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Separating Fact from Fiction in SUGAR BUSTERS  

The 10 Red Flags of Junk Science

As sure as summer follows spring, new diet books appear every year making BIG promises based on small -- if not nonexistent -- scientific premises. This year's newest "Magic Bullet" for weight loss, Sugar Busters, makes some very unhealthy claims.

FICTION: "SUGAR IS TOXIC! Sugar? Some Sugar? Most Sugar? All sugar? Toxic?...Well, we will say that refined sugar in any significant quantity is toxic to many human bodies and it certainly helps make many bodies fat." (Page 3)

FACT: There is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support such a charge. Leading government and health professional nutrition experts agree that sugar, consumed in moderation, can play a role in a healthful diet. Furthermore, nutrition experts agree that sugar the body does not distinguish between sugar found in refined sugar (sucrose) and that found in fruits (fructose) and in milk and dairy products (lactose).

FICTION: "Calories are not the answer to weight gain or loss... The term calorie was first used by Lavoisier in the 1840's. Subsequently, a caloric theory developed that explained weight gain or loss. Although this theory was later proved flawed, nutritionists in the medical community ignored this correction." (Pages 8-9)

FACT: Calories are not the only answer to weight gain or loss, but controlled studies continue to support the long-standing evidence that they are a primary factor. Research during the last decade documents the importance also of regular physical activity, combined with a balanced diet high in carbohydrates and low in fat, in weight maintenance and reduction.

FICTION: "We are entering the twenty-first century and hardly anyone appreciates the insulin/cholesterol connection...Carbohydrates are broken down to glucose (sugar) in our body, and this raises our blood sugar Insulin is then secreted by the pancreas to lower our blood sugar, but in the process, insulin promotes the storage of fat and the elevation of cholesterol levels. Insulin also inhibits the breakdown of (loss of) previously stored fat." (Page 6)

FACT: The idea that there is something magic about eliminating some types of carbohydrates from your diet and substituting others in the production of insulin is false. Insulin is simply a hormone that regulates the storage of energy. Precisely how much insulin any individual needs to store carbohydrates is dependent on all kinds of things, including how fit he or she is, and whether, like many diabetics, they have a genetic predisposition toward insulin resistance.

FICTION: "There are only a few things you cannot eat on this diet. They are carbohydrates that cause an intense insulin secretion. You must virtually eliminate potatoes, corn, white rice, bread from refined flour, beets, carrots and of course refined sugar, corn syrup, molasses, honey sugared colas and beer. Beyond that, you should eat fruit by itself." (Page 7)

FACT: The recommendation to eliminate foods that have a moderate-to-high glycemic index, but are a source of healthful nutrients is unfounded. Eating fresh fruit is sound advice for anyone. With a balanced diet, a healthy liver, normal hormones, and a lack of interfering drugs and diseases, healthy people maintain a normal blood glucose without restricting carbohydrate consumption.

Until recently, it was believed that any simple carbohydrate raised blood sugar levels quickly because it was metabolized rapidly, while complex carbohydrates caused a slower rise. According to the American Dietetic Association, there is very little scientific evidence to support this assumption.

The 10 Red Flags of Junk Science

  1. Recommendations that promise a quick fix.
  2. Dire warnings of danger from a single product or regimen.
  3. Claims that sound too good to be true.
  4. Simplistic conclusions drawn from a complex study.
  5. Recommendations based on a single study.
  6. Dramatic statements that are refuted by reputable scientific organizations.
  7. Lists of "good" and "bad" foods.
  8. Recommendations made to help sell a product.
  9. Recommendations based on studies published without peer review.
  10. Recommendations from studies that ignore differences among individuals or groups.

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