The One Thing You Can Do To Dramatically Improve Your Diet

….if you want to lose the excess body fat, reduce your risk of Type II Diabetes, and generally feel better.

There’s a growing body of research that strongly suggests that this one thing, one food substance, can be traced as a potential cause for diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, obesity, and even cancer.

Sugar.

Specifically fructose.

Sugar, the refined sugar as we most often think of or table sugar, is actually a combination of fructose and glucose (or also known as sucrose) and the body processes the two differently. Fructose goes to the liver and is almost turned to fat. Glucose however is metabolized by the cells in your body. So when you eat a potato – a carbohydrate – it will be converted to glucose not fructose where as a Snickers bar is nearly all refined sugar – a much higher percentage of fructose- (and I’m not just picking on Snickers – all candy bars are essentially nothing but refined sugar).

Now, I’m not suggesting that you stop eating fruit which also contains sugar. An orange has about 9 grams of sugar but only 2.5

Snickers Bar

grams of fructose. So in addition to being obvious – an orange is healthier for you than a Snickers bar, it’s also a different blend of sugar.

Not all fruits though are the same in their sugar content or blend. Apples tend to have more fructose than, for example, an orange or a blueberry (here’s a table comparing various fruits and their sugar content).

But the bottom line on fruits is that you have to eat a LOT of fruit to have the same type of load on your liver as refined sugar.

And, I’m not suggesting you can’t have a bite of dark chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth either. In small concentrations, your body can handle the sugar load (and it appears what is “small” varies by the individual). And if you add exercise, you can dramatically increase the metabolism of sugar and therefore your tolerance.

Two detailed resources for those of you who want to dig into the science of sugar and its potential deleterious effects on the body are Robert Lustig’s 90 minute lecture, Sugar the Bitter Truth,  and this article, Is Sugar Toxic?, in the NY Times.

Remove refined sugar from your diet and you’ll lose weight, lower your risk of really nasty diseases, have more energy, and generally feel better.

But, I have to admit, I’m a sucker for dark chocolate 🙂

How about you? How much sugar do you eat?

Photo: Uwe Hermann

Andrea says

I agree. Sugar is a drug with dangerous side effects. Like Alcohol or heroin. And it is addictive like other drugs.
Dr. Catey Shanahan MD says: sugar makes your joints rusty and your white blood cells blind. Her joint pain went away when she cleaned up her diet and stayed away from sugar.
If you want healthy joints and connective tissue, eat bone stock instead of sugar.
http://drcate.com/about-drcatecom/

And sugar give you accelerated aging. Art de Vany eats low carb and no sugar except from fruits. Keep insulin low and you don’t have accelerated aging (whoich is “normal” in our society). de Vany is strong and healthy at age 73. Body Fat and Testosterone levels lika a young athlete.

DR. Lustig’s famous Video is quite long and very technical (hardcore biochemistry). As a first short and simple overview I like Mark Sisson’s post on sugar:
http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-definitive-guide-to-sugar/

I removed the dangerous and nutrition foods from my diet: Sugar, grains, legumes (Robb Wolf Paleo Diet). Only a bit of dark chocolate and fruits (berries are great).

DD Kelsey says

Lynn –

You make a good point. Some things to consider about honey vs. sugar that I think may tip the choice to honey:
1. Honey has nutrients (vitamins and minerals) and sugar doesn’t which makes honey a more nutritious choice.
2. Honey is sweeter so you’ll likely use less of it compared to sugar.
3. Sugar (refined) is rapidly absorbed by the body causing a spike in blood sugar levels; the sugar in honey has to be actively transported so it causes a slower rise in blood sugar.

But, in the end, the less you use the better. Table sugar or honey (or even Agave Nectar).

Lynn Bjorklund says

What is interesting is that according to the harmful fructose theorey, honey would then be more harmful or dangerous than sugar. For many decades, health conscious people would substitute honey for sugar thinking that it made the recipe more healthful. So, if you wish to sweeten a cup of tea, perhaps the spoonful of sugar is the better choice. Although in small quantities, I doubt it matters at all. But with something like baking the occasional treat, it does sound like sugar is a little safer.

Omar says

DK- RE: The Honey vs Sugar discussion, in your third consideration, I believe you are referring to a difference in “glycemic index”. Is there anything in the table you included from which one could infer relative differences in glycemic index? I stared at the entries for Honey and Sugar and couldn’t work it out. I can only infer that the glucose in honey must actually be tied up in a more complex molecule that is harder to break down than it is in the sucrose compound? So not all “glucose” in that table are equal???

I realize the point was to show differences in metabolic fructose ratios….

thx, oz

    DD Kelsey says

    The fructose and glucose in honey is separated by water actually; in table sugar the two are linked. The main point is the amount you’ll ingest will likely be less with honey because it’s sweeter and heavier. End of the day, in your gut, when all is digested, both are really about the same. It’s just way easier to eat more refined sugar and a lot of foods contain refined sugar so over the couse of a day, you can really load up on it and not even realize it. For example, a fruit yogurt – strawberry yogurt, blackberry yogurt, etc – has about 30 grams of sugar in it. When you consider a person on a 2000 calorie per day diet can tolerate about 32 grams of sugar a day (according to the USDA), you’ve already used up your allotment.

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