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  • Evidence clearly shows that refined sugar is a primary factor causing not just obesity, but also chronic yet preventable disease
  • In one clinical trial, test subjects who consumed high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) developed higher risk factors for cardiovascular disease in just two weeks
  • On average, sugar makes up 15 percent of total calories consumed. Overloading your liver with more sugar than it can safely metabolize leads to chronic metabolic disease

Insulin resistance is a serious condition in which insulin becomes less able to lower the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Usually, insulin helps sugar move out of the blood and into the body’s cells. In the cells, the body can use sugar to make energy. If this does not happen correctly, too much sugar stays in the blood. This is called hyperglycemia. If the blood glucose level is above normal for a long time, this can lead to major health problems.

Insulin resistance often causes certain types of diabetes mellitus, especially type 2 diabetes or latent autoimmune diabetes of adults. A condition called ‘metabolic syndrome‘ is strongly tied to insulin resistance.

Signs and symptoms

  1. High blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia)
  2. Fatigue, and sleepiness, especially after meals.
  3. Brain fogginess and inability to focus (can’t think clearly).
  4. Weight gain, fat storage, difficulty losing weight.
  5. High blood pressure (hypertension)
  6. Increased thirst (called polydipsia) and hunger (called polyphagia)

Lifestyle self-treatment

  1. Eat less carbohydrates, and very much less direct sugar.
  2. Take more exercise, long walks, activity.

According to Dr. Lustig, whatever organ becomes insulin resistant ends up manifesting its own chronic metabolic disease. For example, when you have insulin resistance of the liver, you end up with type 2 diabetes.

When you have insulin resistance of the brain, you end up with Alzheimer’s disease. Insulin resistance of the kidney leads to chronic renal disease, and so forth. All of these diseases are insulin resistant states. The question is what causes the insulin resistance in the first place?

“[W]e have some new data that we are very excited about, which demonstrate that if you overload the mitochondria, the little energy-burning factories within cells, in any given organ, you’ll end up manifesting various forms of chronic metabolic disease,” Dr. Lustig says.

“The chemical that overloads the mitochondria best is trans-fats. But the chemical that overloads the mitochondria next best is sugar. Trans fats and sugar pretty much characterize the processed food diet.”

In November 2013, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) removed trans fats from the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list. This is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, instead of reverting back to healthy saturated fats like coconut oil, lard, and butter, trans fats have been replaced with other non-saturated vegetable oils, that when heated, produce toxic aldehydes which cause cellular damage.

According to Dr. Lustig, trans fats are “without question consumable poison.” But is sugar as bad or worse than trans fat? Dr. Lustig says no, it’s not worse, because while there is no threshold at which trans fats are safe, there may be a threshold below which sugar will not cause a problem. While there are individual differences, as a general rule the safety threshold for sugar appears to be around six to nine teaspoons (25-38 grams) of added sugar per day.

“That’s what the data suggest, because your liver does have the capacity to metabolize fructose, as long as the mitochondria don’t get overwhelmed,” Dr. Lustig says. “So as long as you keep it below the threshold, above which toxicity would occur, I think that, probably, sugar is okay.”