Fans of fruit juices and sodas with fructose should be concerned about their choice of beverages, based on a new Duke University study. The North Carolina project considered the link between obese and diabetic individuals fond of fructose-loaded drinks and developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Researchers at the Duke University Medical Center published their results in the journal Hepatology. Their primary concern was habitual fructose consumption.
Fructose is the additive that makes drinks taste sweet. According to Medical News Today, heavy-duty ingestion raises the risk of depleting adenosine triphosphate (ATP) molecules. ATP acts as a booster rocket to provide energy for a number of bodily processes like metabolism.
When an individual who is obese or diabetic habitually takes in large amounts of drinks with fructose, the liver's stockpile of ATP begins to shrink. The result is an increased risk of developing NAFLD.
According to the Mayo Clinic, this disorder represents the accumulation of fat in the liver. It's limited to individuals who drink little or no alcohol. While a majority of those affected experience no signs or symptoms, some people with NAFLD develop inflammation and scarring in the liver. In the worst situation, the disease can result in liver failure.
Since there's no treatment for the disorder, doctors typically work with patients to lower the risk factors associated with it. Most often, this means losing weight through diet and exercise.
The fructose in your favorite soft drink absolutely has to have ATP for your body to metabolize it. As the sweetener grabs the molecules from your body, it depletes the reservoir in your liver. That's when problems relating to inflammation and scarring of the organ can occur. Being insulin resistant puts a wet blanket on one of the body's enzymes needed to manufacture new ATP molecules.
The Duke researchers also noted greater production of uric acid when their subjects consumed excess fructose. Experts have linked this excess to disorders like type 2 diabetes, uric acid stones, gout, and high blood pressure. Individuals who love fructose might also be at elevated risk for metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.
Study subjects were adults who enrolled in the Look AHEAD Fatty Liver Disease Ancillary Study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.
Like many American women, I usually sit on the line between being overweight and being obese. As a patient with Crohn's disease, for years, I've looked to bottled fruit juices to get a decent dietary intake of fruits. And I'm no stranger to the fructose lurking in the soda I consume every day. It's time to check some labels in order to lower the risk of developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Vonda J. Sines has published thousands of print and online health and medical articles. She has a special interest in digestive health.
- Disease & Medical Conditions
- Duke University
- Duke University Medical Center
- liver failure