a hyperactive foraging response, which then triggers craving, impulsivity, risk taking and aggression that may increase the risk for ADHD, bipolar disorder and further aggressive behaviors, the researchers proposed. This means while it's meant for survival, the fructose pathway

may have been overactivated due to the high amounts of sugar in the standard Western diet, Johnson said. When the fructose path- way is chronically stimulated, it could desensitize "hedonic re- sponses" and induce depression, the researchers warned. It's not just fructose, though. High-glycemic carbs and salty

food may also contribute to the overdrive since they can be con- verted to fructose in the body. The team, however, noted that sugar may be just one contributor and does not negate the impor- tance of other factors -- from genetic to emotional to environmen- tal factors -- in the state of mental health.

The Bitter Truth About Sugar's Impact on Your Body A number of studies have probed the various ways that a high-sugar diet can affect your body. Studies have linked fructose consumption to metabolic syndrome, for instance, which is char- acterized by abdominal obesity, insulin resistance, high blood pressure and hyperlipidemia. Further:

1. Learning and Memory Evidence from human and animal studies have established

that high-energy diets impair cognitive function. A 2019 study conducted meta-analyses of the results from animal studies and found that a diet that was high-fat, high-sugar or high in both adversely affected performance related to spatial learning and memory. The largest effect was produced by an exposure to a com-

bined high fat-high sugar diet. Among older adults, excess sugar consumption showed a notable association with poor cognitive functions.

2. Obesity Cross-sectional analyses on 1,823 preschool children

showed that higher consumption of sugar-containing bever- ages was associated with obesity in the subjects, with packaged juices as the main culprit. In a different study, intake of sugar-sweetened drinks at 18

months and 5 years of age was also tied to higher risks of adi- posity and being overweight. Similar results also surfaced in a study on high intakes of free sugars, sucrose and fructose, link- ing them to long-term weight gain among Japanese men.

3. Cancer Higher sugar intake has been implicated in increased can-

cer risk by promoting insulin-glucose dysregulation, oxidative stress, hormonal imbalances and excess adipose tissue. In a long-term study, diet data were first gathered from 1991 to 1995 using a food frequency questionnaire, documenting intakes of fructose, sucrose, sugary foods and sugary drinks. The study followed subjects until 2013 to determine cancer inci- dence, and found 565 diagnosed adiposity-related cancers such as 124 breast cancers, 157 prostate cancers and 68 colorectal cancers.

While total consumption of sugary beverages was not linked

with site-specific cancer risk, higher fruit juice intakes were associated with a 58% higher risk of prostate cancer. A 2016

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study also showed that dietary sugar intake increased liver tumor incidence in female mice.

4. Diabetes Intake of sugar-laden beverages has been consistently linked to an increased risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and car- diovascular disease in different populations. The underlying mechanisms include adverse glycemic effects, uric acid produc- tion and accumulation of visceral and ectopic fat. For eight months, rats fed a high-fat diet, high-fructose

beverages or both were compared to rats fed a normal diet.[xiv] After two months, the first two diets increased body weight, leptin and oxidative stress in plasma and tissues. After six months, high-fat and high-carb diets induced Type 2 diabetes with widespread effects on tissues.

5. Gut Inflammation A 2019 study showed that sugar-sweetened beverage and high-fat diet consumption harmfully altered gut microbiota as well as promoted gut inflammation. Epidemiological research increasingly points to a dra-

matic rise in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in the Western world, and changes in the gut immune system in response to an altered gut microbiome due to diet are implicated in trig- gering IBD.

© February 2021, GreenMedInfo LLC. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of GreenMedInfo LLC. Want to learn more from GreenMedInfo? Sign up for the newsletter at

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