A new study now says that sugar is toxic to our bodies, dwindling the list of things we can enjoy to about a dozen foods only. Just about every sweet or savory comfort food that we hold dear – from microwave popcorn to deli meats to fast food salads – have been ruled out, making our acceptable meal plan a colossal challenge.
Even the foods we proudly place in our grocery carts, like the yogurts, trail mixes and granolas, turn out to be loaded with sugar, which according to a study out of the department of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, is toxic. Pesticides, lead, formaldehyde… sugar?
Writes Time on Oct. 27: “Fat was the food villain these past few decades but sugar is quickly muscling in to take its place. As rates of sugar-related disorders such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease climb, many experts believe that when Americans rid themselves of fat, they simply replaced it with sugar in all its forms.”
The full study, published in Obesity research journal, links sugar to metabolic syndrome — a sinister cluster of five abysmal health conditions: elevated blood pressure, abdominal obesity (belly fat), hyperglycemia (high blood sugars), high levels of triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood), and something called high-density lipoprotein levels (a cholesterol linked with cardiovascular disease).
“We notice that these patients with metabolic syndrome have higher rates of heart attacks and strokes, and they’re more likely to die earlier. Therefore, [sugar] is toxic in that sense,” explained Dr. Peter Lin.
In the study, a group of obese children between the ages of nine and 18 saw their sugar content eliminated in their diet, but replaced with starch. The researchers wanted to see what effect purging sugar would have, while keeping the children’s caloric intake the same.
“The whole goal was that they don’t lose weight when they switch over to the diet. It’s just they’re removing sugar to see what that effect will be,” explained Lin. The result: “They noticed everything got better.”
Blood pressure dropped, bad cholesterol levels fell, and the blood-fat content improved, as did liver function. According to Medical Daily, insulin levels were even cut by one-third.
“The freaky part of this study was that it was only nine days long,” Lin said, adding that the way the body metabolizes sugar’s two main components – glucose and fructose – is key to realizing the “toxicity” of sugar.
“When you metabolize fructose in excess, your liver has no choice but to turn that energy into liver fat, and that liver fat causes all of the downstream metabolic diseases,” explained Lin.
“This study definitively shows that sugar is metabolically harmful not because of its calories or its effects on weight; rather sugar is metabolically harmful because it’s sugar,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco. “This study is a solid indication that sugar contributes to metabolic syndrome and is the strongest evidence to date that the negative effects of sugar are not because of calories or obesity.”
And sugar is in almost everything we eat. Check out these foods that are ridiculously high in sugar.