If You Must, Eat Sugar Only When Active

Metabolic syndrome could be avoided by consuming sugar only during active parts of the day, say researchers in Japan.

AsianScientist (Sep. 10, 2018) – Scientists in Japan have demonstrated that the timing of sugar consumption during the day affects the likelihood of contracting metabolic disease. They reported their findings in PLoS ONE.

A sedentary lifestyle combined with a diet dominated by processed foods has widely resulted in a range of conditions including diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure, which are known collectively as metabolic syndrome. Much remains to be understood about the complex interplay among the genetic, environmental and lifestyle-related factors related to preventing this condition.

Sucrose, a common form of sugar made up of glucose and fructose, is known to be associated with conditions such as obesity and high blood pressure when consumed in excess. In a study led by researchers at Nagoya University, Japan, the deleterious effects of excess sugar on the body could be avoided by restricting the consumption of sugar to parts of the day when physical activity is high.

The team established four groups of rats with different diets: either a high-sucrose diet or an equivalent diet with sucrose replaced by starch. These diets were made available either throughout the day and night, or only when the rats were active. Given the nocturnal nature of rats, they were more active during the night.

“We chose to study rats because their body weight is ten times that of the commonly used animal model of mice and because they have a more stable metabolism,” said Associate Professor Hiroaki Oda of Nagoya University. “We subjected the four groups to various analyses, including of body weight, lipids in blood and liver, and hepatic gene expression.”

The researchers showed that when the rats had access to high-sucrose food only at night, their levels of fat in the blood and liver were lower than those in the control group which had access to food throughout the day. The overall food consumption of the rats in both groups was the same. The results also indicated that it was the temporal restriction on feeding itself that produced the beneficial effects.

“Our findings could be very important for the fight against obesity and other lifestyle-related diseases in humans,” said lead author Dr. Sun Shumin of Nagoya University. “Potentially, limiting sugar intake to the part of the day when people are most active could reduce many of the damaging effects of its excessive consumption across the globe.”

The article can be found at: Sun et al. (2018) Time-restricted Feeding Suppresses Excess Sucrose-induced Plasma and Liver Lipid Accumulation in Rats.


Source: Nagoya University; Photo: Shutterstock.
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