Sugar: The Tobacco of The New Millennium with Gary Taubes, #78

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Show Notes

In this episode of Food, Success & Life for the Modern Woman podcast, we talk with Gary Taubes about sugar. He provides a wealth of information on sugar including the effect it has had on our society for decades and some of the biggest “diet” myths. He explains the correllation between sugar and cigarettes…you must here this! And we discuss why sugar is so addictive. This is one of those episodes you will want to download and save in your podcast app to listen to over and over again. It’s no fluff, all science, just the hard facts.

Gary has brought a lot of scientific nutrition information to main stream media….with a lot of resistance. There is too much information out there and most of it is misguided. Even from BIG authorities we tend to trust.


How do we cut through the clutter to get to the truth?

Obesity and diabetes epidemic is higher than ever before…and growing.

What we’ve been told in the past is wrong. People are eating low fat diets, whole grains, fruits and vegetables and they’re still obese. The tendency then becomes not believe the authority figures providing this information. They’re following protocol and they’re still sick, what gives?

So they start following other sources. Being other doctors promising diet miracles. They try everything: The Zone, South Beach, the Ornish diet, vegan, paleo…they become desperate because they can’t shed and keep off the excess pounds.

A journalist, like Gary comes in, and tries to figure it out by looking at all the data and starts determining who is right and who is wrong, based purely on scientific data. Then people have to decide which journalist they’re going to believe.

So what is the solution? First, you read all these books available and decide what makes sense to you. Like doing research to buy a new car. But you’re always going to wonder. You will have to experiment and try different approaches. A diet is not something you can go on, lose weight and go back to the way they were eating. You expect to keep the weight off. Not going to happen!

If you lose a lot of weight and feel healthy, that is probably the way you need to live your life. You have to make sure you’re not starving yourself or working out 6 hours a day. If you change the way you eat again, however, you will gain the weight back. So it’s a lifestyle change…not a diet.

This process of experimentation is crucial.


What do you see as some of the most significant bad nutritional myths?

There are 3 that are very wrong, according to Gary’s research:

  1. Low fat is healthy. Science does not support this.
  2. That you get fat just because you eat too much. This is naïve and simplistic. Fat accumulation is determined by hormones.
  3. Mostly plant diet is the healthiest diet. This has not been demonstrated.

Gary goes into some detail on each of these, so listen in.



What is causing the obesity and diabetes epidemics?

The fact that it is everywhere, in every population means it is the same thing that is being added to everything.

Sugar is the prime suspect. It is metabolized differently, by a different organ. It causes insulin resistance which is leading to obesity and diabetes.

Gary makes a very incredible correlation between sugar content in cigarettes! Did you know that every cigarette in America has a blend of sugar in it to make them more inhalable?

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease has exploded in recent years. It’s often diagnosed in children and is associated with obesity. Sugar plays a role.


Why is sugar so highly addictive?

Is sugar a food or a drug? When you consume sugar it triggers a response on the part of the brain, the “reward center”. This is the part of the brain that manifests pleasure and reinforces behaviors that are good for the race (food and sex). Dopamine is triggered and results in added pleasure. Other addictive drugs do the same thing, like cocaine and nicotine. Other things like sex become less rewarding when the “addictive” drug is taken in larger amounts.


What moderation means?

How much is still too much? For many it is best to not have any of it at all than to have it in moderation. This applies to sugar, tobacco, alcohol, etc. It’s easier to keep the switch off than to try to turn it on temporarily.



Gary’s 3 Habits to Ensure His Health Journey:

  1. Stay off the internet.
  2. Workout in small doses every day, all he has time for.
  3. Stay away from sugar and highly processed grains.


Gary Taube’s Bio:

Gary Taubes is an investigative science and health journalist and co-founder of the non-profit Nutrition Science Initiative ( He is the author of Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It and Good Calories, Bad Calories. His book, The Case Against Sugar, has just been published. Taubes is the recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research, and has won numerous other awards for his journalism. These include the International Health Reporting Award from the Pan American Health Organization and the National Association of Science Writers Science in Society Journalism Award. He is the first print journalist to win this award three times.

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