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Yet Another Reason to Avoid Sugar

April 12, 2009

Atkins followers are well-versed in the dangers of refined carbohydrates and sugar. As they lose weight by restricting such foods, most also notice enhanced energy and improved cholesterol levels. A study conducted at the University of Buffalo found that sugar can also accelerate aging (1), leaving you more vulnerable to conditions such as Type II diabetes(2), cancer and heart disease(3).

Fourteen healthy men and women fasted for 12 hours, then consumed a sugary drink consisting of 75 grams of glucose, or simple sugar, about equal to the amount in two cans of cola. Six control participants drank an artificially flavored water solution. Researchers observed that when participants had excess sugar in their bloodstream, they also produced more free radicals. These destructive agents increased significantly one hour after the subjects consumed the sugary drink and more than doubled after two hours. Control subjects showed no change in the number of free radicals.(1)

Consuming foods high in antioxidants like vegetables and berries effectively keeps free radicals in check. Antioxidant vitamins and minerals neutralize free radicals, preventing damage to other cells. But to make matters worse, researchers noticed that subjects who drank the sugary drink had decreased blood levels of vitamin E.

So sugar causes a double whammy not only by causing free-radical damage, but also by lowering our natural defenses against these harmful particles. Following a sugar-restricted eating plan can boost your chances of keeping conditions such as heart disease, cancer and other age-related diseases at bay—while allowing safe weight loss.

Selected References

1.Mohanty, P., Hamouda, W., Garg, R., et al.,"Glucose Challenge Stimulates Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) Generation by Leucocytes,"Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 85(8), 2000, pages 2970-2973.

2.Sensi, M., Pricci, F., Andreani, D., et al., "Advanced Nonenzymatic Glycation Endproducts (AGE): Their Relevance to Aging and the Pathogenesis of Late Diabetic Complications," Diabetes Research, 16(1), 1991, pages 1-9.

3.Lyons, T.J., "Glycation and Oxidation: A Role in the Pathogenesis of Atherosclerosis," The American Journal of Cardiology, 71(6), 1993, pages 26B-31B.

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