High fructose corn syrup could be increasing your chances of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This is a condition where fat accumulates in the liver not caused by excessive alcohol use. NAFLD is associated with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome which is combination of obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood lipids and high blood pressure. People with NAFLD often have no symptoms, but if undiagnosed and untreated, it can lead to inflammation of the liver which can in turn cirrhosis of the liver, a very serious condition.
Fructose consumption has been associated with increased calorie intake and weight gain. When the liver breaks down fructose, it leads to increased fat deposited in the liver, increased lipid levels in the blood, increased production of fat in the liver, increased inflammation and insulin resistance. These effects are especially seen in overweight people who consume too much fructose. Recent human studies have shown that over-consumption of fructose is associated with inflammation and cell abnormalities in the liver. Patients who drank the most fructose were more likely to have liver scarring and cirrhosis.
Recent animal studies have shown that fructose consumption caused changes similar to those seen in long term alcohol use and high fat diets. Animals who were given a high fat, high carbohydrate diet gained weight, gained fat, became insulin resistant, had high levels of fat in their livers, scarring and oxidative stress in the liver which indicates a high level of toxins.
The good news is that recent research is leading professionals to believe that you can reduce your risk of NAFLD by decreasing your consumption of high fructose corn syrup.
Further research is needed, but the data supports guidelines for decreased consumption of added sugars, especially in the form of fructose. Consumption of added sugars has been shown to have a statistically significant impact on the development of dyslipidemia (an abnormal amount of fat in the blood), which is a risk factor for NAFLD and cardiovascular disease. Observational studies have also shown that increased intake of added sugar in soft drinks leads to increased calorie intake, increased weight gain and a decreased intake of essential nutrients.
None of the data showed any benefits of high fructose corn syrup, so it’s best to minimize your intake as much as possible. Swap out sodas for sparkling water and check food labels for high fructose corn syrup.
Source: Medscape.com “Can High-Fructose Corn Syrup Exacerbate Liver Disease” William F. Ballistreri, MD