More soda; more walking

Let’s go with two days, two posts on soda (perhaps I need to re-name the sub-title of the blog)!  Anyway, maybe artificial sweeteners are harming your microbiome, but on the other hand, the high fructose corn syrup in regular soda is directly giving you diabetes.  From NYT:

High-fructose corn syrup is used to sweeten many processed foods and nearly all soft drinks.

The problem with the sweetener is that, unlike sucrose, the formal name for common table sugar, fructose is metabolized primarily in the liver. There, much of the fructose is transformed into fatty acids, some of which remain in the liver, marbling that organ and contributing to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

The rest of the fatty acids migrate into the bloodstream, causing metabolic havoc. Past animal and human studies have linked the intake of even moderate amounts of fructose with dangerous gyrations in blood sugar levels, escalating insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, added fat around the middle, obesity, poor cholesterol profiles and other metabolic disruptions.

Uh-oh.  But good news… turns out you can pretty much undo all the damage just by walking more:

But Amy Bidwell, then a researcher at Syracuse University, noticed that few of these studies had examined interactions between physical activity and fructose. That was a critical omission, she thought, because movement and exercise change how the body utilizes fuels, including fructose…

The second study, published this month in The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, focused on blood-sugar responses to fructose and activity, and found equally striking changes among the young people when they didn’t move much. Two weeks of extra fructose left them with clear signs of incipient insulin resistance, which is typically the first step toward Type 2 diabetes.

But in both studies, walking at least 12,000 steps a day effectively wiped out all of the disagreeable changes wrought by the extra fructose. [emphasis mine] When the young people moved more, their cholesterol and blood sugar levels remained normal, even though they were consuming plenty of fructose every day.

Cool!  Around Christmas time I got myself a Fitbit Flex, which counts my daily steps among other things.  On days I jog (3-4 times/week), I generally hit 15,000 or so.  Though on day’s I don’t, I am usually short of 12,000.  Actually, what I’ve found is how little I actually move on weekends (hello, TV sports).  Good thing I’m sticking with aspartame then instead of HFCS :-).

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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