To be mistaken is a human thing – this also applies to doctors and dieticians. In the history of human history, many views considered by the dietetic and medical communities as real ultimately turned out to be a lie. 

The effects of sugar on the body, the differences between margarine and butter, as well as the benefits and negative effects of using aspartame are just some examples of such views. All cases described in this article fall within the XX-XXI century range. 


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1. Sugar – good source of energy 

In the Middle Ages, sugar was a luxury good. Only elite social groups had access to it. Then the Arabs had a monopoly on its production and sales. For Europeans, the sweet delicacy was something new, unknown as a medicine – that’s why it was often sold as a medicine. In modern times, along with a series of great geographical discoveries and the expansion of European countries, sugar production has increased significantly, and improving access to sugar has led to a drop in its prices. It has become a product available to an increasing number of people. It was not until the nineteenth century that sugar produced from beets appeared. In the twentieth century, along with the development of industrial food production, hidden sugar appears, which is not really talked about. 

In 1931, biochemist Otto Heinrich Warburg discovered that cancer feeds on sugar, for which he received the Nobel Prize. In 1957, Dr. William Coda Martin begins to talk about refined sugar, which is harmful to the body, flushes out mineral substances and causes degenerative diseases (in a simplified way). Dr Martin called sugar poison. Nowadays, there is no doubt that sugar consumed in large quantities is unhealthy. In the Age of Enlightenment (XVIII century) so much sugar was added to the coffee that it resembled a syrup, and before sugar became popular, he was given medicinal properties. 

2. Margarine healthier than butter – or vice versa? 

Margarine or butter? For many years, margarine was considered a product that is healthier than butter, because it does not contain saturated fat – supposedly causing the increase of cholesterol and responsible for cardiovascular diseases. Vegetable fats were found to be healthier, only to be forgotten that they can only have a liquid form (with few exceptions, e.g. coconut fat). For the production of margarine, the method of hardening liquid fat is used to make it consistency similar to butter. 

After many years of maintaining that margarine is healthier than butter, scientists have come to the conclusion that it is quite the opposite. In the process of fat curing, trans fats are formed, which are more dangerous than saturated fats found in butter. Currently, some manufacturers use other methods of hardening fats, leading to lowering the content of trans fats. In Denmark, a complete ban on the marketing of products containing this type of fats has been introduced. 

3. Ah, this aspartame 

As for aspartame, the scientific dispute is still ongoing. According to some (including the EU), it is a harmless sweetener. According to others, it should be eliminated from the food market. Originally, aspartame served as a sugar substitute for people with diabetes. Currently, it is added to juices, medicines, chewing gums and other products. Opponents of aspartame accuse him of neurotoxic effects disturbing protein synthesis, carcinogenic activity and indicate other negative sides. Who’s right? In the current state of affairs, too many manufacturers use aspartame so that it can be withdrawn from the market. It should be remembered that there were also many disputes around sugar, and although the medical and dietary circles speak with one voice in this matter, the producers add it to the products anyway. A similar career is augur for aspartame. In both cases, the decision is made by producers and rulers, but the choice belongs to the consumer. 

4. Glucose-fructose syrup 

Glucose-fructose syrup, also known as isoglucose or HFCS, was invented in the 1950s in the USA. In the 1970s, its mass production began, because it turned out to be a cheaper substitute for sugar. For the production of isoglucose, usually maize or wheat starch is used. The process of producing glucose-fructose syrup involves processing starch using enzymes and acids into a light yellow liquid form. 

However, excessive consumption of fructose leads to an increase in the level of triglycerides in the blood and lipid fractions transferring fat from the liver to adipose tissue. Glucose-fructose syrup suppresses the action of leptin (satiety hormone) and leads to high sugar levels in the blood. Researchers have shown the association of high intake of glucose-fructose syrup with obesity, overweight and diabetes, as well as with heart disease, increased risk of cancer and inflammation in the body. The first works on this subject were published at the beginning of the 21st century. 

5. Monosodium glutamate 

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) has made a career as a food additive because it gives a very pleasant, expressive taste and intense aroma, especially to low-quality and / or highly processed products. The history of this food additive dates back to 1866, when Karl Ritthausen isolated glutamic acid. In 1908, Kikunae Ikeda isolated glutamate from seaweed – a Japanese lamella (kombu). In 1987, the FAO / WHO Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives presented their position on the issue – it was recognized that products on the market contain a safe amount of MSG and do not endanger consumers. A similar stance was expressed by the Scientific Committee on Food of the European Commission in 1991. 

However, in 1995, the Federation of American Associations of Experimental Biology, after analyzing reports on consumer reactions to MSG, explicitly stated that some people who are sensitive to this food additive and that contain it even in safe quantities could be detrimental. Currently, high consumption of monosodium glutamate is also associated with overweight and obesity – the relationship between them has been shown by scientists at the University of North Carolina in 2008 indicating that people who consume a lot of MSG have higher BMI and are more likely to be obese. Monosodium glutamate is also recognized as the cause of the so-called Chinese restaurant syndrome – associated with excessive glutamate intake or hypersensitivity to it. Symptoms include feelings of anxiety, dizziness, heart palpitations or excessive sweating. 

6. GMO – genetically modified food 

GMOs (genetically modified organisms), i.e. transgenic plants, are plants with altered genetic code, created using recombinant DNA technology. In practice, technologies of genetic modification are used as a way to increase the resistance of plants to adverse factors, such as high temperatures and low humidity, insects and weeds. Genetic modifications can also be made to the genetic material of animals. In this way, you can create a resistance to certain diseases, a tendency to give more meat, milk or eggs. Wonderful, right? 

In 1996, the first GMO products went to the US market. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was then in the position that there is no information according to which GMO food differs significantly from traditional food. The Annals of Agricultural and Enviromental Medicine published the results of several independent studies pointing to something completely different. The view of ecological environments for GMO food is definitely negative. The EU position has also changed. Originally, the more liberal position was tightened – the rigors for GMO food producers were introduced, which would limit the negative impact of genetic modifications on consumers’ health and the natural environment. We will probably find out about the real impact of GMOs after a few years. 

7. Fluorine 

The main source of fluoride is toothpaste. Swallowing a small amount of paste may harm. Manufacturers recommend using a paste amount of pea size. Meanwhile, water in many countries, including Poland, is sometimes fluorinated. In some places, the water naturally contains fluorine. The quality of water is examined by laboratories of water and sewage companies. The results are published on the internet, so you can check the fluoride content in drinking water. The permissible level of fluoride is 1.5 mg / l. Remember that water and food (tea, raisins, fish and seafood, sea and stone salt, wine, coffee) naturally contain fluorine, which is quite sufficient for us. 

In the light of the current state of knowledge, we know that fluoride is very easily overdosed, and its excess can lead to dangerous fluorosis. Elemental fluoride as well as fluoride ions are highly toxic. It disrupts enzymatic processes in cells, inhibiting tissue respiration, carbohydrate metabolism, lipids and hormone synthesis. Fluoride and fluoride ions interfere with the pancreas and especially what is recently a thyroid epidemic. Overdosed fluoride also leads to calcium leaching from the body. Therefore, the reverse is true – frequent use of large amounts of fluoride toothpaste does not strengthen the tooth tissue, but weakens it, taking away its valuable calcium. 

In many cases, the mistaken belief that a certain product or component of a product is healthy was due to insufficient knowledge and the inability to investigate its impact on health. However, in the case of GMOs and aspartame, as well as glucose-fructose syrup, one can get the impression that someone was in a hurry when introducing them to the market. It was enough to pre-screen him and assess the risk of adverse effects. Nobody, however, was reluctant to do so, and despite the harmful effects on health, they are still admitted to trading. This can not be explained by a logical argument. Business is business, and when you do not know what’s going on, it’s about money. 


You can read also: Sugar detox

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