For some time, doctors have known that consuming high fructose corn syrup can lead to diabetes. But a recent study on animals discovered details as to how. And it’s not pretty.
Diets rich in fructose have been linked to insulin resistance which has been identified as a precursor to Type 2 diabetes. The study, reported in the Cell Metabolism Journal, has singled out a specific gene, PGC-1 beta, that seems to respond to fructose by developing insulin resistance.
The researchers used rats in the study and found blocking that gene’s activity in rats that consumed high levels of fructose protected them from insulin resistance.
High-fructose corn syrup has been getting a bad rap lately thanks to studies linking the chemical to soaring obesity rates. The corn sweetener was virtually nonexistent 30 years ago. But since the 80s, it’s quickly become an ingredient in everything from sodas to cereals and is also used as a preservative.
A University of California study last year found that high fructose consumption leads to increased fat around the organs, which causes a pot-belly, as well as greater risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high levels of fatty triglycerides (a form of fat in the blood associated with heart disease). While glucose causes an equivalent weight gain, it does did not produce the same effects.
The hope is that this new research opens the door to new ways of treating several conditions brought on by too much fructose consumption, including insulin resistance, fatty liver disease, and high triglycerides.
Technically, those ads by the Corn Refiners Association are right: High fructose corn syrup is chemically much like sugar, or sucrose. HFCS works like this. The body breaks it down into fructose and glucose. Table sugar, or sucrose, also breaks down into the same two sugars, but slightly lower fructose to glucose ratio.