For The Love of Food

by | Dec 4, 2009
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

I had to take a little break from reading articles this week since I have a big project I’m working on in lab right now. Instead of the usual awesome links, today I want to share with you a video lecture by UCSF professor, Robert Lustig.

It is long, but absolutely worth watching.

And it is particularly important if someone you know is suffering from type 2 diabetes or other chronic disease.

Dr. Lustig argues that sugars, and specifically fructose, are a direct cause of the current obesity epidemic and more similar to alcohol (poison) than to food. His discussion of the effects of fructose on children is heartbreaking and makes his arguments particularly poignant.

It also helps answer the question I often get about why cultures that depend largely on pasta and white rice (Italian and Asian societies) aren’t as unhealthy as Americans even though we all eat “processed carbs.” The answer is that it is both the processing and the additives that cause the problem, and Dr. Lustig explains in detail the science behind it all.

I should warn you that about half way through he starts going into some serious biochemistry, but don’t let it scare you. That section is short and you don’t need to understand the details to get the take home message. Those of you with some undergrad chemistry under your belt will enjoy it, but that is by no means required. Scrub ahead if you must.

My favorite quote:

“Fructose is ethanol without the buzz.”

In other words fructose is much, much worse.

Watch this and share it with your loved ones.

P.S. Thanks to those of you who downloaded How To Get Started Eating Healthy. If you thought you should have received a copy but didn’t, you are probably signed up for the blog post emails but not the newsletter. The difference is explained here. Fill out the newsletter form to get a link to the free guide.

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28 Responses to “For The Love of Food”

  1. I’m only 40 minutes into the video and I already echo Darya’s recommendation. Cant’ wait to finish it!


  2. Katelyn says:

    Thanks Darya. This is fascinating and will definitely help refresh my memory for an obesity epidemiology final coming up! I’ve posted it on my website, as well. Good luck with that lab work. I’m not sure how you juggle both so well!

  3. Henk says:

    Thanks for pointing me in that direction… that was worth every minute watching it!

  4. David Gans says:

    What a great presentation. I understood enough of the biochemistry that it didn’t scare me off. This is life-changing information, and I am passing it along in various venues.

    And thank you, Darya. Your blog has become essential reading in my house!

  5. Travis says:

    Thanks so much for posting this Darya! I saw him give a similar presentation last year, and have been telling everyone who will listen how good it was. Anyone working in obesity management should take the time to watch this video. Thanks again!


  6. Peter says:

    A little longwinded/rhetorical, but very interesting nonetheless! I’ve never seen or heard of the problem broken down quite this simply before; seems like the basic message is that any reasonable level of glucose consumption is basically okay, while even moderate levels of fructose consumption can be problematic. Happily this rescues my beloved white rice, pasta, and potatoes (starch is almost all glucose). Giving up orange juice seems a small price to pay if I can keep eating my starches :).

  7. Peter says:

    Oh, except he also nixed beer; why cruel world?!?

  8. Sigrid says:

    What I didn’t really get: In the beginning he says that it’s bad if the insulin doesn’t go up because then the brain doesn’t get the signal “full”. Later he says that a high insulin level can interfere with the “full”-signal to the brain. What now?

    • Darya Pino says:

      Good question Sigrid. Insulin travels in the bloodstream and is a signal to the brain that you have eaten food. With chronic high insulin exposure, however, the brain and other body organs (muscles and fat in particular) become desensitized to it. This is how our metabolisms get messed up. The goal is to have stable levels of blood insulin and eat foods that promote insulin sensitivity–slowly digesting foods like vegetables, fats and protein–and avoid foods that cause insulin resistance–sugars and refined carbohydrates.

      Hope this helps answer your question.

  9. Sandra says:

    So I just got around to finishing the whole lecture. Amazing. I just wish it were simpler to educate people and help them make better choices.

  10. I’m amazed and excited to have learned so much in the last hour and a half about sugar biochemistry! Darya, thank you for posting the presentation by Dr. Lustig on your blog. i will share it with my family and friends, and come back to you for more valuable information. Bravo!

  11. Marcinoman says:

    Bravo indeed; thanks Darya. I have metabolic syndrome and Dr Lustig’s explanation of what happens in the liver really helped me to understand what’s going on in my body. My question is: If I stop eating sugar and stick only to high fibre glucose foods (ie. low GI carbohydrates) can the insulin resistance and the fatty liver (and therefore the metabolic syndrome) be reversed?

    • Darya Pino says:

      That is indeed the question. If I were you I would eliminate everything that could possible affect insulin resistance, including low GI carbohydrates, until your symptoms are resolved. At that point you can try adding back low GI carbs and see if it is problematic.

      • Marcinoman says:

        Yeah, thanks. That is exactly what I thought. Guess I was looking for an easy way out! 🙂

  12. tina o. says:

    Is Diet Coke okay to drink?

  13. Lance Strish says:

    “The benefits that fructose may confer during exercise are (much info from this review article here):

    It increases total carbohydrate oxidation in the body, possibly by having two sugar transports active in the gut (GLUT5 and GLUT2 for fructose, versus GLUT4 for glucose) instead of just one transport.”

    “Challenges Tim Ferriss’ Book 37min in saying eating fructose (maybe when you eat the fruit in n=1) will stimulate liver to soak up glucose as well (thus lowering the glycemic impact, at the expense of liver).” links to a comment which links to robbwolf audio

    I have heard from and Chris Kresser podcast cortisol goes up if liver is depleted of glycogen

  14. Clara says:

    Fantastic video, thank you!! I will definitely repost. From it I have two questions:
    1) What is your opinion on diet soda? There is no sugar, fructose, or sucrose in it, but I can only assume it is still unhealthy?
    2) I tried looking in the store today on the ingredients in cookies, cakes, etc and surprisingly didn’t find the words “fructose” on very many of the packages. What other key words should I be looking for? And does this mean a cookie made with sugar is “better” than a cookie made with high fructose corn syrup?
    Thank you in advance for helping me try to figure out this healthy thing! 🙂

    • Darya Pino says:

      I’m writing something on artificial sweeteners soon. And no, sugar or “sucrose” is almost exactly the same as HFCS. Many companies have switched back, but it doesn’t matter. A molecule of sucrose is made from a molecule of glucose bound to a molecule of fructose (aka 50/50). HFCS is made of 55% fructose, 45% glucose. They’re pretty close to identical.

      • Clara says:

        That really helped clear things up, thank you so much. I am looking forward to your next article!

  15. Diane says:

    Your title is not clear when you just mention fructose. Video by Dr. Lustig is talking about high fructose corn syrup, not regular fructose made from fruits & veggies, which is on the low GI index. You should read Dr. Ray Strand’s book on Healthy for Life, its an eye opener.

  16. Fatima says:

    Just stumbled on this link today and watched the ENTIRE video. Wow! A real eye opener, jaw dropping statistics and a completely new outlook on sugar. Thank you so much for posting it. Wish I had seen it sooner. I’m definitely going to share it with my nearest and dearest

  17. Andrew says:

    As what Diane has mentioned, how about fructose in fruits? does it also dangerous, clearly there’s no data or clear studies on this, and there’s no conclusion on which food are consider as “dangerous” in terms of fructose and how can we prevent to consume it or at least to know and chose

    • Darya Rose says:

      The problem isn’t fructose itself, it’s too much fructose that’s the problem. Real fruit is fine.

      • Andrew says:

        Thank’s Darya, but even with a very sweet fruits like watermelon or banana?
        And which type or what are the foods contains dangerous level of fructose?

    • Darya Rose says:

      You are way over-thinking this. Do you really eat that much fruit? Stay away from soda and fast food by all means, but fruit isn’t dangerous.