The study finds a direct connection between natural sweetener and gut inflammation


If you are suffering from an inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease, there is a good chance that eating a modern Western diet is making it much worse. The latest study on this topic comes from Stony Brook University, which found that eating fructose can worsen intestinal inflammation. Fructose, of course, is commonly used as a sweetening agent, especially in the US, a practice that has been heavily criticized from a public health point of view over the years.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a catch-all term for a variety of diseases including persistent or chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. Crohn’s disease is probably the best known of IBD due to its particularly debilitating nature. Both genetics and an immune system may play a role in the development of IBD, but an increasing number of studies have found that the modern Western diet can provoke the condition.

Fructose, a natural sweetener sometimes referred to as ‘fruit sugar’, is often used in processed foods instead of sugarcane sugar and refined sugar. High fructose corn syrup, for example, is commonly used in the United States and is found in a large variety of products, which is difficult to avoid unless you cook your foods from scratch. This substance has been associated with several potential health issues, most recently worsening of intestinal inflammation.

The newly published study included three mouse models for studying IBD, one of which contained large amounts of fructose. In that group, researchers report that inflammation of the colon has worsened and there have been many changes in gut bacteria located in the colon, including metabolism and types. Changes in gut bacteria were negligibly associated with worsening symptoms in the IBD group.

The findings suggest that IBD sufferers should consider reducing – or greatly reducing – the amount of fructose in their diet. Additional research is necessary to determine whether such dietary changes in disease may help prevent stomach cancer, as those who suffer from IBD face a higher risk of cancer as a result.