A yellow dandelion seed

Sugar vs. Fat

In North America and other developed nations, fat has been branded a bad guy. A disease causing, obesity making bad guy. Actual research shows a drastically different picture.

I was going to put in a simple video explaining the difference but everything available now is about weight loss and that is not the focus here.

Let's dive into the history of how fat became the bad guy. Now if you are new to learning about how industry will fund "research" with pre-drawn conclusions (aka profit-driven, corporate fiction) then finding out the sugar industry created an institution called the "Sugar Research Foundation" (hereafter referred to as the Foundation or SRF) might be a surprise. This Foundation's job was to make a literature review of studies done on sugar and heart disease. They suggested that all the studies were flawed and that low fat was actually the solution to the rising disease rates. The literature review was published in The New England Journal of Medicine with no disclosure of the fact that the sugar industry had actually funded the review. Unfortunately for our collective health, the sugar industry has continued to throw money around to influence the debate over sugar vs fat. If it isn't clear to the reader why this is a problem please allow me to point out the conflict of interest. By funding any type of research that only promotes their product but never condemns the product they throw mud into the scientific waters, making it harder to have an accurate picture of anything industry researches. A 2016 paper titled "Sugar Industry and Coronary Heart Disease Research" goes through internal industry documents which bring the historical perspective into the light. In 1954 the SRF president saw a business opportunity and said as much in a speech. If Americans started eating a lower fat diet then more sugar would be put in the food to make up for the deficit in flavour. This boosted sales across the nation by a full third. That is a huge amount of profit. However, by the '60s studies started showing a consistent issue with sugar as a major source of calories.

In 1967 the SRF published a review, the studies examined in the review were hand-selected by the Foundation. When the review was finally published the SRF VP Hickson wrote to one of the researchers "Let me assure you this is quite what we had in mind and we look forward to its appearance in print..."

At this point, you have a bit more context but I don't want to bore you with excess detail before actually comparing dietary effects of sugar or fat. The paper linked above goes into very high detail or you can read the article by NPR which is more detailed than I have been but a lighter read than the research paper.

To compare the effects we must understand how the body metabolizes fat and sugar. Both are significant sources of calories. However, how each is broken down differs significantly. Sugar comes in multiple forms, both refined and unrefined. There are also natural non-calorie sweeteners like stevia but they are not relevant to this article. Truly unrefined sugars can have medicinal effects provided they are still used in moderation (see citations at bottom). Refined sugars have no proven benefit and are what is most commonly consumed in North America. So what exactly is the difference between refined and unrefined? Minerals and enzymes. For example raw honey is packed with various enzymes and many other factors that haven't been recorded yet. Pasteurized honey doesn't have these because the application of heat destroys them. Raw cane sugar is loaded with minerals as is dark maple syrup. White table sugar is just sugar with no minerals or enzymes left, those all went into the molasses that is separated from the raw product. For the human body to use any refined carbohydrate like sugar, we use up large quantities of minerals, magnesium in particular is depleted at a 6-1 ratio. Any excess calories from refined carbs get converted and stored as fat on our bodies. When minerals are regularly depleted in the body our immune systems end up in a state of chronic inflammation. The disease effects of chronic inflammation can take a long time to show up and I'll be covering this in a future article. The short version, for now, is that chronic inflammation is very bad. The reason our body depletes so many minerals to digest sugars is due to the fact that the molecular bonds of sugar molecules are very strong so once the sugars enter the intestines we must break those molecular bonds to absorb those calories. We have specialized enzymes in our gut just to break those molecules apart but it is an energy intensive process to break them down and use them.

Once in the bloodstream insulin will spike up to allocate where the sugars are used or stored. Over a long enough period the constant insulin spikes lower sensitivity to insulin which can lead to prediabetes and diabetes.

When we digest fats we don't break them down until they hit the intestines just like sugars. When the stomach drains, our liver releases bile salts to coat the tiny fat globules and breaks them down to be absorbed. On average most of us will only absorb roughly 50% of the fat we eat with the rest being excreted. When we absorb the fats we get an easy hit of calories but we also get essential fatty acids that we are not capable of making ourselves and it helps us absorb our vitamins and minerals more effectively. Additionally it is biologically impossible for our bodies to store the extra calories from fats as fat on our bodies. Insulin does not get activated because fat does not spike blood sugar levels. In order to absorb fat effectively, we need to make sure that we release bile effectively. Believe it or not this is relatively easy, bitter herbs increase bile production. No seriously, it's that easy.

To summarize:

Carbs are not the enemy, but they must be consumed with deliberate thought. Seek out complex carbs that contain fiber, minerals, antioxidants, ect. Sugar is one of many sources of carbohydrates. Check ingredient lists for added sugars. Ingredient names ending in "OSE" are sugars. Fructose, sucrose, glucose, ect.

Fat is not the enemy nor is it the savior. Consume in moderation and proper application.

Save unsaturated fats for cold or warm applications. Saturated fats for hot applications.

Unsaturated fats destabilize when heated, releasing free radicals. Saturated fats remain stable when heated for far longer.

If you want to continue learning go to youtube and type in "sugar documentary".


  1. Antioxidant activity in sugarcane juice and its protective role against radiation induced DNA damage

  2. Anticancer effects of maple syrup phenolics and extracts on proliferation, apoptosis, and cell cycle arrest of human colon cells

  3. Honey as topical prophylaxis against radiochemotherapy-induced mucositis in head and neck cancer

  4. High fructose consumption combined with low dietary magnesium intake may increase the incidence of the metabolic syndrome by inducing inflammation.

  5. Prediabetes & Insulin Resistance

  6. Biochemistry. 5th edition. Chapter 22 Fatty Acid Metabolism

  7. Digestive stimulant action of spices : A myth or reality?

  8. https://www.statnews.com/2016/09/12/sugar-industry-harvard-research/

  9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugar_Association

  10. https://www.theverge.com/2018/2/23/17039780/sugar-industry-conspiracy-heart-disease-research-mark-hegsted-harvard

Portrait of Porche Berry wearing a teal sweater in the city

Hi, I'm Porche Berry

It is my sincerest desire that anything I write will add value to the world.

If not the world at large then at least your individual world.

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Holistic. Complementary. Individualized.

May each post or book bring you at least one step closer to your own holistic approach to health.


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