For years nutrition experts have condemned fat as one of the worst things you can eat for health. But new studies are proving that sugar may be the real culprit. Despite the popularity and availability of low-fat foods on the market, the rate of diabetes, heart disease and obesity continue to skyrocket. Dr. Peter Lustig says it’s because sugar has been added to fat-free products to boost flavor.
For years, Lustig, an endocrinologist from the University of San Francisco, has been studying the effects of sugar on his child patients. And he’s been trying to educate people on the health dangers of sugar, which he thinks is responsible for much of the nation’s health woes today.
Up until now, studies done on sugar consumption have been inconclusive because they resulted in weight loss. Thus the health benefits seen in the studies could have resulted from caloric restriction and weight loss instead of avoiding sugar.
Lustig has done a new study on 43 obese children that controls for weight loss. Only a few of the children lost weight but most remained the same weight during the 9-day study. During the study he reduced sugar to 10 percent of the diet by replacing it with starch and keeping calories the same. The results were significant. Many of the children went from being insulin resistant (a precursor to diabetes) to insulin sensitive. Also, fasting blood sugar dropped by 53 percent, along with insulin production. Triglyceride and LDL levels also declined and the kids showed less fat in their liver.
Finally, Lustig says, a study definitively links sugar consumption to metabolic syndrome.
However, changing ingrained public perception about sugar versus fat will be a longer process. Lustig hopes his study will change the views of doctors and government health officials about sugar. And these thought leaders will change their nutritional and health recommendations to patients and the public. These new findings may also influence the dietary guideline recommendations released at the end of the year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
One of the issues with sugar is how addictive it is. Even if people know its harm the habit is hard to break. But there is a way to stop sugar cravings without much pain. The 21-Day Body Makeover program is designed to help stop sugar cravings in a minimal amount of time.
One of the most interesting parts of the study is that some of the children did lose weight despite consuming the same amount of calories. And Lustig has future studies planned that will show the effect that sugar has on the body apart from its calorie content. One of the findings hinted at in the recent study is the effects of sugar on the liver.
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