A new study suggests that eating a diet high in the sugar fructose may cause the immune system to become inflamed.
This process produces more reactive molecules, which are also associated with inflammation.
Inflammation can damage cells and tissues and lead to disease. A new study suggests that a diet high in the sugar fructose may prevent the immune system from functioning properly.
Fructose is a natural sugar that is present in fruits, honey, and certain vegetables, such as asparagus and squash.
These types of fructose sugars can contribute to a healthy diet, as fruits and vegetables usually contain less sugar than processed, sugar-sweetened foods.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS), on the other hand, is a manufactured sweetener made from cornstarch.
In the latter part of the last century, many manufacturers of processed foods and soft drinks, particularly in the United States, rapidly began choosing HFCS to sweeten their products because of its low cost.
Health experts disagree on whether HFCS is more harmful than other sugars.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) state that they have seen no evidence that foods containing HFCS are less safe than foods incorporating other sweeteners.
The 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans also do not single HFCS out, recommending that people limit their consumption of all added sugars.
Even so, research has consistently shown links between consuming large quantities of HFCS and various conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, and non-alcohol-related fatty liver disease.
One problem with HFCS is that it is in numerous processed foods, including some that people might not expect, such as frozen pizza and salad dressing.
How fructose affects the immune system A 2019 study found that culturing human dendritic cells — which play a role in the immune system — in fructose led to an increase in inflammation.
However, the researchers did not investigate the metabolic mechanism behind this occurrence.
For the new study, which appears in the journal Nature Communications, researchers from Swansea University’s Medical School, the University of Bristol.