What we eat and drink can strengthen or, on the contrary, weaken our immune system. Today, thanks to a very recent research published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications by an English team (Jones et al, Nature Communications, Feb 2021), we know something more. In particular, the research clearly shows that a diet characterized by a high intake of fructose can cause a weakening of the immune system, obesity, liver disease and cellular degeneration.
Fructose is a sugar that is commonly added by industry to some preparations, such as sugary drinks, processed foods and sweets. In the Western diet it is therefore easy to take a high amount of fructose. Previous research has shown that fructose is associated with an increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and fatty liver. However, until now not much was known about the impact of fructose on the immune system. For this reason, scientists from Swansea University and the University of Bristol in collaboration with the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan have focused their research on studying the effects of fructose on our defenses. In the laboratory, cells of the immune system have been isolated from blood samples taken from volunteers. These cells have been put in contact with fructose and what has emerged is something fascinating and until now obscure. Fructose is able to rewrite the metabolic processes of the cells of the immune system by stimulating the release of pro-inflammatory substances. What results is therefore an increase in chronic inflammation that weakens the immune system in the long run. Not only that, inflammation of this type can cause damage to other tissues and organs, which no longer function as they should, and can lead to diseases, such as liver inflammation and tumors. In addition, thanks to this research it has been possible to understand the mechanism that links fructose and obesity. In fact, chronic inflammation increases the risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes.
So here's another piece of research that helps us understand how what we eat can work for our well-being or may increase the risk of disease. However, there is a consideration to be made, in the article scientists talk refined fructose added to foods and not the fructose found naturally in fruit, which in addition contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and even fibers, which modulate the absorption of sugars.