Snacks, sweet drinks, crackers but also sweeteners for home preparations can hide a danger, fructose. In fact, a diet rich in processed foods to which fructose has been added has been shown to increase the risk of obesity and fatty liver but also to damage lung health by opening the door to conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and a more severe course in case of Covid 19 infection. This emerges from a very recent review published in Nutrients magazine thanks to the work of a Mexican team (Hernández-Díazcouder et al, Nutrients, 2022).
Fructose as a sweetener is bad for your health
Fructose is a naturally occurring substance in fruit, vegetables and honey. This is why it was considered that adding it to baked goods, snacks and drinks in place of sugar was a good, healthy and natural choice. So the market was filled with biscuits, snacks, fruit juices and other foods with the addition of fructose. But the truth is different, unfortunately. In fact, more and more studies show that moderate or high consumption of foods to which fructose has been added can put health at risk. For example, it has been observed that even moderate consumption of fructose-sweetened beverages can, in just two weeks, create addiction as well as increase cardiovascular risk. In three months, regular consumption of fructose-sweetened drinks in obese people increases the fat content in the liver. After 4 years of regular consumption of fructose-sweetened drinks, body weight increases as well as the risk of developing diabetes.
Fructose as a sweetener damages the lungs
The review sought to clarify the action of fructose added to drinks and snacks on lung health. What emerges is that this type of fructose triggers inflammatory processes that increase the risk of lung disease. For example, it was observed that a low but regular consumption of fructose sweetened drinks for three months by pregnant women increased the risk of asthma during the infancy of the unborn child. But this association is observed at all ages. In fact, even in adults a high consumption of fruit juices containing added fructose, 5 to 7 times a week, leads to a 91% risk of developing asthma, compared to those who do not consume these juices. Not only that, among those who consume at least 5 drinks a week containing added fructose, the risk of chronic bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease also increases. Finally, this constant inflammation induced by fructose added to foods has been shown to increase the risk of severe disease and hospitalization in the event of Covid 19 infection. In particular, the greatest risk was observed in those who consume at least 3 drinks with fructose a week.
But the fructose in fruit does not hurt
The harmful action of fructose is however limited to the products to which this substance has been artificially added. This does not apply to fruits, vegetables and honey which instead naturally contain fructose. In fact, the synergy of substances contained in these foods ensures that there is a protective action. For example, among those who consume at least 2 servings of fruit per day over ten years the risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is reduced by 37% compared to those who consume less than one serving of fruit per day. Among ex-smokers, at least 5 servings of fruit per week lowered the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease by 30% compared to those who eat less than 2 fruit per day.