Dr. Johnson featured in “The Economist”

Sep 20, 2013  |  Post by: No Comments

How the bacteria in your gut may be shaping your waistline

Metabolic syndrome can still be blamed on eating too much and exercising too little. But it is crucial to understand why some foods are particularly harmful and why some people gain more weight than others. Thankfully, researchers are beginning to offer explanations in a series of recent papers.

One debate concerns the villainy of glucose, which is found in starches, and fructose, found in fruits, table sugar and, not surprisingly, high-fructose corn syrup. Diets with a high “glycaemic index”, raising glucose levels in the blood, seem to promote metabolic problems. David Ludwig of Boston Children’s Hospital has shown that those on a diet with a low glycaemic index experience metabolic changes that help them keep weight off, compared with those fed a low-fat diet. This challenges the notion that a calorie is a calorie. Others, however, blame fructose, which seems to promote obesity and insulin resistance. Now a study published in Nature Communications by Richard Johnson, of the University of Colorado, explains that glucose may do its harm, in part, through its conversion to fructose.

Dr Johnson and his colleagues administered a diet of water and glucose to three types of mice. One group acted as a control and two others lacked enzymes that help the body process fructose. The normal mice developed a fatty liver and became resistant to insulin. The others were protected. The body’s conversion of glucose to fructose, therefore, seems to help spur metabolic woes. Full article here

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