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Can Eating Too Much Sugar Shorten Your Life?

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By now most people know that a diet high in sugar doesn’t do your health any good.

But the so-called “empty” calories of sugar aren’t really empty. They’re like little missiles that take aim at your organs.

The problem with sugar, researchers have now found, goes way past the possibility of making you prone to weight gain, high blood sugar and diabetes.

The latest studies show that even if you avoid diabetes and weight gain, sugar triggers dangerous shifts in your body that can wreak havoc on your health and steal years from your life.

If you’re a longtime reader of this newsletter then you know how dangerous sugar can be to your health. There are a large number of well-performed studies linking sugar to weight gain, diabetes and even growth of cancerous tumors.

Yet despite this, many conventional doctors still don’t tell their patients about the dangers of sugar. I’m hoping this new research will help turn the tide against this sweet little poison, once and for all.

Sugar Creates Organ-Damaging Uric Acid

According to researchers at the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences in the United Kingdom, a diet high in sugar leads to the build-up of uric acid, a waste product that results when purines, one of the building blocks of DNA, are broken down.

In lab tests with animals, the scientists found that although the consumption of extra sugar leads to weight gain, it’s sugar’s disruption of what they call the purine pathway - the process by which purines are broken down into uric acid—that sets off a chain of events which shortens life expectancy.1 According to researchers, damage begins first in the kidneys.

“We found that dietary sugar intake in humans was associated with worse kidney function and higher purine levels in the blood," says researcher Christoph Kaleta.

Plus, while uric acid is best known for its nasty habit of crystallizing and forming painful kidney stones – it also can cause gout, a form of inflammatory arthritis.

Most important for those of us who want to live a long, healthy life, studies show that the higher your uric acid level, the shorter your life expectancy.

Harvard Links High Uric Acid to Shorter Lifespan

Harvard researchers undertook a 15-year study analyzing medical records from about ten million people in the United Kingdom and found that people with gout, who had excessively high uric acid levels, had a higher mortality rate. They were 25 percent more likely to die than people without gout, who had lower uric acid levels.2 Along with this research, a study in Israel found that people live longer when they have genes that help keep their uric acid levels low. Plus, their children lived longer, too. During this study, the Israeli researchers examined people who had lived into their 90s and beyond who were still leading healthy, independent lives. The researchers concluded that “lower UA (uric acid)-levels may constitute a marker for longevity in humans.”3

Getting Your Uric Acid Levels Measured

Scientists at one of the United States’ premiere anti-aging research centers, the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, have documented that one person in every five has a high uric acid level. And that means an increased risk of gout, kidney stones, metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes and early death.4 Buck Institute researchers encourage you to ask your doctor to measure your uric acid levels during every annual physical exam or other regular medical checkup.

"Medical practitioners haven't been paying sufficient attention to uric acid and perhaps they should,” says researcher Pankaj Kapahi of the Buck Institute. "Uric acid levels often go up with age and it's important for longevity. Gout is also associated with premature mortality in humans.”

How to Lower Uric Acid Levels

To keep your uric acid level down and your life expectancy up, it’s a must to avoid sugary desserts and sugar-filled drinks.

The Mayo Clinic recommends lowering uric acid levels by eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains, while cutting back on high-fat meat and dairy products.5 These are similar to dietary choices we’ve long recommended here in this newsletter.

Another way to lower uric acid levels is to drink tart cherry juice. Research at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom found that drinking about a glass of the juice daily could reduce blood levels of uric acid and C-reactive protein, an indicator of inflammation.6 There’s also preliminary evidence that a vitamin C supplement can lower uric acid levels, and some research suggests that drinking coffee in moderation may be associated with a reduced risk of gout, according to The Mayo Clinic.7 Meanwhile, The Arthritis Foundation reports that drinking water helps flush excess uric acid from your body. They recommend eight glasses a day, but during an attack of gout, up that number to 16 glasses a day.8 One beverage you want to avoid, however, is beer. Beer has a high purine content, which as you learned earlier, is converted to uric acid in the body. One study found that beer raises uric acid in the body by 6.5 percent and non-alcoholic beer raises levels by four percent.9
  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413120300759?via%3Dihub
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28122760
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3325371/#__ffn_sectitle
  4. https://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgen.1008318
  5. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/gout-diet/art-20048524
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1756464614002886
  7. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/gout-diet/art-20048524
  8. https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/nutrition/healthy-eating/gout-diet-dos-and-donts
  9. https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/nutrition/healthy-eating/gout-diet-dos-and-donts

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