Sweetened fruit drinks could be linked to childhood asthma
A new landmark epidemiology study further implicates high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in chronic disease. Researchers report for the first time that children who regularly consume beverages high in excess free fructose (EFF) including apple juice (AJ), and HFCS sweetened fruit drinks and sodas have higher rates of asthma.
The study sought to assess the correlation between intake of excess free fructose containing (EFF) beverages and asthma in children, and epidemiologically test the possibility that fructose malabsorption (FM) and fructose reactivity in the GI could convert dietary proteins into immunogens –known as FruAGEs – and trigger airway mucus hypersecretion and asthma.
According to results published in the peer reviewed journal Public Health Nutrition – “Intakes of EFF beverages were significantly associated with asthma in 2-9 year olds. Odds of asthma in children consuming apple juice, and sweetened fruit drinks and/or soda more than 5 times a week were more than 5 times that of those consuming these beverages less than once a month. Those consuming apple juice more than 5 times a week vs once a month, adjusted for the other beverages, were more than twice as likely to have asthma. In contrast, there was a tendency for orange juice to be protective.”
Results of this ground breaking study suggest the symptoms of unabsorbed fructose may not be limited to increased gas, bloating, abdominal pain, and decreased nutrient absorption. Unabsorbed fructose may contribute to formation of endogenous Fru-AGEs associated with asthma and possibly other chronic disease conditions.
Fructose malabsorption affects people, particularly children, after eating foods high in fructose relative to glucose but not after consumption of sucrose as in table sugar. Understanding this distinction helps explains the difference in reactivity. The high fructose in EFF and high fructose corn syrup differs from sucrose in meaningful ways. In sucrose, unlike HFCS, fructose is chemically bound to glucose in a one to one ratio and is more readily absorbed than EFF and HFCS. Sucrose is the main sugar in orange juice and many unprocessed foods. This distinction matters a great deal for sufferers of FM disease and as revealed in this study – childhood asthma. This is very concerning since average U.S. per capita consumption of HFCS is just under a pound (approximately 0.4 kg) per week and rates of childhood asthma continue rising at epidemic levels. Longitudinal studies and biochemical research are needed to confirm and clarify the mechanisms involved.
The study is the culmination of years of investigation by independent researcher Luanne R. DeChristopher, M.Sc., whose daughter Maya suffered from childhood asthma associated with consumption of foods containing high fructose corn syrup. The merits of her proposed “fructositis” hypothesis were reinforced by mentor Joseph Wu, Ph.D., Professor of Biochemistry at New York Medical College. Study collaborators Jaime Uribarri, M.D., Professor of Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, a renowned AGEs and diabetes researcher, and Katherine L. Tucker, Ph.D., Nutritional Epidemiologist and Professor at UMass agreed and assisted in the epidemiology research.