The study found a direct link between natural sweeteners and intestinal inflammation

If you suffer from an inflammatory disease like Crohn’s disease, there is a good chance that eating modern western food will make it worse. A recent study by Stony Brook University on the subject found that eating fructose worsens intestinal inflammation. Fructose, of course, is commonly used as a sweetening agent, especially in the US, a practice that has been heavily criticized for years in terms of public health.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a catch-all term for a variety of diseases that include recurrent or chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Crohn’s disease is probably the most well-known in IBD, especially due to its debilitating nature. Both heredity and a person’s immune system may play a role in the development of IBD, but increasing studies have shown that modern Western diets can exacerbate the condition.

Fructose, a natural sweetener, sometimes also known as ‘fruit sugar’, is often used in processed foods instead of cane sugar and refined sugar. For example, high fructose corn syrup is commonly used in the United States and is found in a variety of products, making it difficult to avoid unless you cook your food from scratch. The substance has been linked to a number of potential health issues, the most recent of which is an increase in intestinal inflammation.

The newly published study includes three mouse models for the study of IBD, in which a large number of fructose are given. In that group, the researchers report that intestinal inflammation is exacerbated and that there are many changes in the intestinal bacteria located in the colon, including metabolism and type. Changes in intestinal bacteria were accidentally associated with increased symptoms of the IBD group.

The findings suggest that IBD sufferers should consider eliminating – or drastically reducing – the amount of fructose in their diet. Additional research is needed to determine whether such dietary changes at the onset of the disease may help protect against colon cancer, as those who suffer from IBD are at higher risk of cancer as a result.