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Special report: Sugar -  the bitter truth?
Women’s Power Book
Women’s Power Book
Women’s Power Book
Women’s Power Book
Women’s Power Book
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It might all have been different if, 40 years ago, we had listened to John Yudkin, a British physiologist and nutritionist. His 1972 book Pure, White and Deadly argued that we were massively overeating sugar, which was not only making us fat, but also causing liver damage, heart disease and cancer. However, these beliefs earned him some powerful enemies in the sugar industry. In 1979 the World Sugar Research Organisation rubbished his work as ‘science fiction’, while the food industry got squarely behind the theory that saturated fat was the dietary devil. Yudkin’s problem, adds Lustig, was that he could see the correlation between sugar and disease but couldn’t quite prove it. Fast forward to 2014 and the anti-sugar lobby now has science on its side. We now know, for example, that carbohydrate (of which sugar is the most dangerous form), not natural fats, is the driver of the type of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol that leads to heart disease. And numerous studies have linked both overproduction of insulin (which stimulates cell growth) and obesity to increased risks of various cancers including that of the breast and liver. What Lustig is gunning for in particular is fructose, a fruit sugar that makes up 50 per cent of the refined sugar found in virtually everything you buy pre-made. The problem with fructose is twofold. Firstly, there is no hormone to remove fructose from our bloodstream (unlike glucose, which stimulates insulin production). It is therefore left to the liver to remove it and when the liver is overwhel- med it converts fructose to liver fat, which ups our chances of developing insulin resistance (a precursor to diabetes), hardened arteries and heart disease. Secondly, fructose suppresses the hormone leptin, which tells you when you’re full. In other words, your brain lets you consume it with- out limit. It’s going to be hard to turn back the sugar clock, says Lustig. But a good place to start would be drinks, because it’s particularly bad to take on sugar in liquid form. ‘Think of it this way,’ says David Gillespie, an Australian law- yer, father of six and campaigning author of Sweet Poison. ‘If you sit your kids down in front of a fruit bowl they are only going to eat one orange, be- cause an orange contains fibre, which makes you full. There is no problem there – my kids think of fruit as nature’s dessert. Now take out all the fibre [by turning it into a juice] and suddenly that child can consume way more than one orange in a sitting.’ NEXT
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