High-Sugar Diet Damages Your Liver

Sugar is omnipresent, addictive and bad for you. It also tastes good. Which is why so many of us have a hard time avoiding it. Even if you purposefully pass by all the treats, there is still so much sugar hidden in food, you have to read every label to avoid it. That can be an arduous task in the grocery store. That’s why we appreciate studies that strengthen our resolve to stay vigilant about excess sugar in our diet. Additionally, the more research that is released, the more food manufacturers are forced to create good, healthy foods with fewer carbs.
 
Recent research shows that a high-sugar diet can be very hard on your liver. Eating a lot of fructose damages the liver’s ability to burn fat. Equal amounts of glucose improved the liver’s fat-burning. The researchers think that this might be why high-fructose corn syrup is so much worse for health when compared to other sources of sugar.
 
Fructose makes the liver accumulate fat,” said Dr. C. Ronald Kahn, the lead author of the study. “It acts almost like adding more fat to the diet. This contrasts the effect of adding more glucose to the diet. The most important takeaway of this study is that high fructose in the diet is bad. It’s not bad because it’s more calories, but because it has effects on liver metabolism to make it worse at burning fat.” 
 
The researchers used animal models, keeping the animals on different diets and then examining them on a cellular level. The researchers saw that the liver cells from the animals on a high-fructose and high-fat diet had misshapen mitochondria. “When mitochondria are healthy, they have this nice ovoid shape and crosshatching,” says Dr. Kahn. “In the high-fat plus fructose group, these mitochondria are fragmented and they’re not able to burn fat as well as the healthy mitochondria. But looking at the high-fat diet plus glucose group, those mitochondria become more normal-looking because they are burning fat normally.” The damaged mitochondria have a far easier time storing the fat than breaking it down.
 
This find could help scientists find ways to prevent fatty liver disease. The researchers saw that a high-fat diet that wasn’t high in any form of sugar damaged the liver, but that one that had large amounts of both fat and glucose was not as detrimental. The scientists plan to continue their research in an attempt to create a drug that blocks fructose’s impact.
 
When you have blood sugar concerns, it’s important to speak to your doctor about how much sugar should be in your diet and the healthy sources those sugars can come from. Different types of sugar can impact your blood sugar levels and health differently. The find may have a big impact on the safety of sugar in the future, but it’s crucial for you to know your personal health and limitations and follow a diet that is right for you.
February 26, 2020
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