Kurt Harris MD

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Monday
Feb282011

Proof that orthorexia exists

I am stunned at the number of comments and questions I have received regarding my offhand mention that I sometimes eat rice-based breakfast cereal in the mornings, in lieu of taking the time to boil or fry potatoes.

Apart from the "empty calories" argument (eating 7% of calories as rice is hardly going to deprive you of vitamins or give you rickets, is it?) there is much consternation over my claim that Rice Krispies are mostly starch, and have very little sugar, and hence very, very little fructose.

Now, is there anyone who is not aware that the average fructose consumption in the United States is at least 75 g/day? I would be willing to bet that the mean is actually closer to 100g, and more importantly that this is not a normal distribution at all - that there is a lot of skew to it. I'll bet there is a substantial plurality - maybe a third - that eat over 100g a day of fructose. Like a friend of mine who drinks at least one 2 Liter bottle of mountain dew per day while at work.

Not counting other intake, he is getting 1000 kcal per day from liquid sugar, and assuming HFCS at a 55/45 ratio, the fructose he gets is at minimum 143 g/day or 573 kcal or probably well over 20% of total calories - JUST FROM FRUCTOSE.

To put that in context, compare 143 g a day of fructose to Dr. Lustig's recommended upper limit. Granted, he thinks you can eat all the fruit you want, but thinks added fructose from sugar is safe if limited to 25-40 g/day.

IIRC, I believe it was T.L. Cleave who observed that the increase in western diseases in populations formerly naive to added sugar started to become evident at about 50 lbs per year (32 g/day fructose) - one third the level typically quoted for current american consumption of about 150 lbs/yr (about 100 g/day fructose)

So my friend is consuming about 143 g/day vs the Cleave number of 32 g/day and the lower limit Lustig number of 25 g/day - Lustig being the most fructose-fearing crusader I know of.

And my descripition of a bowl of generic rice krispies that has 3 g of sugar that is 1.5g of fructose, is met with shock and earnest questions, like "isn't that added sugar?" and "where can I find the cereal that has no sugar?" and " I am trying to find some that has less sugar." Etc..

I am really, really certain that neither Dr. Cleave nor Dr. Lustig would be concerned that you are damaging your liver or going to get diabetes or have a heart attack if you eat ONE-AND-A-HALF GRAMS of fructose.

Whether is is added or not is hardly the point is it?

If you really want to feed your orthorexia, and are flummoxed when you can't find totally fructose-free rice krispies type cereal at the store, just put on your thinking cap and say, "Gee, maybe there is some other kind of rice cereal that has absolutely no sugar in it.. Maybe it's even on the same shelf nearby...."

It's called puffed rice.

 

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