A number of studies have found that added sugar is a diet killer. Not only does it cause obesity and diabetes, it wreaks havoc on the body’s other systems. And now, more studies are finding that not only should you drastically cut back on the amount of sugar in your diet, you should also look at the kind of sweetener found in your favorite foods. Specifically, high fructose corn syrup, which is particularly toxic. According to a new study, it increased the death rate in mice when compared to the consumption of regular table sugar.
University of Utah researchers fed mice sugar in doses proportional to what humans would eat. Fructose-glucose, the mixture found in high fructose corn syrup, was found to be more toxic than table sugar in female mice. Although, there was no difference in male mice.
“This is the most robust study showing there is a difference between high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar at human-relevant doses,” says biology professor Wayne Potts, senior author of a study scheduled for publication in the March 2015 issue of The Journal of Nutrition.
High fructose corn syrup produces two separate molecules called monosaccharides, while table sugar is a disaccharide compound formed between fructose and glucose.
James Ruff, the study’s first author and a postdoctoral fellow in biology, says, “Our previous work and plenty of other studies have shown that added sugar in general is bad for your health. So first, reduce added sugar across the board. Then worry about the type of sugar, and decrease consumption of products with high-fructose corn syrup.”
In the study, two groups of mice were fed an otherwise healthy diet with 25 percent of calories coming from processed sugars. One group was fed a high fructose corn syrup mixture and another was fed a table sugar mixture. Female mice in the high fructose corn syrup group were 1.87 times more likely to die than those fed table sugar. No difference was found in male death rates. The study showed no difference in food intake, weight gain, or glucose intolerance.
“So we speculate that the different sugars could favor different microbes in the guts of mice. Other research has shown differences in bacterial communities in the gut to be associated with metabolic diseases in rodents and in humans. It’s possible one form of sugar causes more bacteria to get across your gut than another,” Ruff says.
I reported on another recent study which found that high fructose corn syrup led to memory loss in adolescent rats. In the study, rats that freely consumed liquid solutions made of high fructose corn syrup and sugar concentrations, similar to those found in many of today’s popular sugar sweetened beverages, experienced brain inflammation that caused memory problems. Cutting back on added sugars is important and so is choosing the right sweetener.
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Image: Jeff Adair