Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Book Review about Sugar: Pure, White and Deadly

Pure, White and Deadly, How Sugar is Killing Us and What We Can Do To Stop It, by John Yudkin.  The 2012 print of this classic medical exposé that was originally published in 1972 comes with a new introduction by childhood-obesity expert Dr Robert Lustig, MD.
 
Well, last year I wrote an article about sugar claiming that it is obvious that the B’org of Food has a strong interest in making money from people continuing to suffer from diabetes and obesity and so actively promote sugar which, at best, aggravates these conditions.  Yes, it is obvious, but the fact that sugar is very harmful to health hasn’t sunk into the general population’s psyche yet because they are still consuming lots of it.  With a world population of 7 billion, people are consuming approximately 165 million tonnes of sugar as shown in the chart copied from Wiki with reference.
 
World sugar consumption (1000 metric tons) [53]
Country
2007/08
2008/09
2009/10
2010/11
2011/12
2012/13
India
22,021
23,500
22,500
23,500
25,500
26,500
European Union
16,496
16,760
17,400
17,800
17,800
17,800
China
14,250
14,500
14,300
14,000
14,400
14,900
Brazil
11,400
11,650
11,800
12,000
11,500
11,700
United States
9,590
9,473
9,861
10,086
10,251
10,364
Other
77,098
76,604
77,915
78,717
80,751
81,750
Total
150,855
152,487
153,776
156,103
160,202
163,014
 
Yudkin wrote this delightful little book about the dangers of sugar forty years ago.  He wrote about the subject from a well-rounded and insightful position.  For instance, he discussed how our species developed over millennia on a hunter gatherer type diet and that it’s only been since the development of agriculture about 10,000 years ago that carbohydrates became an important component of the diet.  He discussed why people like sweet foods, whether one type of sugar is better nutritionally than another, how the consumption of sugar increased dramatically in recent years, and even a short history of it.
 
Yudkin was a pioneer.  He made observations and suggested further research, and for the most part, his theories have been further proved.  However, he did not agree that artificial sweeteners or starchy foods were harmful.  But there is more evidence and information available today, much of it on the Internet including Dr Campbell-McBride’s books and website, which show this was a flaw in his reasoning.  Just a side issue though.  He was spot on with his analysis of sugar.
 
In my article mentioned above, I have references that sugar interferes with the brain and nervous system as well as the calcium in bones and teeth, leads to neurological and psychiatric symptoms (Campbell-McBride), and that it contributes to obesity and diabetes.  Yudkin also gives evidence of the correlation between sugar and tooth decay, obesity and diabetes in addition to heart disease, damage to the eyes, joints and skin, disease of the liver, possible link to cancer, and various digestive conditions.  He also mentioned that sugar would have an effect on the microbes in the digestive tract and affect susceptibility to infection.
 
He shared some studies which indicated that sugar raised the level of blood triglycerides, insulin, oestrogen (link to menopausal weight gain?), and adrenal cortical hormone.  He also found that sugar consumption caused the liver and kidneys to increase in size.  Another experiment showed that the adrenal gland in rats was enlarged because of sugar. Finally, it was noted that sugar aggravated the lining of the stomach.
 
It was interesting reading about the effects of sugar on growth, maturity and ageing.  Yudkin claimed that sugar accelerated the life process, including an earlier death, even without succumbing to one of the diseases associated with high sugar intake.  
 
In the latter part of the book, he related some of the troubles he had with transnational corporations (the B’org) while he was Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics at Queen Elizabeth College in the University of London and later.  The industry is still arguing its backwards position.  For instance, the Food and Drink Federation have claimed that not only has sugar consumption decreased in the last 30 years but all expert reviews conclude that there is inadequate evidence to attribute any risk of disease to sugar consumption, with the exception of dental decay.  Yudkin discussed how the consumption pattern has changed though.  In Western nations, there has been a trend of adding more sugar to processed foods.  This allows consumption levels to vary depending on what is included in the figures.  Of course, there is plenty of evidence to show that sugar contributes to various diseases, not least, that of Yudkin and the researchers at his college.
 
This blog is critical of transnational corporations, especially in the food industry.  I call them the B’org, a take-off of the Borg in the fictional TV programme Star Trek and an acronym for big organisation.  At the very end of the book, Yudkin gave a very nice analysis of this.  Why do the B’org, such as Nestlé, continue to push their toxic, poisonous products and discredit clear, scientific evidence?  After all, it’s one thing to express disagreement but quite another to disagree in the face of an avalanche of opposing evidence.
 
Yudkin said that this is the result of the vigorous, continuing and expanding activities of their interests.  That’s a tactful way of saying that financial growth is the focus.  He didn’t believe there was a “dirty tricks” department in these organisations designed to cover-up the ill produced by their products or any wrong-doing, just an instinctive protective action.  “The result is such a compact nucleus of power that, like a magnet surrounded by a strong induction coil, it produces a field of influence that invisibly affects many of those not in direct contact with the centre.”  I like this analogy but would go further.  I think the B’org is like a cancer in the human race comprising of cells with big nucleuses (people with big egos or more prominent reptilian brains?) which are genetically unstable and prone to rearrangements, duplications, and deletions of their chromosomes (information) that cause their progeny (offspring and products) to display unusual traits that grow abnormally fast without restraint in an invasive, uncooperative manner creating a powerful field of influence called a tumour (or transnational corporation) (see Understanding Cancer).
 
I have a theory.  If corporate people (especially the B’org of Food) stopped consuming sugar, caffeine and alcohol, the three most popular and ‘harmful to health’ chemicals ingested nowadays, I think people’s egos (reptialian brains) would shrink, stability would settle in and a healthy pace of life would transpire.  We would find less people with cancer and less cancerous influence from the B’org.  What are the chances?  Our ancestors did it.  I'm doing it.  Can you?
 
For a further brief discussion about the connection of sugar and starch to disease, please see my article called Why No Sugar or Starch?  I also wrote an article about Sugar and Digestion which includes further reference to Mr Yudkin from another of his writings.
 
Available from Penguin Books.
Also available in PDF form online.
I took a copy out of my local public library.