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It’s the sugars in processed foods that make us put on the pounds

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What is it about processed foods and drinks that make them so bad for us?  The key ingredient seems to be fructose because it changes our digestive tract in a way that makes us put on weight.

Although fructose is a natural sugar in fruit, it’s also found in high concentrations in sugar additives like high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) that are in processed foods.  

And it’s the amount that really makes the difference, as researchers from the Weill Cornell Medical Centre have discovered.  “Fructose itself isn’t harmful; it’s a problem of overconsumption.  Our bodies are not designed to eat as much of it as we do,” said Marcus DaSilva Goncalves, one of the researchers.

Fructose is structurally different from other sugars like glucose, and it changes the way the villi—hairlike structures that line the inside of the small intestine—function.  Villi expand the gut to help it absorb nutrients from the food we eat.  But consume too much glucose and the villi can lengthen by as much as 40 percent, causing the gut to expand and absorb more nutrients.  Eventually this process will cause weight gain and obesity.

(Source: Nature, 2021; doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-03827-2)

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Article Topics: fructose, nutrition, Sucrose, sugar
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