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My day usually starts with a cup of organic coffee sweetened with coconut milk, an apple with almond butter and a dose of science and culture. I haven’t read a newspaper in ages, but I do read feeds from science blogging networks and research publications. I find creative inspiration in everything from gene expression and nutrition to spider sex and evolution. It all seems connected in one way or another.

I tend to follow a rather yogic principle of parsimony.

So, sugar and fish oil? How are they connected?

While trolling research articles early this morning I ran across a collaborative effort by an interesting mix of scientists. While the subjects in the study were mice rather than people, I still found the piece enlightening.

Sucrose Counteracts the Anti-Inflammatory Effect of Fish Oil in Adipose Tissue and Increases Obesity Development in Mice.

Hmmm?

Sucrose is the organic compound commonly known as table sugar. It’s refined white sugar and according to the US Department of Agriculture, Americans consume 156 pounds of added sugars per capita each year.

ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY-SIX POUNDS.

Imagine that (if you can).

You’ve probably heard that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are protective against inflammation, blood sugar imbalances, heart disease, hormonal disorders, obesity, neuro-degenerative diseases and so on. There’s a lot of compelling research regarding the benefits of high-quality fish oil.

After reading this research article, I’m thinking it might be a waste of money to take an expensive fish oil capsule if you’re going to follow it up with a bowl of fruit loops or a donut. The researchers discovered that high levels of dietary sucrose counteracted the anti-inflammatory benefits of fish oil and increased the development of obesity.

Check here for a detailed run-down on sugar, including the various forms. And for an exposé on fruity, sugary breakfast cereals, check here.

Peace, love and fish oil – without the sugar chaser!
Melissa

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22 Responses to “sugar or fish oil, which will it be”

  1. Maggie says:

    Nice one Melissa – thanks for sharing. I’m trying to teach my 4YO about the effects of sugar. It’s a tough one, but it’s so important (especially since we’re shelling out the money for some good fish oil!). Thanks for giving me a little more motivation.

    • Melissa says:

      Maggie,

      Thanks so much for the comment. It really is hard when you have kids and you’re trying to defy the odds and teach them about healthy eating. There are so many distractions and bad influences. I give you a ton of credit for your efforts! It’s not easy!

  2. There’s also a study showing that mice go through a form of withdrawal when they’ve been fed on sugar and then had the sugar taken away.

    So, sucrose is addictive, forces your body to put on adipose (fat) tissue, and feeds cellular inflammations that lead to a variety of chronic, degenerative diseases: heart disease, strokes, cancer, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, autoimmune disease, digestive disorders, hormonal imbalances, osteoporosis and Parkinson’s.

    • Melissa says:

      Trish,

      So true! There are so many studies showing the negative impact sugar has on health. Thanks for your informative comment. Great info! I appreciate it.

  3. Kate says:

    Wow! I wonder how many combinations there are that are like this? How fascinating! I don’t eat much sugar or take fish oil but I know plenty of people who do…

    Great post!

    • Melissa says:

      Kate,

      Thanks for stopping by. I’m sure there are lots of weird combos when it comes to sugar. It has such a negative impact on so many systems in the body. Good for you for not eating much sugar! You must be a fan of wholesome, real food. =)

  4. Elese says:

    Wow Melissa, 156 lbs per year per person…that is eye opening. Just a quick pen and paper calculation… .42 lbs. per day. 13 lbs per month. Imagine what that looks like in 5 lb bags sitting on the counter. Crazy. Great interesting tidbit about sugar and fish oil. Who knew? Thanks, I always look forward to your new posts in my inbox! Hope you had a fun 4th and a great week!

    • Melissa says:

      Elese,

      Thank you so much for the kind comment. YES, isn’t that amazing, 156 pounds?! Great visual with the 5 lb bags sitting on the counter! It blows me away when you think of it that way. Thirteen pounds per month?! OMG, that’s unreal. Thanks for doing all the math. =) I appreciate it.

  5. Fascinating … and eye opening. Another reason to steer clear of sugar, because I definitely see the positive effects of fish oil in my own body. Can’t think of any positives of sugar. And the sugar visuals from you and Elese are mighty compelling. If we had 13 lbs of sugar sitting on the counter and had to physically add it to all our foods, would we do it? I think not. Another way to look at it is that 156 lbs is a whole person–yikes!

    xo,
    Shirley

    • Melissa says:

      Shirley,

      I was thinking of the “whole person” thing after reading Elese’s comments as well. Yes, it’s eye-opening information. And the thought of adding 13 lbs of sugar to food you prepare each month makes it even more amazing. Good one! Wow, once you break things down in this way, it really drives home what is going on in this country. Yikes! Way too much consumption of sugar. And there’s no nutritional value in it other than caloric energy. Dr. Guandalini mentioned that there is no nutritional value in gluten at the GIG conference. Loved hearing that, too!

      Thanks, Shirley!

  6. Christi S says:

    That is really interesting but what I wonder is if it is like a chemical reaction or if there is still some benefit to the fish oil. In other words, if person X is going to eat his full 156 lbs of sugar a year, without fish oil he gets X amount of damage but with fish oil he gets 1/2 of that damage.

    Not that I am encouraging the SAD diet by any means. That is one good thing about being gluten-free (and not eating a bunch of the gf processed food), I think our sugar intake is much lower than it would be.

    • Melissa says:

      Christi,

      Thanks for your comment — I was thinking the same thing, but the study didn’t address that at all. I don’t know, but I’d think there might be some benefit of taking fish oil even if you’re a sugar eater. You’re right about having to limit your intake of processed foods if you’re on a GF diet, or at least be more aware of what is in the product since you have to read labels. Sadly, the GF food industry is coming up with a lot of low-value foods now. There are some wonderful products, but also some of the same junk foods available to the gluten-cootie community. =)

  7. Kristine says:

    156 lbs of sugar! that is a disturbing image especially when elese broke it down to 5 lb bags. that’s not going to help my summer bikini body.

    thanks for the love,
    kristine

    • Melissa says:

      Thanks Kristine. Yeah, it’s pretty weird when you think of it in 5 lb bags, isn’t it? I have to say, Nordic Naturals is my favorite fish oil. No doubt about that. I say, pass the fish oil and skip the sugar. =)

  8. Melissa,

    This post was fascinating. I loved it. And I’ve passed the information/URL along to quite a few people. As always, thanks for bringing such important information to the forefront.

    I’ve been out of the blogging loop too lately. We moved and it’s summer (read: kids are out of school), and my days seem to slip away from me. Just trying to soak up as much summer sunshine as possible. Hope summer is treating you well.

    xo
    S

    • Melissa says:

      Stephanie,

      It’s amazing how some things complicate others. Of course, too much sugar compromises so many different aspects of health.

      Having kids home on summer vacation makes for good days, but not much “alone” time, that’s for sure. I remember those days! =) Hope you’re enjoying lots of sunshine and laughter.

      Melissa

  9. Amalfi Girl says:

    Very interesting! Ever since I’ve read Gary Taubes’ books (Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat), I’ve been extremely interested in these types of nutritional studies. Thanks for the interesting take! :)

  10. Melissa says:

    Amalfi Girl, I haven’t read that book, but keep thinking I need to do it. Sounds very interesting! Thanks for the reminder. =)

  11. I do love coming here and reading your posts, I always learn something. What if I take my fish oil AFTER my sugar? OK, just kidding. Now what I really want to know is what can you tell me about spider sex?

    • Melissa says:

      Carol,

      And I always love reading your comments. Every one of them makes me smile (or laugh out loud). As for spider sex, I actually took a class in spider biology and was involved in a Colorado spider survey. I was assigned to collect spiders at higher altitudes. =)

  12. Melissa says:

    Melissa -
    Thank you for the interesting post! I am working on using more natural sugar subs. ( agave, maple syrup) than the processed and refined kinds– I believe that you just reinforced my decision!!! I am taking a great fish oil for the heart health and to help with my RA/Lupus. I will be even more “pushy” to have our little guy go for the piece of fruit and not the candy. Thank you for the eye opener!!!

    Peace!

    • Melissa says:

      Melissa,

      There’s more and more information about the negative impact of refined sugar and HFCS. It’s just best to eliminate stuff like that from the diet. I do like pure maple syrup on occasion though! =) Plus, it adds a nice flavor profile to baked goods. Thanks for your comment! And thanks for stopping by.

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Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.
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