Fructose seems to be responsible for the increase in obesity and intestinal cancers. Fructose, very abundant in the Western-style diet, causes alterations in the structure of the digestive tract that lead to the accumulation of greater amounts of fat and cause cellular degeneration. This is what emerges from a very recent scientific research that appeared in the prestigious journal Nature thanks to the work of an American team from the Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York (Taylor et al, Nature, Aug 2021).
What is fructose
Fructose is a sugar naturally present in fruit, where however vitamins, mineral salts, fibers and antioxidants act in synergy, bringing well-demonstrated and irreplaceable benefits for health. Fructose itself is not harmful, the problem is, as always, excess. In fact, in Western food sources of fructose are not limited to fruit, but are present practically everywhere, just think of all processed foods containing corn syrup, but also table sugar or agave syrup.
How fructose modifies the intestinal mucosa
Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical Center have performed studies and laboratory analyzes where they have been able to ascertain that a diet rich in fructose causes alterations in the cells of the digestive tract. In particular, fructose, when taken in large quantities, has been shown to modify the intestinal villi, which are small protuberances that cover the mucous membrane of the intestine with the task of helping the body to absorb nutrients, including also the fats introduced with diet. Well, what was observed was that in the case of a high fructose diet the villi were 25 to 40% larger.
More fructose, higher obesity and increased risk of cancer
This change in the size of the villi has led to an increase in fat absorption capacity and also to an increase in body weight. In fact, the researchers performed a study on a population of mice and were able to observe that the mice that ate fructose were more obese than the mice that did not consume this sugar, even if the latter ate the same high-fat diet as the first group of mice. Not only that, high amounts of fructose are also associated with an increased risk of developing intestinal cancers. In fact, a by-product of fructose is linked to tumor growth. However, this increased risk of degeneration is reduced simply by reducing fructose sources such as foods containing table sugar or corn or agave syrup. This is why it is important to carefully read the label of the foods you buy.