Thursday, April 28, 2011

"Does this make my liver look fat?"

I've been thinking about my liver lately. No, really. I had a weird dream about it a while ago and when I mentioned it to my brother, he referenced an article about sugar ruining your liver and causing diabetes as well as cancer.

You can read the article here.

The simpleton summation is this: too much sugar (both sucrose — beet and cane sugar, whether white or brown — and high-fructose corn syrup) gives you a fatty liver which has been connected with diabetes and cancer. This is true across the board for skinny to obese people which is what makes it even more compelling to show it is environmental rather than genetic. It also means that even if you exercise your butt off or are naturally skinny, health-wise it does you no good if you keep filling your body with sugar.

The main thing that stuck with me from the article was this:

"How much do we have to consume (of sugar) before this happens?"

When Glinsmann and his F.D.A. co-authors decided no conclusive evidence demonstrated harm at the levels of sugar then being consumed, they estimated those levels at 40 pounds per person per year beyond what we might get naturally in fruits and vegetables (note this does not mention/include things like bread, pastas etc)— 40 pounds per person per year of “added sugars” as nutritionists now call them. This is 200 calories per day of sugar, which is less than the amount in a can and a half of Coca-Cola or two cups of apple juice. If that’s indeed all we consume, most nutritionists today would be delighted...

But 40 pounds per year happened to be 35 pounds less than what Department of Agriculture analysts said we were consuming at the time — 75 pounds per person per year — and the U.S.D.A. estimates are typically considered to be the most reliable. By the early 2000s, according to the U.S.D.A., we had increased our consumption to more than 90 pounds per person per year.

Another point of reference for understanding what 200 calories of sugar is, 1 gram of sugar=4 calories. That means you should only be consuming 50 grams of sugar a day aside from fruits and vegetables. Now go look at your cereal box. Yikes, right?

Now I don't want to freak out and believe my liver is going keel over any day now but I definitely think it's cause to be much more cautious. I'm already happy that I kicked soda in middle school and I drink only water and milk so I don't have to worry about liquid sugar. I think my problem is with things like cereal and baked goods. So, I am definitely working to pare down the amount of sugar our family eats. Even if the studies turn out to show it not causing cancer, I doubt our bodies will really suffer for want of excess sugar.

So, wish me luck. It's going to be a process weening ourselves from so much of the food that contains too much sugar but I think it will be worth it.


Joshua and Rachel said...

It is crazy how much of the processed foods have sugars in them. I heard that if you use natural sugars like honey, agave nectar, and even pure maple syrup it doesn't have the same effect on your body. Using honey in breads or baked goods works good, but you usually only need 1/2 the amount of sugar otherwise it is too sweet.

Gdub said...

Not to be that guy, but whether the sugar comes "naturally" or not, it's just as bad. When you get down to the molecular level, sucrose and fructose are negligibly different. They both get converted into glucose.

Also, Honey is mostly fructose, while maple syrup is mostly sucrose. So, they're very different. And the only reason people give fruits a pass is because of the benefits of their vitamins and fiber. However, vegetables are pound for pund much better sources of vitamins and fiber.

Annnnyhow, good luck! I know that the better i am at avoiding sugar, the healthier I feel and the easier it is for me to loose weight.