Even small amounts of daily sugar can lead to a fatty liver

It has long been known that excessive sugar intake is not entirely healthy. Sugar is rich in energy and can lead to diseases such as diabetes or cardiovascular problems. A pilot study has now revealed that even small amounts of fruit or table sugar can increase fat production in the liver.

Sugar: a sweet poison

Fructose is often described as relatively healthy. However, this is not really the case. In its isolated form (as used by the food industry as a sweetener), fructose easily converts into fat in the liver. Hence, it greatly contributes to the development of the so-called fatty liver and the increase in lipid levels in the blood. It is also potentially harmful to the heart.

A team led by Bettina Gidel Floyick of the University of Zurich now wanted to investigate just how dangerous sugar really is. In the researchers’ study, 94 healthy young men consumed 80 grams of fructose, dextrose, or table sugar in the form of a sweetened drink every day for seven weeks. This amount is roughly equivalent to what you would consume by drinking 0.8 liter of lemon juice. With the help of blood samples and the isotope markers added to the drink, the researchers then examined how high fatty acid production was in the liver. Other parameters of lipid metabolism were carefully examined as well.

The liver’s fat production is stimulated

I am calendar The researchers found that the production of lipids in the liver cells increased significantly. And this despite the fact that the test subjects consumed no more calories than the control group. This was especially noticeable in the group that consumed table sugar or fructose. Even small amounts of these types of sugar are seemingly sufficient to stimulate the liver’s metabolism to increase fat production.

Body fat production in the liver was twice as high in the fructose group as in the glucose or control group – this for more than twelve hours after the last meal or last sugar consumption.One of the study’s senior authors, Philip Gerber of the University of Zurich, says. However, consuming pure glucose did not alter fat metabolism in the liver.

Table sugar is more harmful than fructose?

The researchers were surprised by one fact. “We predicted that drinks containing free fructose would have the largest effect on hepatic lipid production, followed by sucrose with moderate effects and little effect on glucose.The scholars said. However, it turned out that regular table sugar, a mixed sugar made up of fructose and the glucose molecule, boosted fat metabolism in the liver even more. The reasons behind this are not yet clear. However, the team suspected that fructose triggers a type of metabolic switch in the liver, which “redirects” more glucose to the organ.

Table sugar and mixed forms of glucose and fructose (like corn syrup) are often used to sweeten sugary drinks. So consuming these drinks can have a stronger effect on fat metabolism than previously thought.

The World Health Organization recommends limiting your daily intake of sugar in the form of added sugar to 25, at most 50 grams per day – values ​​that many exceed.

Across UZH


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