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Unread 04-18-2011, 06:03 AM   #1
The Hag
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NYT's article - Is sugar (sucrose) toxic?

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/ma....html?_r=1&hpw

I found this really interesting. I'm not entirely convinced (not without seeing the original studies), but the discussion about sucrose (the glucose-fructose dimer in table sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, maple syrup, etc.) metabolism being localized in the liver causing problems not associated with more diffuse glucose (carbs from potatoes, pasta, etc.) metabolism is intriguing. It certainly goes against the "a calorie is a calorie" argument. The article strongly claims that isocaloric =/= isometabolic.
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Unread 04-18-2011, 07:25 PM   #2
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The "a calorie is a calorie" position is that all calories are equivalent for purposes of weight gain and weight loss. It doesn't necessarily make any claims about what is healthy and what is not. A person can believe that saturated fat is unhealthy, for example, without believing that it disproportionately leads to weight gain. The article doesn't do anything to disprove that, as far as I can tell.

I don't agree with those blaming sugars for the ills of society, but I don't entirely agree with Keys' lipid hypothesis, either. I think that the data is very mixed and, on the whole, people know a lot less about the causes of these "diseases of affluence" that many medical professionals would like to admit.

In my observation - and this is admittedly glorifying to scientists, and may even be a bit biased because of my background in science - there is something of a gap between the scientific and medical communities on issues of health. The scientific community is more willing to accept that certain things are unknown, and is much more cautious when it comes to making recommendations based on limited or poorly scrutinized results. The medical community seems much more affected by an inclination to be able to recommend things now now now, and will often (intentionally or not) compromise truth and discovery, and even patient safety, in their efforts to fulfill that desire.

An excellent example of this would be bicycle helmets; no real scientific evidence that they work, and a moderate amount indicating that they do not, but plenty of evidence that makes it look like they do to a poorly trained observer. Furthermore, their effectiveness seems intuitive; it feels like they should work. And the result that you see today: the medical community offers their unqualified endorsement of bicycle helmets, almost without exception.

I'd like to think that this gap will someday close.
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Unread 04-18-2011, 08:50 PM   #3
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Health media relies on making up new "rules" to keep selling products. Example, Runners World published an article a month or so back that stated, according to the journal Obesity, grazing was counter productive to losing weight. In reality the study they were referencing was looking at obese males on a high protein diet. But they had a someone with a medical sounding degree everything to back this statement up, while also selling their own new book by the same publisher as Runners World.

Now I've only skimmed the first page of the article but there is something to be questioned about the validity of a journalist who is also an author of a health related book. Does the argument support something he's said? Not to mention that in the first page it has been pointed out that what makes Robert Lustig "compelling is his practice of taking suggestive evidence and insisting that it’s incontrovertible."

Diet is complex and can be looked at from many variables, our ancestors diet before agriculture, if evolution has changed since the advent of agriculture, recent changes in agriculture allowing us the mass production of food, pesticides. Changes in corn production alone has had a high potential in changing our health (I reference the documentary King Corn). It's difficult to point to one thing in our diet and blame it for all our problems.
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Unread 04-19-2011, 11:07 AM   #4
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I don't really disagree with either of you. FWIW, I also have a science background and I know how MSM likes to cherry-pick scientific studies (which may or may not be well done) for maximum headline impact. That's why I'd have to see the original papers (as well as any that are contradictory) before I'd really be convinced. But the data for glucose and fructose metabolism is well established and not something I'd thought about before in terms of health and nutrition which is why I found the article interesting.

I've also worked with a lot of doctors and definitely agree that there is a difference between how MDs and PhDs approach research and how they interpret and apply data. In the defense of MDs, they have patients who are sick and need treatment and advice now. They have to act with the best data available to them at that moment. PhDs have the luxury of saying "We need to run more experiments."

It is also frustrating because of the role that Big Food and Big Pharma play. It is really hard to know what information can be believed. Not to mention who is funding what studies (or what studies can't get funded at all).

As far as the article, the biggest red flag for me was the question of dosage which has yet to be determined. Ingesting too much of anything (including water) can kill you so at what point do people really need to be concerned? If you are already eating a healthy diet - mostly fresh fruits and vegetables, lots of plant-based protein, limiting fats and sugars - do you really need to be concerned about what type of sugar you are limiting yourself to? If you aren't eating a healthy diet, well, then you already have lots of things to be concerned about.
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Unread 04-19-2011, 11:55 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Hag View Post
As far as the article, the biggest red flag for me was the question of dosage which has yet to be determined. Ingesting too much of anything (including water) can kill you so at what point do people really need to be concerned? If you are already eating a healthy diet - mostly fresh fruits and vegetables, lots of plant-based protein, limiting fats and sugars - do you really need to be concerned about what type of sugar you are limiting yourself to? If you aren't eating a healthy diet, well, then you already have lots of things to be concerned about.
"The dose that makes the poison". An old saying and terrible book a friend read for toxicology.

That said, Leaving that variable out makes this "study" about as good as marketing jargon to me. Manipulate the conditions, and you can end up with any result you are trying to angle at.
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Unread 04-22-2011, 10:58 PM   #6
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I saw this article and like everyone else here I think its just a stupid article. With the amount of articles that are written each day the one with the most catchy title and subject gains the most readers.

I agree on the phD and MD stance. Both go through completely different training in their own upper degree courses and clinicals. Someone with a phD in nutrition is going to have a different opinion then a MD or a o-chem phD.

The dose makes the poison is truly correct, alot of a good thing will still kill you.

People know that too much sugar (artifical or not) is bad for you and as risks. This article just seems to prey on innocent victims of ignorance.
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Unread 04-23-2011, 05:49 AM   #7
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Again, I'm not totally disagreeing with anyone here. Based on personal experience, I'm more willing to seriously consider the work of someone doing research at UCSF than I am something presented in an infomercial. I do think that MDs are more prone to over-stating conclusions than PhDs, though PhDs are certainly not immune to it. (And, tbh, the researchers mentioned in the article may be MD/PhDs - I don't remember). Anyway, to me the most interesting part of the article was their condemnation of the overuse of fructose. I have seen blue agave nectar (which is almost 100% fructose) marketed as "Healthy! Organic!" It's also recommended as a sugar substitute for diabetics. It does have a much lower glycemic index, but that doesn't mean it's healthy.

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People know that too much sugar (artificial or not) is bad for you and as risks.
I don't actually agree with that as a general statement. Some people know it. But there are still a lot of people who are ignorant about basic nutritional facts and don't understand how many things fall into the category of "sugars". Big Food is still bombarding us with marketing campaigns about how "healthy" their sweeteners are (see above about blue agave). There's this attitude that you don't have to change your actual eating habits to eat healthy - you just have to find the right kind of processed food or the right pill or whatever (that they just happen to sell.) At least the theory in the article is advocating a healthy diet, though they are using fear tactics to draw attention to it.
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Last edited by The Hag : 04-23-2011 at 08:55 AM. Reason: clarification
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Unread 04-25-2011, 01:30 AM   #8
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I was going to post a link to the video, but you already got that. my bad.

Last edited by Moeparker : 04-25-2011 at 01:31 AM. Reason: got smarter
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