Consuming sugary drinks is one of the worst things we can do to our bodies, not just because of the calorie intake. Researchers at the University of Zurich found that moderate consumption of sugars is linked to increased fat production in the liver.
The scientists conducted a study on people who consumed drinks sweetened with fructose, glucose and sucrose. A total of 94 healthy men underwent the test, which found that 80 grams of sugar a day stimulates the production of lipids in the liver.
According to the researchers, the study was limited to one gender, as there is evidence of divergent metabolic effects of fructose in male and female subjects. The men had to be lean in order to exclude those with a possible increased liver fat content.
Subjects consumed three times a day sugary drinks containing fructose, glucose or sucrose to accompany their regular meals. After seven weeks, blood glucose, weight, height, body mass index, waist size and body fat percentage were measured. Similarly, fat and synthesis measurements were taken to track changes.
Until now, studies have only focused on consumption of very high amounts of sugar. The analysis found that even moderate amounts of sugars cause a change in metabolism. Of the three types of sugars, it is fructose that has a negative effect.
This study shows that daily consumption of beverages containing moderate amounts (comparable to those provided by soft drinks or commercial fruit juices) of fructose or sucrose, but not glucose, increases hepatic GA synthesis in healthy men in a basal state.
Fructose is a carbohydrate found in fruits, vegetables and honey. According to researchers at the University of Zurich and the University Hospital, fat production in the liver was twice as high in the group of people who drank fructose-containing beverages. The production continued for up to twelve hours after the last consumption.
Excess fat production in the liver leads to conditions such as type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and cardiovascular disease.
The WHO currently recommends only 25 grams of sugar per day, which may vary slightly from person to person. The problem is that most drinks go as far as tripling the recommended dose in a single cup. One Starbucks coffee, for example, represents the amount required by our bodies for three days.
In addition to hot drinks and smoothies, energy or fizzy drinks also exceed the mark. While a can of Coca-Cola can include 35 grams of sugar, energy drinks double that amount. Juices remain at the limit, although a 220 ml glass covers the maximum recommended by the WHO.