In our modern diets, a type of sugar called fructose is often too prevalent.
You’ve probably heard of high-fructose corn syrup, a processed sweetener found in many foods.
Scientists have been digging into how consuming too much of this sugar could harm your health.
Recently, researchers have discovered that high fructose levels could damage our livers. Let’s understand this better.
What’s the Problem with Fructose?
Eating too much fructose has been linked to a whole bunch of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Even more, it’s also tied to a condition called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This disease starts with fat build-up in your liver, which may not sound too serious, but it can get worse.
It can lead to liver inflammation and liver damage, developing into a more severe condition called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
From there, it can escalate into liver scarring (known as cirrhosis), liver cancer, or even liver failure.
Fructose and Your Liver: The Study
So, researchers wanted to figure out exactly how eating too much fructose could lead to NAFLD. They decided to perform an experiment on mice.
They fed the mice a diet high in fructose for a long time. What they saw was worrying: not only did the mice’s livers become inflamed, but their intestinal barrier (which stops bacteria and toxins in your gut from entering your bloodstream) began to break down.
The mice eating a high-fructose diet also had more toxins in their blood. These toxins come from certain types of bacteria when they die.
This increase in toxins triggered immune cells in the liver (known as macrophages) to produce more of a signaling protein called tumor necrosis factor (TNF).
This protein causes inflammation and encourages the conversion of fructose into fatty deposits in the liver.
But what about humans? The researchers tested human liver cells too. They found that adding TNF to these cells also increased the conversion of fructose into fat.
What does this Mean?
What this research suggests is that eating a lot of fructose could cause your intestinal barrier to break down.
This allows toxins from gut bacteria to enter your liver, which leads to inflammation and more fat being stored in the liver. The link between fructose and fatty liver disease could lie in this process.
If you’re interested in keeping your liver healthy, you might want to watch your fructose intake.
Additionally, other studies have identified habits that could keep your liver in good shape and even a common diabetes drug that may reverse liver inflammation.
And it’s not just about avoiding harm – there are ways to actively promote liver health too. Did you know that a simple blood test could help detect your risk of fatty liver disease?
Or that a certain type of diet may greatly reduce the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease? Health is a fascinating and complex puzzle, and every piece of information brings us a step closer to solving it.
This study was carried out by Jelena Todoric and her team and is published in the journal Nat Metab.
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