Diseases Can Be Traced to Sugar Consumption

Mitochondrial damage is a major contributor to ischemic heart disease and stroke; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias; trachea, bronchus, and lung cancers, and type 2 diabetes.

What causes the damage to the mitochondria, which is responsible for energy production in cells.


In an Andrew Huberman podcast with Dr. Robert Lustig click here, the two discussed how the food industry has laced almost every product in the grocery store (73 percent of all items) with sugar.

CTN went to the local grocery store and started reading labels and it was eye-opening.

“The food industry will tell you that a calorie is a calorie,” said Lustig, a neuroendocrinologist, professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and a bestselling author on nutrition and metabolic health “That a sugar is a sugar and fat is fat. That is not true.”

He explains that the body breaks down glucose (a sugar) and fructose differently. The glucose goes directly into the blood stream, but only about 10 percent of fructose does, the rest goes to the liver and generates fat.

The doctor calls the intestines a “sewer” where the job is to move “junk” to the anus, but fructose prevents that from happening by destroying the mucin layer and altering the nitrates causing them to be permeable.

Dr. Robert Lustig

“Fructose is a driver of leaky gut,” Lustig said, and added about 93 percent of Americans have leaky guts.

“Sugar is addictive, and the food industry knows it,” Lustig said.

“I’m not against dessert,” Lustig said. “I’m against it morning, noon and night.”

With sugar in everything, Huberman and Lustig say it is a public health crisis. About 75 percent of chronic diseases are attributed to sugar.

About 11.4 percent of all Americans have diabetes, 20 years ago it was 8 percent. Now, 25 percent of kids are obese, and 40 percent are overweight.

Lustig said our “kids that are suffering,” and you can trace the decline in IQ and math scores back to 1971, when the food industry started to add extra sugars to foods.

“The sheer enormity of this problem requires a public health response,” Lustig said. “This [sugar added to everything] is not food, but consumable poison.”

Child obesity is on the rise and Dr. Robert Lustig attributes it to the sugar added to most products in the grocery store.

The two discussed the Nova Food Classification System, which helps people group foods according to the extent of processing they undergo click here.

Group 1 is unprocessed or natural foods, such as fruit, eggs and grains. Group 2 has processed culinary ingredients, such as butter or maple syrup from trees. Group 3 is processed foods manufactured by the industry with the use of salt and sugar, such as bacon, coconut fat or freshly made breads and Group 4 is ultra-processed foods such as packaged snacks, soda and energy and sports drinks.

“Nova 4 is the one associated with all metabolic diseases,” Lustig said.

He was asked about artificial sweeteners and said that the tongue didn’t know the difference, because there was still an insulin response.

He spoke about study in Europe in which one group of people were given 1 liter of soda daily, one group received one liter of milk, one group received a liter of diet soda, and one received a liter of water.

The results were interesting. As one might guess, people gained weight with soda. They lost weight drinking water. The weight stayed the same with milk. The people drinking sodas artificial sweeteners also gained weight.

The internet is rife with studies done about the effects of diet soda. In a 2019 CNN story, Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, an associate professor of clinical epidemiology and population health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York, talked about his 2019 study (“Long-Term Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened and Artificially Sweetened Beverages and Risk of Mortality in US Adults”), said consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and cardiovascular disease mortality.

“Is it something about the sweeteners? Are they doing something to our gut health and metabolism? These are questions we need answered,” Mossavar-Rahmani said.

Until then, “I tell them that the perfect beverage for human consumption remains water, probably always will be,” Freeman said. “And maybe with a very close second of unsweetened tea and unsweetened coffee.

“And the rest probably should not be consumed regularly – if at all.”

Lustig was asked about the recent obesity medicines given to people such as Ozempic, Contrave, Saxenda, Xenical, Alli, Qsymia Webovy and Imcifree.

“People eat less,” he said. “Here’s the problem, they’ve lost an equal amount of fat and muscle.”  Depression has now been listed as a side effect for people on those drugs, too.

Lustig said that if the United States can get sugar consumption down, health care costs would go down. In 2022, health care costs reached $4.5 trillion. Relative to the size of the economy, healthcare costs have increased, from 5 percent of GDP in 1962 to 17 percent in 2022.

At the end of the interview, Huberman asked if fruit, which contains fructose (and fiber), is good.

“Fruit is good,” Lustig said, and added that fiber from fresh fruit is important. “Fruit juice is not.”

He would recommend brown rice because of the fiber, but to stay away from meat if it is not pasture raised. Meat and chicken should be antibiotic free.

He said to examine the labels on yogurt, some are filled with sugar and do not have live cultures. Lustig calls sugared soda, “poison in a can.”

“If I could recommend one thing for health,” Lustig said. “Get rid of sugar and go for a walk.”

It may take awhile for the American people to become aware of the hazards of sugar. Lustig said the food industry does not want people to know about the health effects because it could affect profits.

But he feels a change can happen.

“Who invented the term personal responsibility?” the doctor asked.

“The tobacco industry,” Lustig answered. “The first time it was used was 1962 and then it [the term] picked up speed in 1986.”

He says as long as it’s personal responsibility, then it’s not the food industry’s fault. But with sugar found in 73 percent of all foods, it’s hard for the consumer to avoid it.

There have been four cultural tectonic shifts that took about 30 years, Lustig said.

There are now bicycle helmets and seat belts: smoking in public places is no longer accepted: drunk driving is a crime and there are condoms in public bathrooms.

“We taught the children and they voted, and the naysayers are dead,” he said, and pointed out that smoking turned around when advertisements showed older white guys cackling about how much money they were making from smoking.


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2 Responses to Diseases Can Be Traced to Sugar Consumption

  1. Pepper Edmiston says:

    Thanks so much for printing the article about sugar. I’m sending it to all of my adult children who laugh at my warning about the dangers of sugar. Once they read “Sugar and your Health,” we’ll see who’s laughing.

  2. Eileen says:

    Sobering article.

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