Sugar not harmful


Dear Editor,

In his seemingly rabid attempt to propagate vegetarianism at the expense of logic, Mr. Gordon (Mailbag 29/11) claims that taken in moderation sugar is not that bad because the ill effects of meat eating can be reversed by going on a vegetarian diet.

It is not possible to know what moderation means and meat in moderation might not be ‘that bad’ except that small quantities of meat might adversely affect the gut flora and/or interfere with vitamin B12 production; hence large amounts of meat might be better than small ones. It was, I believe, who first said that toxicity was in the dose and we know that anything, including water, can be lethal if the dose is large enough.  Many of our vital nutrients are extremely poisonous in quite small amounts: arsenic, iron and iodine being prime examples. The jury is still out on whether arsenic is a necessary nutrient. We cannot live without oxygen; yet it eventually causes our demise unless we get killed by meat, sugar, smoking or an errant bus!  Some readers might be unaware of the dangers of oxygen but we know that it eventually disintegrates cellular activity.

There is no doubt whatsoever that sugar is far more hazardous than meat and Mr. Gordon could do no better than to read Prof. Yudkin’s ‘Pure White and Deadly’. Yudkin was one of only four professors of nutrition in the UK and, apart from temporarily with-holding adverse information about white bread whilst he was in the pay of the Flour Advisory Board, was a very honest man and adamantly claimed that fifty years ago that sugar was the most harmful dietary factor – prescinding of course from extreme alcohol abuse and drug taking!

The adverse effects of sugar range from appendicitis and colitis to diabetes, cancer and heart disease. I am sure that many of them could be reversed by stopping sugar but this is not easy as it is now ubiquitous. However this is irrelevant.

The whole point has been missed which is that vegetarianism is an ethical choice.

It may also be a health choice, though fish and insects may even be beneficial.

Perhaps the biggest problem today is the increasing human population and increasing wealth which leads to keeping billions of cattle and deforestation. This, in turn, leads to climate change and the inevitable side-lining of the very poor.

Michael Nightingale (Dr)