Robert Lustig: The Hidden Truth About Sugar, Weight Loss & Disease | 180 Nutrition

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Robert Lustig: The Hidden Truth About Sugar, Weight Loss & Disease

Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.

Guy:  This week welcome to the show Robert Lustig. He is a professor of pediatrics in the UCSF Division of Endocrinology, a member of the Institute for Health Policy Studies and director of the UCSF Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health (WATCH) Program.

Professor Lustig is a neuroendocrinologist, with basic and clinical training relative to hypothalamic development, anatomy and function. He previously worked at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN, where his work with obese children and adults led him to explore the specific role of fructose as a mediator of both chronic disease and continued caloric consumption.
His 90-minute UCTV lecture, titled Sugar: The Bitter Truth, has had over 7 million views on YouTube.

“…if you feed your kids breakfast cereal, you might as well be giving your kids alcohol…” – Robert Lustig

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Questions we ask in this episode:

  • Your YouTube video ‘Sugar: The Bitter Truth’ has almost 7 Million views. Did you expect that kind of response when you released it?
  • What’s the issue with fructose in particular?
  • You were recently quoted in the Australian media as saying; ‘if you feed your kids breakfast cereal, you might as well be giving your kids alcohol’. Please explain…
  • What about fruit, should we be wary of the fructose content?

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Full Transcript

Guy

Hey everybody. This is Guy Lawrence, of course, of 180 Nutrition and welcome to another fantastic of the health sessions, where every week, of course, we are connecting with leading global health and wellness experts to share the best of the latest science and thinking, and empowering us all to turn our health and lives around.
[00:00:30]

[00:01:30] This week, we are doing it with the amazing Robert Lustig. Now, if you’re not familiar with Robert, in a nutshell he is a professor of pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, if I can say that correctly, where essentially he specializes in childhood obesity. You might have heard the name before, and essentially, Robert released a YouTube video back in, I think it was 2009 or 2010. It went viral and has had nearly 7 million views, which is quite incredible. Even if you type his name up, it’s called “Sugar: The Bitter Truth.” Better than a video of a double rainbow or whatever going viral, or a cat playing in the kitchen. It was actually something of a very serious message and it was great to get Robert on the show today to basically share with us all his discoveries and what he’s finding with sugar, fructose and insulin production, as well. Robert does a fantastic job of simplifying it back down for us, as well, and I promise you, if you do have a lot of sugar in your diet, you’re going to think twice about it after today’s interview.

[00:02:00] Anyway, I have no doubt you’re going to enjoy it anyways. It’s all good. It’s all good news. Great guy and gets the message across perfectly. Very excited to share that with you. As always guys, if you’re enjoying our podcast, please subscribe to us, five star us and leave a review on iTunes, only if you’re enjoying them of course and only if it’s an honest review. That just helps us get this message out there every week and grow us internationally, as well. Anyway, it is all much appreciated. Let’s go over to Robert Lustig. Enjoy.

Hi, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined by Stuart Cooke, as always. Hi Stu.

Stu

Hello Guy.

Guy

Our awesome guest today is Mr. Robert Lustig. Robert, welcome to the show.

Robert

Thanks for having me, both of you.

Guy

Very excited mate, very excited. Now Robert, we kick off with one question we ask everyone on this show, and that is if a complete stranger stopped you in the street and asked you what you did for a living, what would you say?

Robert

Right now, I take care of fat kids.

Guy

Perfect. Perfect.

Robert

Many reasons, but they understand what I’m talking about.

Guy

Yeah, right.

Stu

Yeah.

Guy

If they were to dig a little bit deeper and they said, “What led you into that in the first place?” how would you explain to them?

Robert

I started taking care of short kids as a pediatric endocrinologist, growth hormone is sort of bread and butter, and they got fat on me. I changed my research back in 1998 to start looking at the nature of the obesity epidemic. I was taking care of a stable of obese patients who had survived brain tumors at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. It was very clear that these children were obese not because they were born to be, but because they had undergone brain damage from either the tumor or the surgery or the radiation. It was up to me to, number one, take care of them, and number two, to try to figure out what was wrong with them and how to fix it. That led me into a line of research that demonstrated that the hormone insulin was driving their weight gain. Insulin is the energy storage hormone. These children basically had a neural dysregulation from the brain to the pancreas that led to excessive insulin release, and therefore, excessive energy storage into fat tissue.

[00:04:30] We then looked at a stable of otherwise healthy obese people that did not have brain tumors and found the exact same phenomenon. We were able to reverse it by suppressing insulin release with various medications. That led me into the research that I do now, which is what causes everyone to have such high insulin levels today compared to, say, four years ago. There, we have the Western diet and from there, I’m sure you have many questions.

Guy

Absolutely.

Stu

[00:05:00] We do. We absolutely do. I wanted to start off with your YouTube video sensation. I call it sensation because it’s had almost 7 million views, Sugar: The Bitter Truth. That’s just nuts, absolutely insane. I just wondered, could you tell us a little bit about it for those that haven’t seen it, as well?

Robert

[00:05:30] It’s a 90-minute lecture on carbohydrate biochemistry and I have absolutely no clue why anyone watched it. I don’t even understand why my wife watched it, never mind 7 million people. It’s sort of a phenomenon unto itself. I do not understand what its popularity is. I do not understand why people care about this, but they seem to and I guess I’m glad because this is a way of being able to get the message out, because it’s absolutely required. Public education is required in order to be able to do anything societally about this pandemic. It’s as big a problem in Australia as it is here in America.

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Guy

Yeah.

Stu

Yes, it is.

Guy

Do you think the problem is getting worse or better?

Robert

Well, it’s getting better amongst toddlers. In fact, the data here in America show that in the two to five year old category, the prevalence of obesity is starting to go down. The reason is because daycare has stopped giving them juice and granola bars and cookies as snacks. People have caught on to this notion that it’s really not a good idea to make a toddler fat. We’re starting to see some movement in that age group. However, in the older children and particularly in lower socioeconomic status households, we really haven’t seen much of a change at all. There’s still a lot of work to be done.

Guy

[00:07:00] Yeah. Right. While we’re on the subject of toddlers or even people in general, in your view how damaging is sugar? I still feel like it gets written off very easily with people because they actually consume a lot of it.

Robert

[00:07:30] Right. Well, let’s talk about this issue. It’s sort of the elephant in the room, if you will. Everyone thinks that sugar is a problem because of its calories. In other words, you eat a lot of sugar so you eat a lot of calories. Therefore, you get fat. Therefore, you get sick. That’s the standard mantra. The doctors believe it, the dieticians believe it, the public health advocates believe it, the NIH believes it, the MRC believes it, the Congress believes it, the Australian Parliament believes it and, of course, the food industry says it. It couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s not true.
[00:08:00] We have the data to show that sugar is actually detrimental to cells, to organ systems, to humans, unrelated to its calories and unrelated to its effects on weight. You have to be able to dissociate the calories and the weight effect from the molecule itself. We have done these studies in order to answer the question.

[00:08:30] Let me give you a metaphor, all right? This will explain why this works. Can you name me an energy source that is not nutrition, that is not food, that there’s no biochemical reaction in the body that requires it, that when consumed in excess causes cellular, metabolic and human damage and death, and we love it anyway and it’s addictive?

Guy

Sugar.

Robert

Alcohol.

Guy

Alcohol.

Robert

[00:09:00] Okay? Alcohol is calories, it’s 7 calories per gram. Alcohol is not food. Alcohol is not nutrition. There’s no dietician on the planet who would argue that alcohol is nutrition. Alcohol causes cellular, metabolic, human damage and death. There is no biochemical reaction in the body that requires it, yet we love it and it’s addictive in about 20% of the population in Australia and in America. Okay.
[00:09:30]

[00:10:00] Now, you would never call alcohol a food despite the fact that it has calories. Let’s take another one. How about trans fats? Trans fats have calories. They’re 9 calories per gram. Trans fats used to be considered food by the FDA. In fact, they were on the GRAS, generally recognized as safe, list. Food industry could use any amount it wanted in any product it chose and it caused human damage, heart disease, diabetes and death. Now, trans fats have been removed from the GRAS list, generally recognized as safe, because we know that they’re dangerous. They have calories, but they’re not food. They are a food additive.

Guy

Yes.

Robert

[00:11:00] It turns out, sugar meets the exact same criteria as do alcohol and trans fats. They supply energy. We have always considered them food … staple. When our consumption of sugar was what it used to be, at approximately 4 to maybe 5 teaspoons of added sugar per day, there was no danger in its use. Now, we are averaging somewhere between 19 and 22 teaspoons per day depending on the country. That increase has led to all of the chronic metabolic diseases we are all currently taking care of such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, lipid problems, heart disease, stroke, cancer and dementia.

[00:12:00] The reason is because of the molecule within sugar called fructose. Now, sugar, dietary sugar, the sweet stuff, the stuff you put in your coffee, is made up of two molecules joined together. The first molecule is called glucose. The second molecule is called fructose. Glucose is the energy of life. Every cell on the planet burns glucose for energy. Glucose is so important that if you don’t consume it, your body makes it, your liver makes it. There are populations around the world such as the Inuit, the Masai, who consume no carbohydrate whatsoever. There’s no place to grow carbohydrate in the Arctic, okay? Ice. They eat whale blubber, but they still have a serum glucose level. The reason is because they can take the fatty acids from what they do eat and their liver can turn it into glucose, okay? Glucose is important to make. It is not important to eat.

[00:13:00] Is it essential? It’s essential to be able to make it, but it is not essential to have to eat it. When people say you need sugar to live, that’s garbage. You need a serum glucose level to live, but you don’t have to consume sugar to live. Now this second molecule, fructose, it’s a holdover from our plant ancestors before the prokaryotes and the eukaryotes split off evolutionarily. It is a storage form of energy that plants use. That’s why it’s “fruit sugar.” Fructose is very sweet. We love it. In fact, it acts on the reward center of the brain just like alcohol, just like nicotine, just like cocaine, to increase dopamine transmission, therefore the sense of reward. We love sugar. We love fructose. We love sweet. However, turns out that fructose is metabolized only in the liver and it is metabolized virtually identically to that of alcohol. The analogy that I made before between sugar and alcohol is very real because of the chemistry, having nothing to do with calories.

[00:14:00] Sugar is the alcohol of the child. They have the same diseases as alcoholics. Type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease, these were the diseases of alcohol prior to 1980, but now 35% of all Americans now have fatty liver disease and they didn’t get it from alcohol, they got it from sugar. Kids are getting the disease of alcohol without alcohol because sugar and alcohol are virtually identical. It makes sense that it should be because, after all, where do you get alcohol from? Fermentation of sugar. It’s called wine. We do it in Napa and Sonoma. You do it in the Barossa Valley. It’s the same thing. Bottom line is your liver doesn’t care where the substrate came from, it causes the same disease.

Stu

[00:14:30] That’s fascinating. That explains then, in my mind’s eye, a recent quote that we had over here in Australian media that was you quoting that if you feed your kids breakfast cereal, you might as well be giving your kids alcohol. I’m guessing that’s because of the high sugar content in the breakfast cereal?

Robert

Indeed. Standard breakfast cereal, here in America at least, is about 12 grams per serving, so that’s about 3 teaspoons worth. Now, children are only supposed to get 3 to 4 teaspoons of added sugar per day, so basically if you’re giving them a bowl of breakfast cereal, that’s their entire allotment for the entire day.

Stu

Yeah, right. I would guess that very few children get the per serving as well. They’ll be having two or three of these servings at once because the standard serving is minute. It’s ridiculous.

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Robert

Exactly. Then throw some orange juice on top of it. Now, you can say orange juice is not added sugar but actually, when you take the fiber out of orange juice, you might as well drink the soda.

Guy

Yeah.

Stu

Right.

Guy

Rob, regarding fructose, is there minimums that everyone should be avoiding? I think it brings into myself and mind a piece of fruit will contain some fructose. Where is the line would you say?

Robert

[00:16:00] First of all, fruit is fine. Fruit has fruit sugar so why is it fine if I’m telling you that fructose is a problem? The answer is because of the fiber. The fiber mitigates the negative effects for two reasons. Number one, when you consume foods with fiber and there are two kinds of fiber, soluble and insoluble. The soluble fibers like pectins like it hold jelly together. The insoluble is like cellulose, the stringy stuff in celery, you need both. Fruit, of course, that’s both.

[00:16:30] When you consume foods with fiber like, for instance, an orange [inaudible 00:16:16], the soluble fiber plugs the holes, in the insoluble fiber you get a gel, a whitish gel on the inside of your intestine, of the duodenum that prevents absorption and acts as a secondary barrier so that less of the nutrients like the sugar will be absorbed early on.

What that means is that the rise in glucose or the rise in fructose for that matter will be attenuating, will be lowered, it would be tamped down because of the barrier. In addition, because of that barrier, more of what you ate will go further down the intestines since it didn’t get absorbed early and that’s where the bacteria are.

[00:17:00] The bacteria are not at the top if the intestine. They start at the middle of the intestine after the pH changes so your stomach has a pH of one and then the pancreas injects pancreatic juice into the duodenum at a place called sphincter of Oddi and then the stuff you ate, called chime, mixes with the pancreatic juice and the pH changes and then the bacteria can live there.

[00:18:00] The point is that if you get the food further down the intestine because of the fiber that prevented its absorption early, then those bacteria will chew it up instead of you. Even though you consumed it, even though you ate it, you don’t know it passed your lips. You didn’t get it. When you consume food with fiber you’re not feeding you, you’re feeding your bacteria and that’s a good thing because those bacteria then offset some of the negative bacteria that can lead to a metabolic disease because they make toxic byproducts called cytokines which can ultimately damage your liver and cause what we call insulin resistance.

Feeding your bacteria you’re doing good. It’s known as the microbiome. You’ve probably heard of that term now. You want to feed microbiome.

Guy

[00:18:30] Yeah. Wow. Got it. I’ve never thought of it like that before. For all the parents listening to this, Robert, there’d be a fair amount probably of people that sugar is definitely in their diet at a high level for the kids and what suggestions would you have them or what have you seen in the past and maybe make it easier to wean them off because I’m thinking kids are going to be pretty hard. I don’t have kids myself yet but I’m sure Stu experiences it. He’s got three young girls.

Stu

I do, I do.

Robert

[00:19:00] Look, it’s in every packaged food and it’s there on purpose because the food industry has learned that if they put it in, you buy more. That’s what it’s there for. I mean it’s there as preservative because have you ever seen a can of soda get bacterial overgrowth? It may go flat but nothing ever grows it, right?

[00:19:30] It’s a preservative. It’s a humectin that holds on to water which is why they add it to bread. Have you ever noticed that when you buy bread at the bakery, at the standard local bakery, it stales in about two days but if you buy commercially available bread at the supermarket it lasts about three weeks? Why is that?

Two days versus three weeks, why is that?

Stu

Preservatives I would have thought.

Robert

Sugar.

Guy

Sugar.

Robert

[00:20:00] Sugar. Ostensibly to proof the yeast but they add more sugar because what it does is it takes the place of water during the baking process to keep the breads springy. It’s called water activity. It’s very specific process. It’s a very specific reason why they use it but the real reason they use this is because they know when they add it, you buy more.

Let me give you another example, my favorite example, lucky charms. I think you have those on Australia, have you not?

Stu

No. I’m very much aware of them.

Robert

They’re magically delicious. They are moons, yellow hearts, green clovers, pink hearts, whatever it is. Anyway, why are there marshmallows in the box?

Stu

As a preservative maybe.

Robert

No, not as preservatives.

Guy

As a taste enhancer to get them hooked.

Robert

Because oats cost money and marshmallows don’t.

Stu

All right.

Robert

They take up space inside the box so they can actually put less money into the box and sell it for more. Great business strategy.

Stu

Yeah, that’s fantastic. That really is genius.

Guy

Do you think these companies actually know the damaging effects that this could be doing to the kids that they’re marketing directly to?

Robert

They do. They do and I know because I’ve spoken with many of them. They do know. The problem is it’s about the money.

Guy

Of course.

Robert

[00:21:30] As long as they have Wall Street quarterly reports that they have to make and as long as they have stockholders and shareholders that they have to placate they’re going to drive this bus till the wheels fall off.

Guy

That’s criminal, it really is.

Robert

Well, [inaudible 00:21:35] it is. The fact of the matter is the tobacco companies were criminal and we caught them in their own lie. We caught them in their fraud yet none of them went to jail. Now we did end up with a master settlement agreement and of course, we have a master settlement agreement for the whole world in the tobacco industry yet tobacco still exists.

[00:22:00] You have to wonder, you have to start asking the question, what’s going on and who’s on your side? This is very big.

Guy

I think it’s a …

Robert

Good question.

Guy

Yeah. Do you think sugar will ever get to the point where it’s treated like tobacco and alcohol?

Robert

I lost you, go ahead. Say it again?

Guy

Sorry, do you think sugar will ever get to the point where it’s treated the same as alcohol and tobacco?

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Robert

Well, I don’t know. I’m not sure it has to be treated exactly but I do think that there should be some limitations on how much the food industry can put into any given food. When we add five pound bags of sugar and you were putting one lump or two into your coffee back in the 1940s and 1950s, you could keep track of your sugar consumption. Because sugar was relatively expensive because of tariffs, there was a limit to how much you even wanted to use.

[00:23:30] But as dietary processes changed, as we went low fat, and of course as high fructose corn syrup here in the America reared its ugly head back in the 1970s, sugar became very cheap and so it started supplanting the use of fat in many products. Now the food industry has cart blanche to use as much sugar in any product as they want and they’ve learned that they can sugar to virtually anything and make it taste differently and that we will love it even more.

[00:24:00] At the moment, the politics have not caught up with the industry and so it is my job to supply the science in order to enable policy makers to be able to wrap their heads around this in order to be able to effectuate some rationale policy.

Will it ultimately be regulated like tobacco or alcohol, I doubt but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t have some provisions in society for trying to limit sugar exposure.

Guy

Sorry, Stu. How much sugar consumption increase, do you know the stats from, say, before the ’70s to what people are consuming now on a weekly or yearly basis.

Robert

[00:25:00]
Yeah. Here in America back in the early ’70s, before high fructose corn syrup, they were consuming on the order of about 38 pounds of sugar per year. At our worst in 2004 when we hit our peak, we were consuming about 110 pounds of sugar per year. Now, we’ve actually reduced that to somewhere between 95 and 100 and part of it is because of the obesity epidemic. People recognizing that sugar is a problem and so people have started to cut back and you’ve seen that in terms of soda consumption and that’s been true worldwide.

[00:25:30] Sugar’s average consumption is actually on its way down. Now it’s being substituted with diet sweeteners and it’s also there’s energy drinks and sports drinks and of course, “natural juices” that are “natural” but not natural juices. Nonetheless, soda reducing in its popularity which I think is a good thing.

Stu

Sugar, from what you’ve told us sugar is clearly making us fat so it certainly, it’s [crosstalk 00:25:39].

Robert

… making you sick.

Stu

Sick, okay, it’s making us sick and there’s a byproduct that we are gaining weight.

Robert

[00:26:00] Sugar makes insulin resistance. Your pancreas has to make extra insulin in order to make the liver do its job. Now extra insulin then works at the fat cell to drive what you eat into fat cells to grow your fat. Everyone thinks you get fat and then you get sick, what we have shown very clearly and we have the data and I can show you the evidence is you get sick and then you get fat.

Stu

Based upon what you’ve just told me, how effective is exercise as the primary tool to shift excess body fat?

Robert

[00:27:00]

Exercise is the single best thing you can do for yourself. I love exercise. Exercise is wonderful, okay? Nothing wrong with exercise unless you’re trying to lose weight. In fact, there are no studies anywhere in the world, none, zero, zilcho, nadda, studies that demonstrate that exercise alone promotes weight loss. What does exercise do that’s so important?

[00:27:30] Exercise causes muscle gain and muscles have mitochondria. Mitochondria burn that energy and when you exercise you actually make liver mitochondria and so your capacity to metabolize fructose goes up which is a good thing so you’re not turning it for fat. Exercise improves insulin sensitivity, exercise improves metabolic health but muscle weighs more than fat. When you stand on the scale you’ve actually gained weight, you’ve lost inches but you’ve gained weight.

We have a whole bunch of doctors going around telling their patients well, if you’d only exercise you’d lose weight and then the patients do exercise and then they stand on the scale and they go, oh well, with me, it doesn’t’ work for me and then they hit the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

[00:28:00] The reason is because the doctors don’t understand what the point of exercise is because they’re still in this notion, in this mantra, that a calorie is a calorie and since exercise burns calories it should cost weight loss, it doesn’t.

Guy

Yeah, right.

Stu

That’s great.

Guy

[00:28:30] My question is if someone was listening to this that was sick and gaining weight and you have two minutes with them, what would you prescribe to them then?

Robert

Two words, real food because real food is low sugar, high fiber. Processed food is high sugar, low fiber.

Guy

Low fiber.

Robert

[00:29:00] High sugar for palatability, low fiber for shelf life. When we ate real food we did not have chronic disease. When we turned away from real food and towards processed food and I know why we did it, we did it for cost, we did it for convenience, we did for taste, we did it for coolness, we did it for a whole bunch of reasons. We did it for storage. Ultimately, we got sick and the reason is because we weren’t designed for this diet. No one was, no one is. Real food is the answer but the problem is that’s not what the food industry is making.

Stu

No. You’re right.

Guy

What would your food philosophies be? I’m only saying this from what we see from running this. We’ve been running this podcast nearly four years and we get a lot of people asking I’m confused, I understand that maybe I need to remove sugar but I hear about low carb, I hear about keto, I hear about Paleo, there’s so many things bombarding us in the market.

Robert

There’s a lot of cognitive dissonance, isn’t there?

Guy

It’s huge.

Stu

Yes, there is.

Guy

It’s huge.

Robert

[00:30:30] I understand that and I am trying to break through that cognitive dissonance with a very simple query. Over here, on this side, we have the Atkins diet. Right? All fat, no carb. Over here on this side, we have the traditional Japanese diet, all carb, no fat. They both work. The new Japanese diet, which looks like our diet does not work but there’s very low sugar in the Atkins diet and there’s actually very low sugar in the Japanese diet. There’s glucose in the Japanese diet in the form of rice but there’s no fructose. Because there’s no sugar in the Atkins diet at all, therefore, this is the thing they share in common.

[00:31:30] In fact, every diet in the whole world that works, and you’ve just named a whole bunch Paleo, keto, Mediterranean, even vegan, they all work. Some work better for certain populations than others and we actually parse the biochemistry. I’m going to be in Australia in six weeks now to participate in a symposium where I’m going to demonstrate how we parse the biochemistry and how we take care of our patients so that we match their biochemistry to the appropriate diet.

[00:32:00] Other people are doing similar things around the world. The bottom line is they all work. The reason they work is because every diet that works is real food. Every diet that works is low sugar, high fiber. You call your diet whatever you want, okay, I’m not interested. I’m not trying to develop the Lustig diet.

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Guy

Sorry, you just broke up a little bit there.

Robert

It’s all right. I’m right behind an exit here.

Guy

That’s all right, mate.

Robert

I said, if you’re eating real food, it works and if you’re eating processed food, it doesn’t.

Guy

[00:32:30] It doesn’t, yeah. Yeah. Last question, just talk a little bit deep over this just for our listeners as well. When it comes to the removal of sugar, because we know this contains half fructose and half glucose, should we then fear carbohydrates or just processed carbohydrates or does that come back to then the fiber that we’re eating because of the insulin production.

Robert

Right. There’s two kinds of carbohydrate, refined and unrefined. There are many kinds of carbohydrates, there’s amylose, there’s amylopectin as well. If you’re eating refined carbohydrate, you’re eating bread, rice, pasta or potatoes.

Guy

Yes.

Robert

What color are those?

Guy

White.

Robert

White. When wheat comes out of the ground, what color is it?

Stu

It isn’t white.

Robert

It’s brown.

Stu

Yes.

Robert

[00:33:30] When we turn it into bread, it’s white. When we turn it into pasta, it’s white. Okay, why is that? Where did the brown go? Very simple, they milled it off at the mill in order to create the flour. When you consume the grain whole, like whole grain bread, then the husk, the kernel, the fiber on the outside is protecting the starch and the germ that lives inside. That goes down into your intestine. It takes a while for the intestinal enzymes to strip that fiber off, which means that that kernel has gone further down the intestine where the bacteria will chew it up instead of you.

[00:34:00] When you consume unrefined carbohydrate such as beans, lentils, nuts, quinoa, farro, brown rice, other legumes, what color are those? They’re all?

Stu

They’re all brown.

Guy

Yup.

Robert

[00:34:30] Because fiber is brown or green in green vegetables. Fiber is brown or green, that’s basically what you got. When you consume food with its inherent fiber, which means brown food, that means that you’re actually not consuming it through you. You’re consuming it for your bacteria. Not only but fiber will help you clean out your colon and reduce your risk for colon cancer, it acts like little scrubies on the inside of your colon to lose epithelial cells from your colon so that they don’t become cancers.
[00:35:00]

[00:35:30] A paper just came out this morning that shows that more under 30 people are getting colon cancer in the United States than ever before, four times as many people under 30 are getting colon cancer. The reason is because there’s no fiber in our diet because they’re eating processed food. Fiber works every level. Fiber works to reduce the glucose rise so your insulin stays low. It makes the food go down the intestine further so that the bacteria will chew it up. It makes the food move through the intestine faster so you get the satiety signals sooner. It allows for that fiber to actually be metabolized by the colon bacteria to short chain fatty acids which also suppress insulin. Finally, it acts like little scrubbies on the inside of your colon to get rid of cancer cells.

Fiber is the stealth nutrient. Fiber is wonderful and we have none of it because the food industry took it out because it can’t freeze fiber.

Guy

Yeah. Then we go on to take fiber supplements and keep on eating the processed food and hoping it’s going to solve the problem.

Robert

Right. Fiber supplements are soluble fiber like Metamucil and …

Guy

Yeah.

Robert

[00:36:30] What that will do is that will move the food through the intestine faster so there is a potential value to that but you’re not getting the big value of having both soluble and insoluble together. That’s where you get the big benefit of fiber and that you only get in real food. We can’t do that with fiber supplements and no one has figured out how to add insoluble fiber back to the diet, at least not yet.

Guy

Yeah, right.

Stu

Right. Fantastic. Just quickly was we’ll go. I just have a question regarding the food swaps as we’re talking about, your whole mill bread as oppose to white bread, brown rice instead of white rice. Tell me about the difference sweet potato versus the conventional white potato, because I know that our community devour them.

Robert

Right. Sweet potatoes, you can see the fiber in them. You can actually pull the string out of the sweet potato, whether it’s American sweet potatoes or yams, it doesn’t matter, they’re very high fiber. You can prove it because all you have to do is take a potato and try to cut through it and it cuts through relatively easily. Try to do the same thing with the sweet potato and it’s a lot harder.

Stu

Right. I understand, it’s all about the fiber.

Robert

More fiber.

Stu

Got it.

Robert

Sweet potatoes are okay even though they’re slightly sweet. It’s the regular potato which is high glucose because it stores amylopectin, it dissolves into single glucose molecules very rapidly in the intestine and raises your blood glucose and therefore your insulin goes up and that’s going to drive everything straight to fat.

Stu

Right.

Robert

[00:38:00] Refined carbohydrate drives insulin and insulin drives weight gain. There’s no question that refined carbohydrate is a problem but it pales in comparison to having your liver be sick due to the fructose in the dietary sugar.

Guy

Yeah, right.

Stu

Got it.

Guy

Then when you combine them both together and you’re seriously asking for trouble, yeah.

Robert

Then you’re just done, you’re just done. Everything is more abrupt.

Guy

Yeah.

Stu

[00:38:30] Absolutely. You compound it at every meal and every snack that you don’t realize that you are ingesting volumes and volumes of sugar as well.

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Robert

That’s right.

Stu

Yeah, boy.

Guy

Yeah. The one thing amazes me as well is that I see a lot of people, or you’ve meet and talked to people and sometimes they’re not well but then I look at what they’re eating and they haven’t thought the connection together yet at all and it’s a shame.

Robert

[00:39:00] The problem is that there’s a lot of junk out there. Number one, there are a lot of people who have a lot of money to be made, okay, where they’re spending the money that they’re making, okay. You’ve got a lot of scientists sort of pay it all to support the food industry and to exonerate the food industry.

We engage in these debates and I will tell you, I win them but getting the message out, they have a very loud megaphone.

Guy

Yup.

Stu

Yes.

Robert

[00:39:30] They have a lot of them. It’s very important that we get that information out to as many people as we can so that we can change the minds and hearts of not just the American but the Australian and for that matter, all people.

Guy

Yeah, absolutely.

Stu

That’s right, yeah. It’s very tricky. We generally try and tell our audience if we try and eat like our grandparents, we’re going to be on the right track because …

Robert

Because they ate food.

Guy

Yeah.

Stu

Yeah. Most of it was organic as well before organic became a buzz word.

Robert

Indeed.

Stu

Yeah.

Robert

[00:40:30]
Yes. The point is that we have to figure out how to feed 10 billion people by the year 2050, okay. It’s not that simple, all right. There is probably a role for processed food in this mix, okay. We also have to figure out how to do it sustainably. Right now, agriculture contributes 40% of global warming. We have to figure out how to feed the world’s population and at the same time not continue to pollute the atmosphere with carbon dioxide.

This is not a simple matter. What it means is that everybody has to come to the table and the stakeholders have to basically stop screaming at each other and basically agree to look at the science. We haven’t gotten there yet.

Guy

Yeah. Hopefully, we will.

Robert

We need to get there quick.

Guy

Yeah. Absolutely. Rob, I’m quite aware of the time, mate, and we’ve got a few questions we ask everyone in the show. I thought I’d push on and the first one is what did you eat today?

Robert

I had lunch with my former clinic coordinator and I had gyros.

Stu

What’s that?

Robert

It’s a Greek thing with shaved lamb and salad.

Stu

Right, okay. Fantastic. Tell me what you typically eat for breakfast, Robert, because I know that’s where most people struggle because we’re time pool and there are so many options out there that should be great for us but they’re actually not.

Robert

Right. On weekends I eat usually eggs. I’m going to tell you that breakfast is one of my biggest problems and I won’t argue that. I usually have half a bagel with some whitefish salad on it.

Stu

Yeah, right. Okay.

Guy

Perfect.

Robert

I don’t have the whole bagel.

Guy

Yeah.

Robert

It’s my one weakness. I’m from New York, bagels are part of the deal.

Stu

Brilliant. Fantastic.

Guy

Good on you, mate. Can I ask a question, what are your non-negotiables to be the best version of yourself?

Robert

I’m sorry, I don’t understand.

Guy

Are there any non-negotiables that you do daily or monthly to live your best life?

Robert

One is exercise. I get up the elliptical trainer pretty much every day in some fashion. It’s absolutely an essential. The other non-negotiables is stress reduction. I’m going to tell you, that’s a tough job when you’ve got patients to take care of. Ultimately stress drives cortisol, cortisol drives visceral fat and visceral drives poor metabolic health.

[00:43:00] Finding methods for appropriate stress abatement are absolute crucial. This is something that a lot of people are not very good at. Trying to manage stress in a reasonable fashion is something everyone should be attuned to.

Stu

Yeah. Do you have any tips that you’d like to share about how you manage stress?

Robert

Yeah. I don’t meditate as often as I should but I’ve learned how. I will tell you, I learned something from meditation that I found very, very useful. Because I used to be a very high stressed guy, I used to be anxious about virtually everything. I was known for it, in fact. What I learned from taking a meditation class was that anxiety is excitement about the future. The problem is the future never comes.

[00:44:00] Today, you’re stressed about what will happen tomorrow. When tomorrow comes and then you’ll be stressed about what will happen the next day.

Guy

The next day, absolutely.

Robert

[00:44:30] You stress about what will happen the day after that. Bottom line is, if you take that notion, you will never be happy. You can’t possibly be happy because every day, there’s always another day to worry about. By recognizing that what you have right now, today, this minute isn’t so bad and you’re making it through and you’re surviving, okay, and you haven’t fallen on your face and you still have a reputation and you’re still making money and life isn’t that bad.

I got a wife and kids and this isn’t so bad. That recognition that worrying about tomorrow was ultimately ineffectual and dangerous.

Stu

Embrace the present.

Robert

Embracing today made a very big difference in my life.

Stu

That’s a great advice, very good.

Guy

Yeah. It comes up all the time, stress, with everyone we interview, they all say the same thing.

Robert

Yeah. Busy people are busy.

Guy

Yeah, absolutely.

Stu

Certainly are.

Guy

The last question is, Robert, is what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? What’s the first thing that springs to mind?

 

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Robert

Best piece of advice I’ve ever been given, I would say, my father told me a long time ago that the only person who makes a difference is you. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says about you. If you’re happy with what you’ve done, that’s good enough and not to worry about what other people think.

Guy

Yeah. Perfect.

Stu

Good advice.

Guy

Perfect.

Robert

That’s one of the best advice I’ve gotten is do what I do and do it well and be happy with my production of it not other people’s impression of my production of them.

Guy

Yeah.

Stu

Yeah. That’s good. What does the future hold, Robert, for you, what have you got lined up?

Robert

[00:46:30] As you know, I’m going to be in Sydney in April for this symposium where I hope to help Australian health practitioners understand the obesity epidemic a little bit better. I have a book coming out in September which will … it’s not really a departure, it’s along with the same beans but it’s much more politically focused. The title of the book here in America is “The Hacking of the American Mind” and in Australia, it will be “The Hacking of the Contemporary Mind”.

[00:47:00] What it is about in 10 words or less is, what’s the difference between pleasure and happiness.

Guy

Yeah, right.

Stu

That’s a nice thing. Okay.

Robert

What do you think?

Stu

Pleasure perhaps is, I’m thinking, instant gratification and happiness is more founded and long-lasting.

Robert

That’s one.

Guy

Happiness comes from within, pleasure you seek externally.

Robert

Okay. That’s true. Good. You got five more.

Stu

How are we doing?

Robert

You got two out of seven, keep going. Pleasure is visceral, happiness is ethereal. Pleasure can be achieved with substances happiness cannot be achieved with substances. Pleasure is taking happiness is giving. Pleasure is experienced alone happiness is usually achieved in social groups. The extremes of pleasure lead to addiction. Everything that drives pleasure has its ultimate endpoint addiction whereas happiness is not addictive. Ultimately, pleasure is dopamine and happiness is serotonin.

[00:48:30] Two different transmitters, two different areas of the brain, two different regulatory pathways. Why should we care? Because dopamine downregulates its own receptor. You get a hit, you get a rush, the neurons that transduce the signal from dopamine, they don’t want to die. They downregulate their receptor. They reduce the number of receptors that are available to bind dopamine the next time and to try to stay alive.

The next time you need a bigger hit to occupy fewer receptors to get the same rush and then a bigger hit and a bigger hit and a bigger hit until finally get a huge hit to get nothing.

Guy

Yeah.

Robert

That’s called …

Stu

I see.

Robert

[00:49:00] When the neurons start to die, that’s addiction. Everything that drives dopamine drives addiction. Serotonin, it turns out, does not downregulate its own receptor. You can’t overdose on too much happiness but there is one thing that does downregulate serotonin, dopamine.
[00:49:30] The more pleasure you seek, the more unhappy you get. Wall Street, Madison Avenue, Silicon Valley, Washington D.C., Las Vegas have conflated pleasure with happiness on purpose to sell you junk.

Stu

Right. I was going to ask, well where is the connection between your sugar message in everything that you do and the book and there it is.

Robert

There it is.

Stu

Fantastic.

Guy

Yeah. We’d love to know when this comes out, Robert, we’d love to share it with our audience.

Robert

September 12.

Guy

[00:50:00] September 12, we’ll keep an eye out for this. It’s fantastic. For everyone listening to this, if they want to check out more of you, where would be the best place to send them?

Robert

[00:50:30] Obviously, there are many videos that have been made, lectures that I’ve given. There’s a compendium of them at our website of our non-profit called the Institute for Responsible Nutrition. It’s online at responsiblefoods.org. You can click on Robert Lustig Media Archives. You can go to the UCSF website, profiles.ucsf.edu. Eventually, I’m sure there will be a website for this new book as well.

Guy

Fantastic.

Stu

Fantastic.

Guy

We’ll link it out and I’ll make sure we’ll send it over you shortly. Robert, thank you so much for your time and I know you’re an exceptionally busy person and brilliant advice and we’re very grateful for you coming on and all that you do. Thank you very much Robert.

Robert

My pleasure. Thanks for having me. Thanks.

Stu

Thank you. Bye-bye.

Guy

Thank you, guys.

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