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What the best science has to say about sugar

By Rachel O'Regan |


I Quit Sugar – What the best science has to say about sugar

Food science can be pretty dodgy. You only have to read the multitude of industry-funded studies downplaying the effects of sugar to know that.

So, you may ask, what makes us so sure of the research which we use to inform our I Quit Sugar: 8-Week Program? Good question.

Every bit of sugar science that comes our way goes through a rigorous process of fact-checking. We even have in-house nutritionists and a bank of professionals we work with – so you know that if we get excited, or we hang our hats on a study, that we genuinely believe it’s important.

Not sure why sugar’s such a big problem? Here are a few big studies that will show you why we’re so convinced.

Fructose increases your risk of metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of at least three of five of the following: abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high triglycerides and low “good cholesterol” levels. It’s also highly associated with developing cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes.

So, nothing to sneeze at. It’s also hard to ignore that a meta-analysis of more than 3,000 studies, which found a strong connection between fructose consumption in industrialised foods and the development of metabolic syndrome.

A high-fructose diet puts immense strain on the liver.

Fructose is mostly metabolised by the liver. Unlike glucose, which is absorbed directed into the blood from the small intestine. This puts an immense strain on the liver, although the symptoms can go undetected.

In fact, a study of 2,000 people found that as little as one can of soft drink a day can significantly increase your risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Unsurprisingly, it’s the most common liver disorder in Western countries.

Soft drinks may make you age faster.

A study of more than 5,000 people found that sugar-sweetened soda consumption was linked to shorter telomeres. Telomeres protect DNA from deterioration, and shorter telomeres are associated with ageing and mortality. If you’re serious about increasing your longevity (or just want to ward off wrinkles), it’s worth giving up the pop.

Soft drinks also make you prone to type-2 diabetes.

Type-2 diabetes rates are increasing worldwide. The largest study of its kind, data from more than 300,000 people found that consuming just one to two serves of soft drink a day would increase type 2 diabetes risk by 26 per cent. To put it in perspective, there’s around 20 teaspoons of sugar in two serves of Coke.

They are even worse for your ticker…

The same study found an increased risk of cardiovascular disease by 35 per cent. “Limiting intake [of sugar-sweetened beverages] is one simple change that will have a measurable impact on weight control and prevention of cardio-metabolic diseases,” concluded the study’s lead author, Frank Hu, Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at Harvard.

And your brain…

The same study also found a 16 per cent increase in risk of stroke. This backs up a 60,000-strong study which concluded that people who drank one to two sugar-sweetened beverages were 22 per cent more likely to experience a stroke. We’re starting to see a pattern here.

And your waistline.

A meta-analysis study published in the British Medical Journal shows increased sugar intake is significantly associated with weight gain.

Sugar may be linked to an increased risk of certain cancers.

A massive analysis of nearly a million patients found 50 per cent diagnosed with pancreatic cancer had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes the previous year. Emerging studies have also linked fructose to breast, gallbladder, bile duct and small intestinal cancers as well as increased chance of metastasis (cancer spreading to other areas of the body).

Finally, sugar is terrible for your teeth.

If the decreased risk of liver disease, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular problems and stroke wasn’t enough for you to quit sugar, at least do it for your pearly whites.

In Australia, tooth decay is the most prevalent (and preventable) health condition, and sugary foods and drinks are the number one cause. Who’s smiling now?

Please be respectful of other participants in the conversation. We'd love you to keep your comments respectful, friendly and relevant. Differences of opinion are welcome, but trolling and abuse of other commentators and the IQS editorial team is not and will result in blacklisting.

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