Don't Miss Out

Subscribe to OCA's News & Alerts.

Research Finds Sugar Changes Metabolism in Even the Healthiest of People

Sugar is likely one of the most dangerous products you can ingest and may trigger an addiction that is difficult to break. What is so terrifying is that you can find it in almost every processed food you purchase. It hides under a number of different names and affects your body in ways that scientists are continuing to discover. While the media and medical associations have warned about overeating fat and salt, there has been relatively little said about the overabundance of sugar in the American diet.

The sad truth is there are copious numbers of studies spanning decades that demonstrate the damage sugar does to your health, but the industry has managed to bury the evidence, and claim sugar has little to no effect on your health or your weight.

According to one recent study, consumption of sugar is responsible for as much as 40 percent of health care dollars spent each year.1 In the U.S. more than $1 trillion is spent fighting obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. All of these diseases are related to the excessive consumption of sugar.

The foods you eat have an immense impact on your brain, gut health and cellular metabolism, all which impact your health and daily ability to be productive at home and work. Historically, sugar was a treat enjoyed only on special occasions. Today, it's found in almost everything you eat, short of whole foods. It’s in processed foods of all kinds, snacks, drinks, sauces, breads, condiments and deli meats. Even infant formula and baby food is loaded with sugar, which triggers the brain’s reward center, increasing desire for more.

Research quite clearly shows that refined sugar in excessive amounts promotes mitochondrial dysfunction. These little powerhouses provide the energy for your cells, so when they cease to function normally, any number of functions throughout your body may be disrupted. Now, researchers have confirmed that sugar damages cellular function no matter how healthy you were before you began eating poorly.

Sugar Triggers Metabolic Changes That Damage Your Health

In a study from the University of Surrey, researchers asked two groups of men to change their eating habits for three months.2 In the beginning, one group had evidence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD); the other group did not. Each man went through a 12-week period when he ate 650 calories from sugar each day or no more than 140 calories from sugar each day. The researchers measured levels of fat in the participant's blood and liver.3

What they discovered was not surprising. Those who ate 650 calories of sugar per day for 12 weeks had much higher levels of fat in their blood and liver. The research was designed as a randomized-crossover study, meaning each participant followed both diets and the order they followed the diet was randomly assigned. Lead researcher Bruce Griffin, Ph.D., professor of nutritional metabolism at the University of Surrey, commented on the results, saying:

"Our findings provide new evidence that consuming high amounts of sugar can alter your fat metabolism in ways that could increase your risk of cardiovascular disease."

Fat metabolism is the process fats undergo to be broken down and transported in the blood to cells around your body. The results also showed that when men who began the study with low levels of liver fat ate a diet high in sugar, their blood and liver measurements and fat metabolism became similar to that of men suffering from NAFLD.4 This condition is tied to obesity and affects up to 25 percent of Americans.5

The researchers’ goal was to determine the role sugar has on the metabolism of the liver and how it influences cardiovascular health. What they found was that both groups of men, those with and without NAFLD, showed changes in fat metabolism linked to cardiovascular disease.6

In the past, NAFLD occurred almost exclusively in adults. However, there is evidence to suggest it now occurs in up to 10 percent of children7 ages 2 to 19, and the reason for this is a high-sugar diet, starting in infancy. Sadly, these children are at a significantly increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease unless their diet is changed.  

Sugar — A Driving Force Behind the Leading Causes of Death

In the video above, investigative journalist and author, Gary Taubes, discusses how the sugar industry has manipulated information and perpetrated a fraud on the public across the world. At the start of his book, "The Case Against Sugar," he makes the comparison between the sparse number of individuals who were diagnosed with diabetes in the late 1800s when sugar was not a staple in the diet, and the rate of 1 in 3 individuals who suffer from diabetes and prediabetes today.

The sugar added to one 6-ounce soda is enough to increase your risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease if you drink it every day.8 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates the average American gets 16 percent of their daily calories from sugar,9 or as much as 30 teaspoons a day, which is three times the recommended amount.10 This is equal to eating 35 5-pound bags of sugar every year.

Manufacturers have used the addictive property of sugar to drive sales of their products, and the use of high fructose corn syrup to get more bang for their buck. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is not only cheaper for manufacturers to use, it also gives your body a bigger sugar jolt. Dr. Yulia Johnson, family medicine physician with the Iowa Clinic, comments on the use of HFCS:11

"Your body processes high fructose corn syrup differently than it does ordinary sugar. The burden falls on your liver, which is not capable of keeping up with how quickly corn syrup breaks down. As a result, blood sugar spikes quicker. It's stored as fat, so you can become obese and develop other health problems, such as diabetes, much faster.”

The danger to growing children is even greater as their bodies cannot handle the amount of sugar they get from candy, processed foods and sugary drinks, and they have many more years of sugar consumption during which they damage their mitochondria and cellular metabolism — damage that has been linked to many of the leading causes of death, including:12

Heart disease






Chronic liver disease

Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease13