Fatty liver disease linked to liquid fructose intake

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Researchers say that the fatty liver disease can’t be caused through intake of high-fat diet alone and when such diet it combined with liquid fructose intake like beverages sweetened with liquid fructose, that’s when things start going bad for the liver with fat deposition on the liver accelerating followed by hypertriglyceridemia —a cardiovascular risk factor— possibly making an appearance. This is revealed in a study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research

Food industry relies heavily on fructose as one of the most common sweeteners. Obtained from corn syrup, fructose is used by the food industry to sweeten beverages, sauces and processed foods, despite the scientific evidence that associates it with metabolic diseases which are risk factors of cardiovascular pathologies.

According to the new study, the effect caused by fructose in the increase in the synthesis of fatty acids in the liver is more decisive than the external introduction of fats through the diet. As stated in the preclinical study, the combination of the saturated fat from dietary origin and the induction of the endogen synthesis of fatty acids is what causes the emergence of the fatty liver.

Several epidemiologic studies related the consumption of drinks that are sweetened with fructose to the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a pathology for which there is no specific pharmacological therapy. In these patients, de novo lipogenesis contributes up to a 30% of the lipids accumulated in the liver, while in healthy people, this synthesis brings only the 5% of hepatic lipids.

The animal model characterized by the team will be of potential interest to study future drugs to treat the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). “People with this pathology have a higher endogenous synthesis of lipids in the liver than healthy people. Therefore, the effects described in this study might appear in humans as well”, note the experts.

The effects described in the study are only observable if fructose is taken in its liquid form. “Regarding sweetened beverages, fructose is quickly absorbed and it reaches the liver massively, producing the described metabolic alterations. To find a comparison, we could talk about the appearance of a fructose overdose when this is taken in sweetened drinks”, notes the team.