The Case Against Sugar-Gary Taubes

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As of July, 2017, 100 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) found that in 2015, diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death.   My late grandmother suffered from it for many years prior to her death and my mother also deals with the disease.  In their cases, they are among the millions that have been diagnosed as having type-2.  And with the number of diabetics growing around world,  the future prognosis is grim.  More disturbingly, diabetes is just one of the several conditions that are considered to be effects of metabolic syndrome.  The link between food and health has long been established.  Food has been man’s source of energy and the key to life.  But somewhere along the way, our approach to what we eat changed dramatically and in the process we face health epidemics never before seen.

Gary Taubes appropriately named this book The Case Against Sugar.  What he has written in this book is sure to open your eyes and change the way you look at sugar which might possibly be the most common food ingredient in history.  In fact, it is so common that it is hiding in plain sight in dozens of foods we would never suspect to contain added sugar.  The first thing I should point out is that Taubes does not tell us to refrain from eating sugar nor does he tell us to consume it. He leaves that to the reader to decide.  What he does tell us is the unfiltered truth about the history of sugar and its effects on the human body.   Doctors and other health figures have told us for years that fat and salt were the culprits behind many of the illnesses we battled. But what if the real monster was there all along and ignored either unintentionally or even blatantly? Some readers may find the topic far-fetched and wonder if the sugar they put in their coffee and the sugar found in other products they consume daily are truly that bad.  Well in order to answer that question, we first have to understand how sugar came to be developed and why it has been so important to business and the food industry.  Taubes has done the leg work for us, presenting the material in an engaging format the pulls the reader in.  Additionally, he helps us understand the different types of sugars and why it is important that we know them intimately.

The story is centuries old and incredibly, without sugar, many of the empires throughout history would have had enormous difficulty existing.  In particular, the British Empire became extremely fond of the white crystals that bankrolled their imperialist machine.  Throughout history, sugar has accompanied every civilization, empire and ethnic group.  I dare to infer that its commonplace among all of these thing is precisely what made it so hard to believe for many that it could also be life threatening.  But it is exactly that which we learn but more importantly, Taubes, like a seasoned professor, explores in-depth why sugar was so important to big industry and why it was necessary to be protected.  He includes many facts that some readers may be completely unaware of.  The section on the tobacco and sugar industries should frighten every reader, especially if they are a smoker.

Diabetes is far from a modern disease. In fact, it has been in existence for centuries and its rise has been well noted and documented.   But what we see through Taubes, is that for a large portion of that time, the connection between sugar and diabetes never fully acknowledged.  If you ask any diabetic today, they will readily inform you that sugar is at the same time their worst enemy and most needed substance.    Their inability to produce enough insulin to handle rising blood sugar or inability to produce insulin at all, as in type-1 diabetics, highlights the precarious situation that exist for diabetics.   In essence, they walk a daily tight rope that could spell success or doom.

Diabetes is a focus of the book but the not the main focus and in addition to what is the silent killer, Taubes makes the case for the relationship between sugar and the conditions classified as metabolic diseases.  The connections form an intricate web and at times the reader may need to revisit a section more than once to understand the chain of events that occur in the body upon the ingestion of sugar, whether natural, refined or artificial.  Gout, cancer, hypertension, strokes and heart attacks plague millions of Americans and for years, doctors have known that what we eat does affect how we feel and age.   Inflammation has become a known factor in all of these conditions and other ailments that plague the human body.   Sugar is also known to play a role in all of these conditions. But is it safe to say that the reduction or elimination of sugar could reverse all of these illnesses?  Possibly so and incredibly,  it is believed that at least 4 in 10 forms of cancer are preventable.  I have always refrained from telling anyone what they should or should not eat.  That is a highly personal decision.  But what I can say is that I have had my own battle with sugar and dropped it from my diet well over ten years ago.  When I did, my acne disappeared, I lost weight, my digestive tract improved and I saw a marked improvement in cognitive function in addition to a surplus of energy.  However, there was a withdrawal process and I did suffer from headaches and irritability for a couple of weeks as my body readjusted to the absence of sugar and high levels of carbohydrates.   Today,  I do not even buy it, add it anything I eat or drink and also follow the mantra that if I cannot pronounce what is in a product then I do not eat it.  It may sound extreme to some but we are only given one body on this earth and it is up to us to take care of it.

This is the ugly truth about sugar, the once believed to be harmless product that our parents and grandparents gave to us without the knowledge that we have today.  The children of today are the first generation that may have a shorter lifespan than their parents.  That is unacceptable and I believe, criminal.  Our health has been sacrificed in the name of greed and mass production.  But we can fight back and take care of our lives.  And with books such as this one by Taubes, our minds are being awakened each step of the way.  If you suffer from a metabolic condition, trying to quit sugar or even curious about its dangers, this book is a must read.

ISBN-10: 0307946649
ISBN-13: 978-0307946645

Pure, White and Deadly: How Sugar is Killing Us and What We Can Do to Stop It-John Yudkin, M.D.

 

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In the United States, heart disease and cancer are the leading killers of Americans each.  As of 2017, heart disease was attributed to 614,348 deaths and cancer, an almost equally staggering 591,699. Diabetes and other metabolic ailments plague millions of others each year.  Doctors have made great strides in learning the root causes of these diseases and appropriate methods of treatment.  Diet is always a factor in any treatment plan and for many cultures, it can also be a main factor in the development of the condition.  Most of us can fondly remember our parents and relatives warning us about the intake of excess salt and sugar to avoid high blood pressure and a trip to the dentist.  While it was known by many not to eat too much sugar, exactly why has always remained elusive to most.  Dr. John Yudkin (1910-1995) was a British physiologist and nutritionist associated with the Queen Elizabeth College in London and an early voice warning humanity about the dangers of sugar consumption. This book which he aptly titled Pure, White and Deadly, investigates the overwhelming inclusion of sugar in the average diet and how our consumption can lead us to early graves.  The book was written in 1972, decades before the explosion of diabetes across the globe. But what is contained in the pages of this book is still relevant today for those who choose to listen.

As health crisis continue to grow, Yudkin is vindicated repeatedly as more diseases and other health issues are linked the consumption of sugar.   As a physiologist and nutritionist, Yudkin was at an advantage over most of us; he was able to study the effects of sugar as part of his work giving him an inside look into one of the most dangerous substances ever created.  What I found to be very admirable about Yudkin is that he does lecture the reader. He does however, relay the results of his findings and leaves it up to the reader to make a personal decision.  And in a moment of admission, he even discloses that he overcame his own sugar addiction.  The author also confesses to overcoming a sugar addiction many years ago and can relate to everything written in this book.  We have the freedom to indulge in any food that we like but we will do ourselves a favor to take a closer look at what we eat, why and how it affects us.  Sugar has quickly become the most widely consumed product and can be found in nearly every food that can be bought in a store of supermarket. Manufacturers have long realized the potential of sugar to affect sales and solidify a large consumer base.  Yudkin explores this side of the matter in addition to the scientific data. And what we see is a behemoth industry that shows no signs of slowing down.  The question remains however, at what cost?

To say that Yudkin had amazing foresight would be an understatement. As I read articles and watch those around me suffer from highly preventable diseases I often find myself repeatedly examining their eating habits to see if their diet is playing a part in the quality of life.  And sadly, more often than not, sugar is a main culprit.   Yudkin is vindicated many times over and his legacy is continued through the work of Dr. Robert Lustig, who actively encourages the elimination of sugar from the diet.  If Yudkin were alive today, he would probably shake his head in disgust and seethe at the amount of sugar that is consumed today.   Undoubtedly, he would be considered an enemy of the state by the sugar industry and blackballed in without question. But the reality is that even in 1972, he was keenly aware of the dangers of sugar consumption and left us this classic that takes a look at the modern creation of sucrose and other forms of sugar.  If you have concerns about sugar and how it affects your health, this is a good place to start in the struggle that may ultimately save and extend your life.

ISBN-10: 0241965284
ISBN-13: 978-0241965283