promote pancreatic cancer growthxiv
Here’s an excellent illustration showing how carbohydrates and sugars affect your health.
Contamination and Genetic Engineering Adds to the Health Hazards of HFCS
And, as if the negative metabolic effects are not enough, there are other issues with HFCS that can have a negative impact on your health:
- More than one study has detected unsafe mercury levels in HFCSxv .
- Crystalline fructose (a super-potent form of fructose the food and beverage industry is now using) may contain arsenic, lead, chloride and heavy metals.
- Nearly all corn syrup is made from genetically engineered corn, which comes with its own set of risks. For example, Bt toxin found in genetically engineered Bt corn has now been detected in the bloodstream of 93 percent of pregnant women tested, and in 80 percent of the umbilical cord of tested babies. There’s already plenty of evidence that the Bt-toxin produced in genetically engineered corn and cotton plants is toxic to humans and mammals and triggers immune system responses. The fact that it flows through our blood, and that is passes through the umbilical cord into fetuses, may help explain the rise in many disorders in the US since Bt crop varieties were first introduced in 1996.
Using Uric Acid Levels as a Marker for Fructose Toxicity
The link between fructose and uric acid is so strong that you can actually use your uric acid levels as a marker for fructose toxicity. According to the latest research in this area, the safest range of uric acid appears to be between 3 and 5.5 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl), and there appears to be a steady relationship between uric acid levels and blood pressure and cardiovascular risk, even down to the range of 3 to 4 mg/dl.
Dr. Richard Johnson suggests that the ideal uric acid level is probably around 4 mg/dl for men and 3.5 mg/dl for women. I would strongly encourage everyone to have their uric acid level checked to find out how sensitive you are to fructose.
As you know, two-thirds of the US population is overweight, and most of these people likely have uric acid levels well above 5.5. Some may even be closer to 10 or above. Measuring your uric acid levels is a very practical way to determine just how strict you need to be when it comes to your fructose consumption. As an example, if you’re passionate about fruit and typically eat large amounts of it, but find out you have a uric acid level above 5 (or better yet, 4 if you’re a man, and 3.5 if you’re a woman), then you may want to consider lowering your fruit consumption until you’ve optimized your uric acid levels, to avoid harming your body.
How Much Fructose are You Consuming?
It’s no secret that we are eating more sugar than at any other time in history. In 1700, the average person ate four pounds of sugar a year. Today, about 25 percent of all Americans consume over 134 grams of fructose a day, according to Dr. Johnson’s research. That kind of consumption equates to more than 100 pounds of sugar per year! And it just so happens this statistic dovetails nicely with the statistics showing that one in four Americans is either pre-diabetic or has type 2 diabetes.
As a standard recommendation, I strongly advise keeping your TOTAL fructose consumption below 25 grams per day.
For most people it would actually be wise to limit your fruit fructose to 15 grams or less, as you’re virtually guaranteed to get “hidden” fructose from just about any processed food you might eat, including condiments you might never have suspected would contain sugar.
Keep in mind that fruits also contain fructose, although an ameliorating factor is that whole fruits also contain vitamins and other antioxidants that reduce the hazardous effects of fructose. Again, one way to determine just how strict you need to be is to check your uric acid levels. If you feel strongly that fruits are exceptionally beneficial to you and don’t believe my recommendation then at least promise me you will do a test. Consume whatever level of fructose and fruits you believe is healthy for a few days and then measure your uric acid level. If is outside the healthy ranges listed above, then I strongly suggest you listen to your body’s biochemical feedback and reduce your fructose consumption until your uric acid levels normalize.
Juices are nearly as detrimental as soda, because a glass of juice is loaded with fructose, and a lot of the antioxidants are lost. While processed foods will tell you how much sugar/HFCS it contains on the label (just remember to calculate how many servings of it you’re eating), whole fruits can be trickier. Here’s a helpful chart, courtesy of Dr. Johnson, to help you keep track of your total fructose consumption from fruit.
Fruit Serving Size Grams of Fructose Limes 1 medium 0 Lemons 1 medium 0.6 Cranberries 1 cup 0.7 Passion fruit 1 medium 0.9 Prune 1 medium 1.2 Apricot 1 medium 1.3 Guava 2 medium 2.2 Date (Deglet Noor style) 1 medium 2.6 Cantaloupe 1/8 of med. melon 2.8 Raspberries 1 cup 3.0 Clementine 1 medium 3.4 Kiwifruit 1 medium 3.4 Blackberries 1 cup 3.5 Star fruit 1 medium 3.6 Cherries, sweet 10 3.8 Strawberries 1 cup 3.8 Cherries, sour 1 cup 4.0 Pineapple 1 slice (3.5″ x .75″) 4.0 Grapefruit, pink or red 1/2 medium 4.3
Fruit Serving Size Grams of Fructose Boysenberries 1 cup 4.6 Tangerine/mandarin orange 1 medium 4.8 Nectarine 1 medium 5.4 Peach 1 medium 5.9 Orange (navel) 1 medium 6.1 Papaya 1/2 medium 6.3 Honeydew 1/8 of med. melon 6.7 Banana 1 medium 7.1 Blueberries 1 cup 7.4 Date (Medjool) 1 medium 7.7 Apple (composite) 1 medium 9.5 Persimmon 1 medium 10.6 Watermelon 1/16 med. melon 11.3 Pear 1 medium 11.8 Raisins 1/4 cup 12.3 Grapes, seedless (green or red) 1 cup 12.4 Mango 1/2 medium 16.2 Apricots, dried 1 cup 16.4 Figs, dried 1 cup 23.0