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The Villages
Sunday, May 19, 2024

Added sugars shorten lives of mice

Dr. Gabe Mirkin
Dr. Gabe Mirkin

When mice were fed a diet that had 25 percent added sugars, an amount considered safe and consumed by many Americans, the females died at twice the normal rate and the males were less likely to reproduce or hold territory (Nature Communications, published online August 13, 2013). The National Research Council and The United States Institute of Medicine have recommend that added sugar be limited to 25 percent of energy intake, the same percentage tested in this study.

Added sugars are those that do not occur naturally in a food you are eating (such as fruit, vegetables or milk); they are added during the processing or manufacturing of a food product or beverage. The average American takes in 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day, equal to 355 calories. Three cans of soda supply more than 400 calories from sugars.

The Research Study
The researchers split 156 mice into two groups: one fed a healthful diet, and one that had 25 percent of their carbohydrate calories replaced with added sugar. Both groups took in the same number of calories. After 26 weeks, the two groups were placed together to live, compete, breed and eat the healthful diet for 32 more weeks. The sugar-fed animals were not more obese.

At the end of the experiment, 35 percent of the female mice fed the high-sugar diet had died, compared to 17 percent of the other group. Males on the sugary diet fathered 25 percent fewer offspring and controlled 26 percent less territory. Female mice prefer to chose mates that control more territory.

Silent Harm from Added Sugars
This experiment tells us that you may not be able to tell that you are harming yourself with added sugars. The mice that died early were not more obese and did not have higher blood sugar, fasting insulin or triglyceride levels. The sugar-added female mice did have higher cholesterol and decreased ability to clear added sugar from their bloodstreams. The researchers had no signals to tell them that the mice were going to die prematurely. Humans may also have no physical signs or abnormal laboratory tests to tell themselves or their doctors that excess sugar intake is harming them.

Read the List of Ingredients
If you are exercising vigorously for more than an hour, you need to take sugar during your exercise. Otherwise, try to restrict foods that have a lot of added sugars: sodas, candy, cakes, pastries, most desserts, energy bars, energy drinks, sports drinks, cookies, pies, sweet rolls, donuts, ice cream, fruit drinks and so forth.

Here is a partial list of names of ingredients that are added sugars in foods: *beet sugar, *brown sugar, *cane sugar, *caramel, *carob syrup, *date sugar, *dextran, *dextrose, *fructose, *fruit juice, *fruit juice concentrate, *glucose, *glucose solids, *golden sugar, *golden syrup, *granulated sugar, *grape sugar, *high-fructose corn syrup, *honey, *invert sugar, *lactose, *malt syrup, *maltodextrin, *maltose, *maple syrup, *mannitol, *molasses, *nectars, *pancake syrup, *raw sugar, *refiner’s syrup, *sorghum syrup, *sucrose, *sugar, *turbinado sugar, *white granulated table sugar, *yellow sugar.

Dr. Gabe Mirkin is a Villages resident.

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