Another study has shed light on the ways eating fructose, a type of sweetener, can lead to a variety of health complications, including everything from packing on belly fat to developing a painful joint condition called gout. The findings were recently published in the Chinese Medical Journal, joining another recent study that explored how fructose can lead to obesity.
Fructose is a cheap sweetener derived from a variety of plants, including corn, that is often found in ultra-processed and ‘fast’ foods. Many studies have raised concerns about the impact fructose can have on health, though the reasons why it has these effects has been relatively unclear until recently.
The latest study exploring the mechanisms behind fructose’s association with health problems comes from China, where researchers found ways the body metabolizes fructose and how it can lead to issues like gout. In the case of that joint disease, for example, eating too much fructose can deplete a cellular energy source called ATP, resulting in the accumulation of uric acid.
Uric acid accumulation is a risk factor for the development of gout, a condition where joints can swell and experience extreme pain, making it difficult to walk, use one’s hands, or do similar activities. Beyond that, the researchers suggest additional research is necessary to understand fructose’s impact on the activation of a protein called ChREBP, which regulates the genes behind fructose metabolism.
The findings ultimately suggest that it would be beneficial to avoid food products that feature added sugars, including processed foods that are often excessively salty and sweet, with the source of that sweetness often sourced from high-fructose corn syrup. Such dietary changes may help protect against metabolic disorders like fatty liver and obesity.