Sugar’s reputation keeps getting worse and worse. People have long known that foods high in sugar are also high in calories, and in theory this was what made sugary foods so bad for your diet. Turns out, however, that even excluding calories, sugar may be terrible for your health.
This is essential because it suggests that where calories come from can be just as important as how many calories are consumed. Many have long believed that calorie counts in and of themselves were what’s most important.
Researchers came to this conclusion after conducting a recent study that found that even when calorie, carbohydrate, and protein levels were kept roughly the same, once sugar was reduced in children’s diets, their health improved rapidly. Many of the children even began to lose weight within days of reducing their sugar intake.
With roughly 1/3 of American adults now suffering from obesity, this discovery could prove vital, especially given how much sugar is now added to processed foods. Obesity has been linked to numerous serious conditions, including heart disease and diabetes.
Many processed foods, such as candy, fruit snacks, soda, and fruit juices, that are popular among kids contain high levels of sugar. This high sugar intake could be leading to increased diabetes, obesity, and other health problems.
Researchers from the University of California-San Francisco and Touro University recruited 44 volunteers to find out what would happen when they were put on low sugar diets. All of these volunteers were suffering from obesity at the start of the trial.
The low sugar diet itself was devised by dietitians who worked with the volunteers to design diets that were 10 to 28 percent lower in sugar content. The sugar was replaced by starch. Protein, calories, carbohydrates, and fat levels were all kept roughly the same.
After being put on a low sugar diet, the volunteers were then closely watched. Blood sugar levels, bone density, blood pressure, and various other health aspects were closely monitored.
Blood pressure, glucose tolerance, insulin levels, and other measures quickly improved, with many volunteers seeing dramatic improvements after just ten days. Many participants also began to lose weight, losing 2 pounds within the same time frame.
As mentioned, the study challenges the notion that a calorie is a calorie, no matter where it came from. The test suggests that where calories come from can have a major impact on where they go.
As the study author, Robert Lustig, concluded, “sugar calories are the worst, because they turn to fat in the liver, driving insulin resistance, and driving risk for diabetes, heart and liver disease.”
The study is far from conclusive, instead being more of a preliminary look at the potential relation between sugar consumption and various health issues. The study also does not prove causation.
The study was published in the journal “Obesity”.