Paleo Diet News: Toxic Sugar

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Cargill tanker filled with high fructose corn syrup aka "corn sweetener". Photo by Tom Arthur. Image courtesy of

Is main stream medicine finally catching on that the food Americans consume on a daily basis is poison? Last night (April 1, 2012), Dr. Sanjay Gupta, reported on CBS’ 60 Minutes in a segment called “Is Sugar Toxic?”, that sugar is a toxin, which has been wrecking havoc with our health for the last 30 years. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer can all be attributed to the over consumption of sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Sugar is to be found in nearly every packaged and processed food and non-diet soft drink.

Dr Gupta interviewed several researchers including Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist who has been leading the charge against sugar. Motivated by his own patients who are obese, sick children, he has done the research to determine the cause of their condition. His conclusion - sugar. Also interviewed were Kimber Stanhope, a nutritional biologist at the University of California, Lewis Cantley, a cancer researcher and Eric Stice, a neuroscientist at the Oregon Research Institute who looks at the effect of sugar on our brains.

These researchers point

out that the daily consumption of sugar causes cancer by feeding the cancer cells with their preferred food, carbohydrates and that sugar is addictive, even more so than narcotics. Wow! To hear that on national television. Ironically, the sponsor of the show (or at least the online video) is Pfizer, which is one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies.

CBS News 60 Minutes presentation: “Is Sugar Toxic?”


Also from CBS News “60 Minutes Overtime” is a short interview with Dr Sanjay Gupta on toxic sugar and children. He gives some sound Paleo diet advice here - eat real foods and buy foods from the periphery of the supermarket.

CBS News 60 Minutes Overtime “Sugar and kids: The toxic truth”


Dr. Robert Lustig’s presentation “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” reveals why he believes sugar and high fructose corn syrup are toxic. Through the presentation he debunks the “calories-in, calories-out” theory and that the obesity epidemic is not about diet and exercise. He also talks about how fat was demonized irresponsibly and that the low fat craze has caused the obesity epidemic. He also ties soft drink consumption in with the rise in type 2 diabetes.

Sugar: The Bitter Truth


I would have like to have seen more about alternatives and solutions in the main feature on 60 Minutes. People will hear how toxic sugar is, and switch to artificial sweeteners which are worse for us than sugar. These are true toxins which our bodies do not know what to do with. Worse, it has been shown that sweeteners like aspartame cause brain damage.

Here are a few guidelines for steering your diet away from the toxic sugar overload to a better diet. Our Paleo ancestors can give us clues as to how much sweet food we should be consuming. Honey would have been available on occasion, perhaps a hive would have been found and looted once or twice a year. Fruit would have available seasonally and were small and tart, with the exception of berries. Any left over from the season would have been dried (which increases fructose) and stored for later consumption. They may have even tapped trees for sweet sap, like maple or birch, but again this would be seasonal. But that is about it. There were no other sources of sweet foods.

So, how do we begin to remove toxic sugar from our diets?

  1. We have to recognize that there is a problem. Most people still don’t realize it. To that end we must…..
  2. Educate consumers on what sweeteners do to us and where they are to be found. We are programmed to seek out the sweet, since in Paleolithic times is was a rare treat. We are surrounded by it now and have little defense against it, especially if we don’t know it’s a problem. Consumers were educated about fats (this was erroneous) and cigarettes. It can be done with sugar.
  3. We have to learn to be consciously aware of what we are eating. Then we can…
  4. Make better choices. Replace the sweetener with other, better, real foods. So instead of the glass of OJ in the morning, eat an orange or grapefruit. You will get the sweet and the fiber. Buy plain yogurt and add fresh fruit. Eat a burger without the bun.

There is a lot more that can be done to alter one’s diet to remove sugar. These small steps would go a long way to reducing the amount of sugar we eat. Maybe we can get to a place where sugar can be in it’s rightful place, a place where it is eaten rarely, as the treat it is meant to be.

Are you addicted to sugar? Were you once addicted? How did you manage to break the addiction? Please share your experience in the comments section so that others may learn that they are not alone and that they too can change their diets for the better. Also, please share this article on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere! Thank you!


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3 Responses to Paleo Diet News: Toxic Sugar

  1. Lila Solnick April 3, 2012 at 6:53 am

    Even though I did not address the flaws I found in the 60 Minutes segment on Toxic Sugar (Iwas too glad to see it at all to nit pick), Dr. David Pendergrass has some valid objections which need to be shared.

    “If I may make a few corrections, your piece says that all cells REQUIRE glucose. This is incorrect! ONLY axons of certain neurons and rapidly acting fast twitch muscles require glucose. Indeed, this is why glucose needs are actually so minimal and why sugars are not essential compounds! Ketones (which are natural breakdown products of fats) are utilized more efficiently by all cells except those listed above. In particular cardiac cells prefer ketones for efficiency over glucose.

    Second, while I agree with Dr. Lustig that fructose is a particularly bad player, excess glucose enters into the same pathway that fructose does and causes the same damage. Thus, the pastas and the breads, which are all converted to glucose, worsen the damage by the added sugar.

    Third, glucose is addictive as indicated in your piece. Thus you have to deal with your addiction. The conclusion that you can have “some” sugar is therefore not a good recommendation. It IS a good start to the final recommendation to stop eating sugar! Isn’t this akin to saying to a cocaine addict that “some” cocaine is OK?”

    To read his full response, go here:

  2. Joe Leonardi April 3, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Great post. I am going to do a youtube video along this same path and I will link to this.
    Keep up the great work.
    Yours in health and fitness,

    • Lila Solnick April 3, 2012 at 2:13 pm

      Thank you, Dr. Leonardi!