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Category: Science

Sugar Risks Go Beyond Weight Gain

The idea that dietary sugars increase the risk for such things as hypertension and the development of health threatening changes in lipid profiles is not new. But a commonly held perception has been that these health risks represented a direct consequence of the fact that increased dietary sugar consumption caused weight gain, and it was the weight gain that then was the cause of the rise in blood pressure, etc.

But in a new study, researchers in New Zealand reviewed 39 studies that looked at diets in which sugar consumption was increased. Thirty-seven assessed lipid outcomes while 12 evaluated blood pressure.

Their results revealed that higher sugar consumption raised triglyceride levels, total cholesterol, low and high-density lipoproteins, as well as both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

The authors of the study also reported that these findings applied even when there was no change in body weight, stating:

Dietary sugars influence blood pressure and serum lipids. The relation is independent of effects of sugars on body weight.

The message in this study is important in that clearly there are some people who manage to consume excess sugar without gaining weight. These results indicate that despite their lack of weight gain, their dietary habits are still quite likely to be increasing their risk for dangerous health issues.

  • Ri

    Great post Dr Perlmutter! i hate the common misconception that thinner people are healthier! weight isnt always indicitive of overall health so im glad you addressed this and the detrimental effects of excess sugar in the diet.

    • David Perlmutter

      As always, it is but one barometer.

    • Jeeni Zucchini

      Not only are they not healthier, they are not necessarily more fit.

    • Sandi

      I’m Celiac and have Hashimoto’s and I’m UNDER weight. That’s why it bothers me that the focus is always on being OVER weight. Some of us have struggle gaining weight. I wish there would be more info on how to do that in a healthy way. Also, does sugar include healthy sugar like “fruits” and such? How much is too much?

  • dalene

    Would all sugar be the same dr. I use raw cane sugar in my Water Kefir

    • Piter Nortug

      i am not a doctor , but:
      when kefir is ready most of the sugar is converted, probably, in kefir grains and bacteria, good bacteria;
      yes, all the sugars are just the same, bar fructose that, probably, is worse as it is metabolized in a different way.

    • Tom

      On top of this question, what about water Kefir? Is the result seen as surge in the body or something else?

      • Tom

        Sugar, not Surge

  • Bobby

    Dr. Perlmutter.
    I have read all three of your books, The Better Brain Book, Power Up Your Brain, and Grain Brain. I really enjoyed all of them; however, I am struggling to know which routinely daily supplements I should be taking. In the Better Brain Book, after taking the quiz, I found that I should follow Tier 2. In Power Up Your Brain, it references a smaller list; and then in Grain Brain it narrows the list to only 7. Can you provide guidance?

    • David Perlmutter

      The information found in Grain Brain is what I currently advise.

      • Bobby

        Thanks for the quick response. I am wondering though- I have a good supply of those other supplements – is it fine to finish taking them. I am assuming they can only be helpful?

      • Mark B

        Since the recommended supplements in Grain Brain, I believe that on this blog you have also recommended CoQ10, L-Carnitine, Green Tea Extract, Pterostilbine, BioPerine Black Pepper Extract, and B-Complex.

  • justamom

    Can you address sugar and carbohydrate influence on OCD and ADHD, etc.?

  • Jeeni Zucchini

    Lots of diabetics are thin… and all of them are most likely suffering from some form of malnutrition.

  • Roxanne

    What effect does sugar have on heart function? Any studies on that topic?
    Thanks, Dr. Perlmutter

  • Ri

    how do fruitarians claim to thrive on an all fruit diet? isnt it essentially an all fructose diet? ill bet there is a correlation to Steve Jobs all fruit diet and his eventual passing after developing pancreatic cancer. How do people promote this diet!

  • Jean

    I have been enlightened by Dr. Perlmutter’s books. I never had to worry about weight and always “thought” I was healthy. With in the last few year I have been watching my health slowly gowing down hill as I reach my 60’s . My cholesterol, sugar and triglycerides were high and I exercised 5 days a week and didn’t eat “Sweets”. Why are my numbers so bad?The carbs were a big part of my problem!! I lost 20 pounds without trying. I am now educating myself, as no one ever told me how to read labels and what the 100% is made up of, cholesterol, protein and fiber. I find I don’t have to eat any of the wheat and I still have 35% of carbs a day! . I’m reading and trying to understand what it is that I need to do to be healthy!! Thanks to Dr. Perlmutter for motivating me to take charge of my health.

  • Mary

    Why just mention sugar itself? Carbs turn into sugars in the body.

    • David Perlmutter

      Absolutely! That’s why it is so important to limit carbs.

  • MT

    I’m experiencing this reality with my mom right now. I’ve been measuring and tracking her blood pressure meds, readings, and food for the last 10 days. Sure enough when my mom consumes refined carbs of any kind without the companion of fat & protein, her blood pressure cannot even be maintained with her medication. When she eats fat & protein, or doesn’t eat any of her “treats” her blood pressure remains more stable and at a better range.

  • Art Lynch

    Dr. Perlmutter, I eat absolutely no added sugars what so ever, NO processed foods, no grains, very, very few starches, nothing ‘white’ (potatoes, rice, etc), no juice, and nothing after the evening meal which is four hours before bedtime.

    I do high intensity interval training (less than 10 minutes) once per week and mild aerobics for 45 minutes three times per week. My BMI is 19.7 and body fat 18.5%, both consistent.

    Yet, my morning, fasting glucose reading will often be in the high
    eighties to mid nineties. My protein intake make be slightly high, I
    haven’t measured it.

    Would the protein be converting to glucose?

    • allenburnsworth

      Yes, protein can and does convert to glucose via gluconeogenisis. You would need to lower your protein intake and increase your fat intake. By the way there is a phenomenon with high morning glucose levels, which yours are not high really, that they believe is just a part of the body preparing to wake.

  • JP

    Well, please don’t miss the reality that relative to weight-induced health issues, thinner people ARE healthier. Weight, in and of itself, is a health risk. It just isn’t that thin people are not unhealthy. Fat people do less well in chemotherapy, have more joint issues, and, in with all other things the same (such as sugar consumption) DO in fact do worse. It’s just that weight isn’t the only measure. I’m overweight by about 20 lbs. I don’t fool myself that being weight is and of itself not a good thing.

  • Jane W.

    can you also address sugar influences on Migraines?

  • Ken

    Doc..have been following your advice for my partner for some time and recently on the Alz reading room..there were some interesting revelations/claims regarding the MIND diet..do you have an opinion? Cheers K

  • Jack Young

    I have been following Dr. Perlmutter’s dietary recommendations for about 8 months. Last week I had a physical and blood tests. My Glucose level was 51 with the normal range being 74 – 106. Would this low reading be due to my low sugar diet? Is there a problem with a reading this low? My doctor has asked me to have the test repeated. Can anyone shed some light on this for me?

  • healthyme

    all of my blood, etc tests are normal, at age 65. Is ANY sugar ok? if so, how many grams?

  • Diane

    Hi Dr Perlmutter,
    I wonder if you can suggest ways to keep glucose levels from spiking due to stress. I’m thin, exercise and follow a low carb diet. Hoping your new book might offer some suggestions? Thanks for any help you can offer.

  • Very necessary information. David Gillespie has detailed the health ill effects of fructose in his (badly titled) book “Big Fat Lies”

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