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Avoid Drinks with Sugar (Except During Vigorous Exercise)

The equivalent of half a can of soda at breakfast, lunch and dinner produces a marked increase in heart attack risk factors. After just two weeks of drinks sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup (HCFS), blood cholesterol, triglycerides and uric acid levels rose and the more a person drank, the higher they rose (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, April 2015). Eighty-five people with healthy blood cholesterol levels took drinks containing either:
• 10 percent HFCS,
• 17.5 percent HFCS,
• 25 percent HFCS, or
• aspartame (control group).

LDL (bad) cholesterol levels should be under 100. Here are the LDL changes in each group after two weeks:
• 10 percent group went from 95 to 102
• 17.5 percent group went from 93 to 102
• 25 percent group went from 91 to 107
• Aspartame group - no change

Why This is a Good Study
This is one of the best studies on the subject because the authors used sweet drinks that contained markers that showed up in the participants' urine. By checking their urine, the authors could tell whether the participants were really taking the drinks given to them. They did not have to rely on verbal reports which often are not dependable.

Earlier studies on the same subject by Dr. James Rippe got much different results. His work has been funded by the sugar industry: ConAgra Foods, PepsiCo International and Kraft. He gave his subjects HFCS in low-fat milk, which is a strange choice because:
• about two-thirds of North Americans cannot tolerate lactose in milk
• his studies did nothing to check whether participants really drank the milk
• low-fat milk can reduce LDL cholesterol
• he used no controls
Rippe also reported his results with a different scale of values in one set of line graphs to show no effect of HFCS.

How Industry Can Influence Scientific Results
A brilliant article in Healthline written by Cameron Scott on May 1, 2015 states, "The NIH has stopped covering the added costs of in-patient studies as a way to cut expenses. It hopes industry will foot the bill, which may make sense for pharmaceutical research where the industry peddles potential cures, but not for the food industry, where the product is often the problem. Nutritionists say the lack of government funding for their field is almost as big a problem as the presence of industry research. By way of comparison, the 2014 research and development budget for a single company, PepsiCo, was half as big as the NIH’s entire nutrition budget for the same year. A 2013 analysis published in the journal PLoS Medicine showed that studies funded by industry were five times as likely to find that there wasn't enough evidence to conclude sugar-sweetened beverages like soda are linked to weight gain and obesity."

All Sugars, Not Just HFCS
Anything that causes a high rise in blood sugar can increase risk for weight gain, diabetes, heart attacks, cancers and premature death. Taking refined sugar in any form causes blood sugar to rise. Since all sugared drinks can cause a high rise in blood sugar, I believe that sugared drinks should be avoided unless you are in the midst of prolonged, vigorous exercise.

May 10th, 2015
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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