Monday, May 07, 2012

The sugar scare continues

I am not yet ready to resume full-time blogging but this business fired me up enough to hit the keyboard nonetheless

I have looked at the sugar scare a couple of times and never been remotely persuaded by it. To my mind, the sucrose crusaders are just a modern-day equivalent of Oliver Cromwell's Puritans: Enemies of life's normal satisfactions.

So why do I think that? Because of epidemiology. Epidemiology is as good at disproving things as it is hopeless at proving things. If somebody says that XYZ will shorten your lifespan and people characterized by XYZ in fact have long and happy lives, that is the end of the matter. It is a beautiful theory murdered by a brutal gang of facts.

And Australians have exceptionally long lifespans -- longer than the famed "Mediterraneans" and the second longest lifespans in the world by some accounts. And the reason why is plain to see. There are an exceptionally large number of nonagenarians tottering around Australia. There were several among my ancestors and relatives. Japan has its centenarians: We have our nonagenarians Most Australian families have or have had a nonagenarian or two among their relatives.

And I know exactly what food those nonagenarians grew up on and still eat: The same incredibly stereotyped "British" meals that I myself grew up on. I am pushing 70 so that is no surprise

And what does the traditional Australian diet consist of? It is most politely called "plain food" -- and plain it is, to the point of tastelessness. But it had 3 ingredients that enlivened it and kept people coming back for more: Fat, salt and sugar.

The main course was some form of meat, often steak, fried in dripping -- rendered-down animal fat. The meat was generally cooked "well-done" for perfectly good health reasons and so was pretty tasteless -- but cooking it in dripping and sprinkling plenty of salt on it rendered it palatable.

And sugar was everywhere: In your tea, on your porridge, in your cakes and bakerd goods and in the desserts that were almost always provided to make up for the dullness of your main course. People often pushed down their main course to get to the desserts. The desserts were the highlight of the meal and they were all full of SUGAR (sucrose).

So since Australia's throng of people in their 90s grew up on a diet heavy in red meat, fat, salt and sugar, I can see NO grounds for claiming that extensive consumption of those multiply-condemned ingredients has any adverse effect on your lifespan. 90+ is a good age in anybody's book. Because their theories are so wrong, I'll warrant that few if any of today's food freaks will live that long

The latest nonsense below. I could say much about the study itself but I think that the human epidemiology renders that pointless
Metabolic Alterations Induced by Sucrose Intake and Alzheimer’s Disease Promote Similar Brain Mitochondrial Abnormalities

Cristina Carvalho et al


Evidence shows that diabetes increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Many efforts have been done to elucidate the mechanisms linking diabetes and AD. To demonstrate that mitochondria may represent a functional link between both pathologies, we compared the effects of AD and sucrose-induced metabolic alterations on mouse brain mitochondrial bioenergetics and oxidative status. For this purpose, brain mitochondria were isolated from wild-type (WT), triple transgenic AD (3xTg-AD), and WT mice fed 20% sucrose-sweetened water for 7 months. Polarography, spectrophotometry, fluorimetry, high-performance liquid chromatography, and electron microscopy were used to evaluate mitochondrial function, oxidative status, and ultrastructure. Western blotting was performed to determine the AD pathogenic protein levels. Sucrose intake caused metabolic alterations like those found in type 2 diabetes. Mitochondria from 3xTg-AD and sucrose-treated WT mice presented a similar impairment of the respiratory chain and phosphorylation system, decreased capacity to accumulate calcium, ultrastructural abnormalities, and oxidative imbalance. Interestingly, sucrose-treated WT mice presented a significant increase in amyloid β protein levels, a hallmark of AD. These results show that in mice, the metabolic alterations associated to diabetes contribute to the development of AD-like pathologic features.



tedioustantrums said...

Hi John,

I read both your global warming and health blog everyday. Sorry to hear you are not so well. I wish you a speedy recovery.

I've just found and started to read "the meat fix" which you mat be aware of. It's a guy who was a vegan/vegetarian for 25 years and changed to eat "normally" overnight. I also just finished reading the Great Cholestral Con by Dr M Kendrick.

Hope to see you back soon.


Anonymous said...

what is with all this demonization of foods? this food is good this food is bad. I mean what gives? it seems they are demonizing all the things that make life enjoyable.

are these experts so miserable they have to invent boogeymen out of thin air to get attention or something?