In the video below, The Skinny On Obesity (Ep. 2): Sickeningly Sweet, the discussion continues on the impact that sugar (particularly fructose) is having on the world’s health and how people are addicted to sugar.
See the previous episode here ——> The Skinny On Obesity (Ep. 1): An Epidemic for Every Body
Increase in Calories Consumed vs Increase in Diabetes Rates (Worldwide)
Calories Consumed Per Day
% With Diabetes
It’s clear from this data (above) that a calorie is not a calorie when it comes to diabetes and obesity. The researchers found that when you break down what those calories were, the only food that correlates with this rise is sugar.
The world sugar consumption has gone from 98 million tons in 1985 to 160 million tons in 2010.
This is an increase of 63% but according to Dr. Lustig, sugar is 50 times more potent than total calories in explaining diabetes rates worldwide.
The cause is the combination of fat and carbohydrate consumption that has increased over this time frame. Eating fats and carbs separately is one thing but when the two are combined in one food, it’s a different story altogether. Sugar is the ONLY food that metabolizes in the human body as both a fat and a carbohydrate simultaneously, as it contains both sucrose and fructose.
How Sugar Is Metabolized
Table sugar (sucrose) is 50% glucose and 50% fructose and your body has to process each one differently. Glucose is used by every cell in your body for energy and only about 20% of it is metabolized in your liver. Fructose, conversely, is sent straight to your liver – all 100% of it – as it is the only place where it can be metabolized.
The effect fructose has on the liver is identical to that of alcohol and other toxins and like alcohol it is metabolized directly into fat, not energy, like glucose. Eating fructose makes you fat – plain and simple – and leads to mitochondrial disease and metabolic syndrome.
Note that HFCS ranges in fructose level from 42 to 55 percent so now you know why it is considered so detrimental to health.
The strain that fructose puts on your liver is the driver behind non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, insulin resistance, weight gain, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, dementia and when the pancreas is shot from producing too much insulin you get diabetes.
Hunger and Hormones – A Vicious Cycle
The standard advice of eat less and exercise more may work to reduce weight and mitigate chronic metabolic diseases but in the real world this simply doesn’t work. Science has now discovered that there are powerful biochemical reasons why this is not possible. They now know that the hormones leptin and insulin work in tandem in controlling how much you eat.
In The Skinny on Obesity (Ep. 3): Hunger and Hormones – A Vicious Cycle, Dr. Lustig takes us through the explanation.
Addicted To Sugar – Leptin and It’s Job
Leptin has worked perfectly for thousands of years telling our brains when we have had enough to eat but as Dr. Lustig says, today this hormone has stopped working in the way it should and something is messing up the communication.
Leptin’s job is to relay messages to your brain that tell your body whether it is hungry and should eat and/or whether it should make more fat.
Normally when you gain weight, the extra fat makes more leptin which in turn tells your body that you should stop creating and storing more fat and kicks your body into burn mode.
These messages are sent to your brain that you are full and to stop eating but if the message does not get through then your body will continue to feel hungry and you will continue to eat and pack on the pounds.
The researchers have determined that today, in a lot of obese people, that this message is not transmitting.
Why isn’t the message getting through? The scientists now know that it is because people have become leptin resistant – these people have high levels of leptin but the leptin is not doing it’s job.
What is happening with people who have leptin resistance is their body is constantly bombarded with leptin and eventually it stops paying attention to the messages.
The main cause of this is too much sugar intake. The way in which sugar messes up the channels of communication is sugar gets metabolized and stored as triglycerides in the fat cells from where the leptin is released.
When a person eats too much sugar, then their body is producing a heck of a lot of fat cells and the corresponding leptin hormone with it. Now their body is constantly flooded with leptin and all too often this results in leptin resistance.
Insulin Makes You Fat
When a person with a normal metabolism eats 2000 calories of food, the natural reaction and the way our body is programmed to feel good is to burn all 2000 calories, through exercise and what not. This person’s weight would stay the same and they would feel content.
The more calories we have to burn, the better we feel.
With someone who takes insulin shots such as a diabetic or someone who has high insulin levels from their diet, the scenario is quite different. When this person takes in 2000 calories of food, 500 of these calories goes to fat, as ordered by the insulin. Now they only have 1500 calories to burn but their body wants to burn 2000. The natural equilibrium is now out of whack and the body reacts in a negative way.
The body interprets these lost 500 calories as a deficit and switches into sloth and hunger mode. Now your body wants to make up for these lost calories by eating more, adding yet more calories to the fat cells (especially around the gut) and continuing this cycle.
The industrial global diet that we eat now is loaded with the sugars and carbs that force our bodies to produce far too much insulin and this is the driver of obesity.
Is sugar more addictive than cocaine? (Tweet Me)
And on top of this, insulin blocks leptin at the brain and makes you hungry. The higher your insulin level gets, the more energy you store and the hungrier you get and creates this vicious cycle.
Addicted To Sugar – A Sweet Addiction
In the fourth installment, The Skinny On Obesity (Ep.4): Sugar – A Sweet Addiction, Dr. Lustig explains how we get addicted to the white stuff.
How can we eat more than we are supposed to? Well, we know that part of the reason is because of the brain’s inability to hear the message sent by the hormone leptin, telling it that the body is full. The message the brain gets instead, with people who have leptin resistance is, “Gee whiz, I’m starving here, give me some more of those Ho Hos”.
To find the other part of the equation we need to look inside the reward center of the brain. Here we will find that the pleasure center of the brain has been overly stimulated by too much sugar and the dopamine receptors have down regulated – become fewer. Now you need more sugar to get the same pleasurable feeling – your tolerance has gone up and when you are not on the sugar you experience withdrawal.
Being addicted to sugar – the process of down regulation, where the pleasure receptors of the brain are made fewer and an increased tolerance and withdrawal occurs is exactly the same process as an addiction to booze, cigarettes, marijuana, cocaine etc.
When you eat sugar, your brain’s natural opioids kick into gear and this is the start of an addiction. Keep this up and over time you will have developed a potent addiction. Your brain becomes addicted to releasing these opioids again and again.
Researchers believe that the sweet receptors located on our tongue evolved many thousands of years ago when we had very little access to sweet stuffs. This mechanism has not been able to adapt to today’s high sugar environment and therefore the brain is overly stimulated, leading to a powerful, biochemical addiction.
The more sugar you eat the more you crave. Fructose is a powerful pro-inflammatory agent that speeds up the aging process. It also promotes the worst kind of fat, belly fat which is indicative of diabetes and heart disease.
It is obvious by now that sugar is most certainly toxic, is highly addictive and even has the power to rewire our brain. It should be clear that you need to avoid this stuff at all costs. For those of you who may be addicted to sugar, it is best to quit cold turkey but if this doesn’t work then you should seek help from an addictions specialist.
If you still need the occasional something sweet on your lips then you can try stevia, a non-addictive, natural sweetener. Whatever you do do not use any artificial sweeteners as these are even worse than sugar. You CAN stop being addicted to sugar!