2

votes

Sugar - consuming moderate amounts for healthy people? Is it okay?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 24, 2013 at 4:43 AM

I was having a "lovely" discussion with a SAD eater. I said that sugar is evil and it destroys our health in more ways than one.

She said that the only reason why I am saying it is because I no longer can have it due to my metabolic issues.

Basically, the question is - CONSUMING MODERATE AMOUNTS OF SUGAR IS OK FOR HEALTHY PEOPLE?

So I am trying to play devil's advocate here and ask this -

could you provide me with at least one example that clearly demonstrates that sugar is good for our bodies?

Any answer is accepted as long as it is makes sense, thanks.

0f44d81f247518d6fc2de0403ff9a68a

on August 25, 2013
at 07:19 PM

I usually mean table sugar as well. I just wanted to make an exception for pure glucose. But I don't think there is a big difference between table sugar, honey and sugar from fruit. Of course, honey and fruit give you things besides sugar. But in terms of sugar, I don't think it makes a big difference where it comes from. Although I have to admit, I would use honey and fruit before I would eat table sugar, myself.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2013
at 12:55 PM

You mean, it is a processed food, since it is impossible to make sugar out of beets or even sugar cane using simple hunter-gatherer tools. Sugar is not honey.

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on August 25, 2013
at 03:54 AM

I am assuming type 2 diabetes, but could be wrong.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2013
at 03:48 AM

What is T2? I am sorry - I don't know the terminology. Also, how did you drop 50 lbs - a low carb Paleo or something else? Thanks for answering.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2013
at 03:46 AM

If you check the article "Metabolic syndrome" you can see - yes, it runs in the family and many other diseases are associated with it.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 24, 2013
at 10:22 PM

That's why it's a good idea to get an annual checkup. My diabetes was discovered that way. I had no idea. I'd also like to know whether it runs in the family, but they probably weren't even testing my grandparents for it. They were overweight, had high blood pressure, ate a lot of fake creamer and margarine, and a lot of sweets too. We'll never know which bad thing did them in. But it's safe to assume that I have to go back before them to find healthy eating in the family.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 24, 2013
at 10:16 PM

He meaning my doctor.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 24, 2013
at 10:14 PM

After I lost 50 lbs my A1C and blood sugar dropped to normal levels. No more 200 blood glucose fasting. At the check up one year after he diagnosed T2, he shook my hand and said I was cured. Beyond that, I'll eat a hard candy mint every once in a while, but don't care for them much.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 24, 2013
at 06:21 PM

Thanks for the answer. I read a research on sugar toxicity in mice though.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on August 24, 2013
at 04:24 PM

There is a threshold where a compound becomes toxic as well. Sugar is not toxic below a certain level, it's perfectly digestible/metabolizable as well (again for normal folks).

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 24, 2013
at 04:19 PM

It is not about projecting. I wish I could do a study on rats, pigs, whatever is closer to humans on the effects of table sugar consumption. Again, we are talking fucking science, not personal opinions.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on August 24, 2013
at 04:13 PM

Meaning water is toxic in high amounts, as can be sugar, but for the vast (fucking vast) majority of folks there's no issue. VB, don't project your own health problems onto the population as a whole.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 24, 2013
at 03:43 PM

@thhq "carried" - you no longer carry those glucose tabs and hard candies? Why?

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 24, 2013
at 03:41 PM

"Sugar is no more a toxin than water is a toxin" - that cannot be true. Compare drinking Evian with that waste water from Fukushima - two different things. If you make your coffee with it, it is going to kill you. Guaran-frickin-tee it.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 24, 2013
at 03:38 PM

@thhq, Sally Fallon would disagree with you. Remember her tirade about consuming puffed cereals? You are consuming little mutants!

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 24, 2013
at 02:39 PM

raydawg I mean that the N=1 - why was sugar evil to you personally - is less likely to provoke an endless argument about evil foods. I don't have any argument when I tell people about how I got fat and diabetic eating frosted mini wheats, and people open up and tell how too many carbs screwed them up. But if I go on a tirade about cereal being evil there's backlash.

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on August 24, 2013
at 02:13 PM

That is why I specified liver glycogen depletion also.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19413)

on August 24, 2013
at 02:00 PM

+1 and in that case even fructose becomes welcomed by the liver, and rather than turning it into fatty acids, it converts it straight into glucose.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19413)

on August 24, 2013
at 01:59 PM

Uh, "open yourself up to attack?" Sorry, are we speaking science here, or spin control? Yes, sugar in small doses is harmless. Sugar in very large doses can be considered a poison by your use of language. The point is the dose makes the poison - not whether something is inherently toxic.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 24, 2013
at 01:47 PM

Table sugar is a natural sugar made from beets and cane. Where do you draw a line?

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 24, 2013
at 01:46 PM

People don't like food nazis. They KNOW that sugar isn't good for them in mass quantities already. Lustig's hyperbole isn't very helpful.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 24, 2013
at 01:32 PM

Not for glycogen per se but for sudden drops in blood glucose.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 24, 2013
at 01:30 PM

That's why I carried glucose tabs and hard candies when I was diabetic.

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on August 24, 2013
at 01:22 PM

I think that if you use the word "moderation" in any diet question, you're putting yourself in a trap. Sugar apologists can always define "moderation" to refer to some level that's innocuous, even if it's drastically less than modern people actually consume.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 24, 2013
at 12:59 PM

When I say "sugar" I mean table sugar. I differentiate sugar from honey and sugar from fruit. So when I say "sugar" I do not mean it as a chemical substance but a food item. Thank you very much for your very informative answer though.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 24, 2013
at 12:56 PM

Thank you for your very insightful answer. Interesting. Maybe their genes were affected by liver problems?

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 24, 2013
at 12:55 PM

By "sugar" I meant table sugar, but thank you.

Fa4b934bc224b17784fe0ee36d153dcd

(168)

on August 24, 2013
at 06:57 AM

Her proposition raises an important question- how do you know if you're healthy? According to that link, 27% of diabetics are undiagnosed. What if you aren't overweight, feel fine, are consuming sugar, and developing diabetes?

18cb7f6c1ff8fd2599dbf057f3a1b50d

(85)

on August 24, 2013
at 06:35 AM

Well, its nutrient-empty, provokes a high insulinic response, is linked to obesity, MS. The important point is that everyone can make their choices from an informed position. Have the knowledge, then make your choices. Here's a good, shorter version of toxic sugar, perhaps more suitable: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wZwdPkjeMM#t=512

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 24, 2013
at 06:02 AM

Thanks! That's one of my favorite videos. But is it OK for healthy people in moderation?

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 24, 2013
at 06:01 AM

She is telling me sugar is OK for healthy people. I disagree - trying to figure out if she could be right.

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11 Answers

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2
6fece842bd1bcf5724f458a302a2156e

on August 24, 2013
at 08:47 AM

I am very sugar sensitive, addicted etc. That can be genetic, particularly children of alcoholics. Others can have those chocolate sin the house for months and not have any desire to eat them all. So I do believe there are major differences between people on this sugar issue. I see those differences between my own children too.

However sugar will always be empty calories without much goodness although fruit of course has some good. So as most people eat sugar and that displaces other healthier things whoever you are sugar will reduce the amount of vitamins you take in purely because you are using that for calories in place of something better.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 24, 2013
at 12:56 PM

Thank you for your very insightful answer. Interesting. Maybe their genes were affected by liver problems?

5
0f44d81f247518d6fc2de0403ff9a68a

on August 24, 2013
at 11:34 AM

When it comes to sugar, we need to distinguish between the different kinds of sugar. Glucose is certainly not evil. A combination of glucose and fructose (as in sucrose of high fructose corn syrup) seems to be the most problematic. But as we mostly mean sucrose (of HFCS) when we say "sugar", I will use the term "sugar" instead of sucrose for the rest of my post.

There are four aspects we need to look at:

  • DOSE --- There is a big different between eating 5g, 50g or 500g of sugar
  • FREQUENCY --- There is a big difference between eating sugar daily, once a week or once a month
  • THE PERSON --- Different people handle foods differently. Some people seem to tolerate a moderate amount of sugar fairly well, whereas others have problems even with low amounts of sugar (this includes, but is not limited to diabetics)
  • THE SITUATION --- It also makes a difference when you eat sugar (for example if your glycogen stores are full or not; this has an effect on the insulin response)

My opinion is this: Sugar is ok in low, infrequent doses, unless something prevents you from having it. I am not saying sugar is a good idea, but if you don't overdo it and/or if you only overdo it very infrequently (e.g. once a month or once a year on a 1- or 2-week vacation), then sugar should not be a problem for most people. At the very least we can say that the positive psychological effect of not being overly strict and enjoying yourself once in a while far outweighs the negative effect the sugar might have in this case.

Traditional cultures also eat/ate sugar without the health problems we have. Of course, it might be that they would have been even healthier with less sugar, but it at least demonstrates that you can be pretty damn healthy with sugar in your diet, if you don't eat too much and/or don't eat it too often.

And we shouldn't only look at the physiologic effects of sugar. We also need to factor in social and psychological effects. A piece of fruit or little bit of honey here or there won't noticeably hurt most people, but it can have a profound impact on our happiness, which in return can have an impact on our health.

And quite frankly, you can't avoid sugar completely, anyway. Even lettuce has some.

0f44d81f247518d6fc2de0403ff9a68a

on August 25, 2013
at 07:19 PM

I usually mean table sugar as well. I just wanted to make an exception for pure glucose. But I don't think there is a big difference between table sugar, honey and sugar from fruit. Of course, honey and fruit give you things besides sugar. But in terms of sugar, I don't think it makes a big difference where it comes from. Although I have to admit, I would use honey and fruit before I would eat table sugar, myself.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 24, 2013
at 12:59 PM

When I say "sugar" I mean table sugar. I differentiate sugar from honey and sugar from fruit. So when I say "sugar" I do not mean it as a chemical substance but a food item. Thank you very much for your very informative answer though.

4
Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 24, 2013
at 01:40 PM

Yes it's OK. Healthy people digest and metabolize sugar. If you equate sugar with poison you open yourself up to attack on all foods, because you've spoken nonsense. If sugar is poison what about sat fats and grilled meat? Just leave it alone.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 24, 2013
at 02:39 PM

raydawg I mean that the N=1 - why was sugar evil to you personally - is less likely to provoke an endless argument about evil foods. I don't have any argument when I tell people about how I got fat and diabetic eating frosted mini wheats, and people open up and tell how too many carbs screwed them up. But if I go on a tirade about cereal being evil there's backlash.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 24, 2013
at 03:38 PM

@thhq, Sally Fallon would disagree with you. Remember her tirade about consuming puffed cereals? You are consuming little mutants!

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19413)

on August 24, 2013
at 01:59 PM

Uh, "open yourself up to attack?" Sorry, are we speaking science here, or spin control? Yes, sugar in small doses is harmless. Sugar in very large doses can be considered a poison by your use of language. The point is the dose makes the poison - not whether something is inherently toxic.

3
38717a6910551e2749cdae2d8c16570c

on August 24, 2013
at 03:34 PM

Sugar can be effective in high intensity workouts. E.g honey water during sprint intervals or between high intensity circuits. Since your fast twitch fibers are running on a glycotic energy system, sugar mobilization is key during rest periods for maximal gains and stamina during these types of workouts.... Doesn't really justify the ice cream and cake and that (insert social gathering here) though, haha.

3
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on August 24, 2013
at 02:59 PM

I'll agree with the SAD eater. Humans are more than capable of handing moderate to significant amounts of sugar/carbohydrate, depending on activity levels and assuming one is not metabolically deranged. Sugar is no more a toxin than water is a toxin. Really dislike the villification of sugar by the paleo community. Sure, don't pour it on your frosted flakes in the morning, but a teaspoon in one's coffee? You're not going to be harmed by 4 grams of sucrose. Guaran-frickin-tee it.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on August 24, 2013
at 04:13 PM

Meaning water is toxic in high amounts, as can be sugar, but for the vast (fucking vast) majority of folks there's no issue. VB, don't project your own health problems onto the population as a whole.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 24, 2013
at 03:41 PM

"Sugar is no more a toxin than water is a toxin" - that cannot be true. Compare drinking Evian with that waste water from Fukushima - two different things. If you make your coffee with it, it is going to kill you. Guaran-frickin-tee it.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 24, 2013
at 06:21 PM

Thanks for the answer. I read a research on sugar toxicity in mice though.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 24, 2013
at 04:19 PM

It is not about projecting. I wish I could do a study on rats, pigs, whatever is closer to humans on the effects of table sugar consumption. Again, we are talking fucking science, not personal opinions.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on August 24, 2013
at 04:24 PM

There is a threshold where a compound becomes toxic as well. Sugar is not toxic below a certain level, it's perfectly digestible/metabolizable as well (again for normal folks).

3
3491e51730101b18724dc57c86601173

(8395)

on August 24, 2013
at 02:54 PM

Well, the advertising execs of Coca Cola are being effective. And yor friend is being manipulated beautifully by them just like most Americans. Everything in moderation, including sugar.

Even by her theory, so many people are metabolicly impaired who just don't know it YET. So who exactly is sugar safe for?

Let's hope that Coca Cola never decides to push the arsenic in moderation message.

2
Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on August 24, 2013
at 02:33 PM

VB, the only way you could win would be to have her quantify the amount of Sugar and frequency of consumption that she would consider moderation. If she said 5g/day is moderate then she could be right. Food combination, fiber consumption and physical activity would also represent a few possible confounding variables.

2
C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on August 24, 2013
at 01:19 PM

The only time I can think of when sugar would be "good" for the body, as opposed to just "not bad" for the body, would be if you were on the verge of being totally glycogen depleted in your muscles and liver, then simple sugar would quickly restore that.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 24, 2013
at 10:16 PM

He meaning my doctor.

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on August 24, 2013
at 02:13 PM

That is why I specified liver glycogen depletion also.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 24, 2013
at 10:14 PM

After I lost 50 lbs my A1C and blood sugar dropped to normal levels. No more 200 blood glucose fasting. At the check up one year after he diagnosed T2, he shook my hand and said I was cured. Beyond that, I'll eat a hard candy mint every once in a while, but don't care for them much.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 24, 2013
at 03:43 PM

@thhq "carried" - you no longer carry those glucose tabs and hard candies? Why?

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on August 25, 2013
at 03:54 AM

I am assuming type 2 diabetes, but could be wrong.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19413)

on August 24, 2013
at 02:00 PM

+1 and in that case even fructose becomes welcomed by the liver, and rather than turning it into fatty acids, it converts it straight into glucose.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 24, 2013
at 01:32 PM

Not for glycogen per se but for sudden drops in blood glucose.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2013
at 03:48 AM

What is T2? I am sorry - I don't know the terminology. Also, how did you drop 50 lbs - a low carb Paleo or something else? Thanks for answering.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 24, 2013
at 01:30 PM

That's why I carried glucose tabs and hard candies when I was diabetic.

2
Fa4b934bc224b17784fe0ee36d153dcd

on August 24, 2013
at 07:02 AM

But to answer your question more directly, many paleo eaters consume moderate amounts of sugar in their diet. Fruit is full of fructose. In some ways thats worse than table sugar, which is sucrose. Stomach acids breaks down sucrose into glucose and fructose. Every cell in your body metabolizes glucose for energy. But only your liver metabolizes fructose, and that process produces elevated blood triglycerides.

So many of the healthy paleo eaters on this site consume moderate sugar in their diet. You could argue that their sugar intake is an inseparable part of their healthy eating habits.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 24, 2013
at 01:47 PM

Table sugar is a natural sugar made from beets and cane. Where do you draw a line?

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 24, 2013
at 12:55 PM

By "sugar" I meant table sugar, but thank you.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2013
at 12:55 PM

You mean, it is a processed food, since it is impossible to make sugar out of beets or even sugar cane using simple hunter-gatherer tools. Sugar is not honey.

2
18cb7f6c1ff8fd2599dbf057f3a1b50d

(85)

on August 24, 2013
at 05:56 AM

If you're looking for an example of refined sugar actually being good for one's body, as your original question states, then I can't help you, I'm unaware of such a study anywhere but others might know best.

If you meant 'bad', a good starting point for a SAD eater might be Lustig's "Sugar: The Bitter Truth"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

She can go deeper into the subject from there; its specially important they see the connection between sugar intake / insulinic respone / insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, if one can see the chain of consequences its easier to see the dangers of its (over)consumption.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 24, 2013
at 06:02 AM

Thanks! That's one of my favorite videos. But is it OK for healthy people in moderation?

18cb7f6c1ff8fd2599dbf057f3a1b50d

(85)

on August 24, 2013
at 06:35 AM

Well, its nutrient-empty, provokes a high insulinic response, is linked to obesity, MS. The important point is that everyone can make their choices from an informed position. Have the knowledge, then make your choices. Here's a good, shorter version of toxic sugar, perhaps more suitable: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wZwdPkjeMM#t=512

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 24, 2013
at 01:46 PM

People don't like food nazis. They KNOW that sugar isn't good for them in mass quantities already. Lustig's hyperbole isn't very helpful.

1
Fa4b934bc224b17784fe0ee36d153dcd

on August 24, 2013
at 05:29 AM

Even if your friend disputes the effects of sugar in healthy people, she'll probably agree that sugar is dangerous for diabetics.

http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/diabetes-statistics/

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 24, 2013
at 06:01 AM

She is telling me sugar is OK for healthy people. I disagree - trying to figure out if she could be right.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2013
at 03:46 AM

If you check the article "Metabolic syndrome" you can see - yes, it runs in the family and many other diseases are associated with it.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 24, 2013
at 10:22 PM

That's why it's a good idea to get an annual checkup. My diabetes was discovered that way. I had no idea. I'd also like to know whether it runs in the family, but they probably weren't even testing my grandparents for it. They were overweight, had high blood pressure, ate a lot of fake creamer and margarine, and a lot of sweets too. We'll never know which bad thing did them in. But it's safe to assume that I have to go back before them to find healthy eating in the family.

Fa4b934bc224b17784fe0ee36d153dcd

(168)

on August 24, 2013
at 06:57 AM

Her proposition raises an important question- how do you know if you're healthy? According to that link, 27% of diabetics are undiagnosed. What if you aren't overweight, feel fine, are consuming sugar, and developing diabetes?

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