Fructose-sweetened drinks increase diabetes risk?

A recent review published by the academic British Medical Journal, “BMJ”, has found that high-fructose containing drinks may increase risk of type 2 diabetes more than other foods containing fructose.

Previous studies have confirmed that there is a link between sugary drinks and obesity. As few as two sugary drinks per week may raise the risk of type 2 diabetes considerably.

Now, a comprehensive review of existing research confirms that fructose-containing drinks can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes more than other foods that contain fructose.

The head researcher on the review, Dr. John Sievenpiper, aimed to find if fructose affects glucose levels and health in individuals with diabetes and without diabetes.

As we know, fructose is a monosaccharide that is found in many foods such as fruit, honey, and root vegetables.

However, processed fructose, often derived from corn and added to foods under the name high- fructose corn syrup, has found its way into many processed foods. These processed foods such as drinks, cereals, and baked goods add extra calories without adding fiber or other nutritional benefits.

Dr. John Sievenpiper’s research reviewed the outcomes of 155 studies and examined the effects that fructose from various food sources had on blood sugar levels. A1c, glucose and insulin levels were assessed.

The studies were separated into four separate groups based on their design:

  • Substitution studies compared the energy derived from sugars with that from other carbohydrates.
  • Subtraction studies removed sugar-derived energy from the participants’ diet and compared it with a regular diet.
  • Addition studies added glucose-derived energy to the diet and compared it with a non-sugar-enhanced diet.
  • Ad libitum studies replaced the energy from sugars with other nutrients that the participants were free to consume at will.

The review concluded that “nutrient-poor” foods that add excess calories (sugary drinks and sweetened juices) have harmful metabolic effects.

Some of the studies conducted did find that fructose had a harmful effect on fasting insulin levels.

However, most of the data revealed that fruit and fruit juice, which are high in fructose and fiber, may even benefit blood sugar and insulin levels of those with diabetes, when these foods do not add excess calories, the review suggests.

The take home message is:

Until more information is available, public health professionals should be aware that harmful effects of fructose sugars on blood glucose seem to be mediated by energy and food source.”

For more information on fructose and its effect on blood sugar and insulin levels, by MedicalNewsToday

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