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Microbiome research explains how sugar hijacks an important part of health



In the food world, few things are like sugar. This is a reasonable assessment: too many sweets are related to a variety of negative health effects, such as fatty liver, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.

In a study published in the journal on Wednesday Science Translational Medicine, Scientists announced another insidious side effect of sugar. Studies have shown that sugar can destroy the intestinal microbiome, make animals vulnerable to colon inflammation, and may cause inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease.

The study was conducted in mice, so how these inflammatory dynamics work in real humans remains to be seen. But for now, scientists and doctors say that it is wise to keep sweeteners as a special treatment rather than a staple of the daily diet.

Study co-author Hasan Zaki said: “These findings are invaluable to the health of millions of people, because high-sugar diets are an integral part of our modern lifestyle.”

; inverse. Zaki is a researcher at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

“Our research shows that avoiding a high-sugar diet is an option to prevent IBD and other inflammatory and metabolic diseases.”

Sweet Science- The average American eats about 77 grams of sugar a day, which is a far cry from the recommended daily intake of 25 to 36 grams for men and women.

For decades, scientists have known that sugar can make metabolism and insulin response out of control, and this shift can cause a series of downstream effects. However, what they don’t know is how sugar affects inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

IBD such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are becoming more common, and it is estimated to affect 3.5 million people worldwide. These diseases can seriously affect daily life and cause severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss and fatigue.

To determine how sugar affects IBD, the research team studied the effects of different types of sugars (glucose, sucrose, and fructose) on inflammation and intestinal flora in mice.

“We clearly demonstrated that a high-sugar diet Change composition Intestinal flora. “

They fed the mice solution 90% water, and then fed a solution of 10% glucose, sucrose or fructose for a week. The sugar dosage is designed to mimic the 15% sugar content in ordinary soft drinks.

Next, the mice drank a sugar-containing solution containing 2.5% dextran sulfate sodium sulfate (DSS), which was designed to induce colon inflammation or colitis.

The other group of mice drank the high-sugar solution for one to five weeks, and then drank DSS. The sugar group was compared with a group of healthy mice. The mice in this group were not fed any extra sugar but were also given DSS. After these preliminary experiments, the researchers also transferred the intestinal flora of sugar-eating mice to healthy mice. The intestinal flora is composed of microorganisms living in the digestive tract of animals.

The scientists then euthanized the animals humanely and analyzed their colon length, inflammation markers, stool samples, rectal bleeding and weight changes. They also studied the composition of the gut microbiome and the level of intestinal mucus.

Why is sugar bad for health?

The mice that received sugar treatment suffered from aggressive colitis, accompanied by severe diarrhea, and quickly lost nearly 20% of their body weight. When sugar-eating mice are transferred to healthy mice, their intestinal flora can induce exacerbated colitis.

Short-term intake of large amounts of sugar will not cause severe acute inflammation in mice with healthy guts. On the contrary, the consumption of sugar will significantly change the composition of the intestinal microbiome. The intestinal microbiome is the “good bacteria” in the intestine, which can keep the digestive system and metabolism going smoothly.

In particular, sugar has this negative microbiome effect by feeding on a type of bacteria called bacteria. Akkermansia muciniphila. It degrades mucus and is associated with inflammation of the colon.

This transfer of intestinal bacteria eroded the mucus protective layer that adhered to the intestines of mice, allowing other bacteria to penetrate into the intestinal wall. Through this mechanism, high sugar intake can make mice more susceptible to colon inflammation, and this change may make them more susceptible to inflammatory bowel disease.

Zaki explained: “We clearly show that a high-sugar diet can change the composition of the intestinal flora and promote the growth of several types of bacteria that degrade the mucus layer of the intestine.”

“The mucus layer protects the intestinal mucosa tissue from pathogens. Therefore, the intestine with reduced mucus layer is easily exposed to the intestinal membrane or pathogens, leading to the induction of intestinal inflammation and the development of inflammatory bowel disease.”

Colons from control mice and mice treated with sugar, glucose and fructose stained Muc2 (red).Science Translational Medicine

According to the authors, these findings may explain why inflammatory bowel diseases are common in Western countries and their incidence is increasing among the younger generation.

Zaki and his collaborators wrote: “Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is not an ancient but a modern disease, and may be rapidly increasing due to the widespread adoption of Western lifestyles and diets.”

“Our findings strongly support the notion that high sugar intake in the form of sucrose and high fructose corn syrup may be a key trigger for IBD.”

Quit sugar— Based on these findings, as well as more and more evidence showing the harmful effects of sugar, scientists recommend limiting sugar intake.

Zaki explained: “These and other findings clearly demonstrate the harmful effects of sugar in the intestines.” “Although we have to verify our findings in a clinical setting, the effects of high sugar on the human intestine are likely to be the same. of.”

Although it seems simple to cut the sugar from the beginning-just skip the dessert, right? -It is much more complicated than it sounds. Most processed foods contain sugar, whether they are chicken nuggets or ketchup. Surveys released in 2015 Lancet It was found that 68% of all packaged foods and beverages in the US food supply contained “caloric sweeteners,” which is another term for sugar.

To reduce sugar content, health providers recommend:

  • Cook at home
  • Avoid sneaky, sugary foods such as salad dressings, pasta sauces and breakfast cereals
  • Skip soda, juice and other sweet drinks
  • Choose foods that are as close to their natural state as possible

A large number of studies have also shown that complete plant-based foods can bring the greatest nutritional value.

For most American women, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams of sugar per day, which is equivalent to about 100 calories or six teaspoons of sugar. For men, it is 36 grams, 150 calories or about 9 teaspoons of sugar per day.

Zaki said: “The results of this study emphasize that we really need to pay attention to how much sugar we consume every day.”

“We cannot completely avoid sugar in our diet because sugar is essential for our energy and metabolism, but we can stop excessive intake of sweets and drinks.”

abstract: Western countries have a higher prevalence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which suggests that Western diet may be a risk factor for IBD. High sugar is related to many non-communicable diseases and is a characteristic of the Western diet, but its role in IBD is still unknown. Here, we studied the effect of monosaccharides (such as glucose and fructose) on the pathogenesis of wild-type and colitis. Il10-/- mouse. Wild-type mice fed with 10% glucose in drinking water or a high-sugar diet developed severe colitis caused by sodium dextran sulfate.High sugar feeding Il10-/- Compared with untreated glucose, mice also developed worsening colitis Il10-/- mouse. Short-term intake of high sugar or fructose will not cause inflammation in a healthy intestine, but it will significantly change the composition of the intestinal flora.Especially the abundance of mucus-degrading bacteria Murkella with Bacteroides fragilis increased.Consistently, bacteria-derived mucolytic enzymes are enriched, leading to sugar wild-type and Il10-/- mouse. When the mice were treated with antibiotics or kept in a sterile environment, no deterioration of sugar-induced colitis was observed, indicating that the altered microbiota plays a key role in the pathogenesis of sugar-induced colitis. In addition, germ-free mice colonized by microbial colonies in sugar-treated mice showed increased colitis sensitivity. In summary, these data indicate that the intake of simple sugars can induce colitis and enhance its pathogenesis by regulating the intestinal flora of mice.


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