Diabetes and fatty liver: Even a little sugar can interfere with lipid metabolism


Diabetes and fatty liver
Even a little sugar can interfere with fat metabolism

People in Germany currently consume an average of 34 kilograms of sugar per year. That’s too much. According to a recent study, 80 grams a day can be a cause of the development of diabetes or fatty liver.

How Much Sugar Can the Body Tolerate? When does the liver overreact? And how is the effect different from different types of sugar? Researchers at the University of Zurich asked themselves these questions and began their study with 94 young, healthy men.

For seven weeks, a group of people tested received a drink sweetened with 80 grams of different sugars, which is the equivalent of about 800 milliliters of standard lemonade. Sweet drinks contain fruit sugar (fructose) or grape sugar (glucose) or table sugar (sucrose), which consists of fruit sugar and grapes. Men in the control group avoided sugar, but still consumed as many calories as the sugar test subjects.

Fat metabolism goes up

Bettina Geidl-Flueck’s team examined various parameters of fat metabolism in participants, including fatty acid production in the liver. It found that the formation of fatty acids in the liver was increased in test subjects with sugary drinks – that is, in those who consumed drinks with fructose and sucrose. Even a small amount is enough to activate liver metabolism and produce more fatty acids.

But what about glucose? “The production of body fat alone in the liver was twice as high in the fructose group as in the glucose group or the control group – and this was even more than twelve hours after the last meal or last sugar consumption,” explained Philipp Gerber, who worked on the Study, in a statement. from the University of Zurich. Conversely, when consuming pure glucose, fat production remains unaffected.

To the researchers, it was surprising that the most commonly consumed table sugar increased fat synthesis even more than the same amount of fructose. Because until now it is mainly fructose that causes these changes. Why household sugar has a stronger effect than pure fructose is not yet clear.

Researchers at the University of Zurich suspect an interaction between the two sugar molecules found in sucrose. Fructose initially can signal that the liver metabolism causes more glucose than usual to enter the liver. This glucose is then metabolized to a greater than normal rate in the liver and converted into fat.

Important results for the future

“Our results represent an important step in research on the harmful effects of added sugars and will be critical for future dietary recommendations,” Gerber concluded. Because increased production of fat in the liver is the first step in the development of a widespread disease such as type 2 diabetes or non-alcoholic fatty liver.

For health reasons, the World Health Organization recommends limiting daily sugar consumption to around 50 grams or even better to 25 grams. But that is not only far away in Switzerland, but also in Germany.


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