“Sugar makes you flexible” is one of those semi-sourced Ashtanga phrases that I would guess most serious practitioners have heard in one form or another, attributed to one teacher or another. (That includes to Guruji, himself.)
I also would guess it comes as no surprise that sugar isn’t exactly good for you. Now there’s a new study that suggests that the levels of added sugar in the average human diet (and probably especially the Western and U.S. ones) is pretty bad for you.
“Sugar is Toxic to Mice in ‘Safe’ Doses” is the cut and dry title of the University of Utah press release announcing the study:
When mice ate a diet of 25 percent extra sugar – the mouse equivalent of a healthy human diet plus three cans of soda daily – females died at twice the normal rate and males were a quarter less likely to hold territory and reproduce, according to a toxicity test developed at the University of Utah.
“Our results provide evidence that added sugar consumed at concentrations currently considered safe exerts dramatic adverse impacts on mammalian health,” the researchers say in a study set for online publication Tuesday, Aug. 13 in the journal Nature Communications.
“This demonstrates the adverse effects of added sugars at human-relevant levels,” says University of Utah biology professor Wayne Potts, the study’s senior author. He says previous studies using other tests fed mice large doses of sugar disproportionate to the amount people consume in sweetened beverages, baked goods and candy.
You get the key thing here, right? Rather than seeing if you fed mice a diet of basically candy bars, this study try to match, more or less, how we all eat. (Well, not we all, because we all eat too healthy, another thing I hate about Ashtanga.) Here’s a bit more on this aspect of the study:
Potts says the National Research Council recommends that for people, no more than 25 percent of calories should be from “added sugar,” which means “they don’t count what’s naturally in an apple, banana, potato or other nonprocessed food. … The dose we selected is consumed by 13 percent to 25 percent of Americans.”
The diet fed to the mice with the 25 percent sugar-added diet is equivalent to the diet of a person who drinks three cans daily of sweetened soda pop “plus a perfectly healthy, no-sugar-added diet,” Potts says.
Ruff notes that sugar consumption in the American diet has increased 50 percent since the 1970s, accompanied by a dramatic increase in metabolic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, fatty liver and cardiovascular disease.
And here three of the study’s findings, written in all their scientific glory:
– After 32 weeks in mouse barns, 35 percent of the females fed extra sugar died, twice the 17 percent death rate for female control mice. There was no difference in the 55 percent death among males who did and did not get added sugar. Ruff says males have much higher death rates than females in natural settings because they compete for territory, “but there’s no relation to sugar.”
– Males on the added-sugar diet acquired and held 26 percent fewer territories than males on the control diet: control males occupied 47 percent of the territories while sugar-added mice controlled less than 36 percent. Male mice shared the remaining 17 percent of territories.
– Males on the added-sugar diet produced 25 percent fewer offspring than control males, as determined by genetic analysis of the offspring. The sugar-added females had higher reproduction rates than controls initially – likely because the sugar gave them extra energy to handle the burden of pregnancy – but then had lower reproductive rates as the study progressed, partly because they had higher death rates linked to sugar.
Translation: Sugar is bad.
Or is it? You surely will be shocked to learn that corn and sugar producers have some complaints and questions about the study. Via the Los Angeles Times:
The Corn Refiners Assn., a trade group, questioned the use of mice in the study, saying in a statement that the only way to know the effect in people would be to test people.
“Mice do not eat sugar as a part of their normal diet, so the authors are measuring a contrived overload effect that might not be present had the rodents adapted to sugar intake over time,” the group said.
The trade group for the sugar industry, the Sugar Assn., said it was studying the research. But it maintained that the sweetener used in the study was crucial.
“Sugar and the various formulations of HFCS are molecularly different — they are not the same product, yet too often, and erroneously, HFCS is referred to as an ‘added sugar.’ ” the statement said. “Only sugar is sugar.”
Hmm… sugar and spice, and everything nice… we may need to re-calibrate that old ditty.
Posted by Steve