There’s been so much news about added sugars and obesity recently. FoodFacts.com has been encouraged by the incredible number of studies being released talking candidly about the affects of excess sugars in our diet. Today, we found new information we wanted to share with our community regarding a new potential problem surrounding fructose. Fructose is already fairly controversial for a number of reasons, the primary concern being High Fructose Corn Syrup and its prevalence in our food supply.
A new study coming out of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center has shown that fructose quickly caused liver damage in animals.
Previously, these researchers had studied monkeys who were allowed to eat an unlimited low-fat diet with added fructose for seven years. They compared them to a control group of monkeys who were fed a low-fructose, low-fat diet for the same time period. The monkeys consuming the high-fructose diet gained 50 percent more weight than those in the control group. They developed diabetes at three times the rate of the control group … as well as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The researchers were then left with the question of what caused the liver disease. Did it develop because of the weight gain, or was it linked to the fructose?
This new study was designed to answer this important question. Researchers worked with ten middle-aged monkeys of normal weight who had never consumed fructose. They were split into two groups based on similar body shapes and waist circumference. For a six week period, one group was fed a calorie-controlled diet with 24 percent fructose. The other group consumed a calorie control diet that contained a minimal amount of fructose (about half a percent).
In other ways, the diets were identical. Both contained the same amount of fat, carbohydrates and protein. Only the sources of the nutrients were different. For the high-fructose group, the diet contained flour, butter, pork fat, eggs and fructose. The control group’s nutrients were derived from healthy complex carbohydrates and soy protein.
At the end of the six week period, researchers measured the biomarkers for liver damage through blood samples as well as examining the bacteria of the intestines. They were surprised to see how quickly the livers of the high-fructose group were damaged and how extensive the damage actually was. Intestinal bacteria migrated to the liver very quickly, causing damage on a fairly immediate basis. It appeared that something connected to the high fructose levels was causing the intestines to react less defensively. The bacteria leaked out at a 30 percent higher rate.
While the researchers chose to study fructose because it is the most common added sugar in our diets here in the U.S., it is important to note that they cannot state conclusively that fructose was the cause of the liver damage. They do acknowledge, however that the high levels of added sugar caused bacteria to leave the intestines, enter the blood stream and damage the liver. The same thing might happen with high levels of added dextrose (another simple sugar found in plants).
There are plenty of unanswered questions regarding the fructose in our food supply. It is, without doubt, the sugar we consume most. There are studies that point to many different health problems that it may be linked to. This particular study joins the list. FoodFacts.com is especially interested in the rapid rate in which the liver damage seems to have occurred in this research. When this new information is added to the other possibilities, we’re more convinced than ever that added sugars should be avoided in food products as much and as often as possible.