‘Sugar Crash’ the Documentary
Sugar Crash” documents the story of 1 family, including a couple in their 40’s who are not overweight but admit to eating sugary treats on a regular basis
‘Sugar Crash’ the Documentary details the havoc that excess sugar consumption is causing for the people of Ireland, a country that ranks #4 in sugar consumption worldwide.
For comparison, in the US the # 1 consumers of sugar worldwide, the average American consumes 31.6 teaspoons of sugar each day.
The start of the film details the perils of tooth decay, with children just 4 and 6 years old requiring numerous tooth extractions. Sugar was blamed as the definite culprit, starting from the time the children are infants chewing on sugar-laced teething biscuits into later childhood when sugary juices became the drink of choice.
There are more than 50 different names to describe sugar on food labels, which means if you are trying to remove it from your diet, you had better become well-versed in the many pseudonyms.
Even savory foods like pizza and pasta sauce have added sugars, as do popular condiments like ketchup and salad dressings.
Sugary drinks alone can contain 10 or 11 teaspoons of sugar in one can, which puts you well over the recommended limit for the day.
While the documentary focuses on Ireland’s sugar habit, it’s one that is shared through much of the developed world, with devastating repercussions on global health.
Ireland was the thinnest country in Europe after World War II, and the increasing weight that occurred during the 1950’s and ‘60’s was seen as a good thing. However, average weight caught up with the rest of Europe by the 1970’s and continued rising, such that Ireland is slated to become the fattest country in Europe by Y 2030.
Expanding waistlines are again blamed largely on diet. As occurred in the US, food manufacturers and health agencies alike began to vilify fat, removing it from foods starting in the 1970’s.
Without fat to make food taste good, food manufacturers turned to other less-healthy additives, namely processed salt and sugar.
Dr. Robert Lustig, professor of pediatric endocrinology at the University of California in San Francisco (USCF), explained that sugar was added in such a way that it made the food irresistible. If you find it difficult to stop eating sugary foods, or find that the more you eat them, the more you want them, it is because sugar is addictive.
Sugar stimulates the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in many important pathways, most notably the mesolimbic pathway. The way dopamine affects the brain in this area changes with addiction and spikes your perception of motivation or pleasure.
In fact, evidence in humans shows that sugar can induce reward responses and cravings that are comparable to those induced by addictive drugs, which may “explain why many people can have difficultly controlling the consumption of foods high in sugar when continuously exposed to them.”
Sugar makes people pack on excess pounds and prevents the body from burning body fat. It has been implicated as a foundational cause of obesity as well, but even if not overweight, it isvery possible that sugar is damaging our health.
“Sugar Crash” documents the story of one family, including a couple in their 40s who aren’t overweight but admit to eating sugary treats on a regular basis.
They have no outward indications of health problems, but MRI scans revealed they both had fat around their abdominal organs (visceral fat), which is linked to an increased risk of diseases like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and stroke, along with imbalanced cholesterol.
They cut down their sugar intake significantly and were able to reduce their visceral fat and improve their cholesterol, as shown later on in the film.
Sugar Crash also features an interview with documentary filmmaker Damon Gameau, from “That Sugar Film,” who conducted an experiment during which he went from eating a low-sugar diet to consuming about 40 teaspoons of sugar a day.
What makes the experiment even more surprising is that he got to 40 teaspoons not by feasting on candy and soda but by eating supposedly “healthy” foods like energy drinks, fruit juice, cereal and yogurt. After 12 days of ramping up his sugar intake, Mr. Gameau had gained almost 7 lbs, the majority of which went straight to his abdomen.
In a month of eating 40 teaspoons of sugar per day, he added 2.75 ins (7 centimeters) to his waistline. Beyond weight gain, Mr. Gameau began displaying signs of fatty liver disease within 3 weeks.
“By the end, I’d developed pre-Type 2 diabetes, I had heart disease, I had 11 centimeters of visceral fat. But the big 1 was, the nonalcoholic fatty liver disease was almost in a full-blown state,” said Mr. Gameau in a news article highlighting his film.
Researchers have known since the 1960’s that the human body metabolizes different types of carbohydrates, like glucose and fructose, in different ways, causing very different hormonal and physiological responses that absolutely may influence fat accumulation and metabolism. Unlike glucose, which can be used by virtually every cell in the body, fructose can only be metabolized by your liver, because your liver is the only organ that has the transporter for it.
Since all fructose gets shuttled to your liver, it ends up taxing and damaging your liver in the same way alcohol and other toxins do, particularly if you consume excess amounts of it.
In fact, fructose is virtually identical to alcohol with regard to the metabolic havoc it wreaks. According to Dr, Lustig, fructose is a “chronic, dose-dependent liver toxin.” And just like alcohol, fructose is metabolized directly into fat, not cellular energy, like glucose.
His findings were published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, where he explained the similarities between fructose and its fermentation byproduct, ethanol (alcohol):
- The liver’s metabolism of fructose is similar to alcohol, as they both serve as substrates for converting dietary carbohydrate into fat, which promotes insulin resistance, dyslipidemia (abnormal fat levels in the bloodstream) and fatty liver
- Fructose undergoes the Maillard reaction with proteins, leading to the formation of superoxide free radicals that can result in liver inflammation similar to acetaldehyde, an intermediary metabolite of ethanol
- By “stimulating the ‘hedonic pathway’ of the brain both directly and indirectly, fructose creates habituation, and possibly dependence; also paralleling ethanol”
“We keep alcohol out of the hands of children, but we don’t think twice about giving them a glass of soda or orange juice,” Dr. Lustig says in the film. “Children are getting the diseases of alcohol without alcohol, because sugar is the alcohol of the child.”
While childhood obesity is a growing problem, it’s also true that lean children who eat a high-sugar diet may be metabolically unhealthy, even though it is not obvious from looking at them.
On a global scale, massive sugar addiction is responsible for not only obesity and diabetes, but also heart damage and heart failure, cancer, neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, hypertension, stroke and shorter lifespans.
The World Health Organization recommends limiting sugar consumption to 6 teaspoons a day to protect our health, so…
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively