Researchers in the United Kingdom (UK) said consuming a diet high in the sugar fructose might prevent the proper functioning of peoples’ immune systems in ways that has, until now, largely been unknown.
The new research published in the journal ‘Nature Communications’ was led by Swansea University in collaboration with researchers at the University of Bristol and the Francis Crick Institute, all in the UK.
Fructose, or fruit sugar, is a simple ketonic monosaccharide found in many plants, where it is often bonded to glucose to form the disaccharide sucrose. It is one of the three dietary monosaccharides, along with glucose and galactose, that are absorbed directly into blood during digestion.
Fructose is commonly found in sugary drinks, sweets and processed foods and is used widely in food production. It is associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and its intake has increased substantially throughout the developed world in recent years.
However, understanding the impact of fructose on the immune system of people who consume it in high levels has been limited until now.
The new study shows that fructose causes the immune system to become inflamed and that process produces more reactive molecules which are associated with inflammation. Inflammation of this kind can go on to damage cells and tissues and contribute to organs and body systems not working as they should and could lead to disease, reported the ‘Select Science’.
Dr. Nick Jones, of Swansea University’s Medical School, said: “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.”
Dr. Emma Vincent in the Bristol Medical School: Populational Health Sciences (PHS), added: “Our study is exciting because it takes us a step further towards understanding why some diets can lead to ill health.”
The research, which was funded by Diabetes UK and Cancer Research UK, also brings a deeper understanding about how fructose could be linked to diabetes and obesity – as low- level inflammation is often associated with obesity.
It also builds on the growing body of evidence available to public health policy makers about the damaging effects of consuming high levels of fructose.