Just Two Days Of Increased Sugar Damages The Gut, Study Finds

mbg Editorial Assistant By Abby Moore
mbg Editorial Assistant
Abby Moore is an Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine.
Treating Yourself On The Weekends Isn't As Harmless As You Think

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It's a common misconception that eating healthy throughout the week gives us permission to veg out over the weekends. While a balanced diet and occasional indulgences are healthier than restrictive eating, new research has revealed that even two days of eating a high sugar diet can lead to inflammation and disease. 

What did the researchers find?

A study conducted by the University of Alberta found that mice who were fed diets high in sugar were more susceptible to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) than mice who ate balanced diets. 

At six to eight weeks old, female mice were split into two cages. One group was fed a high sugar diet, consisting of 50% sucrose (aka the common sugar we use for baking). The other group ate a traditional lab-fed diet. 

After two days of eating this way, the mice were given dextran sodium sulfate, a synthetic molecule that induces colitis.

The mice who consumed more sugar had a weakened immune response, leaving them more likely to develop colitis. This response was caused by an increase in gut permeability (meaning bad bacteria and toxins could pass through the intestines freely) and a decrease in the diversity of good bacteria in the gut microbiome

Researchers discovered that supplementing the diets with short-chain fatty acids could alleviate the symptoms.  


Why does this matter?

The effects sugar had on gut permeability can lead to more research on the gut-brain connection. Evidence has suggested that gut bacteria might be linked to neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. 

"When bacterial products are free to move from the gut...to the rest of the body, it raises the possibility that this phenomenon might be driving these diseases," Madsen said. 

Regardless of health implications, the addictive qualities of sugar can make it difficult to wean off of the sweet stuff. Instead of asking people to give it up entirely, researchers are hoping to do more research on short-chain fatty acids as dietary supplements. 

So when you're feeling like a treat, go for it! Just be wise about your intake, or consider something salty instead. 

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