Saturated fats, sugar, and metabolic health | Dr Richard Johnson The Proof with Simon Hill Podcast episode 233

Saturated fats, sugar, and metabolic health | Dr Richard Johnson

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In Episode #233, I’m joined by Dr. Richard Johnson to examine how diet affects the health and function of metabolism and the liver.

“I do think that this fructose pathway is a lot more important than we think.”

After Dr. Johnson’s appearance in Episode #215, listeners of The Proof had many more questions. Most of the feedback I received welcomed the opportunity for discourse with someone whose views don’t align exactly with mine, helping to disrupt the echo chamber it is easy to find ourselves in. In today’s episode, we continue to explore Dr. Johnson’s position, navigating where we agree and where our stances might differ.

Dr Richard Johnson is a Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado. He is a clinician, educator, and researcher, and has been at the forefront of obesity and diabetes research for more than 20 years. He takes special interest in the role of sugar (especially fructose) and uric acid, and has been extensively cited from his publications in top medical journals.

“The liver has really been always recognised as the metabolic organ… we think the liver is king.”

In Episode #233, we fill in some gaps from Dr. Johnson’s past episode and explore new areas. We discuss human outcome data, animal and mechanistic data, and gaps in current studies. We also cover the role of the liver, how the diet affects its health and function, and the effect this has on metabolic health and the risk of disease.

Specifically, we discuss:

  • Intro (0:00)
  • Dr. Johnson’s Thesis on Fructose (3:27)
  • Gaps in Current Studies (11:28)
  • Saturated Fat Versus Sugar (20:20)
  • Long-term risk of Keto Diet (33:09)
  • Fructose Effect on Saturated Fat (36:28)
  • Survival Mechanisms (40:40)
  • Type of Fat (46:37)
  • Metabolic Health & Fructose (53:00)
  • Role of the Liver (1:02:20)
  • Problem with High Blood Sugar (1:09:15)
  • Triglycerides & Uric Acid (1:17:22)
  • When Fatty Liver Happens (1:27:52)
  • Ceramides (1:31:45)
  • Outro (1:33:30)

It is a pleasure to have Dr. Richard Johnson back on the show to examine the evidence and its significance. I appreciate Richard’s time and passion for this space as we navigate where we agree and where our stances might differ. I hope this episode helped you make more educated food choices.

To connect with Dr. Richard Johnson, you can find him on Instagram and Twitter, or learn more on his website. For a more comprehensive picture of Dr. Johnson’s stance, make sure to check out his book, Nature Wants Us To Be Fat. Listen to Episode #215 with Richard Johnson here.

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Enjoy, friends.


More about Dr Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson is a Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado and is both a clinician, educator, and researcher. He is board certified in internal medicine, infectious diseases, and kidney disease and is the founding editor of Comprehensive Clinical Nephrology, one of the main textbooks on kidney disease. For more than 20 years, he has led research on the cause of obesity and diabetes, with special interest in the role of sugar (especially fructose) and uric acid. His research has been highly cited, published in top medical journals, and supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health. He is the author of The Sugar Fix and The Fat Switch. His latest work contains state-of-the-art discoveries on the cause of obesity and potential cures. Currently, Dr. Johnson lives in Colorado with his wife, kids, and two rambunctious puppies.

Supporting studies

  • Effects of short-term overfeeding with fructose, fat and fructose plus fat on plasma and hepatic lipids in healthy men PMID: 20483648
  • Four-year follow-up after two-year dietary interventions • PMID: 23034044
  • Intrahepatic Fat and Postprandial Glycemia Increase After Consumption of a Diet Enriched in Saturated Fat Compared With Free Sugars PMID: 32165444
  • No difference between high-fructose and high-glucose diets on liver triacylglycerol or biochemistry in healthy overweight men PMID: 23872500
  • Sucrose induces fatty liver and pancreatic inflammation in male breeder rats independent of excess energy intake • PMID: 21489572

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