Sugar is the white death.
Fruit juice is glorified sugar water with a smidge of vitamins.
This is what I believed for years.
As any good scientist should do when contradicting evidence is overwhelming, I changed my belief.
But, before changing a health belief I first have to test it on myself.
I started drinking orange juice, and it felt great.
So great in fact, that I had to question my stance on soda.
What is the difference between orange juice and Coca-Cola?
I decided to drink soda for the first time in four years.
I felt great drinking coke, I couldn’t believe my eyes, or body I guess.
The belief that sugar is bad for us runs much deeper than the stance on red meat.
It will be impossible for me to change your mind in one simple post.
However, I might be able to make you at least try the effects of sugar.
And, if you trust your body, as you should, you will see that sugar might not be what you’ve been led to believe.
A good scientist is a skeptical one
Right now I am diving into the research on sugar.
But before I give you a more in-depth reasoning surrounding sugar I want to give you an introduction.
Why do we all seem to “know” that sugar is bad?
Even the smartest people out there, the experts seem to wholeheartedly agree on the fact that sugar is terrible for us.
Well, six years ago I took my first step down the nutrition rabbit hole.
I did not realize this rabbit hole would lead to something so big and so confusing.
Over the years I have come across information that has forced me to go against the dietary recommendations.
First, it was red meat, then salt.
Soon enough I started questioning the base of the food pyramid, grains.
From grains, I took the logical step to start looking into seed oils.
At this point, I became worried about the state of nutrition science, and even the corruption of the governments.
We all get to this point whichever road we take.
Now here comes something most of you will think makes me look a tad coco.
At a certain roadcross, I even started to question the touted health benefits of vegetables.
I know, contrarian right?
The one thing I had not looked into was sugar.
The sacred cow of nutritional science.
To question it hadn’t even crossed my mind.
That’s what I thought until I started doing research for the potential thesis I was going to write.
(A simple version of which you can read here.)
During the research, I concluded that we likely have got the insulin story all wrong.
And if we got insulin wrong, then we got insulin resistance (type-2 diabetes) wrong as well.
Broken insulin signalling is what drives both diabetes and obesity.
If sugar is not causing the dysregulation, then sugar may not be the problem.
Sugar might not even be a problem.
As soon as I started to question the insulin narrative it forced me to question my long-held stance on sugar.
At the same time, I had been listening to people associated with the great thinker Ray Peat.
I’d also begun reading his work directly (which can make your head hurt at times).
He has too many controversial takes on health science to bring up.
But, his reasoning behind why he believes what he believes is, well, beautiful.
As my interest in his ideas grew there was one idea that was there for me to test.
The idea is that sugar is pure, easy-to-digest energy without nutrients.
And that it might even be healthy.
Anyway, I started drinking orange juice.
One step at a time am I right?
I loved the way it tasted, I loved the way I digested it, I loved the way I felt.
How could I have been this dogmatic, for this long?
Well, because some ideas run very deep.
Did we get sugar wrong as well?
I bet 99.9% of you reading this strongly believe sugar is bad for us.
But, I also bet that 99.9% of you can’t state a reason why.
It causes us to gain weight and insulin resistance! (Obviously…)
However, there are obese, type-2 diabetics who reverse their diabetes and obesity by eating more fruit.
There are literal fruitarians out there, all they eat is sugar, and they are skinny as fu*k.
In the 1800s there were doctors successfully treating their diabetic patients with large amounts of table sugar.
I don’t want to turn you into a sugar-lover.
All I want is for you to start questioning why you believe what you believe.
If you think sugar is bad, can you answer why it is bad?
Why it causes insulin resistance?
If you can, can you find the evidence and do you trust that evidence?
If you read my investigation into diet and disease you will see that obesity (and thus type-2-diabetes) started its dramatic rise in the 1980s.
You’ll also notice that from the 1980s until today sugar consumption has increased by 88 Calories per day.
At the same time, the consumption of seed oils rose by 423 Calories.
Are you sensing a pattern here?
Food groups that we have eaten for a long time becoming scapegoats for a very recent health issue.
Why not look at the only food group we get a large percentage of our calories from?
A food group that got introduced when our health started to deteriorate?
Nutrition science is new and it has been bad since the start.
It has been political, influenced by money and hard to do since the start.
For a long time, a lot of bad, misleading, and outright wrong ideas have been pushed.
Controlled nutrition trials are extremely difficult to perform.
Because of this, we have very few definitive answers.
What causes what is the question that nutrition science has largely failed to answer.
Another problem is that since nutrition science became a science the health of our populations has deteriorated.
We have gotten a lot of things wrong.
We keep getting things wrong.
And we may have gotten the entire sugar narrative wrong as well.
We’ve always had a sweet tooth
It seems humans have loved sweet things for a very long time.
The Hadza, a hunter-gatherer population in Tanzania, were asked to list their preferred foods.
At the top of the list was honey, second came meat, and last tubers.
Many other hunter-gatherer populations put meat and fruit at the top of their preferred foods list.
Well, if honey and fruit were a big part of our ancestral diet and still are for the humans that live like our ancestors, then why would sugar be bad for us?
You might then say that there must be a difference between sugar in fruit and honey compared to table sugar.
But, even one of the world’s leading scientists against sugar says this:
Honey, table sugar—doesn’t matter. It’s all sucrose, and your body metabolizes it the same way,
Dr. Robert Lustig
Dr. Lustig’s main enemy is fructose.
Yet, we evolved on fruit and honey.
Our digestive tract looks like it is designed to digest simple sugars.
Our cells seem to be designed to run on them.
Despite this, they somehow cause all our modern health problems.
There are three main points,
Honey, fruit and table sugar are all sucrose.
We evolved on fruit and honey
Healthy hunter-gatherer populations eat and prefer fruit and honey over other carb sources.
If this is the case, why would sugar be unhealthy for us?
This is the question I will leave with you.
Next week I’ll dive into the research about sugars and try to figure out a way to convey what we got wrong and where we might go from here.
Rember people, until next week, do what makes your future selves proud.