In the past, research has been largely limited on the relationship between high fructose diets and the immune system. But a new study by Swansea scientists in collaboration with scientists at the University of Bristol and the Francis Crick Institute in London has provided a deeper understanding of the effects that high fructose can have on the immune system.
Fructose is commonly found in processed foods, candies, sugary drinks, and widely used in food production. Previous studies have associated it with type 2 diabetes, obesity, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. With more companies adding fructose into their food and beverages, intake has increased substantially throughout the developed world in recent years.
Fructose is a sugar naturally found in fruits, fruit juices, some vegetables, and honey. It’s also a basic component in table sugar, and high fructose corn syrup is used to sweeten many processed foods and beverages. Many companies use fructose as an inexpensive way to sweeten their products, and many consumers assume it is a relatively healthy sugar, as it naturally comes from fruits and vegetables. This study, however, shows how this may not be the case.
Published in the journal Nature Communications, the new study shows that fructose can cause the immune system to become inflamed and produce reactive molecules. This type of inflammation may damage cells and tissues, contributing to body systems and organs not working at full capacity and leading to disease.
Researchers also believe these findings bring a better understanding of how fructose could be linked to diabetes and obesity. Low-level inflammation has previously been associated with obesity. The study also adds to mounting evidence of the damaging effects of consuming high levels of fructose.
“Research into different components of our diet can help us understand what might contribute to inflammation and disease and what could be best harnessed to improve health and wellbeing,” said Dr. Nick Jones of Swansea University’s Medical School.
Dr. Emma Vincent in the Bristol Medical School added, “Our study is exciting because it takes us a step further towards understanding why some diets can lead to ill health.”
The immune system is a network of biological processes that protects an organism from diseases. Quite simply, it keeps the body healthy. So, when it comes under attack from outside sources such as fructose, the cell can be damaged, allowing diseases to occur.
Many health experts are working to find the consequences of a high fructose diet to take to public health policymakers. They aim to have the ingredient reduced in food and beverages as it may cause various diseases. This alone puts a strain on the public health care system.