April 20, 2011
Robert Lustig, MD of the UCSF division of endocrinology and metabolism has become one of the more vocal and credible critics of the pervasive dietary sugar, whether it be in the form of table sugar (sucrose, which is a glucose and fructose molecule bound) or high-fructose corn syrup (a manmade glucose and fructose product). In a viral video of one of his lectures, which we edited down to 30-minutes focusing on the fructose metabolism, he explains how fructose is a poison to the body and the cause of the obesity epidemic around the world.
Prior to 1975, humans were not exposed to high-fructose corn syrup. Sugar makes food sell better, so for profit and political reasons, the ingredient has wound up in most drinks and foods we consume, including foods one would not expect to have sugar, such as bread and meat. A recent lawsuit forcing Taco Bell to reveal the ingredients of its “meat” revealed that sugar is a component. Every item on the McDonald’s menu, with the exception of coffee, tea, fries, and McNuggets has fructose in them. A can of regular soft drink or sports drink has more than 8 table spoons of sugar in it.
Americans, on average, consume 63 pounds of sugar per year. Along with sugar increases, the reduction of fiber and addition of trans-fats is what Dr. Lustig calls the adulteration of our diet.
In his full-length lecture, Dr. Lustig gave a lengthy biochemistry explanation of how fructose is processed mostly in the liver, unlike glucose from starch that can be used by all organs of the body. Once in the liver, the main molecule that fructose is converted into is VLDL fat, which goes straight to one’s body fat storage depots and also causes atherosclerosis.
Another byproduct of fructose metabolism is uric acid, which results in lower nitric oxide (NO). NO is crucial for normal blood pressure as it causes vasodilation. Dr. Lustig asserts that fructose is a major cause of the hypertension epidemic as well as obesity.