How Different Sugars Affect Your Liver

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There are various different sugars out there, some of which are okay in moderation and others that are really bad for you.  It’s estimated that there are around two billion obese or overweight people in the world today, and around 1 billion with fatty liver disease.  That’s an alarming number and one that needs to be lowered, for all our sakes.

One type of sugar which is particularly bad when it comes to weight gain is concentrated sugar that’s often found in sweetened beverages and processed foods.  In a study carried out on mice at the Joslin Diabetes Center researchers found that mice that had been given a high concentration of fructose in their diet had a much lower metabolism rate than those that were given glucose instead.

The number of cases of fatty liver disease is on a steady rise across the globe, particularly in children.  And, although it doesn’t normally progress to dangerous levels of liver inflammation, it’s still a huge concern.  As part of the study, researchers examined the diet of mice that were given either regular or high-fat diet and given water that was either plain or had been sweetened with fructose or glucose.  Comparing these diets allowed exactly what the role of fructose and glucose was within the body and the dangers of both.

Over the course of 10 weeks, none of the mice that remained on a regular diet developed a resistance to insulin.  Those mice that were on a diet including either fructose or glucose gained a significant amount of weight.  However, there were significant differences between the two sets of mice that had either fructose or glucose in their diet.

Once your fat cells get full of fat and they can’t hold anymore, fat winds up going in other tissues, and the liver is the next best place.

“Fructose was associated with worse metabolic outcomes,” said Samir Softic MD, and first author on the study.  Mice that were on the high-fat diet became more insulin resistant and much more obese than those mice that simply had glucose in their diet.  The researchers also discovered increased levels of an enzyme called Khk ( ketohexokinase ) were present in those mice that drank fructose.

Examining fatty liver disease samples from obese teenagers also revealed large amounts of Khk.  It appears that this enzyme is essential in relation to the metabolism of fructose, but not glucose.  As part of the research, the Joslin team set out to devise a treatment that lowered the production of Khk protein in the liver.

“This disease is almost always associated with obesity,” said C. Ronald Khan, MD.  “Once your fat cells get really full of fat, and they can’t hold anymore, fat winds up going in other tissues, and the liver is the next best place.  Fatty liver disease and associated liver failure are said to becoming fat the number one reason for needing a liver transplant, so it’s about time we got hold of this situation now before it’s too late.

Article Source Joslin Diabetes Center

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