High fructose diets may cause damage immune system, research finds

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Consuming a diet high in the sugar fructose might prevent the proper functioning of peoples' immune systems, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Communications.

Fructose is commonly found in sugary drinks, sweets, and processed foods, and is used widely in food production. It is associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and its intake has increased substantially throughout the developed world in recent years. However, understanding the impact of fructose on the immune system of people who consume it in high levels has been limited, the researchers said.

The study found that fructose causes the immune system to become inflamed and that process produces more reactive molecules which are associated with inflammation. Inflammation of this kind can go on to damage cells and tissues and contribute to organs and body systems not working as they should and could lead to disease.

The researchers said the study brings a deeper understanding about how fructose could be linked to diabetes and obesity, as low-level inflammation is often associated with obesity. It also builds on the growing body of evidence available to public health policy makers about the damaging effects of consuming high levels of fructose.

“Research into different components of our diet can help us understand what might contribute to inflammation and disease,” said Nick Jones, PhD, of Swansea University Medical School, in a statement, “and what could be best harnessed to improve health and wellbeing."