Skip to comments.Is Sugar Really Toxic? Sifting through the Evidence
Posted on 07/20/2013 12:28:18 PM PDT by neverdem
Our very first experience of exceptional sweetnessa dollop of buttercream frosting on a parent’s finger; a spoonful of strawberry ice cream instead of the usual puréed carrotsis a gustatory revelation that generally slips into the lacuna of early childhood. Sometimes, however, the moment of original sweetness is preserved. A YouTube video from February 2011 begins with baby Olivia staring at the camera, her face fixed in rapture and a trickle of vanilla ice cream on her cheek. When her brother Daniel brings the ice cream cone near her once more, she flaps her arms and arches her whole body to reach it.
Considering that our cells depend on sugar for energy, it makes sense that we evolved an innate love for sweetness. How much sugar we consume, howeveras well as how it enters the body and where we get it from in the first placehas changed dramatically over time. Before agriculture, our ancestors presumably did not have much control over the sugars in their diet, which must have come from whatever plants and animals were available in a given place and season. Around 6,000 BC, people in New Guinea began to grow sugarcane, chewing and sucking on the stalks to drink the sweet juice within. Sugarcane cultivation spread to India, where by 500 BC people had learned to turn bowls of the tropical grass’s juice into crude crystals. From there sugar traveled with migrants and monks to China, Persia, northern Africa and eventually to Europe in the 11th century.
For more than 400 years, sugar remained a luxury in European exotic spiceuntil manufacturing became efficient enough to make “white gold” much more affordable. Christopher Columbus brought sugarcane to the New World in 1493 and in the 16th and 17th centuries European powers established sugarcane plantations in the West Indies and South America. Sugar consumption in England increased by 1,500 percent between the 18th and 19th centuries. By the mid 19th century, Europeans and Americans had come to regard refined sugar as a necessity. Today, we add sugar in one form or another to the majority of processed foods(PDF) we eateverything from bread, cereals, crunchy snacks and desserts to soft drinks, juices, salad dressings and saucesand we are not too stingy about using it to sweeten many raw and whole foods as well.
By consuming so much sugar we are not just demonstrating weak willpower and indulging our sweet toothwe are in fact poisoning ourselves according to a group of doctors, nutritionists and biologists, one of the most prominent members of which is Robert Lustig of the University of California, San Francisco, famous for his viral YouTube video “Sugar: The Bitter Truth.” A few journalists, such as Gary Taubes and Mark Bittman, have reached similar conclusions. Sugar, they argue, poses far greater dangers than cavities and love handles; it is a toxin that harms our organs and disrupts the body’s usual hormonal cycles. Excessive consumption of sugar, they say, is one of the primary causes of the obesity epidemic and metabolic disorders like diabetes, as well as a culprit of cardiovascular disease. More than one-third of American adults and approximately 12.5 million children and adolescents in the U.S. are obese. In 1980, 5.6 million Americans were diagnosed with diabetes; in 2011 more than 20 million Americans had the illness.
The argument that sugar is a toxin depends on some technical details about the different ways the human body gets energy from different types of sugar. Today, Americans eat most of their sugar in two main forms: table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. A molecule of table sugar, or sucrose, is a bond between one glucose molecule and one fructose moleculetwo simple sugars with the same chemical formula, but slightly different atomic structures. In the 1960s, new technology allowed the U.S. corn industry to cheaply convert corn-derived glucose intro fructose and produce high fructose corn syrup, whichdespite its nameis almost equal parts free-floating fructose and glucose: 55 percent fructose, 42 percent glucose and three percent other sugars. Because fructose is about twice as sweet as glucose, an inexpensive syrup mixing the two was an appealing alternative to sucrose from sugarcane and beets.
Regardless of where the sugar we eat comes from, our cells are interested in dealing with fructose and glucose, not the bulkier sucrose. Enzymes in the intestine split sucrose into fructose and glucose within seconds, so as far as the human body is concerned sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup are equivalent. The same is not true for their constituent molecules. Glucose travels through the bloodstream to all of our tissues, because every cell readily converts glucose into energy. In contrast, liver cells are one of the few types of cells that can convert fructose to energy, which puts the onus of metabolizing fructose almost entirely on one organ. The liver accomplishes this primarily by turning fructose into glucose and lactate. Eating exceptionally large amounts of fructose taxes the liver: it spends so much energy turning fructose into other molecules that it may not have much energy left for all its other functions. A consequence of this energy depletion is production of uric acid, which research has linked to gout, kidney stones and high blood pressure.
The human body strictly regulates the amount of glucose in the blood. Glucose stimulates the pancreas to secrete the hormone insulin, which helps remove excess glucose from blood, and bolsters production of the hormone leptin, which suppresses hunger. Fructose does not trigger insulin production and appears to raise levels of the hormone grehlin, which keeps us hungry. Some researchers have suggested that large amounts of fructose encourage people to eat more than they need. In studies with animals and people by Kimber Stanhope of the University of California Davis and other researchers, excess fructose consumption has increased fat production, especially in the liver, and raised levels of circulating triglycerides, which are a risk factor for clogged arteries and cardiovascular disease. Some research has linked a fatty liver to insulin resistancea condition in which cells become far less responsive to insulin than usual, exhausting the pancreas until it loses the ability to properly regulate blood glucose levels. Richard Johnson of the University of Colorado Denver has proposed that uric acid produced by fructose metabolism also promotes insulin resistance. In turn insulin resistance is thought to be a major contributor to obesity and Type 2 diabetes; the three disorders often occur together.
Because fructose metabolism seems to kick off a chain reaction of potentially harmful chemical changes inside the body, Lustig, Taubes and others have singled out fructose as the rotten apple of the sugar family. When they talk about sugar as a toxin, they mean fructose specifically. In the last few years, however, prominent biochemists and nutrition experts have challenged the idea that fructose is a threat to our health and have argued that replacing fructose with glucose or other sugars would solve nothing. First, as fructose expert John White points out, fructose consumption has been declining for more than a decade, but rates of obesity continued to rise during the same period. Of course, coinciding trends alone do not definitively demonstrate anything. A more compelling criticism is that concern about fructose is based primarily on studies in which rodents and people consumed huge amounts of the moleculeup to 300 grams of fructose each day, which is nearly equivalent to the total sugar in eight cans of Cokeor a diet in which the vast majority of sugars were pure fructose. The reality is that most people consume far less fructose than used in such studies and rarely eat fructose without glucose.
On average, people in America and Europe eat between 100 and 150 grams of sugar each day, about half of which is fructose. Its difficult to find a regional diet or individual food that contains only glucose or only fructose. Virtually all plants have glucose, fructose and sucrosenot just one or another of these sugars. Although some fruits, such as apples and pears, have three times as much fructose as glucose, most of the fruits and veggies we eat are more balanced. Pineapples, blueberries, peaches, carrots, corn and cabbage, for example, all have about a 1:1 ratio of the two sugars. In his New York Times Magazine article, Taubes claims that fructose is what distinguishes sugar from other carbohydrate-rich foods like bread or potatoes that break down upon digestion to glucose alone. This is not really true. Although potatoes and white bread are full of starchlong chains of glucose moleculesthey also have fructose and sucrose. Similarly, Lustig has claimed that the Japanese diet promotes weight loss because it is fructose-free, but the Japanese consume plenty of sugarabout 83 grams a day on averageincluding fructose in fruit, sweetened beverages and the countrys many meticulously crafted confectioneries. High-fructose corn syrup was developed and patented in part by Japanese researcher Yoshiyuki Takasaki in the 1960s and ’70s.
Not only do many worrying fructose studies use unrealistic doses of the sugar unaccompanied by glucose, it also turns out that the rodents researchers have studied metabolize fructose in a very different way than people dofar more different than originally anticipated. Studies that have traced fructose’s fantastic voyage through the human body suggest that the liver converts as much as 50 percent of fructose into glucose, around 30 percent of fructose into lactate and less than one percent into fats. In contrast, mice and rats turn more than 50 percent of fructose into fats, so experiments with these animals would exaggerate the significance of fructose’s proposed detriments for humans, especially clogged arteries, fatty livers and insulin resistance.
In a series of meta-analyses examining dozens of human studies, John Sievenpiper of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and his colleagues found no harmful effects of typical fructose consumption on body weight, blood pressure or uric acid production. In a 2011 study, Sam Suna nutrition scientist at Archer Daniels Midland, a major food processing corporationand his colleagues analyzed data about sugar consumption collected from more than 25,000 Americans between 1999 and 2006. Their analysis confirmed that people almost never eat fructose by itself and that for more than 97 percent of people fructose contributes less daily energy than other sugars. They did not find any positive associations between fructose consumption and levels of trigylcerides, cholesterol or uric acid, nor any significant link to waist circumference or body mass index (BMI). And in a recent BMC Biology Q&A, renowned sugar expert Luc Tappy of the University of Lausanne writes: “Given the substantial consumption of fructose in our diet, mainly from sweetened beverages, sweet snacks, and cereal products with added sugar, and the fact that fructose is an entirely dispensable nutrient, it appears sound to limit consumption of sugar as part of any weight loss program and in individuals at high risk of developing metabolic diseases. There is no evidence, however, that fructose is the sole, or even the main factor in the development of these diseases, nor that it is deleterious to everybody.”
To properly understand fructose metabolism, we must also consider in what form we consume the sugar, as explained in a recent paper by David Ludwig, Director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center of Boston Children’s Hospital and a professor at Harvard. Drinking a soda or binging on ice cream floods our intestines and liver with large amounts of loose fructose. In contrast, the fructose in an apple does not reach the liver all at once. All the fiber in the fruitsuch as cellulose that only our gut bacteria can break downconsiderably slows digestion. Our enzymes must first tear apart the apples cells to reach the sugars sequestered within. “It’s not just about the fiber in food, but also its very structure,” Ludwig says. “You could add Metamucil to Coca Cola and not get any benefit.” In a small but intriguing study(PDF), 17 adults in South Africa ate primarily fruitabout 20 servings with approximately 200 grams of total fructose each dayfor 24 weeks and did not gain weight, develop high blood pressure or imbalance their insulin and lipid levels.
To strengthen his argument, Ludwig turns to the glycemic index, a measure of how quickly food raises levels of glucose in the blood. Pure glucose and starchy foods such as Taubess example of the potato have a high glycemix index; fructose has a very low one. If fructose is uniquely responsible for obesity and diabetes and glucose is benign, then high glycemic index diets should not be associated with metabolic disordersyet they are. A small percentage of the world population may in fact consume so much fructose that they endanger their health because of the difficulties the body encounters in converting the molecule to energy. But the available evidence to date suggests that, for most people, typical amounts of dietary fructose are not toxic.
Even if Lustig is wrong to call fructose poisonous and saddle it with all the blame for obesity and diabetes, his most fundamental directive is sound: eat less sugar. Why? Because super sugary, energy-dense foods with little nutritional value are one of the main ways we consume more calories than we need, albeit not the only way. It might be hard to swallow, but the fact is that many of our favorite desserts, snacks, cereals and especially our beloved sweet beverages inundate the body with far more sugar than it can efficiently metabolize. Milkshakes, smoothies, sodas, energy drinks and even unsweetened fruit juices all contain large amounts of free-floating sugars instantly absorbed by our digestive system.
Avoiding sugar is not a panacea, though. A healthy diet is about so much more than refusing that second sugar cube and keeping the cookies out of reach or hidden in the cupboard. What about all the excess fat in our diet, so much of which is paired with sugar and contributes to heart disease? What about bad cholesterol and salt? “If someone is gaining weight, they should look to sugars as a place to cut back,” says Sievenpiper, “but there’s a misguided belief that if we just go after sugars we will fix obesityobesity is more complex than that. Clinically, there are some people who come in drinking way too much soda and sweet beverages, but most people are just overconsuming in general.” Then there’s all the stuff we really should eat more of: whole grains; fruits and veggies; fish; lean protein. But wait, we can’t stop there: a balanced diet is only one component of a healthy lifestyle. We need to exercise tooto get our hearts pumping, strengthen our muscles and bones and maintain flexibility. Exercising, favoring whole foods over processed ones and eating less overall sounds too obvious, too simplistic, but it is actually a far more nuanced approach to good health than vilifying a single molecule in our dietan approach that fits the data. Americans have continued to consume more and more total calories each yearaverage daily intake increased(PDF) by 530 calories between 1970 and 2000while simultaneously becoming less and less physically active. Here’s the true bitter truth: Yes, most of us should make an effort to eat less sugarbut if we are really committed to staying healthy, we’ll have to do a lot more than that.
The mean fructose content in the HFCS used was 59% (range 47-65%) and several major brands appear to be produced with HFCS that is 65% fructose.
This is what nails it for me, a brand new liver pathology.
It's variouly called non alcoholic fatty liver disease, NAFLD, or non alcoholic steatohepatitis, NASH, or hepatic steatosis. A rose is still a rose. Pathologists are notorious for differing among themselves about describing particular biopsies, but they do agree that these liver biopsies are not normal. It was not described before HFCS came on the scene in soft drinks. None of those diagnoses are in my medical dictionary or my pathology book, both from the 1980s.
Sugar is bad, all sugars, in excess. My concern is that in demonizing HFCS, we let regular sugar off the hook. Atkins somewhat had the right idea, and the paleo/limited carbers do more so as well.
Considering that our cells depend on sugar for energyVery few of our cells depend on sugar for energy. Most of our cells will burn sugar, when it is present, because sugar causes no end of physical damage, if it's levels are allowed to get too high, or if it is allowed to hang around too long. But there's a huge difference between cells will preferentially burn sugar, when it is present, and cells depend on sugar.
It was to me, but only through own fault.
I was on the road every day, had a one hundred mile commute each way. And the days were hi-level negotiation stuff until late night. Some times lunch, but mostly had no time for anything but a pizza slice or a jacket pocket full of jellybears. Yum :).
Back in 1972, when Atkins published his diet, the push to beef feed lots and battery caged hens was just beginning.
He didn’t stress the importance of seeking our quality in the foods he recommended, because the quality of ordinary foods was nowhere near as bad is it is now.
Why does it seem that it is often the healthy organic no sugar no white flour types who end up with cancer just as often as the coffee and cigarettes for breakfast, soda for lunch and something lacking in vitamins for dinner crowd? It seems that moderation in everything is the important thing. Also why is it that since corn syrup, which replaced sugar in many foods as both cheaper and supposedly healthier, since then folks are heavier then ever. Hmm, could it be because corn is a starch used to make both animals and underweight humans heavier.
I’m sorry but I’m not going to giving up kissing the spouse. I’ll take my chances with sugar.
While I do believe that refined sugar is not good for anyone, however, sucking on a piece of fresh sugar cane is ok, the reality is that anything can be toxic, including water. People have OD’ed on water.
Today, we add sugar in one form or another to the majority of processed foods we eateverything from bread, cereals, crunchy snacks and desserts to soft drinks, juices, salad dressings and saucesand we are not too stingy about using it to sweeten many raw and whole foods as well.We add sugar to skim milk, because otherwise people won't drink it. Skim milk is naturally blue, watery, and chalky. What is on the market isn't skim milk, it's skim milk to which additional non-fat milk solids have been added - including quite a bit of sugar.
And the really neat thing is that because the sugar that is being added is milk sugar, the FDA doesn't require manufacturers to include it as an ingredient on the label.
which is why I purchase things that do not use corn syrup ..... When I want to use corn syrup for cooking (say a pecan pie), I have a small bottle in m,y pantry.
I have found that if I cook and eat the way my parents did I do just fine
Try living without it.
Oops you can't.
The body requires sugar in one form or another for energy.
Therefore the question is stupid.
Now you can ask if certain sugar delivery systems are better for you then others but that doesn't sound as sexy I guess.
Post of the day!
Just another reason I drink whole milk or water...
What about all the excess fat in our diet, so much of which is paired with sugar and contributes to heart disease?Easy - there's never been scientific evidence that showed that increased amounts of health fats (which is all of the except for trans fats and processed vegetable oils) results in an increased risk of heart disease.
I'll eat, smoke, and drink what I please, and the nannies can pound sand.
blushing red then green as in envy ... much better here than mine, am an amateur.
HFCS is a problem. The body does not digest syrup as well as it absorbs a few teaspoons of cane sugar that have dissolved in food.
“A few journalists, such as Gary Taubes and Mark Bittman, have reached similar conclusions.”
Well, that cinches it for me - sugar is bad!
I have not eaten more than 20 - 30 g of carbs in a singe day in many years. I'm a bit of a gym rat, so my energy output is extreme - lack of carbs has never been an issue for me. My A1C, LDL, HDL, and every other marker is at exceptional levels. I'm convinced that sugar, in any form is toxic and feeds cancer cells. I don't miss sugar, I certainly don't miss carbs and I feel better than I have in 30 years - I'm in better physical shape as well.
FReepmail me if you want on or off the diabetes ping list.
what is always “bad” is not so much “what” we consume, but simply “excess” - “excess” anything
as the old saying goes, “all things in moderation accepted”
I agree with you. The issue is not what type of sugar we ingest, it is one of total carbs, and especially the refined easily digestible carbs. My wife and I eat no whites carbs, no wheat and very few total carbs per day. All of our metabolic markers are excellent (blood sugar, HDL and triglycerides).
We eat a high-fat diet with moderate protein. The notion that cells need free glucose to burn is false. Most cells do very well burning fat. Our fats are animal fat, olive oil, coconut oil and high oleic safflower oil. We eat as much as we want. We do not count calories. My weight is now as it was in college.
Before we began our low-carb lifestyle, I was beset with multiple allergies. I was taking allergy shots, steroids and serial antihistamines. Nothing seemed to work. On the new diet, the allergies vanished. It seemed like a miracle until I began to understand the relation between carbs, insulin and inflammation in the body. No metabolic diseases for us.
Same here. And I bet you also look young for age especially compared to you peers. I look 15 to 20 years younger (depending on the light—lol. I also stay out of the sun and use sunscreen.) Congrats on the commitment!!
People have no idea how they can completely overhaul their bodies and their lives making these changes.
I am 47.
I have started ignoring all advise because it changes so often. The entire country was convinced that there was a huge problem with "fat", and that "fat" was making us fat. Now, we have an obesity epidemic. I believe Dr. Atkins and Gary Taubes probably have it right, it is not the fat, it is the carbs (sugar). Embrace the fat, it makes foods delicious (as I am sitting here with the aroma of my slow cooker which is filled with (fatty) short ribs, basted in a red wine/balsamic vinegar sauce --- and garlic, got to have garlic. Anyway, the meat is so delicious that I have no yen for a sweet finish. I am completely satisfied. Taking away the fat took away the flavor. So, we went for sweets.
The Govt. doesn't know what the hell it is doing. Stop letting it and the media make us hysterical over everything. It is just a way for them to have more control over us.
Society lost moderation a long time ago.
And you are going to live until you die just like them.
EAT LESS. We were designed to be hungry most of the time.
You sya that because you grew up unaware of how your food was produced. While beef feedlots may predate caged poultry, both have been around much longer than you realize, and much longer than the oldest Freeper has been alive.
SUGAR is a problem, HFCS is only slightly worse, but since HFCS have demonized, Sugar is being left off the hook, which is exactly my concern. Get off of your addiction to Sugar in general, and you will reap even greater rewards.
Nah... I'll be MUCH happier while I live.
I get your point. Mine is that foods pre-sweetened with HFCS just don’t digest well. I don’t eat any pre-sweetened foods anymore. I have just four teaspoons of granulated cane sugar every day...two in my cereal and two in a cup of tea. I eat pure foods, no dairy fat, no trans fats. For the first time in my life, my weight is what it should be and I’m never hungry. Also, I walk a lot instead of gimmicky gym and exercise routines.
What, exactly, do you think our cells use for energy if not sugar? Gasoline?
Fat. most of them, most of the time, or byproducts of fat metabolism like ketones.
Remember all that stuff you learned in exercise class about your "fat burning zone"? How as you increased the intensity of your exercise you moved from aerobic to anaerobic energy pathways? How at low to moderate energy expenditures you were burning mostly fat, and only at higher energy expenditures you start burning sugar?
Burning fat is aerobic, burning sugar is anaerobic.
You know that. And if you'd thought about it a bit, you'd have realized that most of the time, you're burning fat, rather than sugar.
There are a few cell types that primarily burn glucose, the most significant of which are red blood cells. Blood cells exist to deliver oxygen, and if they burned fat for fuel they'd need to use the oxygen they are trying to deliver. So they, and a few other specialized cell types, burn sugar.
The rest of the body burns fat, except during periods of intense exercise, or immediately after meals while sugar is rushing into the bloodstream. If you have a healthy metabolism, your blood sugar levels are back to normal within an hour of completing the meal, and your body is back to burning fat for energy.
Of course, if you've been eating too many carbs, too often, and too close together, you've likely spent so much time burning sugar that you've down-regulated your fat metabolism. And if that's the case, you're probably insulin resistant. Which means that two hours after every meal you're tired, irritable, and starving for more carbs. Mainly because your insulin levels are going too high, and as a result your body doesn't easily switch over into fat burning mode after the sugar bolus has been dealt with - leaving your cells with no source of energy except for another Snickers bar.
Burning sugar for more than a couple of hours a day isn't normal, and it isn't healthy. It is, though, unfortunately common - and it's the primary reason so many people are so sick.
Is Sugar Really Toxic?
Try living without it.
Oops you can't.
The body requires sugar in one form or another for energy.
Therefore the question is stupid.
Actually, the comment is rather stupid. There is no dietary requirement for sugar, or for carbohydrates in any form. There are essential vitamins and minerals. There are essential amino acids. There are essential fatty acids. There are no essential carbohydrates.
More than that, the minimal required level of dietary carbohydrates, in all forms, is zero. Many people have not only survived, but have thrived, on diets with zero dietary carbohydrates.
There are only a few types of cells in the body that require glucose, the total demand of those cells is quite moderate - and the body is quite capable of meeting that demand by creating its own glucose from protein and fat.
I'll say it again - there is no requirement for dietary carbohydrates in humans.
C6H12O6 + 6O2 --> 6CO2 + 6H2O + ~38 ATP.
Looks aerobic to me.
Everything ingested turns into sugar.
Life is fatal.
And I’m sold out of flagpoles.
Life is fatal all right!
The brain is one big glucose sucking machine.
You starve it and your intelligence will drop.
Looks like an unbalanced equation to me.
Why, in the olden days, did many people subsist on mainly a hunk of bread in the morning, and a hunk of bread at night with some soup or meat? Throughout history, man has eaten breads. I don’t understand what’s so bad about bread. Without it, it seems to me that humans wouldn’t have fared so well.
"MODERATION IN ALL THINGS."
Actually, the mitochondria can use directly a number of short and medium chain fatty acids. Coconut oil, for instance, has a few.
Human breast milk is loaded with fats and has a lot of the MCFA’s.
Remember, babies can’t hardly digest anything at all till they are weaned.
I'll say it again - there is no requirement for dietary carbohydrates in humans.
Given that there have been a number of native cultures that subsisted on zero-carb diets for thousands of years, you should provide more than a bare assertion, if you want to convince...
Your Brain on Ketons
The brain is one big glucose sucking machine.
And now let's really get down to the mitochondrial level. Mitochondria are the power plants of our cells, where all the energy is produced (as ATP). Now, when I was taught about biochemical fuel-burning, I was taught that glucose was "clean" and ketones were "smokey." That glucose was clearly the preferred fuel for our muscles for exercise and definitely the key fuel for the brain. Except here's the dirty little secret about glucose - when you look at the amount of garbage leftover in the mitochondria, it is actually less efficient to make ATP from glucose than it is to make ATP from ketone bodies! A more efficient energy supply makes it easier to restore membranes in the brain to their normal states after a depolarizing electrical energy spike occurs, and means that energy is produced with fewer destructive free radicals leftover.
What does it all mean? Well, in the brain, energy is everything. The brain needs a great deal of energy to keep all those membrane potentials maintained - to keep pushing sodium out of the cells and pulling potassium into the cells. In fact, the brain, which is only 2% of our body weight, uses 20% of our oxygen and 10% of our glucose stores just to keep running. (Some cells in our brain are actually too small (or have tendrils that are too small) to accommodate mitochondria (the power plants). In those places, we must use glucose itself (via glycolysis) to create ATP.) When we change the main fuel of the brain from glucose to ketones, we change amino acid handling. And that means we change the ratios of glutamate and GABA. The best responders to a ketogenic diet for epilepsy end up with the highest amount of GABA in the central nervous system.
One of the things the brain has to keep a tight rein on is the amount of glutamate hanging out in the synapse. Lots of glutamate in the synapse means brain injury, or seizures, or low level ongoing damaging excitotoxicity as you might see in depression. The brain is humming along, using energy like a madman. Even a little bit more efficient use of the energy makes it easier for the brain to pull the glutamate back into the cells. And that, my friends, is a good thing.
Let me put it this way. Breast milk is very high in fat. Newborns spend time in ketosis, and are therefore to some extent ketoadapted. Breast milk is also high in sugar, but babies' brains are so big they can handle a lot more sugar than us full-grown folks. Being ketoadapted means that babies can more easily turn ketone bodies into acetyl-coA and into myelin. Ketosis helps babies construct and grow their brains. (For those interested in nitty gritty details - babies are in mild ketosis, but very young babies seem to utilize lactate as a fuel in lieu of glucose also - and the utilization of lactate also promotes the same use of acetyl-CoA and gives the neonates some of the advantages of ketoadaptation without being in heavy ketosis.)
We know (more or less) what all this means for epilepsy (and babies!). We don't precisely know what it means for everyone else, at least brain-wise. Ketosis occurs with carbohydrate and protein restriction, MCT oil use, or fasting. Some people believe that being ketoadapted is the ideal - others will suggest that we can be more relaxed, and eat a mostly low sugar diet with a bit of intermittent fasting thrown in to give us periods of ketosis. (A caveat - I don't recommend intermittent fasting for anyone with an eating disorder without some extra support and consideration). Ketosis for the body means fat-burning (hip hip hooray!). For the brain, it means a lower seizure risk and a better environment for neuronal recovery and repair.
Thanks so much for posting this.
Why, in the olden days, did many people subsist on mainly a hunk of bread in the morning, and a hunk of bread at night with some soup or meat?
Because it was what they had. That doesn't mean that it was optimal.
Neolithic agriculturalists were on average six inches shorter than their paleolithic hunter/gatherer ancestors, and had much worse health and bone structure.
In fact, the average height of paleolithic man was a full inch taller than the modern american.
Of course, paleolithic hunting practices could not sustain neolithic population densities, let alone modern.
>>Burning fat is aerobic, burning sugar is anaerobic.
“Fat burns in a carbohydrate flame.”
Been 30 years since I took exercise physiology, but looks like that’s still the case.
Carbohydrate management is essential to avoiding “bonking” in endurance events. I can maintain a 75% of Max HR continuous pace for about two hours on just water. Efforts longer than that require carb replenishment.
Also, the primary fuel for the brain is glycogen. (sugar).
>>Throughout history, man has eaten breads.
And starchy roots and fruits, including squash.
Big difference between those, which are COMPLEX carbohydrates that require digestion, VS refined sugar (and worse, liquified sugar) that goes straight into the bloodstream and hammers the endocrine system.
[The notion that cells need free glucose to burn is false. Most cells do very well burning fat.]
What’s your Marathon PR?