I’m really happy to see a documentary like Fed Up be released. I didn’t hear of Robert Lustig’s viral lecture (or his other one) until just 9 months ago, but it crystallized everything I’d been reading up to that time.
Reading this NY Times blurb about Fed Up I couldn’t help but think about how sucrose is, actually, the real instantiation of what pure-food advocates have been concerned about in GMO’s. I’m not “pro” GMO, but I’m also not explicitly against them, either. I think it is entirely accurate to say that hybridization has a roughly equivalent potential to produce unforeseen side-effects. (To any anti-GMO advocates out there, I do realize that GMO can produce never before seen proteins or side-effects – but so can hybridization). I do possess that vague worry we all feel about eating GMO food, (“what if?”) – and I prefer to avoid it. But my fear of unknown chemicals has been softened as a result of having to research what various drugs and their metabolites do in the body, if anything. I’ve been surprised how many are harmless. However, this makes sense. There are infinite shapes carbon chains can assemble themselves into, with a few atoms of nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus, etc, thrown in. The reason any chemical causes problems in the body is that it just happens to fit (or interfere with) an enzyme protein (well, usually). Since the number of configurations that will fit an existing human enzyme/protein is so much smaller than the essentially infinite number of possibilities, it shouldn’t be surprising that most chemical configurations are harmless.
Anyway, I do realize this is an imperfect security blanket. This is why I’m biased against GMOs. But my point is that what we’re beginning to realize on a vast, cultural scale is that fructose is the GMO poison we’ve all been afraid of! But it isn’t a new chemical – which makes sense, since for anything to hurt us, we would tend to need to already have an enzyme or protein that actually interacts with it. This existing chemical (fructose) occurs naturally, but as Lustig teaches, in the natural world, fructose tends to come packaged with similar parts fiber (such as sugar cane), historically limiting the amount of it we get – and limiting blood-sugar peaks. And like the GMO mystery chemical we’ve all been vaguely fearing might eventually pop up, fructose became a problem when we learned how to mass-produce it via an industrial process.
Think of that. We’ve been complaining about GMO possibilities – fearing that some unknown or rare chemical might suddenly pop up in all our farm-grown food, when the actuality is that a depressing number of us are dying and will die from a chemical added to our food that we knew (or could have known) all along was industrially mass-manufactured…