By now, it’s no secret high-fructose corn syrup is hiding in hundreds of the foods sitting on grocery store shelves.
From condiments, like ketchup, to luncheon meats, apple sauce, breakfast cereals, and many, many more, it’s a real and present danger to your health.
And now, a study has proven exactly why what we’ve known for a while is true — fructose makes you fat.
Conditioning your gut for obesity
The study, published in Nature, delved into the effects of fructose in your digestive tract. Specifically, the team of researchers from Weill Cornell Medicine and New York Presbyterian was interested in tiny, hair-like structures that line your intestinal walls — called villi.
The purpose of these structures is to expand the surface area of your gut so that your body is better able to absorb the nutrients from the food you eat.
A good thing right? But not in the presence of fructose…
You see, the study found that when mice were fed diets that included fructose, those villi grew and grew. In fact, they became 25 to 40 percent longer than the villi of mice who weren’t allowed to eat the fructose.
You can probably guess where this is going…
If regular size villi absorb nutrients, including dietary fats, then super-sized villi absorb a super-size amount of the nutrients and the calories that go with them!
That’s why the investigators discovered that along with the increase in villus length, and increased nutrient absorption seen in fructose-fed mice, they also experienced significant weight gain and fat accumulation.
Beyond fat to fears of tumor growth
And if that weren’t enough to put you off fructose, it gets worse.
“Our research has found that fructose’s primary metabolite promotes the elongation of villi and supports intestinal tumor growth,” according to senior author Dr. Marcus DaSilva Goncalves, the Ralph L. Nachman Research Scholar, an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism and an endocrinologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
This means not only can consuming too much fructose cause weight gain, but it could also threaten your very life.
A question of choices
So do you have to give up all fructose to stay healthy?
Well, the scientists say no.
Not all fructose is bad. You might know that it’s the type of sugar found in fruits.
As Dr. Goncalves explains, “Fructose itself is not harmful. It’s a problem of overconsumption. Our bodies were not designed to eat as much of it as we do.”
And overconsuming fructose isn’t entirely your fault… it’s everywhere in our modern diets.
What can you do? Choose wisely — skipping any foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup we talked about earlier and watch for sneaky added sugars. When eating fresh fruit, wash it well and eat the skin or peeling. That fiber can help your body better digest the fructose in the fruit.
This is especially important to remember as the pandemic continues since high-fructose corn syrup is also linked to poor immune function.
To avoid the not-so-sweet sweetener, read labels on product packaging before you stick anything in your grocery cart. Try to eat whole, unprocessed foods instead of ready-made options. And remember, soda is a big fructose offender, so give it a hard miss.
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Research uncovers how fructose in the diet contributes to obesity — Medical Xpress