Scientists from the Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation found that western diets high in sugar and diet can cause diabetes.
They found that a high-fat diet can increase fructose metabolism in the small intestine, leading to the release of a fructose-specific metabolite called glycerate into circulation.
Circulating glycerate can subsequently cause damage to the insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells, increasing the risk of glucose tolerance disorders, such as type 2 diabetes.
The research is published in Cell Metabolism and was conducted by Xiling Shen et al.
In type 2 diabetes, there are insufficient levels of insulin, a hormone that regulates the movement of glucose into peripheral cells.
This usually occurs due to insulin resistance, a condition in which peripheral tissues do not respond normally to insulin and take in less glucose.
To compensate for this, the pancreas overworks to secrete additional insulin, with eventual loss of this ability. The result is an unhealthy accumulation of glucose in the blood.
Much research has been conducted about the influence of high fructose and fat diets on the development of type 2 diabetes. Past research has shown that fructose produces deleterious effects in the liver.
However, additional research has shown that 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 the study, the team examined fructose metabolism in the small intestine to determine its role in the development of type 2 diabetes.
They found experiments with mice fed a high-fat diet, along with matched quantities of sugar, resulted in higher fructose metabolism in the small intestine.
Higher amounts of the fructose metabolic intermediate, glycerate, were produced in the small intestine and released into the systemic blood circulation.
These findings suggest that a high-fat diet can elevate fructose metabolism in the small intestine and increase the production of circulating glycerate.
The study suggests that prolonged exposure to high levels of glycerate due to excessive consumption of western diets rich in sugar and fat poses the risk of damage to the pancreatic islet cells and the development of diabetes.
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