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Is Sugar Toxic?

Below is a video that recently aired on the CBS show 60 Minutes. It focuses on the over-consumption of sugar and the associated toxicity.

Discussions about the video have spread rapidly over the past few days. I’ve seen blog entries, forum discussions, and video responses. Many people seem to be genuinely surprised at how potentially harmful processed foods filled with sugar can be.

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And while enhanced awareness is certainly a plus, it is unfortunate that educated adults are still surprised by the news. If you take a look below, you will see Jack Lalanne preach about the harmful effects of sugar. He was preaching this message long before many people who read this blog were even alive.

Unfortunately, it still appears that the masses have yet to heed the warning.

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If man made it, don’t eat it. – Jack Lalanne

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23 comments

23 Comments so far

  1. A. Bell April 5th, 2012 6:52 am

    Cancer LOVES sugar. It thrives on it. It hates Vitamin C. People really need to get back to nature. Empty your fridges and cupboards of processed foods, tinned foods, foods filled with trans fats, preservatives, msg and artificial colourings. Eat food in it’s natural state. isn’t processed in a factory, force fed unnatural foods that aren’t processed with ammonia and fed back to the masses with artificial additives via fast food outlets and supermarkets. Organic, sustainable food is the only way to go. Grow your own fruit and vegetables, raise your own chickens and hence eggs. Don’t eat grain fed beef or consume farmed animals that are force fed plastic, antibiotics and hormones.

  2. Youthser April 5th, 2012 6:54 am

    Yes, definitely more people need to hear this message.

    Lalanne was the truth!

  3. john April 5th, 2012 7:43 am

    i cant see the videos can anyone help?

  4. Joshua April 5th, 2012 7:53 am

    Great videos, in all honesty the Jack Lalanne video was so correct. I eat way too much sugar, am overweight, hell I was eating a damn chocolate bar while watching this. I have to cut that sugar out, no good for health, it is killing me. Ross, great site, all the best!

  5. Alex April 5th, 2012 8:14 am

    What do you think is the problem? People don’t know or they don’t want to know?

  6. whiifet April 5th, 2012 8:25 am

    I’ve shared this on my facebook wall in the hope that my fiance will get the message. My advice continues to fall on deaf ears!

  7. Luke April 5th, 2012 8:59 am

    I learned quite about real nutrition from one of your books, I think it was “Never Gymless”. It really changed my perspective about what you really need to eat to stay fit, served up without the B.S.

    Just pure wholesome food. As always Ross, good post.

    - Luke

  8. Zach man April 5th, 2012 1:21 pm

    That was Awesome, “puny weak muscles” I love it!! Jack was an incredible person!! Cut back on the Sugar!!

  9. Eric April 5th, 2012 1:39 pm

    Jack Lalanne is spot on as always but I love my sweets. I honestly think if your working out and consuming lots of proteins and vegetables you can have that daily piece of cake or dish of ice cream for dessert. Moderation is the key of course so just don’t try to eat a half-gallon of ice cream at one sitting. After all as human beings we are entitled to some vices. I think of that piece of cake as a reward at the end of a productive run or a workout for example.

  10. Simon Voggeneder April 6th, 2012 2:07 am

    While sugar sure is consumed in less-than-healthy proprtions by many individuals, the thought that it is toxic is just strange. The sugar-phobia this video preaches is just way off reality. People always have eaten sugar (in moderation) and would never deem it toxic.

    While I do not endorse the sugar-fest challenge he proposes, I recommend reading a completely different stance on sugar from Matt Stone.

  11. Richard April 6th, 2012 2:21 pm

    Wow just look at the comments on this blog so far. People just don’t want to give it up, that’s why it’s the same as cocain or heroine. It is addictive and the food industries know this. They hide sugar in so many ways (salt too). Read your labels and see how many OSE products are in them alone! Why would you want to reward your hard workout with a piece of cake or ice cream? Are you kidding me!! You just threw the whole workout in the crapper, it’s not a reward that’s punishment. Remember you can’t out train a bad diet. Jack was a national treasure so far ahead of the curve. Don’t fall prey to the “everything in moderation” mantra. What is moderation? One persons moderation is one soda a day anothers migh be one a week or a month so what does moderation mean? Maybe I’ll just have one shot of heroine a month is that moderation?! Okay I’m getting a little nuts better stop the rant ;-) Keep posting the good stuff Ross.

  12. Eric April 6th, 2012 6:23 pm

    Relax Richard. A little cheating now and then doesn’t hurt especially if you plan on making fitness a lifetime investment and not just a temporary fad. I’ve been working out for more than 30 years and I know that you can’t be on a Spartan like diet or workout routine constantly and stay with the program. Former Mr. Olympia Sergio Oliva was known to eat pancakes and drink Cokes for breakfast, and Muhammad Ali had a notorious sweet tooth when not in training. Former kickboxing great Benny “The Jet” Urquidez advocated allowing yourself one cheat day a week on your diet to eat anything you wanted, while dieting strictly for the rest of the week. Jack Lalanne is certainly right on the mark, and a legendary figure in the fitness industry, but Lalanne was absolutely addicted to sugar when he was a child the way an alcoholic is addicted to the bottle, so that probably accounts for his extreme position on the consumption of sugar. I even recall reading an article about Herschel Walker when he was playing college ball for Georgia, and the article of course talks not only about Herschel’s bodyweight only workout routine(odd at that time) but also his rather haphazard diet which included plenty of Snickers candy bars and hamburgers. We all know that smoking is notoriously bad for your health but there have been world class champion athletes who were smokers like all time great olympic weightlifting gold medalist Dave Rigert and former bantamweight boxing champion of the world Lionel Rose who was a pipe smoker. A lot of your predispositions to certain medical conditions like diabetes are predetermined in your genetic makeup just like your height, eye and hair color, so if you have a family history of a certain illness maybe you should exercise more caution than the average person. But I likes my sweets and will continue to eat them in “moderation” until I check out, Jack Lalanne be damned.

  13. geoff harrowby April 6th, 2012 8:36 pm

    Ross- Jack Lalanne was a fitness pioneer, and my parents watched all of his programs. He came out with a rubber resistance band that was blue and is was really good. He also had a huge Alsatian dog that he used to fill his bowl with junk food, then poor pop all over it, then call the dog over to it and try to get the dog to eat it. The dog would come over and sniff the food, then walk away. Jack would say that this dog was smarter than people for he would not touch this food!!

  14. Lars Husmo April 7th, 2012 4:41 am

    Oh my god. Do people really not know about this allready? This is really feeding the stereotype of americans being stupid. REALLY? Did you not know that sugar was bad for your heart? Not to insult anyone specificly, but come on…

  15. peter yates April 8th, 2012 6:14 am

    HI ROSS,
    AS ALWAYS PEOPLE MAKE A CHOICE. MANY WILL FIND WAYS TO EXCUSE THEIR CHOICES AND ACTIONS. EITHER WAY WE WILL REAP THE HARVEST OF OUR CHOICES. RESPONSIBLE PEOPLE INVESTIGATE ALL SIDES OF A SUBJECT THOROUGHLY BEFORE MAKING CHOICES. BEFORE JACK MANY OTHERS HAVE PREACHED THE MESSAGE OF EATING VITAL FOODS. I MADE A CHOICE 50 YEAR AGO TO EAT WELL. I HAVE RARELY BEEN TEMPTED TO EAT ANYTHING THAT WILL NOT SUPPLY MY BODY AND MIND WITH ESSENTIAL NUTRIENTS. AT 61 I AM STRONG, FIT, HEALTHY AND VITAL. I ENJOY LIFE AND I ENJOY MY FOOD. MANY OF MY FRIENDS CHOSE OTHERWISE AND ARE EITHER DEAD OR OLD BEFORE THEIR TIME. I AM HAPPY WITH MY CHOICE. I HAVE A 14 YEAR OLD SON I NEVER DENIED HIM CANDY AS A CHILD BUT GAVE HIM GOOD WHOLESOME FOOD TO EAT. HE MADE HIS OWN CHOICE AT AND EARLY AGE NOT TO EAT CANDY. IF A KID CAN DO IT WHY NOT AN ADULT. AS I SAID WE MAKE THE CHOICE. THANKS FOR ALL YOUR EFFORTS.
    REGARDS, PETER.

  16. Yawriats April 9th, 2012 11:55 pm

    Google for twinkie diet – nutrition professor ate mostly candy and processed foods – his LDL dropped, his HDL increased, and he lost weight. He ate about 1800 calories per day, but most of it (about 2/3) was highly processed food.

    It is highly probable that quantity (total calorie intake) matters more than quality (up to a point). And saying that sugar is toxic is just plain stupid, because every complex carbohydrate breaks down to simple sugars. But, if you consume enything too much it becomes toxic (dose makes the poison).

    People need to eat less and move more. Make healthy choices as much as you can, but c’mon. Sugar, honey (which is NOT man made) and candy here and there ain’t bloody toxic…

  17. Southern Trainer April 10th, 2012 4:53 am

    The twinkie diet is irrelevant. Are we talking about short term weight loss or long term health? 10 weeks isn’t long enough for any major problems to develop. Sure, Haub lost weight, but that’s about it. Try eating that way for 10 years and let me know how you make out.

    Also, who cares about what athletes like Muhammad Ali ate? What a naturally gifted athlete was able to eat does not mean anything in terms of long term health. I saw this episode of 60 Minutes and never once thought of athletic nutrition.

    And if you are going to call something bogus, come back with some science. Calling something stupid isn’t a rebuttal.

  18. Yawriats April 10th, 2012 10:33 am

    Well, I never said you SHOULD eat candy most of the time, or that such diet is healthy in long term. I said that there is a lot of evidence that total number of calories is extremely important – so much that you can eat candy and improve your blood pressure and cholesterol! That is not something you can discard as irrelevant, because Haub ate healthy BEFORE twinkie diet, and he managed to IMPROVE on twinkie diet (and he lost weight). He didn’t only lose weight, he lowered his blood pressure, lowered his LDL (bad cholesterol) and increased his HDL (good cholesterol). Those are THE markers of health.

    We can’t conclude much from that one isolated case, but it is not wise to discard it just because “sugar is bad” mantra is currently “in”. Personally, I believe that refined products are bad in a sense that they are inferior to natural products, but I have yet to see some evidence that sugar is toxic. As I’ve said before, dose makes the poison. If you eat too much of anything, it becomes toxic.

  19. Craig April 10th, 2012 12:06 pm

    The Lalane video was simply amazing.

    I don’t care if other people want to eat sugar, but I don’t want to have to pay for the consequences, and with medicare, etc. that is exactly what I am expected to do. We should tax sugar like we do alcohol and use the proceeds to fund healthcare. People could still have their sweets but would be funding the health care many of them would eventually need. On the flip side we could give people a tax credit for exercise.

  20. Miguel April 10th, 2012 12:46 pm

    It seems like many folks have a strong opinion on sugar without much understanding of what actually takes place at the cellular level.

    For those interested, here is a longer presentation by Lustig

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0z5X0i92OZQ

    Having reviewed the science from each side, I choose to limit sugar consumption by avoiding almost everything that is man made. We didn’t evolve eating the junk that people call food in today’s world.

    Agree of disagree all you want. You may have a change of heart in another 20 or 30 years :)

  21. Stefan April 18th, 2012 2:13 am

    For a more balanced view, including looking at the relevant research see this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMc0_s-M08I

    To demonize one thing as toxic, and the cause of multi-factorial diseases is ignorant at best. Sugar certainly shouldn’t be promoted, but without mention of the dose and context, it cannot be labelled as ‘toxic’.

  22. Charles Knapp April 21st, 2012 12:27 am

    Once again, I wish I had gotten a chance to me Jack Lalaine. I watch all of his videos you’ve posted Ross. I love the guy. X-) You can tell he really cares about health and nutrition.

  23. Ibn Saeed April 25th, 2012 6:54 pm

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