Yet another way that high-fat, high-sugar diets lead to diabetes discovered by scientists

Summertime means barbecues across the country loaded with juicy hamburgers and hot dogs, french fries, cold soda and warm cherry pie. But people of all ages should beware of stuffing themselves with processed foods. A recent study shows reveals yet another way that diets high in fat and fructose raise the risk of diabetes generally seen in older adults.

Researchers from the Teriyaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation says Western diets rich in fructose and fat cause Type 2 diabetes. The disease typically begins in middle or late adulthood for people who have high levels of sugar in their blood. A high-fat diet increases fructose metabolism in the small intestine, leading to a release of a fructose-specific metabolite called gylcerate into circulation.

With gylcerate circulating in the body, it can cause damage of the insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells, increasing the risk for Type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes has doubled in prevalence in the past two decades, as this type of diabetes is increasingly being diagnosed more in younger people. Heart disease and stroke are health risks associated with Type 2 diabetes.

There’s insufficient levels of insulin for people suffering from Type 2 diabetes. The pancreas then has to compensate due to the lower insulin levels by overworking to secrete additional insulin. This causes an unhealthy accumulation of glucose in the blood.

Researchers explored fructose metabolism in the small intestine to determine its role in the development of Type 2 diabetes. They went this route after previous research showed that fructose produces harmful effects in the liver. Other research revealed “these effects are normally avoided by fructose metabolism in the small intestine; the liver only joins in the metabolic process when fructose levels are excessive.”

In this study, researchers fed mice a high-fat diet, along with matched quantities of sugar. This resulted in higher fructose metabolism in the small intestine. Higher amounts of glycerate were produced in the small intestine and released into the systemic blood circulation. These findings revealed that a high-fat diet can elevate fructose metabolism in the small intestine and increase production of circulating glycerinate.

Scientists also examined information from patients with a rare disease called D-glycerate acuduria to further support glycerine’s role in diabetes. This abnormality posed a significant and independent risk factor for diabetes among the patients.

More experiments were conducted on mice to test the effects of circulating glycerinate and fructose. There was a decrease in circulating insulin in the glycerate-injected mice, rather than insulin resistance. “Histologic data confirmed reduced numbers and elevated deaths of the insulin-producing beta cells in pancreatic islet regions in gylcerate-injected mice, resulting in decreased levels of insulin,” according to a media release.

“Elucidating the processes for metabolizing the foods that we eat is a crucial component in optimizing our nutritional health,” says Dr. Ali Khademhosseini, TIBI’s director and CEO. “Understanding these processes also allows us to develop more targeted and personalized treatments for increasingly prevalent diseases like diabetes.”

The study was published in the journal Science Direct.


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