Sugar Liver

Wow. Just wow.

I’ve been yapping about low glycemic,  high fiber, balanced protein eating for over a decade…not DOING it necessarily, but that is the way of eating that makes me feel best, and has come the closest to edging me toward a healthier weight. And the data is edging toward making it undeniable.

I’ve thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed Mika Brzezinski’s rants against soda. It’s always nice to have company on that front.  I recommend the “Morning Joe” interview with Dr. Robert Lustig from 8 Jan 2013. It is available on their website, at least for now.

It was so compelling, that I’m thinking about revising my approach to “The Vampire Diet” a little bit.  I still won’t focus on food, what to eat, but instead focus on inspiring playfulness, as a way to encourage sticking to WHATEVER eating plan you choose for yourself  – but we all have our lenses. We all have a frame of reference through which we see the world. For this book, I’m thinking of dropping fats from the conversation and just use the glycemic health of food as the “good blood” / no-kill  vs “bad blood” / killing monster part of the analogy between vampire lore and trying to stick with healthy eating. Eating low glycemic could be the analogy to the soulful, conscience-filled, “good” vampires like Edward, Louis and Aiden, and going nuts with soda and processed, sugared foods is analogous to the killing machine “newborns”, Lestat, “the Germans” and so forth.

If I’m understanding the data, it is the overload of sugar, combined with stress, at the root…before the cholesterol comes into play. I have no data, no real reason to say this, but how can a liver process fats in a healthy way if it is impaired through fructose / glucose overload? I have a personal bias here, for sure, so I need to be a bit careful and research more…but the interview today does remind us of the way sugar can lead to fatty liver and chirrosis in the same way that alcohol can. I don’t know the prevalence, statistics or molecular chemistry involved…but I’ve seen it happen in real life. That’s exactly what killed my tee-totaling never-drank-a-drop blue haired Baptist Granma in her early 60s.

Don’t get me wrong…I have a sweet tooth the size of Montana some days. No judgements here. I think Mika is wrong about one thing…it is going to take MORE to change sugar habits than it has taken to change attitudes about smoking. Smoking is easy in one respect. We know the safe amount – none. Sugar, is different. Natural sugar is normal, safe, needed. Processed additive sugar in the amounts we eat now are lethal. The line between toxic and not is going to vary from person to person. Interest and willingness to put in extra effort to avoid additive sugar is going to change from person to person, budget to budget. That is reality. We can’t legislate this except to make the hidden sugars obvious.

And our best weapon as consumers is to buy the right stuff. The almighty dollar is our ally, for once – but only if we spend it on the can of spaghetti sauce without high fructose corn syrup, or the in store bakery loaf of bread that doesn’t have sugar in it, or on 100% fruit juice instead of fruit “drink”, or sports drinks.

I wonder what would happen if we took all the corn that was made into hidden high fructose corn syrup and put in things that shouldn’t be sweetened in the first place…and put that toward ethanol.

One complaint about ethanol as a fuel is the low mileage  So if we can use gasoline-electric hybrids to get more mpg from gas, why not use ethanol-electric hybrids to get more milage from ethanol?

We could, I suspect, save our livers, ease global warming, and still have a little dessert in moderation at the end of our healthy meal.

In the words of John Hodgman, “You’re welcome”.

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4 thoughts on “Sugar Liver

  1. Ugh, it’s so true that sugar is addictive. I quite drinking soda a few years ago. I had the flu, and just never picked it back up after I couldn’t eat or drink anything for a week. Now, it’s way too gross and sweet to me. I can’t stand it.

    However… I love chocolate and cookies and cakes and YUM… I always think I can just eat a little, but no. If I eat Chocolate two days in a row, it’s so much harder to say no to it down the line. Stupid, evil sugar!

    I’m sure there’s something to the whole sugar damages the liver thing. I’ve had diabetic friends who have told me that alcohol affects their blood sugar in the same way eating something high in processed sugar does.

    • The liver stores un-used simple carbs in the form of very simple glycogen for rapid access if we need it, but it we never need it, there is sits. Like my marital arts teach once said…in a slightly different conversation…”if it’s in there it ain’t on vacation, it’s a-workin'” (he was being all country-colloquial on purpose).

      Hard to give up as it is, I’m not convinced that ALL sugar is bad. If it was, it wouldn’t be so ubiquitous. I think it is the refinement and processing where things go off the rails. A home-made cookie or a piece of mashed up lightly sweeetened tree seeds is a whole different animal from a twinkie and a soda. (I can’t remember the last time I had either of those, though just thinking about it makes me want something sweet, creamy and vanilla)

      But that is kind of the thing, isn’t it? Who agonizes over what they eat more than a dieter with a sweet tooth except maybe a vampire with a conscience? (That sentence is SO going into the book)

      • That sentence definitely needs to go in the book! I love it, haha. I also totally agree that not all sugars are created equal. Sugar found in apples is sooooo much different than sugar found in twinkies. Now I want to bake, haha. I think I might pull my last pack of frozen strawberries and make some strawberry shortcake muffins tomorrow (oatmeal, yogurt, eggs, strawberries, and a little sugar… but not much)

      • If there is good sugar in this world, it’s your muffins 😀

        My new food project for today is to try those roasted chickpeas…will post about it if they turn out.

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