There are plenty of scientists like Seneff, working in near-obscurity. But there also are plenty others who are much more accessible and known – Robert Lustig is one such scientist. So, just as Stephanie Seneff, a computer engineer, uses biochemistry to explain metabolism nd health, so does Robert Lustig, the difference is he is, well, actually a biochemist and endocrinologist. So, question: Can Robert Lustig explain the biochemistry of sugar in a way that puts a dent in the soda industry? And, in so doing, help us along as critical consumers.
At first glance, Robert Lustig of the department of pediatric endocrinology at UCSF might seem a bit of a contradiction. He’s an academic – but excitable and passionate. He is especially fervent about his favorite subject – fructose. His biochemistry and endocrinology work addresses the simple question, What happens when we consume fructose? For Lustig, fructose is metabolized like no other sugar, finding the liver its only safe haven. “Giving your kid a can of soda is like giving your kid a can of beer,” he’s been quoted as saying – since fructose is metabolized like an alcohol. And it makes you fat. Guess Steve Scheck was right.
Lustig’s hypotheses are a little less speculative than Seneff’s – being based in solid chemistry. His work has always been this way – his oeuvre shows a lifetime of chemistry investigation as it relates to health. However, it wasn’t until The Bitter Truth About Sugar (a 90 minute video, available on You Tube, going viral almost immediately) that his work became well known. In that lecture, haye carefully explains how fructose is metabolized. All fructose (whether it be as high fructose corn syrup in bread or fructose in maple syrup) is powerfully sweet – and addictive. It works like alcohol, and the idea of a “sugar high” is spot on. Even glucose is metabolized differently. He talks about infant obesity and soda taxes, he shows with his graphs and diagrams how each molecule of fructose generates more calories than anything else you can imagine – calories that are then stored. Bottom line – lay off the fructose.
When I tried to catch up with him in San Francisco last year, this affable scholar was on his way to NYC to be the keynote speaker at a $500 a plate gala – raising money for childhood disease. Lustig is on the right track – and he is all about the message and the media.