Excess fructose harms the liver as does alcohol abuse
Scientists are finding new evidence that one of the most common types of sugar, fructose, can be toxic to the liver like alcohol.
For most people, fructose in its natural state – in the fruits of fruits – does not pose any harm. A unique feature of fructose is that it is processed in the liver, for which there is no problem to cope with a small amount of this sugar, which is ingested slowly. Take, for example, an apple: it takes a lot of time to chew it, and the dietary fiber contained in the apple slows down its processing in the intestines.
But today, manufacturers are increasingly adding fructose to foods in a highly concentrated form. To do this, they extract it from corn, beets and sugarcane, during which it loses its original nutrients and fiber. Frequent use of large doses of fructose during the day, without fibers that slow down its absorption, forces our body to process such an amount of this sugar that it is not suitable for. In almost all sugar-added foods, fructose levels are extremely high. And standard sweeteners (corn syrup, table sugar) and even fashionable ones (like organic cane sugar) are half composed of fructose. Consuming such fructose in large quantities, especially in liquid form and on an empty stomach, we give the liver an excessive load for it. And it is dangerous to health.
Liver damage is an impending healthcare problem. For a long time, doctors were concerned about life-threatening diseases of this organ in alcoholics. But since 1980, anxiety has been growing due to two new liver diseases associated not with alcohol, but with fructose in the form of added sugar and trans fats:
– non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: excess fat in the liver;
– non-alcoholic steatohepatitis: liver obesity, inflammation and “steatosis” (essentially scarring of the liver, trying to heal its injuries, which gradually cuts off the blood flow to this organ).
About a quarter of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis cases progress to non-alcoholic cirrhosis. And this disease requires a liver transplant, otherwise it can lead to death.
Since 1980, the incidence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis has been increasing rapidly. Most people with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis also have type II diabetes.
How do you know if you have liver problems?
Anxiety should be caused by a “sugar stomach,” or excess fat on the stomach of you or your children. If your waistline is larger than your hips, a blood test for triglycerides is necessary.
“Sugar stomach” appears when the liver is forced to process more fructose than the body needs to receive energy. Excess fructose is destroyed in the liver and turns into fat globules (triglycerides), some of which are exported to the blood and selectively stored around the waist and internal organs. Just as drinkers have a “beer belly”, those who abuse fructose have a “sugar belly”.
Fat cells around the waist send hormonal messages that upset the chemical balance of your body. Scientists are now exploring how this hormonal imbalance is implicated in cardiovascular diseases, strokes, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Scientific data on the effects of fructose on the liver are relatively new, but this is one of the most important areas of research in the best universities and medical centers in the world.