How too much fructose may cause liver damage

Feb 08, 2018

 

FRUCTOSE is the sweetest of the natural sugars. As its name suggests, it is found mainly in fruits. Its job seems to be to appeal to the sweet tooths of the vertebrates these fruit have evolved to be eaten by, the better to scatter their seeds far and wide. Fructose is also, however, often added by manufacturers of food and drink, to sweeten their products and make them appeal to one species of vertebrate in particular, namely Homo sapiens. And that may be a problem, because too much fructose in the diet seems to be associated with liver disease and type 2 diabetes.

The nature of this association has been debated for years. Some argue that the effect is indirect. They suggest that, because sweet tastes suppress the feeling of being full (the reason why desserts, which come at the end of a meal, are sweet), consuming foods rich in fructose encourages overeating and the diseases consequent upon that. Others think the effect is more direct. They suspect that the cause is the way fructose is metabolised. Evidence clearly supporting either hypothesis has, though, been hard to come by.

This week, however, the metabolic hypothesis has received a boost from a study published in Cell Metabolism by Josh Rabinowitz of Princeton University and his colleagues. Specifically, Dr Rabinowitz’s work suggests...


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